It's Time for a Towing Vessel Inspection Rule

By Tom Allegretti, President & CEO of the American Waterways Operators
Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Last month, I had the opportunity to testify before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation at a hearing that examined maritime regulations. In what must have been a change of pace for Subcommittee members, instead of detailing the regulatory burdens facing the tugboat, towboat and barge industry, I urged them to exercise their oversight responsibility to ensure expeditious publication of long-awaited U.S. Coast Guard regulations regarding towing vessel inspection.
Said very simply, we need to get the towing vessel inspection rule done, and done right, right away. These rules will advance our shared goals of improving safety, security and environmental stewardship and cap two decades of tremendous progress along the road to greater safety on our nation’s waterways.
We have waited much too long.  Congress directed the Coast Guard to undertake the towing vessel inspection rulemaking more than nine years ago, in the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004. Three years ago, frustrated by the slow pace of the rulemaking process, Congress set a statutory deadline of October 15, 2011, for issuance of a final rule – a deadline that passed nearly two years ago. Those facts alone create a cause for immediate action.
Equally compelling, however, is the opportunity that this rulemaking provides – an opportunity that we fail to seize each day that the rules continue on their slow course through the federal bureaucracy.  The towing vessel inspection rulemaking offers a historic chance to take safety in the tugboat, towboat and barge industry to a new level, not unlike the transformation of the oil transportation industry after the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. This rulemaking will raise safety standards throughout the tugboat, towboat and barge industry, incorporating and building on the safeguards that quality companies have already put in place and ensuring that all vessels achieve a minimum threshold of safety that is necessary to protect lives, the environment and property.
Further, the towing vessel inspection rules are the missing link in a journey of a continuous improvement that began more than 20 years ago. The Coast Guard, Congress, and our customers have all been active partners in that journey, encouraging and demanding that the industry strive daily to achieve the goal of zero harm to human life, to the environment, and to property as we transport the nation’s waterborne commerce. The journey has been marked by private sector leadership, including the AWO Responsible Carrier Program, the Coast Guard-AWO Safety Partnership, and rigorous customer vetting of companies and vessels, to name just a few examples. It has also been characterized by responsible public policymaking, from OPA 90 to the 2004 law that gave rise to this rulemaking to the inclusive and thoughtful process by which the Coast Guard has engaged stakeholders throughout the development of the towing vessel inspection rules.
That journey has produced meaningful results. A 2012 Coast Guard Report to Congress credited the combination of private and public sector initiatives with producing a dramatic decline in oil spills from tank barges. However, we have not yet achieved our goal of zero harm. The most important step that we can take – the critical missing link in the safety chain – is publication of the towing vessel inspection rule.
There should be no tradeoff between getting the rule done promptly, and getting it done right. The Coast Guard has had nearly two years to review public comments on the October 2011 notice of proposed rulemaking, and many of those comments echo very similar themes. There is a nine-year history of work by the congressionally authorized Towing Safety Advisory Committee and a strong public docket filled with the technical information the Coast Guard needs to finalize this rulemaking.  The regulated community is asking for this rule and bipartisan Members of Congress are calling for its publication.
We cannot afford further delays. We cannot afford to let sound public policy remain the victim of bureaucratic red tape. Two decades of progress are waiting to come to fruition. Now is the time to act.



(As published in the October 2013 edition of Marine News - www.marinelink.com)

Maritime Reporter November 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Workboats

Maritime Reporter @ 75: The Daily Cartoon

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News was founded by John J. O'Malley (1905-1980) in 1939, and today ranks as the world's largest audited trade publication in the world serving the maritime industry,

MARAD Publishes US ATB, ITB Database

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) released what it is calling a first-of-its-kind public database that chronicles U.S.-flagged, privately owned domestic

New Chinese Shipyard Launches First Ship

The new shipyard facility of Honghua Offshore Oil & Gas Equipment Company in Jiangsu, China, has launched its first ship, an IMT982 Platform Supply Vessel. The vessel,

Environmental

NZ Report: Human Error to Blame for Rena Grounding

New Zealand's Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) published its final report into the grounding of containership Rena in October 2011. The TAIC’s

Costa Rica Approves APM Terminals Project

Port operator APM Terminals, a unit of Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk, said on Friday Costa Rica's environment agency had approved the construction of its Moin Container Terminal project.

NOAA: US to See More Floods from Sea Level Rise

Most of U.S. coast may see 30 or more days a year of floods up to 2 feet above high tides. By 2050, a majority of U.S. coastal areas are likely to be threatened

Education/Training

San Jacinto College Breaks Ground on New Training Center

San Jacinto College has broken ground along the Port of Houston for its new 45,000-square-foot Maritime Training Center.   At the site of 3700 Old Highway 146 in La Porte,

Damen Shipyards Galati wins Dutch Romanian Award

Damen Shipyards Galati has been presented with the Dutch Romanian Business Award for its Corporate Social Responsibility plan, particularly the Group’s community investment initiatives.

Lowrance Renews Insight Genesis College Cup

Lowrance®, a world-leading brand in fishing electronics since 1957— announced today the renewal of its Insight Genesis™ College Cup. In its second year, the

News

Port Workers in Argentine Grain Hub End Strike

Port workers in part of the Argentine grains hub of Rosario lifted a work stoppage on Friday, only a day after they went on strike over demands for higher year-end bonuses, a union official said.

Madsen to Chair Norway’s Research Council Executive Board

Henrik O. Madsen appointed chairman of the executive board of the Research Council of Norway   DNV GL president and CEO Henrik O. Madsen was appointed as chairman

Larger Tankers May Offer Better Return Chances

Investors looking for returns in the tanker markets can invest their capital in a variety of ways. Should an owner invest in a VLCC or an Aframax? How about an

Barges

Becker Marine Delivers Rudder for Largest Containership

Becker Marine Systems delivers rudder for the largest container ship in the world   At 19,000 TEU, the largest container ship in the world is now picking up speed

Port of Amsterdam to Reward Green Barges

The cleaner the vessels, the larger the discount on Inland Harbour Dues. Port of Amsterdam will be joining the Green Award program for inland barges on January 1,

WCI Applauds Barge Diesel Fuel User Fee Increase

Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) and its members and stakeholders applauded the Senate’s passage, by a vote of 76 to16, of a 9-cent increase to the barge diesel fuel user fee.

Maritime Safety

NZ Report: Human Error to Blame for Rena Grounding

New Zealand's Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) published its final report into the grounding of containership Rena in October 2011. The TAIC’s

DNV GL Targets Safer Approach to Subsea Lifting

The completion of a joint industry project (JIP) to improve existing standards and regulations around subsea lifting operations has resulted in a new recommended practice (RP).

NOAA: US to See More Floods from Sea Level Rise

Most of U.S. coast may see 30 or more days a year of floods up to 2 feet above high tides. By 2050, a majority of U.S. coastal areas are likely to be threatened

Government Update

Madsen to Chair Norway’s Research Council Executive Board

Henrik O. Madsen appointed chairman of the executive board of the Research Council of Norway   DNV GL president and CEO Henrik O. Madsen was appointed as chairman

MARAD Publishes US ATB, ITB Database

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) released what it is calling a first-of-its-kind public database that chronicles U.S.-flagged, privately owned domestic

Costa Rica Approves APM Terminals Project

Port operator APM Terminals, a unit of Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk, said on Friday Costa Rica's environment agency had approved the construction of its Moin Container Terminal project.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2132 sec (5 req/sec)