Coast Guard hosts outreach forum for new towing vessel regulations

Marine Safety Unit Chicago (MSU) and the U.S. Coast Guard Towing Vessel National Center of Expertise hosted an informational outreach forum November 9 with towing vessel operators to explain the implementation of the new regulations for the inspection of towing vessels, Subchapter M.

The meeting was held at the offices of Illinois Marine Towing in Lemont with more than 80 industry representatives from the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basin attending.

This informational outreach forum coordinated by Marine Safety Unit Chicago was one of several national outreach forums designed to educate towing vessel operators on the new regulations establishing safety regulations governing the inspection, standards and safety management systems of towing vessels.

“Outreach efforts such as this meeting are needed throughout the Great Lakes and convey that we’re all working towards the same goal—safety,” said Commander Zeita Merchant, Commanding Officer of MSU Chicago. “Educating the industry on inspections requirements is crucial to achieving compliance with the regulations and ensuring the safe operation of commercial vessels.”

In addition to 100 miles of shoreline along the southern portion of Lake Michigan, MSU Chicago is responsible for 186 miles of the Illinois River system. This waterway is a critical artery for the transit of towing vessels moving goods and services as far north as Minneapolis, Minnesota to the basin of the Mississippi River. There are approximately 77 towing vessels within MSU Chicago’s area of responsibility that will be regulated by Subchapter M.

Subchapter M will be incorporated into Title 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations and outlines the requirements for the design, construction, onboard equipment and operation of new and existing towing vessels.

The regulations were effective July 20 with a compliance date of July 30, 2018; however, there are provisions that allow for certain regulations to be phased in over time.

The complete final rule is available via the Federal Register here.

Maritime Editorial