The U.S. Coast Guard has proposed significant changes to the regulations concerning the Inspection of Towing Vessels and arguably eliminating the class of vessels formerly known as uninspected towing vessels.  The Coast Guard has established a deadline of December 9, 2011, to receive public comments, which can be made at the following link:  www.regulations.gov and by inserting “USCG–2006–24412” in the box marked “Keyword” or “ID.”

The proposed regulations cover a number of industry sensitive topics, including:

(1)   adoption of Towing Safety Management System approved by licensed third party auditors, surveyors or classification societies or annual inspections by the Coast Guard

(2)   propulsion / steerage redundancy requirements as well as stability and electrical design requirements

(3)   crewing/manning training requirements including record keeping functions

As of this writing, several industry stake-holders have posted comments concerning the anticipated costs of compliance on small operators, the inconsistencies between the proposed regulations of towing vessels and the absence of similar regulations for passenger vessels, as well as the absence of any “grandfather” provisions as had been provided when previously “uninspected” vessel classes were thereafter subject to regulation.