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17th District Alaska Public Affairs
U.S. Coast Guard

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News Release

August 11, 2011

Coast Guard 17th District External Affairs Office

Contact: Coast Guard 17th District External Affairs Office


Office: (907) 463-2065

Coast Guard publishes notice of proposed rulemaking for inspection of towing vessels

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The U.S. Coast Guard announced Thursday publication in the Federal Register of a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) designed to improve safety on towing vessels and is seeking public comment.

The NPRM provides a layered approach to towing vessel safety that includes the option of an audited safety management system or an annual Coast Guard inspection regime. The NPRM also includes procedures for obtaining Certificates of Inspection issued by the Coast Guard, and for Coast Guard oversight of any audit and survey processes involving third party organizations.

Additionally, it would establish safety regulations governing the inspection, standards, and safety management systems for towing vessels. These include requirements for lifesaving and fire protection, electrical and mechanical items, and operational requirements such as crewmember training and drills, navigation and towing safety, and recordkeeping provisions.

The Coast Guard has worked closely with the Towing Safety Advisory Committee in developing this proposed rulemaking and now encourages public comment on the proposal. Interested parties can review the proposal and submit comments and related materials at, docket number USCG-2006-24412. All comments are posted without change. The comment period ends on Dec. 9, 2011.

“The Coast Guard in Alaska has a history of working with the towing industry which provides an essential service to Alaska’s remote communities and industry operations,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick Horan, District Seventeen towing vessel coordinator for uninspected towing vessel safety in Alaska.

“We encourage Alaska’s towing operators to take advantage of this time for comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking to ensure that any Alaska related concerns are recorded. We will be working with Alaska towing operators while implementing any national safety standards to ensure the safety of life at sea,” said Horan.

While at this time, there is no specific proposal regarding requirements for hours of service and crew endurance management for mariners aboard towing vessels, comments on this important topic are encouraged and will be considered when the Coast Guard decides whether to propose such requirements in the future.

The Coast Guard’s current Towing Vessel Bridging Program efforts, which address verifying compliance with existing regulations, will not be impacted by these proposed regulations.

The NPRM can be viewed here.

For more information about Alaska’s towing operations and safety requirements contact Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick Horan at 907-463-2819. For questions about the NPRM contact Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike O’Berry at 202-372-4644

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