Owners of the first four U.S. towing vessels to receive Coast Guard Certificates of Inspection (COIs) under Subchapter M are all American Bureau of Shipping customers.

ABS officials say they now assist owners of more than 2,000 of the more than 5,000 previously uninspected towing vessels that must comply with the new safety rules by July 20.

“ABS is guiding owners to find the right compliance solution – suited for their unique needs – while also considering operational demands,” Paul Hite, Subchapter M operations coordinator for ABS, said in a prepared statement. “This succession of firsts all around the U.S. clearly demonstrates how ABS is leading the way on Subchapter M compliance.”

The Vane Line ATB tug Brandywine was the first East Coast vessel to earn a Certificate of Inspection. Vane Line photo.

The Vane Line ATB tug Brandywine was the first East Coast vessel to earn a COI. Vane Line photo.

Marine Towing of Tampa’s Endeavour, a shipdocking module (SDM) tractor tug, received the first COI on the Gulf Coast, followed by Vane Line Bunkering’s ATB tug Brandywine on the East Coast and Tidewater Barge Lines’ towboat Crown Point on the West Coast. The first vessel to receive a COI in District 8, the Coast Guard’s largest district spanning 26 states, was the towboat Sacred Heart, owned and operated by Marquette Transportation Company LLC.

ABS entered relationships with all of those owner-operators to provide oversight of their Subchapter M compliance programs, and acts as the Coast Guard-approved third party organization (TPO) for each, conducting vessel surveys and audits to maintain statutory compliance.

Tessa Seitzinger, director of compliance for the Marquette Transportation, said that the ABS surveyor was "knowledgeable and willing to take the time to understand our SMS processes and procedures. The final ABS report and SMC (safety management certificate) provided to the Sacred Heart was timely and contained all the correct information needed for the Coast Guard to issue their COI.”

As a Coast Guard recognized organization (RO) and an approved TPO, ABS provides fully integrated solutions to help owners and operators achieve and maintain Subchapter M compliance. The unique compliance needs of any company is identified and managed through a combination of services including Towing Safety Management System (TSMS) review and approval on behalf of the Coast Guard, ABS class in conjunction with the International Safety Management Code (ISM), and ABS Nautical Systems Workboat fleet management software.

ABS also administers audits for the Responsible Carrier Program (RCP) – an American Waterways Operators program that was approved as a TSMS option by the Coast Guard.