Marine Safety Unit Chicago issues first towing vessel Certificate of Inspection

CHICAGO – Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Chicago issued the first Certificate of Inspection (COI) in its area of responsibility to the towing vessel PRENTISS BROWN, operated by Port City Marine Services, Friday.

This is the Ninth District’s first Certificate of Inspection issued to a towing vessel under the new regulations and one of the first Coast Guard option COI’s issued nationwide.

A COI is issued to a vessel after the vessel has completed a thorough examination of safety equipment, machinery, pollution prevention equipment, navigation equipment, life-saving equipment and more. Crew members must also demonstrate their ability to fight fires and take appropriate action in emergency situations.

Receipt of a Certificate of Inspection is the result of significant investment into the safety of the vessel on the part of owners and operators.

“Shortly after Subchapter M was enacted, Port City Marine started working very closely with Marine Inspectors from USCG MSU Chicago,” said Ed Hogan, Vice President of Operations. “Throughout the process, we had an open and transparent relationship with the inspectors, as our crew worked through various issues. The goal all along was safety and compliance, which we achieved through partnership with the Coast Guard.”

Subchapter M, as the new towing vessel inspections regulations are called, came into force, Friday. Approximately 6,000 towing vessels across the country will become inspected by the Coast Guard under these new requirements. Vessels will have two options, to be inspected under the traditional Coast Guard Marine Inspections program, or to enroll in a safety program with an authorized Third Party Organization (TPO). The Coast Guard hopes to leverage industry partnerships with TPOs to maintain the safety of the vessels and waterways, while reducing the burden to industry.

“Subchapter M is a new regulation, but we have a long history of partnerships with many local towing vessel companies,” said Lt. Kate Woods, Inspections Division Chief at MSU Chicago. “It is great to see the results of the hard work of the inspectors and mariners to obtain a COI.”

Woods anticipates that MSU Chicago’s fleet of inspected vessels will double by the end of the phase-in period, July of 2022. Other inspected vessels include tank barges, small passenger vessels, and Great Lakes freight vessels.

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