The Coast Guard has responded to a recent request by the American Waterways Operators asking that it suspend in-person Subchapter M inspection activities for a minimum of 30 days, for the mutual protection of both towing vessel crewmembers and Coast Guard inspectors during the coronavirus outbreak.
In a letter to AWO President and CEO Jennifer Carpenter, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Richard Timme, Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, says:
“It is our intent to continue to facilitate the maritime industry’s ability to ensure our domestic supply chain continues uninterrupted. Commercial vessel compliance activities should, to the safest extent possible, continue in order to safeguard the Marine Transportation System and prevent undue delays now and in the near future.
“The Coast Guard will apply maximum flexibility and creative solutions during this national emergency to balance our regulatory framework with the unique challenges of contingency operations at a national level. Officers in Charge, Marine Inspection (OCMI) may use innovative inspection techniques to verify vessel compliance, and if needed, defer inspections.”
He adds that Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) 09-20 dated March 26, 2020, provides additional information including guidance to third party organizations to use during this interim period.