The Owner/Operator is referred to 31 times in 33 CFR 101; 106 times in 33 CFR 105; and 36 times in NVIC 03-03 (and we haven’t even mentioned the SAFE Port Act!)  As the facility’s security point-person, the FSO should equate the regulatory requirements as their to-do list and responsibility to comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and agency policies.

33 CFR 101 explains notification requirements to NRC and the local COTP; to include changes in MARSEC level, suspicious activity, breaches of security, and TSIs.  It details how the facility’s security organization must interact with government authorities in the performance of their duties.

33 CFR 105 requires the Owner/Operator to effectively establish the physical boundaries of the MTSA regulated area(s).  There are also provisions for equivalency, waivers, and alternate security plans.  As well as requirements for maintaining documents, to include those associated with explosive detection dog teams.

Is the FSO off the hook?  After all, the regulations and guidance requires the Owner and/or Operator of a facility to act.  However -

The FSO is the Owner/Operator’s official representative for security matters at the facility; how the FSO does their job is paramount to fulfilling the regulatory requirements and the Owner/Operator’s ‘promise to the people of the United States’ as contained in the FSP.

This month we’ll explore how the Owner/Operator (in reality, the FSO) brings MTSA to life on your facility.  The FSO is on the hook!

MISLE is only available to authorized Coast Guard personnel via the Coast Guard intranet.  However, the Coast Guard provides extracted information from MISLE to federal and state agencies to meet their mission requirements and some information on vessels, facilities, and organizations is provided to the

public.  The public may access portions of the data contained on the MISLE system through the Port State Information eXchange (PSIX).  The information found in PSIX represents a weekly snapshot of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) data on U.S. flag vessels, foreign vessels operating in U.S. waters, and Coast Guard contacts with those vessels. Information on unclosed cases, investigations, or cases pending further action is considered privileged information and is precluded from the PSIX system.

What about access to your facility’s MISLE information?  It looks like there’s no elegant answer to that question other than requesting the information from your Coast Guard Inspector.  Most facility operators are unaware of what specific information their Coast Guard Inspector can access about their facility.  You can formally ask for a copy of your MISLE history via a Freedom of Information Act request.  The easier way, though, is to cultivate a trusting relationship with your Inspector and demonstrate your need-to-know the information.  Remember, it’s considered Sensitive Security Information, and subject to the protections in 49 CFR 1520.  

The Coast Guard provides its facility inspectors with guidance on conducting a compliance inspection – it’s located in Appendix (B) to COMDTINST M16601.1 Each Facility Security Plan Review is assigned a MISLE number, and the Coast Guard’s inspection activities are documented in the MISLE database.

Your inspector’s pre-inspection activities include reviewing your FSA Report, Form CG-6025 and FSP, reviewing your records, deficiency history, and CG Activity History in MISLE.  Just like when a police officer checks their database upon stopping a vehicle, your CG Inspectors refresh themselves (increasing their “situational awareness”) by looking at your facility’s history in MISLE.

Following your facility inspection, your Inspectors document their Post-inspection activities in MISLE.  They complete a MISLE MTSA Compliance Exam activity case log, determine whether amendments to the FSP are required, and Initiate appropriate actions to ensure timely correction of deficiencies.  This includes documenting Notices of Violations.  The MISLE database also links to the Coast Guard Finance Center to track the enforcement activity (including case adjudication and penalty payments) until the case is closed.

The Marine Information for Safety and Law Enforcement (MISLE) is a database system managed and used by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).  MISLE is used to store data on marine accidents, pollution incidents, search and rescue cases, law enforcement activities, and vessel and facility inspections.  You can imagine the knowledge and history residing in MISLE.  It’s been around since 2002, and is pre-dated by facility information that was held in the Marine Safety Information System.

Currently, MISLE contains information on over 650,000 U.S. and foreign flagged vessels, including nearly 80,000 Commercial Fishing Vessels, and over 3,400 MTSA regulated facilities.  Coast Guard personnel use MISLE to schedule and record operational activities such as vessel boardings, facility inspections, marine casualty investigations, pollution response actions, law enforcement actions, and search and rescue operations.  That’s a lot of data!  In 2015 alone, the Coast Guard was responsible for conducting 2,432 FSP inspections, and 5,937 MTSA inspections.  Each of those activities is captured by a MISLE entry.  Good, bad, or ugly, the Coast Guard’s version of your facility’s history is described in the MISLE database.