Devall Towing & Boat Service Inc., Sulphur, La., received the first Coast Guard Subchapter M certificate of inspection in the Lake Charles, La., area for its pushboat Capt Al Devall.

The 54’x22’, 1,200-hp vessel is the first to be certified by the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Lake Charles, which presented the COI certificate to the Devall family in Sulphur on Wednesday.

The new Subchapter M safety regulations for towing vessels went into full effect nationwide July 20, and the phase-in period calls for all towing vessels to have COIs by July 19, 2022.

The new regulations, developed over years of cooperative effort between the Coast Guard and industry, set more stringent towing inspection, operational, and safety standards for what was long classified as the “uninspected towing vessel” category in federal regulations.

Now, a vessel’s COI is a document which describes the vessel, the route it may travel, safety requirements, number of people who may be onboard, and the names of owners and operators.

The Subchapter M rules allow vessel operators options for achieving certification, including the use of Coast Guard-certified third party organizations for inspections, like the American Bureau of Shipping, or having local Coast Guard groups like the Lake Charles unit do the certifications.

The first certificates through ABS were finalized starting in March 2017, and the Coast Guard-option certificates soon followed.

“Certificates of inspection will be issued to towing vessels in phases over the next four years to fully bring them into the towing vessel inspection cycle,” said Lt. John Nolan, Coast Guard chief of inspections for Lake Charles. “Marine Safety Unit Lake Charles personnel have been working with towing vessel operators to prepare them for the deadline and for certificate issuance.”

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.