U.S. Coast Guard Announces Requirement for Use of Engine Cut-off Switch

The U.S. Coast Guard announced last week operators of recreational vessels less than 26 feet in length will be required to use an engine cut-off switch (ECOS) and associated ECOS link (ECOSL), effective April 1, 2021. NMMA applauds this new requirement, mandated by Section 8316 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021, which will improve safety for millions of Americans who take to the water each year.

The ECOSL attaches the vessel operator to a switch that in turn shuts off the engine in the event the vessel operator is displaced. The ECOSL is typically a lanyard-style cord that attaches to an ECOS in close relation to the helm, or on the motor itself. When strong tension is applied, the ECOSL is disengaged from the ECOS resulting in the automatic shut down of the motor.

ECOS and ECOSL are critical tools used to prevent unnecessary injury and accidents caused by a recreational vessel operator being displaced from the helm. The Coast Guard’s latest requirement will better protect vessel operators as well as all other marine vessels, operators, and maritime law enforcement officers on the water who are at risk when encountering a runaway vessel. Additional information on the function and need for ECOS and ECOSL may be accessed here.

For more information, please contact NMMA director of federal government relations, Clay Crabtree at ccrabtree@nmma.org.