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Subchapter M at a glance

Aug 31, 2016 11:30 AM

The final rule for Subchapter M was published on June 20 in the Federal Register, formalizing it as law. The rule creates a comprehensive safety system that includes company compliance, vessel compliance, vessel standards and oversight in a new Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) subchapter dedicated to towing vessels.

The rule, with exceptions, applies to all U.S.-flag towing vessels 26 feet or more and those less than 26 feet moving a barge carrying oil or hazardous material in bulk. It lays out inspection mechanisms as well as new equipment, construction and operational requirements for towing vessels.

The rule will affect approximately 5,500 towing vessels engaged in pushing, pulling or hauling, and the 1,096 companies that own or operate them. Towing vessels not covered by the rule include those inspected under Subchapter I, workboats and recreational towing vessels.

The annual cost to the towing industry for Subchapter M compliance will be $32.7 million, according to the final rule. Government costs are expected to be $8.8 million per year. Based on the mitigation of risks from towing vessel accidents in terms of lives lost, injuries, oil spilled and property damage, the rule is expected to yield an annual net benefit of $4.9 million.

The complete final rule can be viewed by visiting

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