Coast Guard Captain of the Port: A brief history

This article provides an overview of the history of the captain of the port office of the United States Coast Guard. In 1950, the passage of the Magnuson Act made the captain of the port role a somewhat permanent fixture at U.S. ports. Coast Guard authorities grew from safeguarding ships to the protection of harbors, ports, and waterfront facilities. The 1972 Ports and Waterways Safety Act authorized the Coast Guard to establish vessel traffic separation schemes for port approaches and vessel traffic services for ports with a high risk of casualties. Today, the Coast Guard has regulations for vessel traffic services in 10 ports and cooperative services in another three ports. The Coast Guard has been involved in enforcing regulations for handling dangerous cargo for the protection of vessels, ports, and the marine transportation system since 1871. This responsibility has grown over the years to include stowage, as well as segregation and documentation of bulk, containerized, or packaged dangerous cargoes. This includes enforcement of safety, security, and marine environmental protection regulations for waterfront facilities. Passage of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act expanded captain of the port responsibilities by adding pollution prevention regulations for vessels and facilities. Establishment of policies for the proper management of the nation’s maritime transportation system is now managed through the Waterways Policies & Activities Division.


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  • Accession Number: 01686104
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 8 2018 10:01AM