A senior US Coast Guard official has said the organisation is committed to ending sexual harassment at sea.

Wayne Arguin, assistant commandant for prevention policy at the Coast Guard, made a pledge on Monday to tackle the problem at the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) conference in Chicago.

His comments come after a number of high-profile incidents involving women seafarers working on US-flag ships.

“Sexual assault has been highlighted as a challenge,” Arguin told the conference in a presentation on how the shipping industry is adapting to change.

He said the coastguard is “100% committed” to ending the problem.

Arguin added that the Coast Guard would investigate any claim of sexual harassment made by a seafarer.

“Sexual harassment is a crime and our organisation will pursue that to the full extent of the law,” he said.

“I want those people out of the system because they are toxic.”

He said sexual harassment is also a safety issue explaining that, if a seafarer has to consider the threat of sexual harassment at sea, they will not be able to operate a vessel safety.

“Sexual, or harassment of any kind, is a focus area for the coastguard,” he said.

He emphasised that creating a safe working environment around seafarers by removing harassment will make them feel valued and will result in increased safety.

However, Arguin did not go into detail about the measures the Coast Guard is undertaking to eliminate sexual harassment at sea.

As earlier reported by TradeWinds Maersk Line Ltd (MLL) is in settlement talks with the two US Merchant Marine Academy cadets who alleged they experienced sexual misconduct aboard the liner operator’s ships.