Commercial Vessel Compliance

End of Certificate of Inspection Phase-In Period: 46 CFR Subchapter M Towing Vessels

It is with extreme enthusiasm that I announce the conclusion of the Subchapter M: Towing Vessel, four year Certificate of Inspection (COI) phase-in period, and welcome a fleet of more than 5,000 towing vessels into U. S. Domestic inspected status! 

This is a historic occasion for both the commercial towing industry and the Coast Guard as we have been working toward this moment since the 2004 Authorization Act which added towing vessels as an inspected class.  Per 46 CFR 136.202, by July 19, 2022, 100% of towing vessels must have valid COIs on board in order to operate commercially. 

Today marks the conclusion of almost two decades of work with our industry partners. It is also the first time the Coast Guard successfully implemented a dual inspection subchapter, which includes a new comprehensive safety management system for both company and vessel compliance.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the National Towing Safety Advisory Committee (NTSAC), American Waterways Operators (AWO), Third Party Organizations (TPO), Recognized Organizations (RO), Coast Guard Area, District, Sector Towing Vessel Coordinators; Coast Guard Marine Inspectors, Towing Vessel National Center of Expertise, owner and managing operators, and all mariners and members of the towing vessel community who helped to ensure these regulations came to realization and successful implementation.

These past four years have been challenging with devastating hurricanes, a global pandemic, and ever increasing pressure on our Marine Transportation System, but jointly with a goal to have a systemic approach for managing safety risks in operations, we have met these obstacles and persevered.  While the four year phase-in time period has ended, it is the beginning of the new life cycle for the towing vessel fleet.  The Coast Guard looks forward to working with you in the future and maximizing the potential of our waterways while maintaining safety and security.

If you have any questions regarding an inspection for your towing vessel, please seek your local Officer in Charge, Marine inspections.  For any questions regarding the blog post, please contact

W. R. Arguin, RDML
U. S. Coast Guard
Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy

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 publications, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These publications remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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