Significant dates and events in the evolution of the towing vessel inspection rule:
1993 Barge tow hits Big Bayou Canot railroad bridge near Mobile, Ala., resulting in the derailment of an Amtrak train that killed 47 and injured 103. As a result, the American Waterways Operators develops the Responsible Carrier Program.
1998 Barge tow allides with the Eads Bridge over the Mississippi River in St. Louis. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation recommends all towing vessels implement a safety management system.
2002 Barge tow allides with I-40 bridge near Webbers Falls, Okla., resulting in 14 deaths. NTSB finds that wheelhouse alerter systems may help prevent operator incapacitation and fatigue-related accidents in the future.
2004 Maritime Transportation Safety Act requires Coast Guard to inspect towing vessels.
2008 Towboat Mel Oliver pushes barge into a tanker near New Orleans, spilling 280,000 gals. of oil into the Mississippi River.
2009 Coast Guard begins implementing an interim bridging program to familiarize the towing industry with the inspection process.
Aug. 11, 2011 NPRM published in the Federal Register. Coast Guard will hold four public meetings: Oct. 18, Norfolk, Va.; Oct. 24, St. Louis; Oct. 26, New Orleans; Nov. 16, Seattle.
Dec. 9 Public comment period ends.