May 24, 2012—Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi says that the Coast Guard is scheduled to begin phase two of the Towing Vessel Bridging Program, July 1.
Currently, 71 towing vessels operate in Sector Corpus Christi's waters and approximately 74% of towing vessels have participated in the program. Coast Guard towing vessel examiners have issued more than 42 Coast Guard Towing Vessel Exam safety decals which identify the vessel as one that complies with all current federal regulations.
"Our goal is 100% participation," said Michael White, a towing vessel specialist for the Eighth Coast Guard District who oversees all the Coast Guard's towing vessel activities for 26 states, 1,200 miles of coastline, and 10,300 miles of inland navigable waterways. "We will be aggressively seeking out vessels who have not received an examination during phase two of this program."
Phase two will focus on the 18 towing vessels in the Sector's area of responsibility that have not yet participated in the program.
The Coast Guard partnered with the towing vessel industry and American Waterways Operators on June 12, 2009, to develop and initiate the TVBP. This effort was in response to the high number of safety-related marine casualties that had occurred in past decades.
The main goal of the program is to help prepare the towing vessel industry to meet new, stricter safety regulations. These regulations were created in an effort to decrease groundings, collisions, and other serious marine accidents.
"These changes to inspection standards for the industry will help improve the safety of towing vessel operations on our nation's waterways and protect life and the marine environment," said White.
Upon completion of the inspection, towing vessels may receive a Coast Guard TVE decal that will remain valid for three years based on successful compliance with existing regulations.
A towing vessel owner/operator wishing to schedule a dockside vessel exam of should contact Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi at 361-888-3162.