Coast Guard Issues New Guidance for Reporting Sexual Misconduct on U.S. Vessels

Victims of sexual misconduct at sea may take some comfort in knowing that the U.S. Coast Guard has established new reporting options and consolidated reporting for all types of sexual misconduct on U.S. flagged vessels. This includes all incidents of “harassment, sexual harassment, or sexual assault” that violate company policy. The “responsible entity” of a vessel is required to report these incidents to the Coast Guard, but survivors of abuse and bystanders who witness abuse may also use these reporting methods.

Committed to Enforcement

The Coast Guard started off the recently-released Information Bulletin by noting that sexual misconduct aboard U.S. vessels is harmful and dangerous and frequently results in “lost careers and a lifetime of trauma for the survivors who endure the abuse.”

Then the service reiterated a commitment to the investigation and pursuit of enforcement action any time sexual misconduct is reported on U.S. flagged vessels. Right now, the owner, master, or managing operator of a vessel has a duty to inform the Coast Guard any time they receive a complaint or are aware of an incident involving sexual misconduct.

Reports can be filed by others anonymously. Hopefully this will encourage those suffering abuse to bring it to light.

Options for Reporting Sexual Misconduct

In an effort to make reporting easier, the Coast Guard developed different reporting options:

  • CGIS Tips App
  • Email reports through
  • Phone via the National Command Center at 202-372-2100 (available 24/7)

All of these reporting methods may be used by anyone, including bystanders and those who have endured the abuse. Reports may be attributed or anonymous.

The Coast Guard promises to initiate an investigation for all reports received. Those who include contact information in their report will receive follow-up communication.

Criminal Investigation Following Reports

The Coast Guard Investigative Service has pledged to “leverage all available resources” to launch an immediate criminal investigation for a sexual crime occurring on U.S. vessels “anywhere in the world.” In addition, they have promised to use trained investigators to respond to any reports of sexual misconduct and to hold offenders accountable either through criminal prosecution or actions against their merchant mariner credentials or both.

Help for Victims of Sexual Harassment or Assault at Sea

For many mariners who suffered from sexual misconduct, the Coast Guard’s reporting options amount to too little, too late. The new options and reporting requirements may help shed light on practices which have been allowed to continue hidden for far too long. Those starting a career now may see better conditions in their futures.

For those who have already been subjected to abuse, it is sometimes possible to find justice and compensation through legal action. The dedicated attorneys at Latti & Anderson LLP help mariners who have suffered wrongfully receive the fair treatment and retribution they deserve. For a confidential consultation to learn how we may be able to assist you, contact us today.