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SIP is an alternative to traditional Coast Guard inspections that was developed in response to the Maritime Regulatory Reform Initiative. The Maritime Regulatory Reform Initiative challenged the Coast Guard to re-evaluate its regulatory programs and to develop alternatives that would ensure the same level of safety. 

Originally, Coast Guard Districts and OCMIs were encouraged to explore options for streamlining the traditional inspection process. This resulted in numerous “prototype” SIPs created and tested by local Coast Guard units and Districts. Soon, however, it became apparent that the diversity of these programs was actually an impediment to each program’s success. Since each local version of SIP differed in the type and manner of USCG oversight, verification of the vessel’s compliance with regulatory safety requirements became an issue when vessels were inspected in OCMI zones other than the one in which the SIP enrollment was made. Some OCMIs were reluctant to accept another OCMI zone’s validation of the vessel’s compliance because there lacked a consistent inspection practice for ascertaining compliance. Accordingly, it became necessary to develop a consistent national policy regarding SIP.


The significant difference between SIP and the traditional annual inspection program is in the process of how compliance is ensured. SIP is primarily an “overlay” of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) requirements that regulate vessel safety. It identifies an alternative process for ensuring compliance with the CFR, where company personnel conduct frequent, periodic examinations of the various vessel systems, document their findings, and take the necessary corrective actions specified in the USCG approved plans when discrepancies are discovered. The Coast Guard will still conduct required inspections of the vessel(s), however, the manner of conducting the inspection will be considerably different. SIP is not strictly or singularly a “self-inspection” program. Under SIP the marine inspector’s primary focus will be to review the implementation and management of the SIP by the company and check some critical vessel systems to verify accuracy of the records.

 SIP is based on maintaining enrolled vessels in a continual state of compliance. This continual state of compliance is assured through the development of an OCMI-approved Company Action Plan (CAP) and Vessel Action Plan(s) (VAP). 


These plans:


·         stipulate the company’s commitment to a partnership with the Coast Guard to ensure the vessels operate in a continual state of compliance. 

·         identify the responsibilities of company personnel for ensuring that this commitment is fulfilled in addition to identifying the vessel specific systems that will be examined—

·         by whom,

·         when,

·         how to record the examination, and

·         what to do in the event a discrepancy is discovered. 


The company will develop these plans with the assistance of a USCG SIP Advisor, assigned to work with the Company SIP Representative.


For additional information and a list of frequently asked questions, please consult Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 2-99 at or contact the SIP Program Manager.

SIP Program Manager:  (202) 372-1216










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