Coast Guard statement on NTSB recommendation on the use of electronic devices on Coast Guard and other vessels.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard is reviewing a National Transportation Safety Board recommendation Wednesday that the service develop policies on the use of cellular phones on Coast Guard vessels as well as issue a safety advisory to the marine industry on the possible dangers of crewmember use of electronic communications devices such as cell phones, smart phones and personal data assistants.

The Coast Guard issued guidance July 16, 2010 to its personnel prohibiting the use of these devices by operators of Coast Guard boats and also restricted their use by other crewmembers.

“While cell phones and texting devices have become ubiquitous in everyday life, the internal Coast Guard policy issued in July prohibits their use on Coast Guard boats without the permission of the coxswain, said Lt. Cmdr. Chris O’Neil, a Coast Guard spokesman. “The policy also strictly prohibits the use of these devices by the coxswain, or the operator, of a Coast Guard boat.”

Cell phones and texting devices may be useful communication tools if boats lose a marine radio signal or as alternate means of communication to a marine radio.

The Coast Guard takes the NTSB recommendations seriously and will provide a response to the letter upon a thorough review.

The NTSB recommendation comes amid investigations into two collisions involving Coast Guard boats but does not draw any conclusions that the use of electronic devices was a cause of those accidents.

NTSB and Coast Guard investigations into those two accidents are ongoing.

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