TVIB News Caleb King

Reporting Inoperable Navigation and Communication Equipment

Did you know the current supply chain disruption has made radars and radar parts difficult to obtain? So, what happens if you can’t get your radar repaired within 96-hours? Currently, radar units and radar parts are experiencing up to a 5-month back-order. This blog is being published to remind you of some regulation outside of Subchapter M that must be followed for navigational equipment.

Subchapter M brought about some new reporting requirements, but there are still plenty of pre-Subchapter M regulations that have reporting requirements for towing vessel related issues. Some of those notifications include marine casualties (46 CFR Part 4), vessel security (33 CFR Parts 101 and 104), and inoperable navigation safety equipment (33 CFR Part 164). The focus of this writing is on the requirement for reporting inoperable navigation safety equipment.

Subpart G (Navigation and Communication Equipment) of Subchapter M starts at 46 CFR 140.700. Within Subpart G you will find the equipment requirements for radar, VHF radio, fathometer, search light, electronic position-fixing device, and magnetic compass/swing meter. The same equipment is found under 33 CFR 164.72(a) along with some additional details (i.e., applicability and specifications).

So, what happens when one of these required items fails? This is where you turn your attention to 33 CFR 164.82, the requirements on maintenance, failure, and reporting. Let’s look a little further at each of these three aspects.

  • Maintenance – This one is simple. If the vessel is required to carry the equipment, it must be maintained operable.
  • Failure – If the equipment fails, it is to be repaired as early as practicable and an entry made in the vessel’s log. As the rule states, failure of the equipment does not constitute the vessel is unseaworthy or that the voyage must be halted. However, the master/operator must consider the failed equipment as part of the navigational assessment [see 46 CFR 140.635] and decide if it is safe for vessel to proceed.
  • Reporting – If operating within a Vessel Traffic Service (VTS), the master/operator is to report the inoperable equipment condition to the VTS.
  • Radars – There are special provisions for deviation from the radar requirement. If you experience a radar failure, and can’t achieve repairs within 96-hours, the owner/master/operator must notify the Captain of the Port (COTP) and seek both a deviation from the radar requirement and authorization for continued operation.

We suggest you share this information with your crews and remind them to review the applicable components within your Towing Safety Management System (TSMS) that may be related to navigational safety equipment and notifications.

This blog contains abbreviated descriptions of regulatory text. Please consult the cited regulations for full context. Regulatory text can be found at

USCG: Federal Register Notice: Proposed distribution of scheduled Navigation Safety Messages (Broadcast Notice to Mariners) by mobile and internet methods

Published 07/15/2021

In 2020, the Coast Guard began making broadcast notices to mariners containing locally relevant information accessible by mobile devices and the internet. Previously, the only way to obtain this information in a timely fashion was to tune in to local Coast Guard broadcasts that take place on very high frequency (VHF) marine radio two or more times per day. The new methods of information delivery have included Rich Site Summary, also known as Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, email, and other means such as map-based filtering. The Coast Guard has received public feedback indicating that mariners prefer the real-time accessibility of mobile and internet access to this information over scheduled VHF broadcasts, because access is more timely, reliable, convenient, and customizable. Also, some mariners have reported that VHF broadcast notice to mariners are bothersome, because they are perceived as unnecessary radio clutter that can be distracting when maneuvering along a dock, in ports or other areas of congested traffic. The Coast Guard is considering phasing out the process of distributing this information by routine VHF radio broadcasts, and is seeking public comment.


Comments must be submitted to the online docket via on or before August 16, 2021.


For information about this document, please call or email Eugene Diotalevi, Coast Guard Navigation Center; telephone: 703-313-5800; email:


TVNCOE Updated the Bridge to Bridge Act Radiotelephone Inspection and Certificate Guidance in TugSafe Central

The Coast Guard’s Towing Vessel National Center of Expertise (TVNCOE) has made updates to TugSafe Central, regarding the Bridge to Bridge Act’s radiotelephone inspection and certificate guidance. This update is in the FCC sub-section under the Credentials, Documents and Reports and helps clarify applicability requirements as well as providing additional details.