View Rule

View EO 12866 Meetings Printer-Friendly Version     Download RIN Data in XML

DHS/USCG RIN: 1625-AB06 Publication ID: Fall 2015 
Title: Inspection of Towing Vessels  

This rulemaking would implement a program of inspection for certification of towing vessels, which were previously uninspected. It would prescribe standards for safety management systems and third-party auditors and surveyors, along with standards for construction, operation, vessel systems, safety equipment, and recordkeeping.

Agency: Department of Homeland Security(DHS)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 46 CFR 2    46 CFR 15    46 CFR 136 to 144   
Legal Authority: 46 U.S.C. 3103    46 U.S.C. 3301    46 U.S.C. 3306    46 U.S.C. 3308    46 U.S.C. 3316    46 U.S.C. 3703    46 U.S.C. 8104    46 U.S.C. 8904    DHS Delegation No 0170.1   
Legal Deadline:
Action Source Description Date
NPRM  Statutory    01/13/2011 
Final  Statutory    10/15/2011 

Overall Description of Deadline: On October 15, 2010, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 was enacted as Public Law 111-281. It requires that a proposed rule be issued within 90 days after enactment and that a final rule be issued within 1 year of enactment.

Statement of Need:

This rulemaking would implement section 415 of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004. The intent of the proposed rule is to promote safer work practices and reduce casualties on towing vessels by ensuring that towing vessels adhere to prescribed safety standards. This proposed rule was developed in cooperation with the Towing Vessel Safety Advisory Committee. It would establish a new subchapter dedicated to towing vessels, covering vessel equipment, systems, operational standards, and inspection requirements.

Summary of the Legal Basis:

Proposed new subchapter authority: 46 U.S.C. 3103, 3301, 3306, 3308, 3316, 8104, 8904; 33 CFR 1.05; DHS Delegation 0170.1. The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004 (CGMTA 2004), Public Law 108-293, 118 Stat. 1028, (Aug. 9, 2004), established new authorities for towing vessels as follows: section 415 added towing vessels, as defined in section 2101 of title 46, United States Code (U.S.C.), as a class of vessels that are subject to safety inspections under chapter 33 of that title (Id. at 1047). Section 415 also added new section 3306(j) of title 46, authorizing the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish, by regulation, a safety management system appropriate for the characteristics, methods of operation, and nature of service of towing vessels (Id.). Section 409 added new section 8904(c) of title 46, U.S.C., authorizing the Secretary to establish, by regulation, "maximum hours of service (including recording and recordkeeping of that service) of individuals engaged on a towing vessel that is at least 26 feet in length measured from end to end over the deck (excluding the sheer)." (Id. at 1044-45.)


We considered the following alternatives for the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM): One regulatory alternative would be the addition of towing vessels to one or more existing subchapters that deal with other inspected vessels, such as cargo and miscellaneous vessels (subchapter I), offshore supply vessels (subchapter L), or small passenger vessels (subchapter T). We do not believe, however, that this approach would recognize the often "unique" nature and characteristics of the towing industry in general and towing vessels in particular. The same approach could be adopted for use of a safety management system by requiring compliance with title 33, Code of Federal Regulations, part 96 (Rules for the Safe Operation of Vessels and Safety Management Systems). Adoption of these requirements, without an alternative safety management system, would also not be "appropriate for the characteristics, methods of operation, and nature of service of towing vessels." The Coast Guard has had extensive public involvement (four public meetings, over 100 separate comments submitted to the docket, as well as extensive ongoing dialogue with members of the Towing Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC)) regarding development of these regulations. Adoption of one of the alternatives discussed above would likely receive little public or industry support, especially considering the TSAC efforts toward development of standards to be incorporated into a separate subchapter dealing specifically with the inspection of towing vessels. An approach that would seem to be more in keeping with the intent of Congress would be the adoption of certain existing standards from those applied to other inspected vessels. In some cases, these existing standards would be appropriately modified and tailored to the nature and operation of certain categories of towing vessels. The adopted standards would come from inspected vessels that have demonstrated "good marine practice" within the maritime community. These regulations would be incorporated into a subchapter specifically addressing the inspection for certification of towing vessels. The law requiring the inspection for certification of towing vessels is a statutory mandate, compelling the Coast Guard to develop regulations appropriate for the nature of towing vessels and their specific industry.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

We estimate that, as a result of this rulemaking, owners and operators of towing vessels would incur additional annualized costs, discounted at 7 percent, in the range of $14.3 million to $17.1 million.  The cost of this rulemaking would involve provisions for safety management systems, standards for construction, operation, vessel systems, safety equipment, and recordkeeping. Our cost assessment includes existing and new vessels. The Coast Guard developed the requirements in the proposed rule by researching both the human factors and equipment failures that caused towing vessel accidents. We believe that the proposed rule would address a wide range of causes of towing vessel accidents and supports the main goal of improving safety in the towing industry. The primary benefit of the proposed rule is an increase in vessel safety and a resulting decrease in the risk of towing vessel accidents and their consequences. We estimate an annualized benefit of $28.5 million from this rule.


This regulatory action would reduce the risk of towing vessel accidents and their consequences. Towing vessel accidents result in fatalities, injuries, property damage, pollution, and delays.

Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  08/11/2011  76 FR 49976   
Notice of Public Meetings  09/09/2011  76 FR 55847   
NPRM Comment Period End  12/09/2011    
Final Rule  02/00/2016 
Additional Information: Docket ID USCG-2006-24412.
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Yes  Government Levels Affected: State 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses, Governmental Jurisdictions, Organizations  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Information URL:   Public Comment URL:  
RIN Data Printed in the FR: Yes 
Agency Contact:
LCDR William Nabach
Project Manager, Office of Operating & Environmental Standards, CG-OES-2
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Coast Guard
2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE., STOP 7509,
Washington, DC 20593-7509
Phone:202 372-1386