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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation M-07-006
Details
Synopsis: About 1155 central daylight time on the day of the accident, the uninspected towing vessel Miss Megan was pushing two deck barges in Louisiana’s West Cote Blanche Bay oil field, en route to a pile-driving location. Construction barge Athena 106 was tied along the port side of deck barge IBR 234, and the Miss Megan was secured astern of IBR 234. While the vessels were under way, the aft spud (a 5-ton steel shaft used as a mooring device) on the Athena 106 released from its fully raised position. The spud dropped into the water and struck a submerged, buried high-pressure natural gas pipeline. The resulting gas release ignited and created a fireball that engulfed the towing vessel and both barges. The master of the towing vessel was killed, along with four barge workers. The Miss Megan deckhand and one barge worker survived. One barge worker is officially listed as missing. +
Recommendation: TO THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD: Finalize and implement the new towing vessel inspection regulations and require the establishment of safety management systems appropriate for the characteristics, methods of operation, and nature of service of towing vessels. (Supersedes Safety Recommendation M-00-010)
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Marine
Location: Franklin, LA, United States
Is Reiterated: Yes
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA07MM001
Accident Reports:
Fire Aboard Construction Barge Athena 106
Report #: MAR-07-01
Accident Date: 10/12/2006
Issue Date: 7/11/2007
Date Closed: 2/17/2017
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: USCG (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Safety Management Systems

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 2/17/2017
Response: We note that, on June 20, 2016, you published the final rule implementing subchapter M for towing vessel inspection, and we are pleased that the final rule includes towing vessel SMSs. We understand that certain existing towing vessels subject to this rule will have 2 years from the effective date of July 20, 2016, to comply with most of the rule’s requirements, with full compliance required by July 20, 2018. The new regulation allows towing vessels to be inspected by a third party; however, we understand that the final rule allows small operators to opt out of the third-party inspection regime, including opting out of SMS; these operators will be required to have the Coast Guard inspect “SMS like” programs (see 46 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 137.130 and 138.225). We will monitor this opt-out provision for the small portion of the towing fleet to see if it provides the same level of safety as the towing vessel SMS requirement. We recognize the overall safety significance of this final rule, which culminates a nearly quarter-century effort to bring towing vessels under an inspection regime and requires SMS for the vast majority of them. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation M-07-6 is classified CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 10/18/2016
Response: -From Charles W. Ray, Vice Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Deputy Commandant for Operations: On June 20, 2016, the Coast Guard published the final rule implementing subchapter M for the inspection of towing vessels. Subchapter M includes the implementation of safety management systems on towing vessels. The Coast Guard is working closely with the towing vessel industry to facilitate the transition to third party audits and oversight of the new safety management systems. We consider our action on this recommendation complete and request that it be closed.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 3/11/2016
Response: This letter concerns 40 open safety recommendations that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued to the US Coast Guard between 2002 and 2015. For several years, the NTSB received an annual update on all open safety recommendations issued to the Coast Guard; however, for 25 of the 40 recommendations listed, we have received no update in over 2 years regarding the status of action either taken or planned to address these important safety issues. We are interested in knowing whether and how our recommendations are implemented, both to ensure that the traveling public is provided the highest level of safety and to identify creative solutions that might be shared with others. Please respond to this letter electronically at correspondence@ntsb.gov regarding your progress in addressing these safety recommendations, and do not submit both an electronic and a hard copy of the same response. To assist with your response, enclosure (1) is a list of the 40 recommendations highlighting the recommendation number, current status, source of the recommendation, and date of the last Coast Guard update; enclosure (2) is a print-out from our database with the complete correspondence history of each open recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 12/7/2015
