Essential Maritime Critical Infrastructure Worker Status

Attention All Marine Chemists:

On March 19, 2020, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), issued a memorandum that developed an initial list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” to help State and local officials as they work to protect their communities while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security (The most current version can be found:

On March 27, 2020 the U. S. Coast Guard Office of Port & Facility Compliance (CG-FAC) issued a Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB): MSIB 11-20, Maintaining Maritime Commerce and Identification of Essential Maritime Critical Infrastructure Workers. A copy of the MSIB 11-20 is attached to this email. Here is the link to that document on the U. S. Coast Guard website:

The CISA memorandum and the MSIB 11-20 are advisory in nature and quarantine orders and their enforcement are ultimately up to State and local officials. This MSIB should be used to provide further clarification when making determinations regarding which Marine Transportation System (MTS) workers are considered essential in regions impacted by COVID-19 quarantine and shelter-in-place orders.

Please note – MSIB 11-20 provides a list of personnel are essential for sustaining the continuous flow of maritime commerce. MSIB 11-20 states the list in the bulletin is: “NOT MEANT TO BE AN EXHAUSTIVE LIST” (bold caps added for emphasis). The list in MSIB 11-20 does not specifically mention NFPA Certificated Marine Chemists. This omission was brought to the attention to the U. S. Coast Guard Office of Port & Facility Compliance (CG-FAC) Office at Coast Guard Headquarters.

The Coast Guard’s response was: “the CISA guidance includes Port Worker. A Marine Chemist is a port worker” (bold caps added for emphasis). The last paragraph in the MSIB includes the provision for the COTP [Captain of the Port] to engage if anyone is having problems accessing their locations.” That paragraph reads as follows: “Many MTS workers will have a federal Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC) that may be used to confirm their MTS nexus. However, many others in the support framework will not have specific maritime identification or may be in the process of applying for a TWIC. In any cases where there is a question, state officials are highly encouraged to engage directly with their local Coast Guard Captain of the Port to confirm whether the worker is essential to MTS operations.”

This affirms my earlier advice to a few Marine Chemists who asked questions about essential worker designation. NFPA has no authority to designate a Marine Chemist as an essential worker. Your TWIC should be sufficient for demonstrating you are an essential MTS worker. If that identification is not accepted by a local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), then you should contact the USCG COTP. If necessary, the COTP can ask for clarification from the CG-FAC office at USCG-HQ.

If you have any questions about this notification, please direct them to my attention.


Lawrence B. Russell
Principal Specialist | NFPA
1 Batterymarch Park
Quincy, MA 02169-7471
+1 617 984-7499

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