Coast Guard Enforcing New Towing Regs in Alaska

The new regulations bolster the existing requirements for fire-fighting and life-saving equipment, establish standards for construction and arrangement of newly constructed vessels, and phase in machinery and electrical standards during the next decade.

The U.S. Coast Guard began enforcing new towing vessel inspection regulations in the state of Alaska on July 20. USCG said the regulations' history dates back to 2004, when Congress passed the Coast Guard and Marine Transportation Act of 2004, which added towing vessels to the list of inspected vessels. For more than a decade, the Coast Guard and the towing industry have worked together to develop the regulations and a plan to transition the vessels into an inspected fleet.

Referred to as Subchapter M based on their location within Title 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations, the new regulations bolster the existing requirements for fire-fighting and life-saving equipment, establish standards for construction and arrangement of newly constructed vessels, and phase in machinery and electrical standards during the next decade.

As of July 20, all vessels engaged in towing must comply with the new towing vessel regulations. Certificates of Inspection will be issued to towing vessels in phases during the next four years. Coast Guard Sector Juneau and Sector Anchorage personnel have been working with towing vessel operators throughout Alaska to prepare them for the deadline and for issuance of the certificates.

"The operators that we have communicated with have been very receptive and are working hard to ensure they are all in 100 percent compliance," said Lt. Cmdr. Mason Wilcox, the Coast Guard Sector Anchorage chief of inspections. "We would like to thank all of our towing vessel operators for working with us to help them ensure their full compliance with the new regulations. We appreciate them being proactive and their dedication to safety."

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    June 2020

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