Response: We continue to be disappointed with the timeliness of action on this issue, given the 10 years since passage of The Transportation Act of 2004 (PL 108-293) without issuance of the recommended regulation. We are, however, encouraged that you believe the ongoing rulemaking project for the inspection of towing vessels (USCG-2006-24412) will address Safety Recommendation M-07-6. Given the long delay in issuing the recommended rule, pending completion of rulemaking and issuance of a final rule that satisfies Safety Recommendation M 07-6, the recommendation remains classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 10/19/2015
Response: -From Mark E. Butt, Rear Admiral, USCG, Acting Deputy Commandant for Operations: As noted in our earlier response, we believe the ongoing rulemaking project for inspection of towing vessels (USCG-2006-24412) addresses the areas of concern the Board raises in this safety recommendation. In addition, I disagree with the Board's contention that no significant progress has been made on the issue since 2012. While Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policies restrict disclosing the details of rulemaking projects, their status, and rulemaking processes, I can confirm that the Coast Guard has been diligently working on the development and implementation of these new regulations and making progress as fast as the rule making process and policy requirements allow. As such, I request the Board reconsider its "unacceptable" classification of this recommendation. I will keep the Board informed of the Coast Guard's progress on this recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 6/18/2015
Response: From the Marine Report MAR-15-01 "Collision between Bulk Carrier Summer Wind and the Miss Susan Tow" Houston Ship Channel, Lower Galveston Bay, Texas March 22, 2014: In correspondence dated May 13, 2014, the NTSB informed the Coast Guard of its disappointment in the Coast Guard’s lack of action to implement Safety Recommendation M-07-6, by which the Coast Guard would have finalized new towing vessel inspection regulations and required safety management systems. The NTSB noted that no significant progress had been made on this issue since August 2012, and, given the 7 years since the recommendation was issued, urged expedited action to implement the recommended actions. The NTSB classified Safety Recommendation M-07-6 “Open—Unacceptable Response.” The NTSB hereby reiterates M-07-6 in this report, asking the Coast Guard to finalize and implement the new towing vessel inspection regulations and require the establishment of safety management systems appropriate for the characteristics, methods of operation, and nature of service of towing vessels. Because Safety Recommendation M-07-6 does not specifically address new regulations governing the health and safety of mariners serving on uninspected towing vessels, which the NTSB considers a critical component, the NTSB recommends that the Coast Guard include in its new towing vessel inspection regulations requirements for (1) availability and use of personal protective equipment, (2) hazardous materials training, and (3) identification and mitigation of health and safety hazards posed by exposure to hazardous materials.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 5/13/2014
Response: We are disappointed that, although you state that you continue to work toward addressing this recommendation, you have made no significant progress since August 2012. Please expedite action to finalize and implement the new towing vessel inspection regulations and to require the establishment of the recommended SMS. Please provide us periodic, detailed updates on your progress. Given the nearly 7 years since this recommendation was issued and the 10 years since passage of The Transportation Act of 2004 (PL 108-293) without issuance of the recommended regulation, Safety Recommendation M-07-6 is classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE, pending publication of the final rules.

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 1/28/2014
Response: -From Peter V. Neffenger, Vice Admiral, Deputy Commandant for Operations: Enclosed is our semiannual report of actions on safety recommendations issued to the Coast Guard by the National Transportation Safety Board that are currently assigned an "open" status by the Board. There are currently 39 safety recommendations with an "open" status issued to the Coast Guard. Of those, I am providing our initial response to six new recommendations, proposing that seven recommendations be closed as acceptable, and updating five previously issued recommendations. At this time, there are no significant changes in action to be reported for the remaining 21 recommendations. These recommendations include: M-02-5, M-07-6, M-09-4, M-09-10, M-09-14, M-09-15, M-09-16, M-10-5, M-10-6, M-11-4, M-11-13, M-11-15, M-11-16, M-11-23, M-11-24, M-11-25, M-11-26, M-11-27, M-12-1, M-12-2, and M-12-3.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 7/8/2013
