- Domestic Vessels

8/23/2017: Coast Guard-American Waterways Operators National Quality Steering Committee meeting

The Coast Guard-American Waterways Operators Safety Partnership held its National Quality Steering Committee meeting Aug. 2, 2017 to discuss safety issues and other topics affecting the towing industry. Maritime Commons attended the meeting and is providing a summary of the discussions and key takeaways.

The Coast Guard/AWO partnership was formalized with a memorandum of agreement in 1995, after recognition that each organization shared the common goals of improving towing industry safety and increasing environmental protections. The partnership is a non-regulatory body that promotes sharing of best practices, waterways management, and professional cooperation.

In opening remarks to the attendees, Rear Adm. John Nadeau, assistant commandant for prevention policy and Coast Guard co-chair to AWO, noted, “The Coast Guard will be as transparent as possible about our processes and is eager to continue the good collaboration and dialogue with AWO to achieve shared objectives and goals. The nation’s economy thrives because of the goods and products the towing industry moves on our waterways.”

During the meeting, Nadeau and AWO Co-Chair Tom Allegretti heard from industry representatives about some of the emerging challenges the towing industry is facing, including manning standards associated with Subchapter M requirements; the state of the Coast Guard’s inland tender fleet; the impacts of changing landscapes in the energy import and export industry; and changes brought by the growing number of LNG powered vessels.

The meeting included a series of updates from workgroups and quality action teams on the progress of new initiatives and policy/regulatory implementations.

• The Coast Guard gave an overview of the recently published Policy Letter 17-03: Certificate of Inspection (COI) Phase-In Period for Existing Towing Vessels using the TSMS Option and Merchant Mariner Credentialing Policy Letter 01-17: Guidelines for Issuing Endorsements for Tankerman PIC Restricted to Fuel Transfers on Towing Vessels.

• A charter for a new quality action team to address towing industry cyber risk management was introduced. The team will draw on existing guidance from National Institute of Technology, IMO Maritime Safety Committee, Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), and the Coast Guard to develop a set of cyber risk management best practices for voluntary adoption by tugboat, towboat, and barge companies.

• AWO staff provided an update on workgroup efforts to develop a model fatigue risk management plan. The workgroup is working with the Transportation Research Board to develop best practices that can be incorporated into Towing Safety Management Systems (TSMS).

• The Pacific Region AWO-Coast Guard Quality Steering Committee presented its Alaska Towing Vessel Ice and Cold Weather Operation Guidelines. The purpose of the guidelines is to provide for safe towing vessel operation and the protection of the environment by addressing risks present in waters designated as Polar by the IMO Polar Code. The guidelines were informed by individual towing vessel operators’ risk assessment and the operational profile of the vessel and the voyage.

• The group discussed safety issues and ways to modify reporting requirements to capture data that better represents causal and contributing factors such as falls overboard, weather, collisions, and lapses in situational awareness. The AWO-Coast Guard annual safety report is expected to be released later this summer.

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.

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