U.S. Large Yacht Flag Registry
USSA president, Kitty McGowan met with several U.S. Coast Guard representatives in south Florida with partners from the MIASF to discuss putting together some baseline points for the start of the Yacht Flag regulations. We’ve received some initial technical language that we are vetting through USSA industry leaders to ensure the best outcome for our industry.
In addition, we met with our USCG representative in Washington, D.C. to get an update on their progress at creating the full regulations and have been assured of getting them in progress soon. In the meantime, there have been several yachts to have already gone through the process of flagging U.S. with the current agreement of utilizing equivalencies to comply.
Alaskan Yacht Cruising
A number of issues were reported in Q2 with regards to superyachts traveling to Alaska with either no cruising license or with expired cruising licenses that were being turned away from the state due to the CBP’s interpretation of a Covid security law. USSA president and the Advocacy committee, working in tandem with Peter Schrappen of NMTA and Monique Webber of SYNW, our partner organizations, to strengthen our relationship with the CBP Port Directors in Seattle and Alaska. These meetings resulted in a reversal of these interpretations. Yachts are now free to travel to Alaska on a cruising license that will be readily available for those who qualify in either Seattle or Port Angeles. Those who are not eligible for a cruising license will be able to travel to Alaska and clear in/out on a form 1300. These actions saved yachts countless days of unnecessary travel to Mexico and tremendous expense to “go Foreign” before securing a cruising license.
The USSA Advocacy group has also worked with Congressional leadership along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway to work on ways to allow private yachts to traverse the canal and reach the Lakes despite the border closure with Canada. Unfortunately, the Canadian Government wouldn’t budge on this issue in any regards. Will keep you informed if things change moving forward.
VISA issues and USSA
The USSA was made aware of an issue with a yacht stewardess who had been deported with a five-year DO NOT RETURN order and revocation of her U.S. Visa. Upon further investigation, it was determined that this decision to deport was likely made in error. Our team jumped in and setup meetings with the Port Director in Seattle. After multiple meetings that focused on helping to educate CBP officials about the nuances of the yachting industry, the Agency reversed its position and worked to setup an expedited meeting for a new Visa and the stewardess was returned to her vessel in Washington State! The yacht didn’t have to expend thousands of dollars in legal bills and the owner and captain were able to have a regular crew member returned to their team. This outcome was made possible through the time the USSA has been spending building relationships with our regulatory agencies around the country as well as working closely with our regional partners as well that creates a “win-win” environment for all!
Cybersecurity and the IMO
Melissa Orlick, new chair of our Cyber security division of our Advocacy Team, reported at a board meeting that the new IMO Cybersecurity regulations that went into effect on January 1, 2021 are no longer flying under the radar and are being enforced by the USCG and other regulatory agencies. The USSA will be working to help educate the industry about what this means to them.