Notice of proposed rulemaking for inspection of towing vessels

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard announced Thursday publication in the Federal Register of a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) designed to improve safety on towing vessels. The
NPRM 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.

The NPRM 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. Additionally,
it would establish safety regulations governing the inspection,
standards, and safety management systems for towing vessels. {{more}}

These include requirements for lifesaving and fire protection, electrical and
mechanical items, and operational requirements such as crewmember
training and drills, navigation and towing safety, and recordkeeping
provisions. The Coast Guard has worked closely with the Towing Safety Advisory Committeein developing this proposed rulemaking and now encourages public
comment on the proposal.

Interested parties can review the proposal and
submit comments and related materials at www.regulations.gov, docket number USCG-2006-24412. All comments are posted without change. The comment period ends on Dec. 9, 2011.

This NPRM, which proposes an inspection regime for a previously uninspected
class of vessels, is the result of the Coast Guard working closely with
industry to improve vessel safety to prevent accidents and protect
vessels, crews, cargoes, our shared waterways, and our environment while
being mindful of the burden created by regulations,” said Coast Guard
Deputy Commandant for Operations Vice Adm. Brian M. Salerno.

While
at this time, there is no specific proposal regarding requirements for
hours of service and crew endurance management for mariners aboard
towing vessels, comments on this important topic are encouraged and will
be considered when the Coast Guard decides whether to propose such
requirements in the future.

The
Coast Guard’s current Towing Vessel Bridging Program efforts, which
address verifying compliance with existing regulations, will not be
impacted by these proposed regulations.

The NPRM can be viewed here.