Coast Guard to inspect towing vessels crew credentials

NEW ORLEANS – Coast Guard units along the Gulf Coast, Mississippi River and Western Rivers system will begin operations to ensure towing vessels are properly manned and crews have proper licensing as part of Operation Big Tow, which will take place from November through January.

The primary objective of Operation Big Tow is to ensure towing vessels are being operated by properly licensed individuals through boardings and examinations.

To minimize any impact to vessel movements or commerce by the Coast Guard by working with industry and towing vessel operators to conduct boardings and examinations at locks and dams, while vessels are tied up pier side, or through other methods that facilitate the flow of commerce while allowing examiners to check licenses and conduct safety checks.

The Coast Guard is committed to improving the safety of the towing industry through a proactive communications effort that promotes awareness of the Coast Guard’s regulatory authorities and encourages owners and operators of towing vessels to correct any issues with license compliance and safety.

“While the majority of the towing industry operates safely and complies fully with licensing requirements, this comprehensive operation will allow us to identify any companies that may have problems,” said Capt. Verne B. Gifford, chief of prevention Eighth Coast Guard District.

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