Coast Guard moves to combat sexual misconduct at sea

In a recent effort to combat sexual misconduct in the maritime industry, the U.S. Coast Guard has implemented new reporting requirements for incidents of harassment, sexual harassment, or sexual assault.

The responsible entity of a vessel is now required by law to report any such complaint or incident to the Coast Guard. To guide individuals and organisations in reporting instances of sexual misconduct, the Coast Guard has published MSIB 1-23, which provides comprehensive guidance on the reporting process. The Coast Guard Officers in Charge, Marine Inspections (OCMI) have also launched an education and outreach campaign to raise awareness among maritime industry personnel about the reporting requirements and preferred reporting mechanisms.

The Coast Guard emphasises the importance of understanding and addressing the needs of survivors and promoting a culture that opposes sexual assault and harassment. The reporting process encourages responsible entities to make reports promptly and provides various channels for reporting, including the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) Tips app, email ([email protected]), or phone (202-372-2100).

The Coast Guard is also providing support to anonymous reporting through the CGIS Tips app for the National Command Centre (NCC). Survivors are also encouraged to seek confidential help through the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

When a report is received, the Coast Guard will conduct thorough and impartial investigations, collaborating with the Department of Justice for criminal matters. For non-criminal cases, Coast Guard investigators and specialised entities will investigate all aspects of the allegation and take appropriate administrative enforcement action.

The Coast Guard’s authority extends to U.S.-flagged commercial vessels worldwide, where criminal investigations can be conducted for sexual assaults.

In the case of foreign-flagged vessels, the Coast Guard said it has jurisdiction to investigate alleged incidents of sexual misconduct and harassment occurring in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction.