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Coast Guard accepts existing SMS for initial Subchapter M compliance

May 26, 2017 12:59 PM

The policy letter reconciles a gap involving COIs and adopting towing safety management systems

The following is the text of a news release from the Towing Vessel Inspection Bureau (TVIB):

(WASHINGTON) — The Coast Guard on Wednesday issued the much anticipated policy letter for the use of existing safety management systems (SMS) to obtain an initial certificate of inspection (COI) under 46 CFR Subchapter M. Following is an excerpt from CG-CVC Policy Letter 17-02:

POLICY: An owner or managing operator and a TPO (third-party organization) of vessels choosing a TSMS (towing safety management system) option and seeking to obtain a vessel’s initial COI may use the following options as a means to provide objective evidence of a vessel’s use of an ISM-based SMS or Coast Guard-accepted SMS as provided for in 46 CFR 138.225.

a. Coast Guard-accepted existing safety management system (such as RCP, the Responsible Carrier Program) with an audit completed within three years: A TPO may reduce the breadth and depth of the external management audit required for the TSMS certificate. This may include only a sample of the TSMS elements to verify compliance. A vessel using this option must have been credited with a vessel audit and successfully completed a survey in accordance with 46 CFR 137.202(a) within one year prior to the date the vessel is scheduled for its initial COI issuance. The TPO must have objective evidence that the vessel is compliance with the applicable portions of Subchapter M such as documentation of an internal or external survey and an external audit. Also, there must be no outstanding major non-conformities associated with either the vessel’s audit or survey on the date the vessel is scheduled for its initial COI issuance. Consistent with 46 CFR 138.225(d), the OCMI, who will be conducting the initial COI inspection, must be able to examine the materials submitted by the owner or managing operator at least 30 days before the date the vessel is scheduled to be inspected to see if it contains objective evidence that non-conformities were identified and corrected.

b. Coast Guard-accepted existing safety management system (such as RCP) with no audit within three years: If the owner or managing operator has been issued a TSMS certificate, but the vessel has not undergone a safety management system audit, or the audit is beyond three years of the date the vessel is scheduled for its initial COI issuance, the TPO must conduct a vessel audit and confirm the completion of a satisfactory survey per Subchapter M regulations. The survey may either be an external survey performed by a TPO or an internal survey performed by appropriately-qualified in-house or contract personnel. An internal survey is subject to the verification of a TPO, but that verification need not include a visit to the vessel unless the TPO has reason to question the validity of the survey report or otherwise determines a visit is needed. Consistent with 46 CFR 136.210, 137.130(c), 137.202(a), and 138.225(d), the OCMI who will be conducting the initial COI inspection must be able to examine the materials submitted by the owner or managing operator at least 30 days before the date the vessel is scheduled to be inspected to see if it contains objective evidence that non-conformities were identified and corrected.

Click here to read the complete policy letter.

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