united states coast guard auxiliary






VSC Best Practices


Prepared by the



Workshop Objectives

This module is designed to introduce Vessel

Examiners to some commonly experienced problems encountered during Vessel Safety


It is also intended as a refresher to experienced Vessel Examiners and to educate new Vessel Examiners.


Best Practices

FC/VFC/FSO-VE Notification:

Before going out to do a VSC be sure to let your FC, VFC, or FSO-VE know in writing.

 This is important to satisfy the “assignment to duty” requirement in the event of an accident, injury, or damage.


Best Practices


Although not required, the Vessel

Examiner should make every attempt to wear a proper uniform and an approved life jacket when conducting a



Best Practices


Check what uniform is approved in your area.

 Don’t refuse to conduct a VSC if you are asked and in civilian attire.


Best Practices

VSC Courtesy:

As a courtesy to the vessel owner, ask permission to come aboard; say:

“Permission to come aboard?”.

Be cautious that nothing you are carrying or wearing can cause damage to the vessel you are inspecting.


Best Practices

VSC Courtesy:

If you make an appointment to examine a vessel, be on time.

If you cannot keep the appointment, call the owner and explain why.


Best Practices

Pre-examination: Working with the boat owner in advance provides:

More exposure to the boater,

More opportunity to discuss boating safety,

More opportunity to solicit interest in the



Best Practices

For more information, encourage the boat owner to visit: http://wow.uscgaux.info/content.php?unit=V-DEPT

 http://usps.org/national/vsc

The bottom line is to do what it takes to create safe boats and safe boaters .


Best Practices

Supervised Vessel Safety Checks:

Any VE performing supervised vessel safety checks (VSC), whether in conjunction with

Initial Qualification or Requalification, must perform the supervised VSC on power vessels only, no paddle crafts.


Best Practices

Supervised Vessel Safety Checks:

Documented on Form 7012 and NOT Form

7012A (Paddle Craft VSC).

Reported on ANSC 7038 per policy.


Best Practices

Supervised Vessel Safety Checks:

Once member is certified, paddle craft VSCs may be performed.


One Decal at a Time

Awarding the VSC decal:

Only current year VSC decal should be displayed.

Old decals should be removed; however,

VE/Owner may place new decal directly over old VSC decal.


One Decal at a Time

Awarding the VSC decal:

VSC Decal must be affixed:

Immediately after inspection by the

VE, or

By the operator in the presence of the



One Decal at a Time

Awarding the VSC decal:

The decal shall be:

Affixed in a location not to interfere with or obscure the operator’s view.

Be readily visible to authorities while underway.


VSC Decal Placement

Affix the decal:

On the lower forward corner of a portside window, or

A lower corner on the portside of the windshield.

If no window is available, to the dashboard or the back of a seat.


VSC Decal Placement

Decals should only be affixed:

To permanently installed equipment.


Registration Numbers

Registration Numbers MUST be:

Painted, or

PERMANENTLY attached to each side of the forward half of the vessel,

Of a color contrasting with the background color.


Registration Numbers

Registration numbers are:

Issued by the state.

Consist of two letters identifying the state of principal use (prefix).

Followed by a combination of number(s).

Ending with one or more letters (suffix).


Registration Numbers

NJ 1234 AB or NH-5678-AB

NOTE: Spaces or hyphens between letter and number groupings must be equal to the width of a letter other than “I” or a number other than “1”


Registration Numbers

Registration Number must be:

Plain block characters,

Not less than three inches in height,

In a color contrasting with the background.


Registration Numbers

State validation sticker must be:

Affixed in accordance with state requirements,

Within six inches of the registration number.


Registration Numbers

State validation stickers:

Applies to all registered vessels.

There are NO exceptions for smaller craft or personal water craft



Documented Vessel Reminder

Every documented vessel must have:

An official number.

 Marked by any “PERMANENT


Cannot be obliterated or obscured.


Documented Vessel Reminder

Must have the official number permanently affixed in block type Arabic numerals preceded with the letters “NO.”,

Not less than 3 inches in height,

On some clearly visible interior integral

“STRUCTURAL” part of the vessel.


Documented Vessel Reminder

Numbers must be:

Permanently etched in wood vessels, or

 In fiberglass epoxied on the hull….

Not in a cabinet on the bridge or interior.


Documented Vessel Reminder

A documented vessel hull display must:

Have the Name and hailing port of the vessel together in one place on the hull

(usually on the stern).

Be in letters not less than 4 inches in height.

Be clearly readable.


Life Jackets (PFDs)

Regardless of the number required, examine all life jackets on board.

An acceptable life jacket must be

“readily accessible” and of suitable size for each person on board.


Life Jackets (PFDs)

The life jacket label is the best reference to determine if it is the appropriate size, type, and whether it must be worn to count.


Life Jackets (PFDs)

USCG approved inflatable devices:

Authorized for use by persons 16 years of age or older.

Require regular maintenance.

Must have a full cylinder and all status indicators green.


Life Jackets (PFDs) for Children

Children under 13 years of age must:

Wear a CG approved life jacket,

Of the proper size, and

In serviceable condition


Life Jackets (PFDs) for Children

Children under 13 years of age must wear a life jacket on a vessel when:

Underway (not at anchor, not made fast to the shore, or aground)

Unless they are below decks or in an enclosed cabin.

If a state has established requirements that differ from the Coast Guard requirements, the state requirements will be applicable on waters subject to the state’s jurisdiction.


Ventilation Systems

It is not sufficient to have an owner/operator turn on the blower and hear the motor run.

Check air flow at ducts.

Use your hand to sense the air.


Ventilation Systems

Each exhaust opening or duct must originate in the lower third of the compartment and above the normal accumulation of bilge water.


