May 9, 2019 – the USCG sent out the following notice via the GovDelivery
This is a reminder of a key 46 CFR Subchapter M implementation milestone that is quickly approaching. On or before July 22, 2019, owners and managing operators of Subchapter M towing vessels must implement a Health and Safety Plan (HSP) and the associated recordkeeping procedures regardless of whether or not the vessel has been issued a Certificate of Inspection (COI). Requirements include general health and safety procedures, identification and mitigation of health and safety hazards, and health and safety training for crewmembers and non-crewmembers.
Towing vessels operating under a Safety Management System (SMS) may already have the elements of the HSP covered within the SMS. For towing vessels that have not incorporated the HSP elements into their SMS, and for towing vessels utilizing the Coast Guard Inspection Option, the HSP would likely be a stand-alone document.
There is no requirement to submit the HSP to the Coast Guard or TPO for approval; however, the plan is subject to review during inspections and audits. Minimum health and safety requirements can be found in 46 CFR Part 140 Subpart E.
The Towing Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC) held its spring public meeting in Miami, Florida, March 13, 2019. Attendees represented the Coast Guard, the towing and barge industry, engineers, pilots/masters, port authorities, terminal operators, offshore operators, and the public.
After welcoming remarks from Rear Adm. John Nadeau, assistant commandant for prevention policy, the committee deliberated on current tasks, discussed new business, and received public comments.
Highlights from the meeting included:
• Capt. Janet Espino-Young from the 7th District Prevention office discussed the importance of industry partnerships and cooperation in implementation of inspections and recovery efforts after natural disasters.
• A subcommittee recommendation to establish three new workgroups to address 1) hull and stability for inland towing vessels; 2) consistency and clarification of Subchapter M topics; and 3) boundary separations and the impact on offshore/near coastal manning.
• A final report on Task No. 16-03, “Recommendations Regarding Operational Risks Associated with Towing LNG Barges.” Recommendations include how to identify and safely execute a critical tow and familiarization training for tug crews.
• A progress report on Task No. 17-02, “Load Line Exemption Review for River Barges on Lakes Erie and Ontario.” The subcommittee intends to complete an analysis of the ports of refuge named by the petitioner to determine if they will limit the size of the tow for the intended route.
• A presentation by Mr. Erik Johnson from the Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance at Coast Guard Headquarters on the number of new Certificates of Inspection against the goal of 25 percent of the Subchapter M population.
• A presentation from Ms. Melanee Libby regarding the Coast Guard’s 2018 Authorization Act and a new National Towing Safety Advisory Committee that will serve the same function as TSAC. Under the Act, TSAC is permitted to continue operating until Dec. 4, 2020.
The committee also heard public comments on various topics such as Subchapter M implementation for non-traditional tug and barge operations; clarification of types and limits of towing credentials; and a proposal to incorporate frequently asked questions and guidance into Subchapter M.
As of July 20, 2018, towing vessel owners and operators are responsible for ensuring that their vessels comply with the provisions of 46 CFR Subchapter M, even if they have not received a Certificate of Inspection (COI). Additionally, in accordance with 46 CFR 136.202, owners and operators are responsible for ensuring that 25 percent of their fleet has received a COI before July 22, 2019.
46 CFR 136.210 requires the owner or operator to schedule inspections for initial certification with the local OCMI at least 3 months in advance of the desired inspection date. Consequently, towing vessel owners and operators must schedule a vessel’s inspection before April 22, 2019 if the COI is expected to be received in the first year. In addition, at least 30 days before the inspection, the owner or operator must submit a completed CG-Form CG-3752, “Application for Inspection of a U.S. Vessel,” (new construction vessels use CG-3752A) to the OCMI indicating if the Coast Guard or Towing Safety Management System (TSMS) option will be used to meet these requirements.
Given that COIs must be issued to approximately 1,250 towing vessels during this first year of the phase-in period, and another 2,000 during the 2019-2020 phase, close coordination between owners and operators, Third Party Organizations (TPOs), and the OCMIs is necessary to reduce delays to the towing industry. If you have not already done so, I highly encourage you to make contact now with the local OCMI that will be conducting the vessel’s initial COI and schedule an inspection date. While we understand the dates may shift due to operational obligations, a tentative date will help the Coast Guard manage resources to ensure a marine inspector is available. When scheduling an inspection, please indicate whether the vessel will be using the Coast Guard or TSMS option.
Please use this link to view the “Towing Vessel Certificate of Inspection (COI) Phase-In Date Guidance” and determine the number of vessels in a fleet that must be inspected each year of the phase-in period. The phone number for each OCMI can be found here, or at the end of this post.
The phase-in period is provided to spread the workload and cost over time, and mitigate impacts on vessel owners and operators, TPOs, OCMIs, and other stakeholders. Failure to meet the regulatory phase-in schedule could result in vessel and other operational delays, civil penalties, or other possible enforcement actions.
Lastly, owners and operators are reminded of their ability to use a TPO to help them obtain a COI in accordance with Subchapter M and, as provided by CG-CVC Policy Letter 17-01, to take advantage of the uninspected towing vessel decal they may have previously obtained as part of the bridging program. Possession of a decal may eliminate the need for a Coast Guard inspection prior to the issuance of a COI. Owners and operators are strongly encouraged to contact their local OCMI and discuss these matters further.
Contact information for Coast Guard Officers in Charge, Marine Inspection