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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of our most commonly asked questions. If you cannot find the question you are looking for on our FAQs page, please reach out to us.

In accordance with this state mandate, a maritime industry stakeholders group, through meetings and negotiations, developed a plan and method to provide an Emergency Response System (ERS) with an Emergency Response Towing Vessel in Neah Bay as required by the Act. Rather than leave compliance to each vessel or plan holder, the stakeholders group engaged in a process to identify and select a supplier for the ERTV. In a competitive bid process, they selected Foss Maritime for the first ERTV (and in 2020, Foss was again selected to provide the ERTV). The stakeholders group formed the ERTV Compliance Group (ERTV CG) to establish the means and organization to provide a year-round ERS with an ERTV stationed in Neah Bay and to make it available for the owners and operators of covered vessels and oil spill contingency plan holders to identify and include the ERS/ERTV in their required oil spill contingency plans as required. The ERTV CG is a non-profit organization with a board of directors comprised of covered vessel representatives.

The primary role of the Marine Exchange of Puget Sound (MXPS) is to provide communications and information services to its membership. The membership is a mix of Puget Sound-based vessel operators and agents, tug boat operators, ship chandlers, port authorities and state and federal agencies along with a wide range of maritime industry support businesses.

Today, the Exchange serves as an information clearinghouse for its members, providing a wide range of services from monitoring vessel arrivals and departures to then communicating that information promptly to those servicing the vessel to facilitate a most efficient operation by all. The Exchange is open 24 hours per day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The Exchange tracks and monitors vessel movements starting about 15 days before arrival in Puget Sound or Grays Harbor.

Some organizations in the maritime industry do not have administrative staff, one of them being the ERTV CG. Thus by agreement between the ERTV CG and MXPS, MXPS provides administrative support services including invoicing, collecting, accounting, website services, meeting coordination, etc.

The ERS/ERTV assessment does not apply to vessels calling only on Canadian ports. This assessment applies only to “covered vessels” arriving at or departing from Washington ports through the Strait of Juan de Fuca whether direct or indirect (by way of a Canadian port). However, the ERTV is available for hire by or for any vessel needing assistance within the operating area regardless of that vessel’s destination.

A covered vessel is defined in Washington State RCW 88.46.010 as “a tank vessel, cargo vessel, or passenger vessel” and, for the application of the new requirement, includes the same vessels required to comply with contingency plan requirements. Cargo and passenger vessels are further defined to be those of 300 or more gross tons.

No. The ERS/ERTV requirement applies only to covered vessels calling at Washington ports through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, except for transits extending no further west than Race Rocks Light.

The enrollment agreement establishes the vessel owner’s/operator’s commitment to participate in this option for compliance with the Washington State Emergency Response System (ERS)and Emergency Response Towing Vessel (ERTV) requirement and to pay assessments accordingly. Alternatively, the owner/operator of a covered vessel to which the ERS/ERTV requirement applies, or the Washington State approved oil spill plan holder for that vessel, could make other arrangements to have a towing vessel stationed at Neah Bay during the vessel’s transits of the Strait of Juan de Fuca (both inbound and outbound), however, this would be far more costly.

At this time, annual enrollment renewal is not required. Owners/operators or their duly authorized agent/representative will be asked to update vessel information and contact/invoicing information periodically as needed.

At this time, re-enrollment in the ERS/ERTV is only necessary when vessel ownership/management has changed. A revised Schedule of Vessel Information form is to be re-submitted whenever vessel information, as reported on that form, has changed.

A. The assessments are calculated differently between the tank vessel sector, and the non-tank vessel sector.

B. The tank vessel sector assessments are covered in the “ERTV Tank Vessel Rate Sheet” on the website.

C. The formula for calculating the non-tank vessel assessment is in the “ERTV Non-Tank Vessel Rate Sheet” document on the website. Assuming no credits, the following examples are provided for quick reference:


DWT    Rate -0.008    WCD    Rate -0.012    ASSESSMENT
83000    $664     +    19916    $239     =    $903 
76465    $612     +    22754    $273     =    $885 
52447    $420     +    16265    $195     =    $615 
20741    $166     +     8220     $99     =    $265


DWT    Rate -0.008        WCD    Rate -0.012    ASSESSMENT
110100    $881     +    100039    $1,200     =    $2,081 
 92964    $744     +     65447      $785     =    $1,529 
 80596    $645     +     51536      $618     =    $1,263 
 67272    $538     +     47654      $572     =    $1,110 
 50703    $406     +     55373      $664     =    $1,070 
 43401    $347     +     34081      $409     =    $756 
 24683    $197     +     25903      $311     =    $508 
 21291    $170     +     23040      $276     =    $446


DWT    Rate -0.008    WCD    Rate -0.012    ASSESSMENT
45000    $360     +    13083    $157     =    $517


(DWT+GT)/2 Rate -0.008    WCD    Rate -0.012      ASSESSMENT
43224        $346     +       12888    $155     =    $501 
    (DWT 65314 + GT 21134) / 2 = 43224

D. Credits were considered in the development of both the tank and non-tank vessel assessment. Credits are given for independent dual propulsion, double hull for tankers, protectively located fuel tanks, and certification under ISO 14001.

