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Maritime Compliance Report

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Subchapter M Mythology

According to informed sources we should see the Subchapter M final rule within a few months. Despite the fact that the proposed rule has been published for years, there is a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding. Some operators are willing to pay consultants to tell them what to do, and others will try to make sense of it on their own. Still others will just wait until the Coast Guard shows up and see what happens.

There is no substitute for educating yourself. Understanding the ins and outs of operating as an inspected vessel empowers operators to protect themselves from costly compliance errors that arise from well intentioned, but misinformed, individuals. I have heard a great deal of misinformation lately on Subchapter M.

Here are the Top Ten bits of Subchapter M misinformation:

  • Under Subchapter M a towing vessel must have a towing safety management system (TSMS).
  • If the company is currently operating under a voluntary safety management system, they must use the third party TSMS option.
  • The masters will be insulated from the Coast Guard by sharp office employees.
  • If a firefighting or lifesaving issue is found that the Coast Guard would shut a boat down for, a third party surveyor will be able to let the boat continue to operate.
  • An audit involves a plan review and vessel survey only, not interviews with the crews to see if they know and follow the written policies and procedures.
  • If a boat claims to be a fleet boat in order to minimize equipment requirements, the Certificate of Inspection (COI) will not restrict its operations to a particular fleet, potentially reducing its appraised value.
  • Saying, “I don’t know, but I know where to look it up,” is typically a satisfactory answer for the Coast Guard.
  • The Coast Guard wants you to use the third party TSMS option and may even retaliate if you don’t because they are understaffed.
  • A captain cannot have his license revoked for failure to follow the safety management policies and procedures.
  • An auditor, or surveyor, cannot go to jail for passing a vessel audit or survey when the vessel or company does not meet the standard.

Don’t begin at a disadvantage. Come join us for our Subchapter M Workshop on May 6th in New Orleans. Learn from retired Coast Guard marine safety personnel, with a combined 70 years of Coast Guard experience, and learn the truth and how to best prepare for success.

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