The final version of Subchapter M (Sub M) is released and is effective July 2016. This subchapter adds new rules for 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 the towing vessels. The objective of this regulatory action is to enhance safe operations of the towing vessels in US waterways. The requirements of final rules are designed to encourage companies to engage at every level to improve safe operations, maintenance and design and adhere to prescribed safety standards.

Owners and managing operators of inspected towing vessels would be required to either develop and maintain documentation for their safety management system and arrange periodic audits and surveys through third party organizations, or to demonstrate compliance with the Subchapter – M to Coast Guard inspectors. This rule also includes provisions for crew and vessel operational safety standards (life-saving and fire-protection), vessel equipment and safety standards, procedures and schedules for routine tests and inspections, crew trainings and audit, electrical and machinery requirements which are applicable to new and existing vessels.

This paper presents an overview of Subchapter- M which includes Safety Management System to be adopted, procedures for safe vessel operations, the inclusion of additional requirements in electrical, mechanical and construction and other requirements for the rule compliance and timeframe for their implementation.

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