Fire Extinguishers

To be U S Coast Guard approved, a fire extinguisher is only required to have a bracket when it is originally sold.

A fire extinguisher does not have to be mounted to meet federal minimum legal requirements or receive a VSC decal, unless there is a state requirement to the contrary.


Fire Extinguishers

Contrary to prior guidance, there is never an occasion where it is permissible to shake or smack a fire extinguish. This could lead to compaction of material in the discharge tube.


VDS Requirements

When considering VDS requirements, the applicable term is “coastal waters.

Coastal waters include:

The Great Lakes (excluding Lake St. Clair),

The territorial seas,

And those waters connected directly, up to the first point where a body of water is less than two miles wide.


VDS Requirements

Visual Distress Signals (VDS) are specifically defined in the Code of Federal

Regulations and include only USCG approved devices limited to:

• pyrotechnics

• approved orange flag (day signal only)

• approved electric distress light flashing

SOS (night signal only)


VDS Requirements

All VDS need an approval number displayed and the pyrotechnics must not be beyond the listed expiration date.


Disposal of Expired Flares

Flares and other pyrotechnic devices need to be disposed of properly.

Properly is defined by the community in which you live.

Owners/users of these devices should contact their local sanitation, fire or refuse collection departments.


MARPOL Trash Placards

The International Convention for the

Prevention of Pollution from Ships (Annex V)

(MARPOL) deals with prevention of pollution by garbage from ships.

Amendments to Annex V will go into effect on

January 1, 2013 and will include a change to the placard requirements for domestic vessels.


MARPOL Trash Placards

Until new placards are available, Examiners are instructed to consider Item #11 on Form

7012 as “N/A” for all vessels during calendar year 2013, or until otherwise directed.

Examiners should take the opportunity to educate boaters that new requirements are being developed and they will need to comply when available.


Marine Sanitation Device

All recreational vessels with installed toilet facilities must have an operable marine sanitation device (MSD).

Any capability for overboard discharge must be disabled or secured.


Marine Sanitation Device

Acceptable methods to disable/secure overboard discharge include:

Padlocking overboard discharge valves in the closed position,

Closing overboard discharge valves and removing handle,

Locking door to space enclosing the toilet.


Marine Batteries

Federal Rules only require the positive battery terminal be covered. However, some states may require both terminals be covered.

Plastic battery boxes or other covers to protect the battery are recommended but not required



Marine Batteries

Battery cables should be securely connected.

Batteries should be clamped down or otherwise secured so as to prevent movement.


Marine Batteries

Batteries should not be serviced or tampered with by Vessel Examiners.

No installing terminal covers !!

Batteries explode occasionally when handled. Do not attempt to handle.


VHF Radio with DSC

If a VHF radio with Digital Selective Calling

(DSC) capability is properly registered with a

Marine Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) and interfaced with a GPS, it has the ability to transmit vessel position and identity digitally.


VHF Radio Reminder

Channel 16 is the Calling and Distress channel used to initiate all calls (except distress calls on a DSC capable radio).

Once contact is made on Channel 16, switch to another channel (working channel) to continue, except in an emergency situation .


VHF Radio Reminder

Channel 9 is an alternate calling channel.

Think through your response before speaking, speak in a slow and distinct manner.

Do not use your radio when the boat is on land.


Cell Phone Use

Some boaters rely solely on cell phones as a primary source of communication.

This is not without drawbacks.

You reach limited people.

Range is short.

VHF reaches all in your vicinity.


Cell Phone Use

When 9-1-1 is called on a cell phone, it goes to the Police and they have no way to locate you on the water.


Electronic Shock Drowning (ESD)

Electric Shock Drowning results from the passage of a typically low level AC current through the body, while immersed in fresh water, with sufficient force to cause skeletal muscular paralysis, rendering the victim unable to help him/herself and potentially resulting in drowning.


Electronic Shock Drowning (ESD)

While freshwater is not a good electrical conductor, the human body’s high salinity makes it a much better conductor and AC current uses the body as a return path to its source.

Saltwater is more conductive than the human body, which explains why electric shock deaths have not occurred in saltwater.


Electronic Shock Drowning (ESD)

Preventing ESD:

Educate the public on the dangers of going in the water at a marina.

Have a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters ( GFCI) device installed on boats that would automatically interrupt the flow of electricity in the case of a fault.

Have GFCI breakers installed on each of the marina’s shore power distribution points.



What other issues have you encountered?

How did you handle the problem?

What was the solution?


V Directorate Website http://wow.uscgaux.info/content.php?unit=V-DEPT

I Want a VSC: Visitors can enter their ZIP Code and find a volunteer examiner to give them a VSC.

 Virtual Safety Check: Use this page to check your own boat to see if you are ready.

 Job Aid Kits: Training tools and aids to becoming a great VE or PV.

News from the DIR-V: Statements of policy or procedure provided by members of the Chief Director’s Office, National Elected Officers, or

Department Chiefs.

AUX V-Directorate Staff : Gives you the most current information on V

Dept Staff .

 Q & A: Displays questions received from our visitors along with answers provided.


2013 V-Directorate Staff Officers

Director (DIR-V)

Deputy Director (DIR-Vd)

Division Chief – Vessel Exams (DVC-VE)

Kelly L. Townsend

Michael S. Klacik

Perry R. Taylor

Division Chief – Visitation Programs (DVC-VP) Vincent Cerverizzo

Division Chief – Technical Support (DVC-VT) John Yskamp

Division Chief – Incentive Programs (DVC-VI) Keith Knotek

Division Chief – Communications (DVC-VC) Paul J. Mayer Jr.

We Save Lives !!!