[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 226 (Friday, November 23, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 70172-70174]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-28487]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Coast Guard

[USCG-2012-0848]


Lifesaving and Fire-Fighting Equipment, Training and Drills 
Onboard Offshore Facilities and Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs) 
Operating on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION: Notice of recommended interim voluntary guidance with request 
for comments.

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SUMMARY: As part of its continuing response to the explosion, fire and 
sinking of the Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) DEEPWATER HORIZON, 
in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, with loss of life, the Coast 
Guard announces recommended interim voluntary guidance concerning 
lifesaving and fire-fighting equipment, training, and drills onboard 
manned offshore facilities and MODUs operating on the U.S. Outer 
Continental Shelf (OCS), and requests comments on that guidance. 
Comments received on the docket will be considered in our ongoing 
evaluation of the safety of offshore facilities.

DATES: The policy on recommended guidance described in this notice is 
effective November 23, 2012. Comments and related materials must reach 
the Docket Management Facility by February 21, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-
2012-0848 using any one of the following methods. To avoid duplication, 
please use only one of these four methods:
    (1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
    (2) Fax: 202-493-2251.
    (3) Mail: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
    (4) Hand Delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 
p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone 
number is 202-366-9329.
    To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods. 
See the ``Public Participation'' portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section below for instructions on submitting comments.
    Documents mentioned as being available in the docket are part of 
docket USCG-2012-0848 and are available for inspection or copying at 
the Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. You may also find this 
docket on the Internet by going to http://www.regulations.gov, 
inserting USCG-2012-0848 in the ``Keyword'' box, and then clicking 
``Search.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this notice, 
call or email Mr. Randall Eberly, U.S. Coast Guard, Office of Design 
and Engineering Standards, Lifesaving and Fire Safety Division (CG-ENG-
4), telephone (202) 372-1393, email Randall.Eberly@uscg.mil.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Public Participation

    You may submit comments and related material regarding whether this 
recommended interim voluntary guidance should be incorporated into 
future rulemaking documents concerning lifesaving and fire-fighting 
equipment, training and drills on board offshore facilities and MODUs 
operating on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. All comments received 
will be posted, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov and will 
include any personal information you have provided.

Submitting Comments

    If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this 
notice (USCG-2012-0848) and provide a reason for each suggestion or 
recommendation. You may submit your comments and material online or by 
fax, mail or hand delivery, but please use only one of these means. We 
recommend that you include your name and a mailing address, an email 
address, or a telephone number in the body of your document so that we 
can contact you if we have questions regarding your submission.
    To submit your comment online, go to http://www.regulations.gov and 
insert ``USCG-2012-0848'' in the ``Search'' box. Click ``Search,'' find 
this notice in the list of Results, and then click on the corresponding 
``Comment Now'' box. If you submit your comments by mail or hand 
delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 8\1/2\ by 11 
inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you submit 
comments by mail and would like to know that they reached the Facility, 
please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope. We will 
consider all comments and material received during the comment period.

Viewing the Comments

    To view comments, as well as documents mentioned in this notice as 
being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov and 
insert ``USCG-2012-0848'' in the ``Search'' box. Click ``Search'' and 
use the filters on the left side of the page to highlight ``Public 
Submissions'' or other document types. If you do not have access to the 
Internet, you may view the docket online by visiting the Docket 
Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the 
Department of Transportation West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays. We have an agreement with the Department of 
Transportation to use the Docket Management Facility.

Privacy Act

    Anyone can search the electronic form of comments received into any 
of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or 
signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, 
business, labor union, etc.). You may review a Privacy Act system of 
records notice regarding our public dockets in the January 17, 2008, 
issue of the Federal Register (73 FR 3316).

II. Background and Interim Voluntary Guidance

    The Report of Investigation into the Circumstances Surrounding the 
Explosion, Fire, Sinking and Loss of Eleven Crew Members Aboard the 
Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit DEEPWATER HORIZON in the Gulf of Mexico, 
April 20-22, 2010, and related Commandant's Final Action Memo, dated 
September 9, 2011, (hereinafter referred to as ``Report'') contain a 
number of recommendations for OCS safety improvements that are 
presently

[[Page 70173]]

being evaluated for further regulatory action. (These documents may be 
found in the docket for this action, as indicated under ADDRESSES). The 
Coast Guard believes that the five recommendations discussed below 
could yield significant safety improvements, and, pending issuance of 
further regulatory action, urges operators of MODUs and manned offshore 
facilities on the U.S. OCS to consider voluntary compliance with these 
items, to the extent appropriate and practicable.

