Six pack rule may be eighty-sixed in the USVI

May 1, 2014 by Carol Bareuther

The U.S. Virgin Islands is one step closer to regaining a strong foothold in the Caribbean’s term-charter industry. This potential rainbow on the horizon comes due to the passage on April 1 of an amendment to House Bill No. 4005 by the U.S. House of Representatives.


This amendment provides alternative compliance for U.S. Coast Guard safety regulations for uninspected U.S.-flag vessels weighing less than 100 gross tons. These vessels have been restricted under the Passenger Vessel Safety Act of 1993 to six paying passengers while operating in the waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Since then, there has been an exodus of crewed charter yachts from the USVI to the British Virgin Islands over the past 20 years. Foreign-flag vessels plying these same waters such as those operating out of the BVI have not been subject to these passenger restriction limits, also known as the six-pack rule.


“The amendment that just passed the House is a parity argument for BVI standards, rather than an argument for an exemption to existing USCG standards,” said Colette Conroy Monroe, policy adviser for the USVI governor’s office and member of the Virgin Islands Marine Economic Development Council, founded last year and which drafted this legislation.


“We are requesting the acceptance by the USCG to MCA standards for USVI-flagged vessels under 78 feet in length, which carry passengers to or from a port in the USVI,” she said. “If our vessels in this category have met the MCA [small commercial vessel] standards, then the vessel should be considered in compliance with adequate boating safety standards.”


This type of legislation is not unprecedented. The USCG has entered into formal agreements with certain classification societies such as the American Bureau of Shipping, Det Norske Veritas, and Lloyd’s Register to promote a more flexible and efficient marine transportation system while still maintaining safely and environmental protection.


“The passage of this legislation would be welcome news to over a dozen of our members with the larger Irwins and Privilege catamarans that can carry up to eight to 12 passengers,” said Brianne Beatty, executive director of the St. Thomas-based Virgin Islands Charteryacht League. “The more yachts we have based out of the USVI, the better for everyone economically from taxi drivers to hotels, restaurants and shops.”


This legislation will likely not affect the territory’s megayacht sector as most are foreign-flagged vessels.


The U.S. Senate must still pass similar legislation before any changes become law.


Carol Bareuther is a freelance writer in St. Thomas. Comments on this story are welcome at




Related Articles

Octopus finds WWII Shipwreck

A team of researchers aboard the 414-foot (126m) Lurssen M/Y Octopus has discovered a Japanese battleship sunk during World War II. The team discovered the wreck of the Musashi,

Taking the Helm: New leaders must remember that change takes time

Taking the Helm: New leaders must remember that change takes time

Taking the Helm: by Paul Ferdais New leaders often come into their job with energy and ideas, eager to somehow make their mark. While this is laudable, it can

Palma18: Show busy under sunny skies

Palma18: Show busy under sunny skies

A sunny day and busy docks welcomed the 35th Palma International Boat Show in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on Friday. The show includes a superyacht section with nearly 70

Crew use COVID downtime to make a difference

Crew use COVID downtime to make a difference

By Lucy Chabot Reed Yacht crew all over the world have found interesting and creative ways to make a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. In the Bahamas, Mate/Engr.

Heesen delivers Laurentia

Heesen delivers Laurentia

Heesen Yachts has delivered YN 177755, formerly known as Project Alida, a 180-foot (55m) steel-hulled fast displacement yacht, christened Laurentia by her owners. During sea trials in the North …

Nav system, weather partner

Norway-based Navtor has signed an agreement with maritime weather router California-based Applied Weather Technology (AWT) to integrating their services, making AWT’s routing and optimization …