The Towing Vessel National Center of Expertise recently published the latest additions and updates to the Subchapter M frequently asked questions. To access the full library of Subchapter M FAQs, visit TVNCOE’s website.
Subchapter M FAQs updated as of May 2018:
FAQ G-029 – Will there be training that will be open for industry to attend?
The Coast Guard is considering recurring courses which industry could attend and participate in. Information on available training would be disseminated via the Towing Vessel National Center of Expertise’s website.
FAQ P-001 – When will the USCG “additional guidance” be issued and how will that occur?
The Coast Guard is in the process of developing guidance on a number of topics to include TPOs and compliance with Subchapter M.
The Towing Vessel National Center of Expertise’s website offers links to frequently asked questions, a listing of questions received, and an opportunity to submit questions. This site will be updated periodically to include answers to questions received from the industry and public.
FAQ 15-001 – Does the requirement for towing vessels 8 meters or more in length to be under the direction and control of a person holding an MMC endorsed as master or mate (pilot) of towing vessels or as master or mate of vessels greater than 200 gross register tons, holding a completed TOAR, apply to vessels operating exclusively within a worksite?
No, a vessel operating exclusively within a worksite is exempt from the requirements of Subchapter M unless that vessel is pushing, pulling, or hauling a barge that is carrying oil or hazardous material in bulk, as per 46 CFR 136.105(a)(1). FAQ 136-007 discusses worksite determinations.
FAQ 136-018 – Is a fleet boat exempt from Subchapter M?
This does not include the movement of barges carrying oil or hazardous material in bulk. All towing vessels, regardless of size, involved in the movement of barges carrying oil or hazardous material in bulk shall be certificated and manned in accordance with their COI. The vessel must operate exclusively in a Limited Geographic Area as defined in 46 CFR §136.110 as determined by the Captain of the Port (COTP), and the vessel must meet the excepted vessels provisions as coordinated with their local OCMI.
FAQ 137-000 – Is a dry-dock and internal structural exam required prior to the Coast Guard issuing the initial Certificate of Inspection?
No, a Coast Guard or Third Party Organization (TPO) credit drydock or internal structural exam (ISE) is not required to obtain the initial Certificate of Inspection (COI). The Coast Guard is not required to attend drydocks or ISEs prior to a towing vessel receiving its initial COI.
FAQ 137-021 – What must occur prior to a TSMS vessel receiving its initial COI?
The process that must occur prior to issuance of an initial COI is as follows:
1. Six months Before COI Inspection – If the TSMS and company are in compliance with Sub M requirements, the TPO approves the TSMS. The TPO conducts a management audit and issues a TSMS certificate to the company.
2. Surveys and Audits – The company completes a vessel survey and audit under the internal survey program. The TPO completes a vessel survey and audit under the external survey program.
3. Three Months Before COI Inspection – Company schedules initial COI with the OCMI.
4. Thirty Days Before COI Inspection – Company submits application for inspection to the OCMI, along with objective evidence as per §§ 136.210 and 137.202.
5. Initial COI Inspection – The Coast Guard conducts the inspection and COI is issued. In some cases a decal will be accepted as the inspection for an initial COI.
§ 136.210 also discusses the process that an owner or managing operator must follow in order to schedule a COI inspection. In addition, the preamble to the regulation, page 40032, column 2, provides a short sequence of events for issuance of a COI.
Finally, in accordance with § 138.315(b)(1), an external vessel audit is required 6 months prior to issuance of the initial COI, for vessels subject to an owner or managing operator’s TSMS that have been owned or operated for 6 or more months. For vessels subject to an owner or managing operator’s TSMS that have been owned or operated for fewer than 6 months, § 138.315(b)(2) requires that an external audit must be conducted no later than 6 months after the issuance of the initial COI.
FAQ 137-028 – Is the over 100 GT requirement still in effect for having a fixed bilge pumping system in place? (§137.220(c)(6)).
Yes. However, this is an existing pollution prevention requirement in 33 CFR § 155.410, and not related to §137.220(c)(6) of Subchapter M.
§137.220(c)(6) is a survey requirement to verify vessel emergency dewatering equipment, which may be an installed system or portable pump per §143.275.
§137.220(n) applies to survey requirements for vessel compliance with prevention of oil pollution regulations. This section refers to §140.655, which further references the existing water pollution prevention regulations in 33 CFR parts 151, 155, and 156, as applicable.
FAQ 137-032 – What criteria is used to determine degree of wastage, pitting, improper repairs etc.? What specifications and tolerances will be used?
Marine surveyors and marine inspectors rely on their training and experience in evaluating the vessels hull condition. In addition, there are Classification rules, IACS instruments, NVICs, policies and industry standards to aid them.
