This past June, the U.S. Coast Guard established new regulations for towing and tug vessels meant to improve safety standards. These new regulations were published under 46 CFR Subchapter M and state that vessels must undergo inspections by the Coast Guard or an authorized third party.
The Houston maritime lawyers at Lapeze & Johns want to keep maritime workers informed about these new regulations and how they can affect you.
What the New Regulations Mean
The statement issued by the U.S. Coast Guard noted that “on July 2018, vessel owners and operators will be responsible for ensuring that their vessels comply with the provisions of 46 CFR Subchapter M.” Vessels will be required to obtain a Certificate of Inspection on a regular basis. For passenger and small vessels, this inspection must take place at least once per year after the initial inspection.
The owner or operator of the vessel is required to submit a request for inspection at least 30 days before their current certificate expires. This request is submitted to the Office in Charge Marine Inspection (OCMI) who then schedule a date for the inspection.
When inspecting the vessel, the Coast Guard will check to ensure that:
- The vessel is suitable for service.
- The vessel is required to be equipped with lifesaving, fire prevention, and firefighting equipment.
- The vessel is able to properly accommodate all individuals aboard.
- The vessel is carrying enough potable water for drinking and washing.
- The vessel is in compliance with all laws and regulations.
We recommend that vessel owners review 46 CFR Subchapter M as well as talk with an authorized third-party organization (TPO) for more information.
How to Certify a Vessel
Vessel owners have several options when it comes to getting an inspection:
- Vessels can be inspected by the Coast Guard annually.
- The second, Coast Guard Approved option, is for vessel owners to implement a Towing Safety Management System (TSMS).
Going the TSMS route requires companies to create and implement a TSMS for all their towing vessels. The advantage is the vessel will only have to be inspected every five years. Once the TSMS is in place, it is time to submit a Certificate of Insurance (COI) to your Officer in Charge (OCMI) to be able to have the TSMS certified by a TPO.
How Does that Affect Maritime Workers
These new regulations are meant to keep maritime workers safe and to ensure every vessel has proper equipment as well as being properly operated. If there are any accidents or incidents that you are aware of and have not been covered and revised with the new regulations, let your company know. Any equipment or management that was a hindrance to workers must be updated to keep up with the new standards.
Maritime accidents are a terrible experience to go through and vessel owners should do everything they can to avoid them. The maritime lawyers at Lapeze & Johns are here to help if you or a loved one has been involved in a maritime accident. Contact us today at 713-739-1010 for a free consultation.
There is no need to go through this experience alone. Our expert maritime lawyers are here to fight for you and help you get the compensation you deserve.