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Vessel Safety Check (VSC) Program


The mission of the Coast Guard Recreational Boating Safety program is to minimize the loss of life, personal injury, property damage and environment impact associated with the use of recreational vessels through preventive means. The VSC program supports one of the program's key goals: to improve the demonstrated knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviors of boaters.

The VSC is not a boarding or law enforcement issue. No citations will be given as a result of this encounter. The boater will be given a copy of the completed evaluations so that the boater may follow some of the suggestions given. Vessels that pass will be able to display the distinctive VSC decal. This does not exempt the boater from law enforcement boarding, but the boater can be prepared to make this a positive encounter.

What is a Vessel Safety Check?

A Vessel Safety Check (VSC) is a FREE check to boaters who wish to be sure that their vessel meets all federal and state equipment requirements. Vessel Examiners performing this service have been trained to look for some of the more common problems, which might occur on vessels or their associated safety equipment. The items checked are:

  • Proper Display of Numbers
  • Registration/Documentation
  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
  • Visual Distress Signals (VDS)
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Ventilation
  • Backfire Flame Arrestor
  • Sound Producing Devices/Bell
  • Navigation Lights
  • Pollution Placard
  • MARPOL Trash Placards
  • Marine Sanitation Device
  • Navigation Rules
  • State and/or Local Requirements
  • Overall Vessel Condition

Vessel Safety Check decalIf the vessel has all the required items (listed above) on board and are in good working order, the vessel examiner will award a VSC decal to affix to the vessel.

Additional Safety Equipment

  • Marine Radio
  • Dewatering Device & Backup
  • Mounted Fire Extinguishers
  • Anchor and Line for Area
  • First Aid and Person-In-Water Kit (PIW)
    Note: PIW consists of one extra wearable PFD and a throwable type IV PFD with line
    Inland Visual Distress Signals
  • Capacity/Certification of Compliance

Note: The above items not required for the award of the Vessel Safety Check decal.

Boating Safety Education

During the Vessel Safety Check, the vessel examiner will discuss with the recreational boater the purpose of specific marine safety equipment, will clarify various federal and state regulations, will discuss certain safety procedures practices, and will answer any boating related questions. Some of the topics discussed are:

  • Accident Reporting/Owner Responsibility
  • Charts and Aids to Navigation
  • Offshore Operations
  • Survival Tips
  • First Aid
  • Float Plans
  • Weather and Sea Conditions
  • Fueling and Fuel Management
  • Boating Checklist
  • Availability of Boating Safety Classes

For Further Information

To get your vessel "Safety Checked" or for more information on the Vessel Safety Check program, contact your local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadron member or visit the Vessel Safety Check web site.


This is a FREE public service provided in the interest of Boating Safety...

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