- Domestic Vessels

9/2/2016: Subchapter M – Updated FAQs

Written by Capt. Jennifer Williams, chief of the Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance

The final rule to establish safety regulations for commercial towing vessels (known as “Subchapter M“) became effective July 20, 2016, with many of the requirements to be phased in over time.

What is unique about these regulations is that industry is given a choice to either implement a Towing Safety Management System (TSMS) or choose to request the Coast Guard to conduct their inspections. A fully implemented TSMS establishes a comprehensive quality control system throughout the company which increases the safety and efficiency of all towing vessel operations. Across the maritime industry, vessel operators have told the Coast Guard that a proper TSMS increases safety while cutting overall operating costs. A proper TSMS will reduce accidents, equipment failures and undo delays. Accordingly, the Coast Guard looks forward to utilizing all the advantages of a fully implemented TSMS while working with the towing industry to fully implement these new regulations.

In an effort to remain as transparent as possible, the Towing Vessel National Center of Expertise (TVNCOE) will continue to update their website with emerging information to help the industry more fully understand the new regulations. New information was posted Aug. 31, 2016, to include answers to frequently asked questions, a list of questions already asked by industry that will be answered, and a feature which allows the industry to ask additional questions about the new Subchapter M regulations.

For more information, please view the full TVNCOE website.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.