On December 12, 2012, the U.S. Senate passed by voice vote the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012 (H.R. 2838) previously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on December 5, 2012. The measure is expected to be signed into law by the President. Like all Coast Guard authorizations, H.R. 2838 not only authorizes Coast Guard activities (in this case for fiscal years 2013 and 2014), the measure also makes a number of maritime policy changes. For example, the bill contains several piracy related provisions including requiring federal agencies to either provide armed security for U.S.-flag vessels carrying U.S. Government cargoes in high risk waters or to reimburse vessel owners for such security. Possibly for the first time, the Coast Guard authorization also contains within it the authorization for the U.S. Maritime Administration and related provisions such as short sea shipping and the National Defense Reserve Fleet. Other maritime related provisions are also contained in the national defense authorization act not yet passed by Congress.

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