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Operational Excellence through Leadership and Compliance

Maritime Compliance Report

Welcome. Staying in compliance takes dedication, diligence and strong leadership skills to stay on top of all the requirements which seem to keep coming at a rapid pace. With this blog I hope to provide visitors with content that will help them in their daily work of staying in compliance. I hope you find it a resource worthy of your time and I look forward to your feedback, questions, comments and concerns. Thanks for stopping by.

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Towing Vessel Operators Must Choose Wisely - Part 1

Perhaps the most controversial section of the Subchapter M Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) is 46 CFR part 136.130, “Options for obtaining certification of a towing vessel.” This part allows for an owner/operator to choose between traditional Coast Guard inspections for compliance, or to implement a Towing Safety Management System (TSMS) with third party surveyors and auditors verifying compliance on behalf of the Coast Guard. The latter may seem like an attractive option, that is, until you study the implications.

 

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Fire Drills – Keeping it Real

Most commercial vessels, including uninspected vessels, are required to conduct fire drills. A fire drill is more than testing the general alarm and the fire pump. The purpose of a drill is to understand the best possible procedure and to have a predictable response in a real emergency.

 

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Towing Vessel Bridging Program - Phase 2

On May 3rd Coast Guard Headquarters released an update on the Coast Guard Towing Vessel Bridging Program. Phase 1 of the Bridging Program began in June of 2009. The purpose of the program was to prepare the towing industry for the impending inspection regulations contained in Subchapter M, and at the same time familiarize Coast Guard personnel with towing vessels and their operations. The Coast Guard estimates there is a total of approximately 5,800 towing vessels. Since the beginning of Phase 1 of the Bridging Program the Coast Guard has conducted 4,200 industry initiated examinations and issued 3,200 decals to towing vessels.

 

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U.S. Coast Guard Appeal Process

There is an age-old quandary in the maritime industry when it comes to dealing with the U.S. Coast Guard: to just do whatever they say, or challenge their decision? Many choose to go along with whatever a Coast Guard inspector says, even when a decision may have been made in error, or the impact to the company may be great. This is mostly due to a misconception that the Coast Guard is likely to retaliate if challenged. Another common reason for going along with whatever the Coast Guard inspector says is simply to “keep them happy and make them go away.” Sometimes this can backfire and have serious consequences for a vessel owner when they realize the impact of what they have agreed to, and if they don’t follow through in the future.

 

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Ballast Water Regulations

On March 23, 2012 the U.S. Coast Guard published the new ballast water regulations which will go into effect on June 21, 2012. It is a complicated regulation, but here are just some of the high-lights:


Preamble – The Coast Guard explains that ballast water exchange method “is not well suited” as the basis for the program required by the National Invasive Species Act, in part because studies have shown that in some vessels a large number of invasive species may remain after ballast water exchange. Further justification is provided for the Coast Guard’s requiring approved Ballast Water Management Systems (BWMS) to be installed on vessels.

 

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Safety Management – The Right Way

While there are plenty of examples of how safety management can be implemented incorrectly, I’d like to share with you an example of how to do it right, from scratch.


Last fall we contracted with American Tugs, Inc. in Puerto Rico, to develop and implement a safety management system.  Not just any safety management system, but a Towing Safety Management System (TSMS) which would meet the requirements laid out in the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for 46 CFR Subchapter M. Here’s how we did it:

 

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Towing Vessel Inspections and the Cruise Ship Disaster

While we don’t know when the towing vessel inspection regulations contained in Subchapter M will officially come into force, we do know it could be as soon as within the next year, and if published as proposed, it will drastically change the industry forever. Whether a company is dreading the day, or is confident in their readiness, it is interesting to take a look at what we know about the recent Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster and draw some parallels, which may provide some insight into the future.

 

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OSHA for the Maritime Industry

My associate, Capt. Tom O’Farrell, and I just completed a week long OSHA Maritime Outreach Training with the University of Texas. OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has regulations which apply to Marine Terminals, Shipyard Employment and Longshoring, as well as regulations which apply to uninspected vessels.

 

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Cruise Disaster - Costa Concordia

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Costa Concordia - Could it have been prevented?

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