Response: Thank you for the April 5, 2013, letter signed by Vice Admiral Peter V. Neffenger, Deputy Commandant for Operations, to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) containing your semiannual update regarding actions to address 42 safety recommendations that the NTSB issued to the US Coast Guard. To assist with future updates and to align our records, we are enclosing a copy of the NTSB’s safety recommendation database history for these 42 recommendations. This response letter will be divided into four parts: • Part 1 – Evaluation of actions to address Safety Recommendations M 09 15 and 16 and M-10-2, recommendations for which Admiral Neffenger provided a substantive update. • Part 2 – List of 6 safety recommendations previously closed. • Part 3 – List of 7 safety recommendations that were the subject of a recent Coast Guard update and that the NTSB is currently evaluating; these recommendations will be addressed in detail in separate correspondence. • Part 4 – List of 26 safety recommendations for which the Coast Guard did not provide a substantive update or for which status has not changed since the last update. Part 1 – Safety Recommendations Updated in the April 5, 2013, Letter: We issued Safety Recommendations M-09-15 and -16, stated below, to the Coast Guard on October 20, 2009, as a result of a review of the involvement of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in several accidents investigated by the NTSB. M-09-15 Implement a program to identify licensed mariners subject to the Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular on Medical and Physical Evaluation Guidelines for Merchant Mariner Credentials (NVIC 04-08) and who are at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea, and require that those mariners provide evidence through the medical certification process of having been appropriately evaluated and, if treatment is needed, effectively treated for that disorder before being granted unrestricted medical certification. M-09-16 Develop and disseminate guidance for mariners, employers, and physicians regarding the identification and treatment of individuals at high risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), emphasizing that mariners who have OSA that is effectively treated are routinely approved for continued medical certification. We are encouraged that the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee is planning to review and revise Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 04-08, including Enclosure (4), Guidance on Specific Medical Conditions, which details the medical decision making criteria for common conditions (including sleep disorders such as OSA) as they relate to determining merchant mariner fitness for duty. Pending completion of these efforts, Safety Recommendation M-09-15 is classified “Open—Acceptable Alternate Response” and Safety Recommendation M 09-16 is classified “Open—Acceptable Response.” We issued Safety Recommendation M-10-2, stated below, to the Coast Guard on August 11, 2010, as a result of two recent maritime accidents involving Coast Guard patrol boats: the December 5, 2009, collision of the CG 25689 with the small passenger vessel Thriller 09 in Charleston, South Carolina, and the December 20, 2009, collision of the CG-33118 with a 24 foot recreational vessel in San Diego, California. M-10-2 Develop and implement national and local policies that address the use of cellular telephones and other wireless devices aboard U.S. Coast Guard vessels. The Coast Guard’s recent revision of Coast Guard Boat Operations and Training (BOAT) manual, volume I, COMDTINST M16114.32C, section F.2, prohibits the use of cellphones/texting devices and phone applications aboard all boat force assets without the permission of the coxswain, which will only be granted on a case-by-case basis and only when operational safety is not compromised. Because this action satisfies Safety Recommendation M 10-2, it is classified “Closed—Acceptable Action.” Part 2 – Safety Recommendations Previously Closed: M-06-5 (Closed—Acceptable Action, March 14, 2011) Revise regulations to require that passenger capacity for domestic passenger vessels be calculated based on a statistically representative average passenger weight standard that is periodically updated. M-06-6 (Closed—Acceptable Action, March 14, 2011) Identify a method for determining the maximum safe load condition of a small passenger vessel at the time of loading, such as a mark on the side of the hull, and require that the vessel owners implement that method. M-06-7 (Closed—Unacceptable Action, March 14, 2011) Revise the stability criteria for small passenger pontoon vessels for all passenger loading conditions to minimize the potential for capsizing in wind and waves. M-06-8 (Closed—Unacceptable Action, March 14, 2011) Until such time as you revise the passenger weight standard as requested in Safety Recommendation M-06-5 and the stability criteria used to evaluate small passenger pontoon vessel safety as requested in Safety Recommendation M-06-7, develop interim pontoon passenger vessel stability guidance based on static and dynamic intact stability considerations. M-06-9 (Closed—Unacceptable Action, March 14, 2011) Establish limiting environmental conditions such as weather in which pontoon vessels may safely operate, and list those limiting conditions on the vessel’s certificate of inspection. M-11-11 (Closed—Acceptable Action, November 13, 2012) Develop and implement procedures to ensure that your coxswains follow established automatic identification system transmission policies. Part 3 – Recommendations Recently Updated and Under Evaluation by the NTSB: M-10-5 (Open—Unacceptable Response, May 24, 2012; USCG Update February 12, 2013) Require installation of voyage data recorders that meet the international performance standard on new ferry vessels. M-10-6 (Open—Unacceptable Response, May 24, 2012; USCG Update February 12, 2013) Require installation of voyage data recorders on ferry vessels built before the enactment of voyage data recorder carriage requirements that will record, at a minimum, the same video, audio, and parametric data specified in the International Maritime Organization’s performance standard for simplified voyage data recorders. M-12-1 (Open Initial Response Received; USCG Update February 12, 2013) Require new-construction U.S.