Activating a Vessel Response Plan
U.S. Coast Guard sent this bulletin at 01/23/2018 02:15 PM EST
The following information is provided to clarify activation of a vessel response plan (VRP), and
when and how deviation from listed response resources may occur.
An increasing number of responses in which VRPs have been used, have resulted in confusion as
to what action taken activates a VRP. Activation is not defined in 33 CFR Part 155.
When a Coast Guard FOSC is told that a VRP has been activated, the assumption is that certain resources identified in the plan have been consulted or mobilized. Once a VRP is activated, the resources identified in the plan must be used unless a deviation is approved by the FOSC.
The implications of VRP activation are significant and a clear understanding of what action activates a VRP is
essential. Failure to activate a plan quickly or failure to use pre-contracted resources can result in
delayed response and exacerbate potential environmental damages.
A VRP must be activated once the vessel’s Master has determined on board resources and
personnel cannot meet the needs of an actual or potential incident. VRP activation occurs when
the person in charge of the vessel contacts the Qualified Individual (QI) identified in the VRP.
The QI and alternate QI are defined in regulation as having the authority to mobilize resources
and consultative services identified in the VRP and to act as the liaison with the FOSC.
Contacting the QI and/or alternate QI activates the VRP.
The QI then assess the situation through consultative services and mobilizes response resources identified in the VRP if the incident
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