Within the last several months, the Coast Guard Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy published Marine Safety Information Bulletin 11-21, “Reporting Sexual Assaults on U.S. Vessels,” to emphasize that sexual assault is a crime. Therefore, when the assault occurs aboard a U.S. documented vessel, the Coast Guard must be notified. But why should the U.S. Coast Guard be notified? What authority do they have with these types of crimes?
While the law requires the master or individual in charge of a U.S. documented vessel to make that report, too often, sexual assaults go unreported. Therefore, the Coast Guard encourages all victims and witnesses of sexual assaults onboard U.S. vessels to report directly to the Coast Guard to overcome this challenge. In addition, reports can be made via phone to the National Command Center at 202-372-2100, which is available 24/7 to field reports that initiate investigations.
To encourage more reporting, the Coast Guard Criminal Investigative Service (CGIS) has also established a website and mobile app that enables anyone to report criminal offenses directly to the Coast Guard. These reports can be made anonymously or with attribution. The Coast Guard will respond to any reports of sexual assault with trained investigators and will hold offenders accountable through criminal prosecution and, or actions against USCG-issued merchant mariner credentials (MMCs).
The CG Tips App can be downloaded from a mobile provider’s marketplace using the following QR code:
Suppose the master or individual in charge of a U.S. documented vessel makes an attributed report of a sexual offense through CGIS Tips, including providing detailed contact information for further follow-up. In that case, this will satisfy the reporting requirements of 46 U.S. Code § 10104(a). Sexual offenses, defined in 18 U.S. Code Chapter 109A, include sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact. For more information about CGIS or to submit a tip via the web, visit: https://www.uscg.mil/Units/Coast-Guard-Investigative-Service/.