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NEWS | Jan. 10, 2024

U.S. Coast Guard ensures safety, facilitates commerce in Certificate of Compliance exam on MSC Bellissima at Port of Guam

By Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir, U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

In a vital operation reflecting its commitment to community and maritime safety, U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam successfully conducted a Certificate of Compliance (COC) examination on the MSC Bellissima, a 1,036-foot cruise ship flagged out of Malta, at the Port of Guam on Jan. 3, 2023.

This examination underscores the U.S. Coast Guard's role in maritime safety and its integral part in bolstering local commerce and tourism, which are lifelines of the island's economy.

"This is our first cruise ship exam since 2018 and the largest since the Norwegian Joy in 2016. This vessel, coming from Japan and making its first U.S. port call, required an exam to certify its readiness to carry U.S. passengers in U.S. waters, a critical step in ensuring safety compliance," said Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Thomas, an inspector with U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam.

The examination team, consisting of four inspectors from U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam and two from the Coast Guard National Cruise Ship Center of Expertise (CSNCOE) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, meticulously evaluated the ship's adherence to international and U.S. maritime safety norms.

"COC exams are crucial for ensuring vessels entering U.S. ports meet our and international stringent safety and regulatory standards. They play a vital role in safeguarding passengers and crew which also supports the economic framework of Guam by facilitating safe and secure maritime commerce," said Lt. Jay DeInnocentiis, chief of waterways, explaining the strategic importance of these examinations. “The officers and crew were extremely professional and the ship, built in 2019, was in excellent condition with only a few minor issues corrected on the spot.”

The COC exam verifies that the ship and crew comply with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and other relevant International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations. The inspectors conduct the COC exam holistically, viewing shipboard material conditions combined with ship operations as a single system. This system, when combined with the aspects of human factors and influences, forms the overall ability of the vessel to operate safely. The exam focuses on the performance of officers and crew with specific attention to their training. It also verifies the ship's compliance with lifeboat and liferaft deployment route requirements.

Prior to the vessel's mooring, the U.S. Coast Guard's Sector Boarding Team performed a security boarding, arriving offshore aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from U.S. Coast Guard Station Apra Harbor. The station crews also provided a security escort for the vessel, in a coordinated approach to maritime security.

Following its Guam visit, the MSC Bellissima and crew proceeded to Saipan, where U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Saipan and Sector Boarding Team members further ensured compliance with security requirements, demonstrating the U.S. Coast Guard's far-reaching commitment to maritime security and safety across the region.

This successful COC exam of the MSC Bellissima is a testament to the U.S. Coast Guard's dedication to the highest maritime safety standards and its pivotal role in facilitating commerce and tourism. These efforts contribute significantly to the economic vitality of Guam and the wider region and fortify the U.S. Coast Guard's commitment to being an integral part of the community, ensuring safe, secure, and efficient marine transportation systems.


U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam

The U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam team focuses on maritime safety, security, and stewardship in Oceania. With a primary presence in Guam and Saipan and over 300 members across Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the team maintains a strong U.S. presence in the Micronesia sub-region and adjacent areas, closely tied to local communities.