Coast Guard Releases Advance Copy of Subchapter M Final Rule

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June 13, 2016


The U.S. Coast Guard has released an unpublished version of its long-awaited Subchapter M final rule governing the inspection, standards, and safety management systems of U.S.-flagged towing vessels.

Subchapter M started as a brief snippet of text in the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004 that reclassified towing vessels as vessels subject to inspection and mandated the regulation of the towing industry in response to a number of fatal accidents involving towing vessels. 

According to the Coast Guard, the rule creates a comprehensive safety system that includes company compliance, vessel compliance, vessel standards, and oversight in a new Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) subchapter dedicated specifically to towing vessels. The rule also creates many new requirements for design, construction, equipment, and operation of towing vessels. With certain exceptions, Subchapter M generally applies to all U.S.-flag towing vessels 26 feet or more or that are moving a barge carrying oil or hazardous material in bulk.

The final rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on June 20.

The full 798-page advance copy of the final rule can be found HERE.

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