I am pleased to report that attendance at public meetings of the Towing Safety Advisory Committee is growing.

TSAC held one of its two annual public meetings in Louisville, Ky., in late March, and TSAC members as well as a cross-section of non-members with interests in the towing industry turned out.

This is encouraging. The towing industry isn’t simply owners and operators, it is surveyors, underwriters, class societies, admiralty lawyers, maritime forensic experts and various representatives of the U.S. Coast Guard, including the Towing Vessel Center of National Expertise. All of these folks are part of the safety equation.

I wrote about the TSAC in an earlier blog. As a review, TSAC is a federally chartered committee that advises the Coast Guard on matters relating to shallow-draft inland and coastal waterway navigation and towing safety. It provides official recommendations on a number of safety matters involving towing vessels and barges. It represents a great opportunity to make your concerns and opinions heard at both the public and Coast Guard levels.

In fact, the public’s comments bring forward some of the most important issues of the day, straight from the real world in which companies and mariners work and live. The 18-member committee offers a broad representation of the towing industry. Members serve three years, with a third turning over every year. Calls for members can be found at https://homeport.uscg.mil/mycg/portal/ep/home.do or in the Federal Register, a place where only the brave go.

I strongly encourage anyone with an interest to follow these calls from the Coast Guard and submit an application. I promise you will find it a rewarding opportunity. There are no Coast Guard or government representatives on TSAC. The beauty of TSAC is that it’s an organization “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

As I earlier mentioned, TSAC looks at important safety issues of the day. TSAC takes on some matters for further study by members and best of all, by volunteers from the public – you! The committee’s good work takes the form of official reports and recommendations to the Coast Guard. Given the nature and industry source of these reports they are weighed heavily by the Coast Guard.

TSAC has been heavily involved in the development of Subchapter M we are all waiting for. At the March meeting, the committee discussed air draft for towing vessels and tows because of a number of bridge strikes.

The committee also addressed development of some recommendations for the maintenance, inspection, repair and use of towing gear. A particularly lively presentation of the Coast Guard’s casualty reporting, a.k.a. 2692s, was had.

One of the most important ongoing efforts is the work regarding ocean towing of mobile offshore drilling units, in light of the grounding of the MODU Kulluk and the Coast Guard’s extensive investigation. The combined experience and talent of the people working on this project are awesome. Best practices are the goals for this committee endeavor, especially in light of likely increased Arctic oil drilling which is a pretty tough place to get to and work in.

You might consider attending the next TSAC meeting being held in Washington, D.C., in September. Details will come out on Homeport and the Federal Register later. You can still be heard even if you can’t attend. Send your inputs by mail, fax, or hand delivered to the Coast Guard headquarters in Washington. If you want more details you can give me a shout on my email.

If you think government isn’t listening, this is your chance, from deckhands to owners, to speak up. That’s the power of TSAC. It’s a five-star event and all good at TSAC. See you there.
Sail safe.


A collection of stories from guest authors.