(a) Fixed Deluge Systems for Drill Floor Protection (Safety 
Recommendation 2D)

    The Report recommended that a fixed deluge system or multiple high 
capacity water monitors should be installed for the protection of the 
drill floor and adjacent areas, with consideration given to requiring 
automatic operation upon gas detection.
    We are considering proposing requirements for installation of such 
systems, since it is believed that, in some circumstances, early 
employment of a deluge or monitor spray system during a drilling mishap 
could serve to prevent or delay ignition of an uncontrolled release of 
product and/or mitigate the effects of ignition.
    As an interim measure, we recommend that operators of MODUs and 
manned offshore facilities should consider installation of fixed water 
spray systems for the protection of critical drill floor equipment, 
structural components and intervening fire barriers. A minimum water 
application rate of at least 0.50 gpm/ft\2\ is recommended. If fixed 
high capacity water monitors are used as an alternative measure, use of 
at least two dual purpose fixed monitors, each with a minimum flow rate 
and pressure of 500 gpm at 100 psi should be considered. The monitors 
should be arranged for remote operation, or local manual operation from 
a protected location not likely to be cut off during a fire.

(b) Carrying Capacity of Lifeboats (Safety Recommendation 3C)

    The Report recommended that the Commandant work to amend the 
International Maritime Organization (IMO) Life-Saving Appliance Code 
(LSA Code) and its associated testing recommendations to ensure the 
adequacy of lifesaving appliance standards. In particular, the minimum 
average occupant weight of 165 or 181.5 lbs presently used to determine 
the carrying capacity of lifeboats is not considered representative of 
the weight of average offshore workers on the U.S. OCS, and thus 
lifeboat embarkation and evacuation could be hampered in an emergency 
due to occupant size.
    We believe the existing requirements in the LSA Code, and 
associated Coast Guard type approval standards, are adequate for most 
shipboard applications subject to IMO requirements. Nevertheless, they 
are minimums. The number of requests the Coast Guard has received from 
offshore operators for approval of lifeboats designed to accommodate 
offshore workers larger than the average population is consistent with 
the Report's conclusion that current lifeboat design and testing 
requirements are not adequate for the physical build of the average 
offshore worker today. The Coast Guard is therefore considering 
proposing requirements for higher average occupant weight and size 
standards specifically for lifeboats used on MODUs and offshore 
facilities.
    We recommend that operators of MODUs and manned offshore facilities 
should consider specifying any new or replacement lifeboats on the 
basis of an occupant average weight of at least 95 kg (210 lbs) per 
person (versus the current standard of 82.5 kg (181.5 lbs)), with a 
minimum seat width of 530 mm (21 inches) (versus the current standard 
of 430 mm (17 inches)). A number of Coast Guard approved SOLAS 
lifeboats have already been approved to this standard by request of the 
customer(s), and are currently available for use on OCS facilities.

(c) Training in the Deployment of Davit-Launched Liferafts (Safety 
Recommendation 3D)

