USCG_New 1 Tier Inspection_CVC-WI-028(1)

USCG Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance (CG-CVC)
Mission Management System (MMS) Work Instruction (WI)


Domestic Inspection Program


Small Passenger Vessel Risk Based Inspection Program



Orig. Date


Rev. Date



This guidance is not a substitute for applicable legal requirements, nor is it itself a rule. It is not intended to nor does it impose legally-binding requirements on any party. It represents the Coast Guard’s current thinking on this topic and may assist industry, mariners, the public, and the Coast Guard, as well as other federal and state regulators, in applying statutory and regulatory requirements. You can use an alternative approach for complying with these requirements if the approach satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations. If you want to discuss an alternative approach (you are not required to do so), you may contact the Coast Guard Domestic

Vessel Compliance Division (CG-CVC-1) at cgcvc@uscg.mil who is responsible for implementing this guidance.


(a)     46 CFR 115, Subchapter K

(b)    46 CFR 176, Subchapter T

(c)     Marine Safety Manual (MSM) Volume II, COMDTINST M16000.7B

  • Purpose. This Work Instruction provides Officers in Charge, Marine Inspection (OCMI), Chiefs, Inspection Division (CID), and Marine Inspectors (MI) with inspection guidance for the small passenger vessels (SPV) risk based inspection program.1
  • Action. OCMIs shall actively employ risk management when managing SPV inspections within their Fleet of Responsibility. CG-Policy Letter 20-02 Inspection Guidance for High Risk Small Passenger Vessels and CG-CVC Policy Letter 16-05 (CH-1), Risk-Based Decision Making (RBDM) for Small Passenger Vessel (SPV) Annual Inspection Activity are hereby cancelled.
  • Background. Risk assessment and risk management are daily activities for Coast Guard personnel involved in vessel compliance activities. OCMIs use formal and informal assessments to balance workforce constraints with the need to facilitate a safe and efficient maritime industry. The Coast Guard continues to conduct statutory inspections on the SPV fleet in accordance with 46 S. Code
  • 3301; however, data analytics provide a new tool and modernized approach to the marine inspection program to prioritize marine inspection resources.

The types of SPVs and nature of operations vary greatly from small water taxis within a harbor to large, overnight ocean going vessels. Vessels are constructed of a variety of materials, use differing technology, and can be newly built or more than a century old. The associated probability of a marine casualty and the subsequent consequence to people, property and the environment likewise varies greatly across the SPV fleet. Vessels with higher risk characteristics or operations may receive greater Coast Guard oversight than corresponding vessels that pose a lower risk.

Using various computational methods, machine learning-enabled software, and the Coast Guard’s database of deficiency and casualty information, the Coast Guard developed a model to categorize SPVs based on potential risk for an undesirable outcome. The model evaluates numerous factors, including compliance history, number of passengers carried, vessel type, vessel age, route, and history of vessels in related operations to place the vessel into one of three tiers (I, II or III). These categories correspond to the required scope, follow-on inspections, and administrative procedures

1 This work instruction does not apply to small passenger vessels enrolled in the Streamlined Inspection Program (SIP), multi-service certification vessels, OSRVs, OSVs, or passenger barges.