New Towing Vessel ‘Virginia’ Awarded First Certificate of Inspection Under Subchapter M Rules

subchapter M towboat
Photo: Plimsoll Marine

The newbuild towboat MV Virginia has become the first new towing vessel in the United States to receive a Certificate of Inspection (COI) since the implementation of 46 CFR Subchapter M.

The towing vessel is owned by Plimsoll Marine and was built by Blakeley BoatWorks in Mobile, Alabama. It will operate within the Cooper Consolidated fleeting footprint, the largest fleeting footprint on the Lower Mississippi River. All three companies are part of the Cooper Group of companies.

Blakeley BoatWorks completed construction of MV Virginia in August 2018. The vessel is a state-of-the-art inland push boat measuring 70-feet long, 28-feet wide, and with 1,600 horsepower. The vessel is both SIRE and 46 CFR Subchapter M-ready. Plimsoll Marine will operate the M/V Virginia on the Lower Mississippi River for Cooper Consolidated.

“The Blakeley BoatWorks team is proud to have constructed our nation’s first new inland towing vessel to receive a COI,” said Tim Mire, Managing Director of Blakeley BoatWorks. “Our customers expect that their new vessels will meet our industry’s highest levels of compliance requirements and we certainly met those high expectations when we delivered the Virginia.”

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Subchapter M establishes new requirements for the design, construction, onboard equipment and operations specific to towing vessels. The regulations, developed over more than a decade, have been incorporated into Title 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations as the new Subchapter M.

A new towing vessel is defined in 46 CFR Subchapter M Part 136.100 as, “…a towing vessel, subject to inspection under this subchapter that: (1) Had its keel laid or was at a similar state of construction on or after July 20, 2017; or (2) Underwent a major conversion that was initiated on or after July 20, 2017.

Plimsoll Marine, a Cooper Group company, is a push boat operator with a current fleet of 19 push boats that perform fleet work and barge delivery services from Baton Rouge, LA to Head of Passes on the Lower Mississippi River.

“Our decision to be the first company to build a new vessel under the recently enacted regulations of 46 CFR Subchapter M was not one that we made because we thought it would be easy,” said Karl Gonzales, Vice President of Plimsoll Marine. “Instead, the decision to be the first was made to further demonstrate that Plimsoll Marine is a safety and compliance leader.”