The U.S. Coast Guard has recently issued a letter regarding the new Subchapter M for vessel inspections and new inspection agreements. They clearly state that “on July 20, 2018, vessel owners and operators will be responsible for ensuring that their vessels comply with the provisions of 46 CFR Subchapter M…vessels are required to obtain a Certificate of Inspection (COI) over a four-year phase-in period…” In order to improve safety regulations on certain towing vessels, this new inspection requirement will help promote the importance of safety on these specific vessels.
How Will Towing Vessels Comply With This New Rule?
Any vessels that were previously classified as “uninspected towing vessels” now have to agree with these new specific standards issued by the USCG. These standards have developed over several years in order to raise the safety bar on towing vessels. The rule now covers both the equipment and operation of the towing vessel. Operators need to have the vessel ready for a phased-in inspection regime and have a vessel safety management system in place (SMS). Until the deadline date, operators are busy adopting different strategies to comply with these new regulations while also trying to minimize the effect it will have on their bottom line.
How Will This New Inspection Regulation Affect Towing Vessel Companies?
Certain towing companies have already applied for a COI under Subchapter M and have been presented the various options for an inspection. These options include scheduling a Coast Guard inspection, or just hiring an approved third-party organization to approve and audit the vessel and SMS.
Vessel operators who own older ships, however, have had to cut some of their vessels out. Many of these operators don’t see the financial updating worth the new compliance requirements. Subchapter M also provides a new cultural shift to towing vessel operators who are attempting to build a small startup company. To assist some of these start-up companies, digital options like an app have been introduced where all safety documents can be stored.