    The Report recommended that the Commandant clarify 46 CFR 
109.213(g)(5), which requires that onboard training in the use of 
davit-launched liferafts must take place at intervals of not more than 
4 months, and that ``whenever practicable'', this must include the 
inflation and lowering of a liferaft. The regulations permit the 
inflation and lowering of a davit launched liferaft to be performed 
only ``whenever practicable'' because an operational raft would need to 
be taken out of service to perform the drill, and would remain out of 
service until inspected and repacked by an approved servicing facility 
ashore. It was anticipated that the requirement to deploy the rafts 
``whenever practicable'' would encourage scheduling drills to 
coordinate with the required periodic servicing of the facility's 
liferafts, to avoid having them repeatedly sent for servicing. However, 
the current requirement to inflate and deploy a liferaft ``whenever 
practicable'' also potentially allows for indefinite deferral of this 
important training.
    To promote hands-on familiarity with davit-launched liferaft 
operations, the Coast Guard is considering proposing requirements for 
drills to include the inflation and lowering of a davit-launched 
liferaft at specified intervals.
    In the interim, we recommend that operators of MODUs and manned 
offshore facilities fitted with davit-launched liferafts should 
consider the carriage of a dedicated training liferaft (which need not 
be serviced at an authorized facility after it is used in drills) for 
the crew to practice the necessary steps for successful deployment, 
including inflation of the raft, connection to the launching appliance, 
lowering, and recovery of the liferaft.
    Alternatively, when the liferafts onboard the MODU or facility 
become due for required periodic servicing, the crew should be 
permitted to deploy them during drills, prior to being sent to a 
shoreside approved facility for servicing and repacking.

(d) Carriage of Dedicated Rescue Boats (Safety Recommendation 3J)

    The Report recommended that the Commandant work with IMO to amend 
the Code for the Construction and Equipment of Mobile Offshore Drilling 
Units (MODU Code) to prohibit the dual purpose acceptance of life boats 
as rescue boats on MODUs.
    The Coast Guard believes totally enclosed lifeboats are not well 
suited for use as rescue boats on MODUs and offshore facilities, and is 
considering changing the regulations that permit this practice. When a 
dual purpose life/rescue boat is fully loaded and being used as a 
survival craft, it is not available for use as a rescue boat, and vice 
versa. Rescue boats are primarily intended to marshal liferafts, and 
for man overboard situations. In order to carry out this mission, they 
are fitted with special launching and retrieval appliances that allow 
their recovery onboard in harsh weather and sea conditions. Dual 
purpose lifeboats do not have similar launching and retrieval 
capability, and on MODUs and offshore facilities, lifeboats can be 
difficult or impossible to safely recover in anything but the most 
benign conditions due to the large air gap and the lack of a ship's 
side to potentially provide a lee.
    Until new regulations are proposed, we recommend that operators of 
new MODUs and manned offshore facilities should provide a dedicated 
approved SOLAS rescue boat (USCG approval series 160.156 or equivalent) 
and dedicated approved launching

[[Page 70174]]

appliance instead of relying on a dual approved life/rescue boat to 
meet this requirement. Operators of existing MODUs or facilities that 
currently use a dual approved life/rescue boat to meet this requirement 
are urged to supplement their life saving capability with a dedicated 
approved SOLAS rescue boat and launching appliance.
    For MODUs or facilities with a large air gap, operators should 
consider the improved launching and recovery capabilities of an 
approved fast rescue boat with a dedicated fast rescue boat launching 
appliance (which is equipped with motion damping and a constant 
tensioning winch).

(e) Quarterly Man Overboard Drills (Safety Recommendation 3M)

    The Report recommended the Commandant amend 46 CFR 109.213 to 
require performance of a man overboard drill on at least a quarterly 
basis.
    We agree that 46 CFR 109.213, as well as the relevant OCS 
Activities regulations in 33 CFR Subchapter N, should include a 
quarterly man overboard drill, and are considering proposing regulation 
changes for this purpose.
    Until new requirements are proposed, the Coast Guard urges 
operators of all MODUs and manned offshore facilities on the U.S. OCS 
to consider performing a man overboard drill on at least a quarterly 
basis, including deployment of a rescue boat, where provided, to 
simulate the recovery of a person from the water.

III. Authority

    This document is issued under the authority of 5 U.S.C. 552(a), 43 
U.S.C. 1331, et seq., and 33 CFR 1.05-1. The guidance contained in this 
notice is not a substitute for applicable legal requirements, nor is it 
itself a rule. It is not intended to nor does it impose legally binding 
requirements on any party. It represents the Coast Guard's current 
thinking on this topic and provides the public with an indication of 
future action being considered by the Coast Guard.

    Dated: October 24, 2012.
J.G. Lantz,
Director of Commercial Regulations and Standards, U.S. Coast Guard.
[FR Doc. 2012-28487 Filed 11-21-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9110-04-P