Coast Guard details tow inspection program
The U.S. Coast Guard this week released a notice of proposed rulemaking that would establish an inspection program for towing vessels.
The program, which would include a requirement for a safety management system, as recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board, was applauded by tug-and-barge industry trade association American Waterways Operators, which said it would increase safety, security and environmental stewardship.
AWO “looks forward to working with the Coast Guard to perfect and successfully implement this new safety program,' said Thomas Allegretti, president and chief executive officer.
The Coast Guard said its proposal “provides a layered approach to towing vessel safety that includes the option of an audited safety management system or an annual Coast Guard inspection regime.” It also includes procedures for obtaining certificates of inspection issued by the Coast Guard, and for Coast Guard oversight of any audit and survey processes involving third party organizations.
It would establish safety regulations governing the inspection, standards, and safety management systems for towing vessels. These include requirements for lifesaving and fire protection, electrical and mechanical items, and operational requirements such as crew training and drills, navigation and towing safety, and record keeping.
The proposal is published here.
Interested parties can submit comments through Dec. 9.
The Coast Guard said there is no specific proposal regarding requirements for hours of service and crew endurance management for mariners aboard towing vessels, but said it “comments on this important topic are encouraged and will be considered when the Coast Guard decides whether to propose such requirements in the future.”
“For many towing companies and their personnel, this rulemaking will have a major impact on how they do business,” wrote attorney and consultant Dennis Bryant in his blog.
“For some companies, this will merely formalize what they have been doing for years. The rulemaking will, in many areas, level the playing field between competitors,” he said.