E. A non-tank vessel will also pay a first annual entry assessment of $550 (effective July 1, 2017). The year is established to be July 1 through June 30.

F. The minimum assessment for non-tank vessels is $250 per entry (effective July 1, 2020). This will apply mostly to smaller fishing industry vessels and some smaller cargo and cruise vessels as well.

G. For the small “covered” fishing vessels, the assessment for the first annual visit will be the $550 first annual fee with no per visit assessment added. Subsequent visits in that year will be at a minimum of $250.

H. Larger fishing industry vessels, any that calculate an assessment greater than the minimum $250, will pay $550 plus the calculated per visit assessment on the first visit and then the calculated per visit assessment on each subsequent visit in that year.

I. For ERTV Year 11 (July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021), an Administrative Service Credit (of $35) is given to those vessels that are also paying the Marine Exchange of Puget Sound monitoring fee and the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association arrival fee.

Protectively located fuel tanks for the purpose of the credit given on the ERTV assessment are those fuel tanks that meet the requirements of MARPOL Annex I, Regulation 12A of MARPOL (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified) Annex 1. There is no simple way to summarize the technical details of this requirement. Essentially, the protection requirements oblige the oil fuel tanks to be located inside the vessel away from the bottom and side of the hull. Do not assume the Hull Type indicated either on the Coast Guard’s Vessel Response Plan website or in Lloyd’s accurately represents the location of the fuel tanks. Check with the vessel owners regarding the particulars as recorded on the vessel’s MARPOL Annex I certification.

This new Regulation 12A, came into force on 1 August 2007. It sets out the requirements concerning the location of oil fuel tanks in all ships with an aggregate oil fuel capacity of 600m3 and above and which are delivered on or after 1 August 2010. In this context “ship delivered on or after 1 August 2010” also refers to a ship for which the building contract is placed on or after 1 August 2007, or in the absence of a contract its keel is laid on or after 1 February 2008.

The new regulation 12A closes a gap in MARPOL Annex I which, while mandating strict hull standards for tankers of 600 tonnes dwt and above, had not yet addressed the issue of large ships. Not necessarily oil tankers, which can carry as much as 5,000m3 of oil fuel, or above, which is more than the cargo carried by some smaller oil tankers.

In time, all ships to which Regulation 12A applies will have the protectively located fuel tanks and this credit toward ERTV assessment will become moot.

A. The vessel owner/operator or duly authorized agent/representative is welcome to calculate the assessment in advance. However, the Marine Exchange staff will also calculate the assessment using the formula and give any credits due as noted in the Schedule of Vessel Information.

B. Effective January 1, 2014, all vessels now see a separate ERTV invoice for ERTV assessments. The ERTV fees are no longer included as a line item on other invoices. This invoice is generated by the Marine Exchange of Puget Sound on behalf of the ERTV CG.

A sample letter has been prepared and posted on the ERTV site and is also on the WSMC site, as the sample letter can be used in both cases. Vessels enrolled in WSMC will all have to have the new ERTV coverage as well.

Washington State’s voluntary program for the safe and pollution-free operation of tank vessels uses Voluntary Best Achievable Protection (VBAP) and Exceptional Compliance Program (ECOPRO) standards to represent many of the best practices found on tank vessels throughout the world. Companies are invited to demonstrate their efforts to improve safety and protect the environment by joining the State’s voluntary program for tank vessels and developing a VBAP or ECOPRO plan. Tank vessels with ECOPRO certification get a 10% credit.

No. You only need to sign one agreement for your company. You must complete and submit a Schedule of Vessel Information for each vessel you intend to have covered by this ERS/ERTV program. You should refer to the enrollment agreement previously submitted.

Dual propulsion is two independent main propulsion systems (two engines to two propellers) such that if one propulsion system fails, the other will continue to operate normally. Other than the vessel may then be operating at a reduced speed, the vessel still has sufficient remaining propulsion capability to continue safe navigation of the waterway. Such a vessel may still be subject to operating restrictions imposed by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port.

Reviewed and Updated 7-1-2021

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