Charter Boats in Alaska

The Alaska uninspected passenger vessel (UPV) fleet, commonly referred to as "Six Pack" vessels because they can carry no more than six passengers, has grown dramatically during the last few years from approximately 1500 in 1995 to over 2200 in 2007. While this industry has a very good safety record, the potential result of an incident is significant when operating in the harsh, cold water Alaska maritime environment. To help manage the risk, the 17th Coast Guard District and the charter operators have instituted a voluntary dockside examination program to ensure that all regulatory requirements are satisfied. In addition, UPVs that participate in Alaska's unique 5 Star Safety Program voluntarily carry extra safety equipment that extents beyond the minimum required by regulation. The level of additional safety equipment will be indicated by the number of safety stars (from 1 to 5) displayed on the decal. See below for further explanation of this unique program

Voluntary UPV Dockside Examinations

Vessels that display a current UPV decal (shown above) have undergone a voluntary dockside examination and are in full compliance will all federal and state safety equipment requirements. The operator has a valid Coast Guard issued license, is in compliance with mandatory federal drug and alcohol testing requirements, and has full knowledge of his operational requirements. UPV decals are valid for two calendar years, including the year of issue.

Voluntary 5 Star Safety Program

"A voluntary safety program designed to increase safety aboard uninspected charter boats operating throughout the state of Alaska."

Past marine accidents pointed to the need for an increase in the level of safety equipment that extends beyond the minimum required by regulation. Vessel that choose to participate in the 5 STAR SAFETY PROGRAM have met all the regulatory requirements, received the UPV decal, and have voluntarily invested in additional safety equipment. There are a total of 5 voluntary safety related items. The level of additional equipment is indicated by the number of safety stars displayed on the UPV decal. One star will be awarded for each item properly maintained and carried on board. This voluntary program allows passengers to easily identify and choose the level of safety they desire.

Description of the 5 Star Safety Ratings

One safety star will be awarded for each of the five items listed below. The list of safety items is not meant to be in a fixed, specific order, where prior to getting to the next level you'd need to obtain all the preceding safety gear. Vessels are given credit for safety gear that is installed and proper maintained, regardless of order. A 1 star vessel would meet one of the requirements, while a 5 Star vessel would carry safety equipment substantially in excess of Coast Guard regulations, including an EPIRB, inflatable life raft or inflatable buoyant apparatus, back up handheld communications capability, and high water bilge alarms with high capacity bilge pump.

One safety star will be awarded for each of the five items listed below.

Vessel is in compliance with existing regulations including the requirements found in 46 CFR, Subchapter C and the operator must also have a safety-training program established and a system of record keeping showing drills and training are conducted regularly. The program should include drills on emergency procedures and use of safety equipment.
Vessel has a properly installed bilge pump and audible bilge alarm, or if the vessel is designed without a bilge, suitable reserve buoyancy to float the vessel in a totally swamped condition.
Vessel has a handheld VHF FM radio with a minimum 5 watts of power. A portable satellite phone can be used as an equivalent level of safety.
Vessel has a properly mounted and registered 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), Class I or II.
Vessel has on board, a properly installed and serviced, Coast Guard approved inflatable life raft or inflatable buoyant apparatus (IBA), canister or valise type, with minimum capacity for all passengers on board. An equivalent level of safety is level floatation vessel that meets Coast Guard standards or, if the vessel operates exclusively inside the Boundary Line, a commercial quality inflatable skiff in good condition that is fully inflated, stowed for immediate use, and has the capacity equal to the total number of passengers carried.

Information on Damage Control for Small Vessels (Controlling Flooding Guide)

For more information or with questions or comments about this website, send email to or call 907-463-2808.

Mail inquires to:
17th Coast Guard District
Prevention Division (dpi)
Attn: 5 Star Program Manager
P.O. Box 25517
Juneau, AK 99802