TVIB News Industry Press

COVID-19 UPDATE: Sector Mobile

On 04/07/2020 Sector Mobile sent out an email related to changes to their inspection protocols in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The email stressed that crew safety is, as always, “…at the forefront of all operational risk management decisions…” Following are the key elements from this communication related to requirements for towing vessel companies:

  1. Leveraging video inspections utilizing GOOGLE DUO, when approved by Sector Mobile.  We will be sending out procedures on how this will be conducted.  Video inspections will need to be coordinated with the Coast Guard  marine inspectors prior to scheduling.
  2. For TSMS Vessel’s seeking their initial COI, and in addition to the items requested on our checklist, the TPO can send a statement of satisfactorily observing fire, abandon ship, and man over board drills. SECTOR Mobile will then be poised to issue the COI and issue a CG-835v worklist item to conduct drills in the presence of a Coast Guard Marine Inspector within 90 days.
  3. Coast Guard Option initial COI inspections for an existing vessel will require an onboard inspection.  These inspections will be conducted on a case by case basis due to latest COVID-19 guidance and resource availability.
  4. For on vessel inspections, the entire vessel will be cleared of all personnel, with the exception of the Inspection Party.
  5. Inspection Party will consist of; Coast Guard Marine Inspector, vessel Crew, and TPO, not to exceed 5 persons total.
  6. To reduce multiple trips, the vessel will be fully vetted on our end before we attend the inspection and the vessel shall be ready for inspection.
  7. If at any time CG inspectors are met by personnel that are not part of the Inspection party as outlined above, CG members will depart the vessel and require rescheduling of the inspection.

“With the current applications we have received, prior to the changes in operations due to COVID-19, we will continue to vet those packages and schedule an inspection based on the guidelines listed above.  For packages submitted to our office during the COVID-19 crisis, there will be delays in processing as we are operating at a reduced staff to minimize inspector exposure and maintain a healthy workforce.  However, we are still vetting packages and will decide which inspection option to use when scheduling the inspection.  Certificates of Inspections will be e-mailed, and followed up with the original being mailed via the post office. With regards to meeting the 50% deadline by July 20, SECTOR Mobile has not received any guidance on relaxing the enforcement actions that was set forth earlier this year. Nonetheless, our office will do its best to accommodate all requests, and will keep you posted on any changes with enforcement actions.”

The sector noted that the situation is fluid and changing rapidly. They will publish any modification to the list above as needed. You can direct any questions to Mr. York, Chief, Domestic Vessel Branch.

COVID-19 UPDATE: MSIB 10-20: Guidance for Maritime Operators on Compliance with Federal Drug Testing Requirements

On 03/27/2020 the USCG published MSIB Number: 10-20 COVID-19 – Guidance for Maritime Operators on Compliance with Federal Drug Testing Requirements

To help protect our essential maritime workforce, while also ensuring drug testing continues to serve as a deterrent, the Coast Guard is providing the following guidance, which, along with any subsequent updates, will remain in effect during the COVID-19 national emergency.

Click here to download MSIB Number: 10-20 COVID-19 – Guidance for Maritime Operators on Compliance with Federal Drug Testing Requirements

COVID-19: ALL TVIB Staff Working Remotely Effective Immediately

TPO Customers are reminded to call the 24-hour Response Line when reporting CG-835Vs/Marine Casualties/Major Non-Conformities/Unsafe Conditions. Utilizing the 24-hour response line will ensure you are directed to the appropriate on-call staff member.

24-Hour Response Line – 888-983-TVIB (8842)

To our industry partners and friends, we wish you well and urge you to listen to directives from your local, state and federal officials throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. At 0815 this morning Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced a stay-at-home order for Harris County, Texas, which includes unincorporated areas of the county where our main office is located and most of our local staff reside. The order goes into effect at midnight tonight and continues through April 3rd. This time frame will be closely monitored and evaluated by city, county and state officials. We will continue to keep you updated with any developments that could impact our operation or the greater maritime community we serve.

We are closing the main office immediately and all staff will be working remotely. Our main phone number of 832-323-3992 will be answered using an automated attendant that will present the caller with choices to route the call to the appropriate staff member. You can still contact each staff member directly by calling their direct line which can be found on the “Our Staff” page on our website. The majority of our staff routinely work remotely at central locations throughout the inland river system and we are prepared to maintain continuity of services.

Be well, be safe and stay sanitized.