Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
Title 4. Conservation and Natural Resources
Agency 15. Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
8/15/2020

Chapter 440. Watercraft: Commercial Vessel Safety Equipment Requirements

4VAC15-440-10. Application and definitions.

A. This chapter applies to vessels on waters within the territorial limits of the Commonwealth (both public and private waters), except:

1. Vessels used for noncommercial use;

2. Vessels leased, rented, or chartered to another for the latter's noncommercial use;

3. Commercial vessels propelled by sail not carrying passengers for hire; or

4. Commercial barges not carrying passengers for hire.

B. Terms used in this chapter shall have the same meanings as the terms defined in 4VAC15-430-20.

Statutory Authority

§§ 29.1-501, 29.1-502, 29.1-701, and 29.1-735 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 5, eff. January 1, 2003.

4VAC15-440-20. Lifesaving equipment required.

A. It shall be unlawful to operate a vessel to which this chapter applies unless it meets the requirements of this section.

B. Each vessel not carrying passengers for hire less than 40 feet in length must have at least one U.S. Coast Guard approved life preserver (Type I PFD), buoyant vest (Type II PFD), or marine buoyant device intended to be worn (Type III PFD), of a suitable size for each person on board. Kapok and fibrous glass life preservers that do not have plastic-covered pad inserts as required by the U.S. Coast Guard are not acceptable as equipment required by this subsection.

C. Each vessel carrying passengers for hire and each vessel 40 feet in length or longer not carrying passengers for hire must have at least one approved (Type I PFD) life preserver of a suitable size for each person on board. Kapok and fibrous glass life preservers that do not have plastic-covered pad inserts as required by the U.S. Coast Guard are not acceptable as equipment required by this subsection.

D. In addition to the equipment required by subsections B or C of this section, each vessel 26 feet in length or longer must have at least one approved ring life buoy, constructed in accordance with requirements of the U.S. Coast Guard.

E. Each vessel not carrying passengers for hire may substitute an immersion suit for a life preserver, buoyant vest, or marine buoyant device required under subsection B or C of this section. Each immersion suit carried in accordance with this subsection must be of a type approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

F. On each vessel, regardless of length and regardless of whether carrying passengers for hire, an approved commercial hybrid PFD may be substituted for a life preserver, buoyant vest, or marine buoyant device required under subsection B or C of this section if it is:

1. Used in accordance with the conditions marked on the PFD and in the owner's manual;

2. Labeled for use on commercial vessels; and

3. In the case of a Type V commercial hybrid PFD, worn when the vessel is underway and the intended wearer is not within an enclosed space.

Statutory Authority

§§ 29.1-501, 29.1-502, 29.1-701, and 29.1-735 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 5, eff. January 1, 2003.

4VAC15-440-30. Lifesaving equipment marking, storage and condition.

A. The lifesaving equipment required by this chapter must be legibly marked as required by the U.S. Coast Guard.

B. The lifesaving equipment designed to be worn, required in 4VAC15-440-20 subsections B, C and E, must be readily accessible as defined in 4VAC15-430-50.

C. Lifesaving equipment designed to be thrown, required in 4VAC15-440-20 D, must be immediately available as defined in 4VAC15-430-50.

D. The lifesaving equipment required by this section must be in serviceable condition as described in 4VAC15-430-70.

Statutory Authority

§§ 29.1-501, 29.1-502, 29.1-701, and 29.1-735 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 5, eff. January 1, 2003.

4VAC15-440-40. Personal flotation device lights.

A. This section applies to vessels described in 4VAC15-440-10 that engage in ocean or coastwise voyages.

B. Each immersion suit carried in accordance with 4VAC15-440-20, each life preserver, each marine buoyant device intended to be worn, and each buoyant vest must have a personal flotation device light that is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

C. Each personal flotation device light required by this section must be securely attached to the front shoulder area of the immersion suit, life preserver, or other personal flotation device.

D. If a personal flotation device light has a nonreplaceable power source, the light must be replaced on or before the expiration date of the power source. If the light has a replaceable power source, the power source must be replaced on or before its expiration date and the light must be replaced when it is no longer serviceable.

Statutory Authority

§§ 29.1-501, 29.1-502, 29.1-701, and 29.1-735 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 5, eff. January 1, 2003.

4VAC15-440-50. Personal flotation device retroreflective material.

A. Each life preserver, each marine buoyant device intended to be worn, and each buoyant vest carried on a vessel must have Type I retroreflective material that is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

B. Each item required to have retroreflective material must have at least 31 sq. in. (200 sq. cm.) of material attached to its front side, at least 31 sq. in. of material on its back side, and, if the item is reversible, at least 31 sq. in. of material on each of its reversible sides. The material attached on each side of the item must be divided equally between the upper quadrants of the side, and the material in each quadrant must be attached as closely as possible to the shoulder area of the item.

Statutory Authority

§§ 29.1-501, 29.1-502, 29.1-701, and 29.1-735 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 5, eff. January 1, 2003.

4VAC15-440-60. Penalties.

Except as otherwise provided by statute, any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor for each such violation as provided by § 29.1-746 of the Code of Virginia.

Statutory Authority

§§ 29.1-501, 29.1-502, 29.1-701, and 29.1-735 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 5, eff. January 1, 2003.



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