TVIB News News and Updates

NTSB Releases Reports from Recent Investigations Involving Towing Vessels

The NTSB recently released reports from its investigations of two separate incidents involving towing vessels. What should be of interest to all is the indication in the probable cause of both that points to personnel training and effectiveness of the Safety Management System as either contributing or causal factors. Following are excerpts from the two separate reports:

M/V Peter F Gellatly
On August 1, 2015, at 2147 local time, the tank barge Double Skin 501 being pushed by the uninspected towing vessel Peter F Gellatly allided with International Matex Tank Terminals (IMTT) Bayonne Pier A in Bayonne, New Jersey, as the captain attempted to dock the tow at a nearby pier. Damage to the barge, pier, and an adjacent ship, the Isola Bianca, totaled an estimated $2.7 million. The allision also damaged pipelines on the pier, resulting in the discharge of 630 gallons of no. 6 fuel oil into the waterway.1 There were no injuries.

  • Probable Cause: The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the allision of the Peter F Gellatly tow with IMTT Bayonne Pier A was the captain and the engineer’s poor communication, their inadequate assessment of the hazardous condition posed by the starboard engine control malfunction, and the captain’s decision to continue operations without ensuring that the malfunction had been adequately corrected. Contributing to the accident was the crew’s unfamiliarity with the provisions of the company’s safety management system that addressed actions in response to hazardous conditions.
  • Click here to read the full report.

M/V Jaxon Aaron
About 1140 local time on August 13, 2016, a fire erupted in the engine room on board the uninspected towing vessel Jaxon Aaron while it was pushing a flotilla of 16 barges upbound on the Lower Mississippi River near mile marker (mm) 770, approximately 24 miles north of Memphis, Tennessee. The fire spread from the engine room into the accommodation area and wheelhouse, causing an estimated $10.2 million in damage to the interior spaces. All nine crewmembers evacuated the vessel safely to the barge flotilla. No pollution was reported.

  • Probable Cause: The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the fire aboard the towing vessel Jaxon Aaron was the failure of the power assembly components on the port main diesel engine’s no. 15 cylinder. Contributing to the extent of the fire damage was the substantial use of combustible materials in the interior spaces and the chief engineer’s unfamiliarity with the firefighting equipment.
  • Click here to read the full report.

USCG Policy Letter: Phase-In Period for Existing Towing Vessels Using the TSMS Option Under Title 46, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Subchapter M

June 14, 2017

The Coast Guard published CG-CVC Policy Letter 17-03

The purpose of this policy letter is to provide guidance to the Officer(s) in Charge, Marine Inspection (OCMI) and the marine industry on the applicability of 46 CFR 136.202, Certificate of Inspection (COI) phase-in period, to existing towing vessels using the Towing Safety Management System (TSMS) option to obtain an initial COI under 46 CFR Subchapter M.

Click here to download CG-CVC Policy Letter 17-03

Subchapter M  TSMS Certificates – Compliance Dates Are Fast Approaching

Have you selected your Third-Party Organization for Subchapter M Compliance?  Have you entered into a formal agreement yet?  Don’t wait until July 20, 2018 to start planning for your External Management Audit for a TSMS Certificate. You must be operating under a valid TSMS Certificate for a minimum of 6 months prior to the issuance of a COI for a vessel.

If you are AWO RCP Certified and have a Mid-Period Management Audit due this year, you should consider having your External Management Audit for a TSMS Certificate completed in conjunction with your RCP Mid-Period Management Audit.  Your Mid-Period Management Audit will need to review the gap between your last certification audit and the 2016 revisions to the RCP, in addition to the requirements for a Mid-Period Management Audit. The delta between that audit and a TSMS Compliance audit is not that great.

If your company is AWO RCP Certified, have you considered what you audit rotation cycle will look like?  There could be an overlap of audit cycles for RCP and TSMS compliance. TVIB stands ready to work with your organization to set up a plan to give you the greatest value in your upcoming audits while lessening the burden of overlapping audit cycles or “audit creep.”

TVIB will be releasing the External TSMS Management Process and Audit Checklist to its members in the coming days. Make certain that you have updated your contact information on the Member Portal so you can access these documents as soon as they are published. We will send out an announcement when they are available for download from the Member Portal on the TVIB website.

For more information on selecting TVIB as your TPO or if you have questions related to Subchapter M compliance, contact Tava Foret at 832-323-2155 or or Chris Parsonage at 832-323-2188 or