WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Clay Higgins (R-LA) and Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) have introduced the Vessel Response Plan Improvement Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to increase transparency regarding search and rescue operations following a maritime disaster.
While the U.S. Coast Guard requires commercial vessels to have detailed response plans, there are no requirements regarding notification of family or next of kin for missing crew members. The bill would ensure that vessel response plans include procedures for briefing families twice daily and providing immediate notification when a missing crewmember is recovered.
“The Seacor tragedy exposed gaps in existing vessel response plan regulations, especially regarding the frequency and timeliness of updates for the crewmembers’ families. We want to ensure professional, compassionate, and transparent communication is a component of every vessel response plan. Our legislation assists in that effort. Our prayers remain with the families of every crewmember and those still searching to bring their loved ones home,”said Congressman Higgins.
“The brave families of the Seacor Power crew have suffered more than we can imagine, and it’s appalling that they couldn’t even get straight answers about their loved ones. No Louisiana family should ever have to walk through tragedy with the added weight of the unknown just because of someone else’s poor planning. This bill would make sure that families get updates quickly, directly from the vessel’s owners, instead of being forced to sift through rumors in a time of pain. I’m incredibly sad that Louisiana has lost such faithful crewmembers, and I hope we can prevent others from bearing the burden that their loved ones have had to endure,”said Senator Kennedy.
Text of the House bill is available here.