10/4/2016: Safety alert – Towing operations

The Coast Guard issued a safety alert reminding owners and operators of businesses and vessels associated with the towing of large drilling rigs, such as semi-submersibles, conical or other types of non-standard tows, of the importance of planning for such significant towing operations.

The alert details the 2012 Kulluk incident and another recent incident with a 17,000-ton semi-submersible drilling rig.

A final report from the Coast Guard’s Report of Investigation on the Kulluk incident included background and guidance on the following topics:

  • Critical tows: Describes how to use a simplified risk assessment methodology to analyze aspects of a future tow operation thus establishing future safety and equipment requirements;
  • Voyage planning/plans (as required by the Code of Federal Regulations): Provides a solid but expandable foundation ensuring consideration of variables capable of impacting an intended operation;
  • Tow procedures: Addresses operational requirements; defines responsibilities of involved parties; and describes equipment parameters, tow motion limitations, and the importance of having key reference material available;
  • Towing gear: Provides information from a technical and analytical perspective on all aspects of the entire range of tow gear, its identification, selection, testing, etc.;
  • Tug and tow master: Provides information on the interactions, relationships, and responsibilities for all of the senior persons involved in the towing operation, including the Offshore Installation Manager (OIM);
  • Marine Warranty Surveyor: Explores all of the important roles and evaluations this individual performs in an effort to minimize and eliminate potential risks for the tow; and
  • Recommendations: Presents numerous proposals to various entities associated with towing processes.


These recommendations, together with the content from other sections of the report, collectively serve as an overview of Best Practices for High Risk Towing Operations.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends the widest distribution of this information for consideration and inclusion into various Procedural and Safety Management Systems of towing industry associated companies.

For additional details, please view the entire safety alert.

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.

Categories: Safety

Tagged as: ,

Leave a Reply