Some of the tools available for use by marine surveyors and marine inspectors are:
– ABS Rules for Building and Classing Steel Vessels for Service on Rivers and Intracoastal Waterways
– ABS Rules for Building and Classing Steel Vessels Under 90 Meters (295') in Length
– NVIC 7-68 Notes on Inspection and Repair of Steel Hulls
– MSM Vol. II Section B, Chapter 1 Inspection of Vessels for Certification page. B1-24 – 26.
– ASTM Standard F2991-13 Standard Guide for Doubler Plate Repairs for Non-classed Ship Structures.
Additional resources are available in the incorporated by reference list located in § 136.112. For further information on hull and structural integrity see FAQ 137-029.
FAQ 138-007 – Will the Coast Guard accept the AWO’s Responsible Carrier Program (RCP) as a TSMS? Are there any other plans that the Coast Guard is considering as equivalent to a TSMS in addition to the AWO’s RCP program?
Yes, the AWO’s RCP is an accepted existing safety management system and may be considered as meeting the TSMS requirements per 46 CFR §138.225(b). To date, no other entities have submitted an existing safety management system for our consideration. See CG-CVC Policy Letter 17-02, Change 1.
FAQ 138-020 – Will deficiencies identified as part of the TSMS show up on PSIX?
No. Only deficiencies identified during a CG inspection will show up on PSIX. This includes inspections for certification, which will occur once every five years, all marine casualties and may also include major non-conformities or an unsafe condition as per the definitions provided in §136.110.
Deficiencies identified by a vessel’s TPO will be documented by the TPO in accordance with the vessel’s TSMS.
Deficiencies identified when both the TPO and Coast Guard are present will be documented by the TPO in accordance with the vessel’s TSMS, with the exception of an inspection for certification.
TPO procedures and company TSMS must address how to document and resolve non-conformities identified during audits and surveys. As long as Companies take corrective actions as required by their TSMS to rectify the non-conformity; they will not be entered into the MISLE system. See CG-CVC Policy Letter 17-10.
(1) If the Vessel Audits performed by TPOs need to be on randomly selected vessels, does that mean that 100% of the company’s vessels need to be in compliance (fully qualify for a COI) by July 2019?
(2) Do 100% of the vessels need to be in compliance (fully qualify for COI) by July 2018 on the date the regulations become effective?
(3) Do 100% of the vessels need to be fully compliant in order for the company to get its TSMS certificate from the TPO regardless of the date of regulatory compliance requirements due to the random selection clause?
(1) By July 2019, 25% of a towing vessel fleet is required to have a COI. Random audits will not be required until after the phase-in period (July 20, 2022). Refer to CG-CVC Policy Letter 18-01.
(2) An existing towing vessel subject to Subchapter M will remain subject to Coast Guard regulations applicable to the vessel on July 19, 2016, (subchapter C) until either July 20, 2018, or the date the vessel obtains a COI, whichever date is earlier. On and after that date, all existing towing vessels subject to subchapter M must be compliant, regardless of the status of the vessels initial COI.
(3) No. Vessel audits and surveys are not required prior to issuance of the initial TSMS certificate. The owner or managing operator will be issued a TSMS certificate once an external management audit has been conducted by an auditor from a TPO, and the audit results have determined that his or her organization is in compliance with the TSMS requirements (§138.305(a) & §138.315(a)).
For additional information on what a TSMS vessel must do prior to receiving its initial COI, see FAQ 137-021.
FAQ 138-024 – Will the Coast Guard document deficiencies found while onboard inspected towing vessels utilizing a Third Party Organization and Towing Safety Management System, and if so, how?
Documentation of deficiencies by the Coast Guard will depend on the type of inspection and presence of the vessel’s TPO.
• Deficiencies identified by a vessel’s TPO will be documented by the TPO in accordance with the vessel’s TSMS.
• Deficiencies identified when both the TPO and Coast Guard are present will be documented by the TPO in accordance with the vessel’s TSMS, with the exception of an inspection for certification.
• Deficiencies identified during an inspection for certification, which will occur once every five years, will be documented by the Coast Guard.
• The Coast Guard will document all marine casualties and may document major non-conformities or an unsafe condition as per the definitions provided in § 136.110.
Coast Guard inspectors will typically inspect TSMS vessels only once in five years, unless involved in a marine casualty. However, when deficiencies are found during those inspections, it may be indicative of a failed or failing system. To ensure effective oversight of vessels that utilize a TSMS and effective oversight of their Third Party Organizations (TPO), deficiencies issued to towing vessels during Coast Guard inspections must be documented and tracked. The CG-835V, Notice of Merchant Marine Inspection Requirements, is the method to document deficiencies identified during Coast Guard inspections onboard U.S. vessels. Marine Safety Manual Volume II, Section A, Chapter 3, requires all outstanding deficiencies issued on a CG-835V to be entered into MISLE. Refer to CG-CVC Policy Letter 17-10, Deficiency Recording and Reporting for Vessels Using a TSMS Option.