-flag passenger vessels with controllable pitch propulsion, including cycloidal propulsion, to be equipped with alarms that audibly and visually alert the operator to deviations between the operator’s propulsion and steering commands and the actual propeller response. M-12-2 (Open Initial Response Received; USCG Update February 12, 2013) Where technically feasible, require existing U.S.-flag passenger vessels with controllable pitch propulsion, including cycloidal propulsion, to be retrofitted with alarms that audibly and visually alert the operator to deviations between the operator’s propulsion and steering commands and the actual propeller response. M-12-3 (Open—Initial Response Received; USCG Update February 12, 2013) Require all operators of U.S.-flag passenger vessels to implement safety management systems, taking into account the characteristics, methods of operation, and the nature of service of these vessels, and, with respect to ferries, the sizes of the ferry systems within which the vessels operate. M-12-6 (Open—Initial Response Received; USCG Update March 21, 2013) Develop and implement a policy to ensure adequate separation between vessels operating in the Bayport Channel and Bolivar Roads Precautionary Areas and any other similarly configured precautionary areas in the Houston Ship Channel. M-12-7—(Open Initial Response Received USCG Update March 21, 2013) Graphically delineate precautionary areas on appropriate Houston Ship Channel nautical charts so they are readily identifiable to mariners. Part 4 – Safety Recommendations Not Substantively Updated in the April 5, 2013, letter: M-02-5 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Require that companies operating domestic passenger vessels develop and implement a preventive maintenance program for all systems affecting the safe operation of their vessels, including the hull and the mechanical and electrical systems. M-07-1 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Require that all small passenger vessels certificated to carry more than 49 passengers, regardless of date of build or hull material, be fitted with an approved fire detection system and a fixed fire suppression system in their enginerooms. M-07-6 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Finalize and implement the new towing vessel inspection regulations and require the establishment of safety management systems appropriate for the characteristics, methods of operation, and nature of service of towing vessels. M-08-2 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Propose to the International Maritime Organization that it mandate the recording on voyage data recorders of heel angles through the complete range of possible values. M-09-4 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Require mariners to report to the Coast Guard, in a timely manner, any substantive changes in their medical status or medication use that occur between required medical evaluations. M-09-10 (Open—Unacceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Seek legislative authority to require that all commercial fishing vessels be inspected and certificated by the Coast Guard to ensure that the vessels provide an appropriate level of safety to those on board. M-09-14 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Modify Form 719K (Merchant Mariner Physical Examination Report) to elicit specific information about any previous diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea and about the presence of specific risk factors for that disorder. M-09-17 (Open—Unacceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Require that out-of-water survival craft for all passengers and crew be provided on board small passenger vessels on all routes. M-11-3 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Regulate and enforce the restriction on nonoperational use of cell phones and other wireless electronic devices by on-duty crewmembers in safety-critical positions so that such use does not adversely affect vessel operational safety. M-11-4 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Until you can develop regulations governing nonoperational use of cell phones and other wireless electronic devices by on-duty crewmembers in safety-critical positions, continue your outreach program of information and education to the maritime industry on this issue. M-11-8 (Open—Acceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Develop and implement procedures for your special purpose craft–law enforcement that allow crewmembers to compensate for obstructions affecting forward visibility from the helm and the forward port positions. M-11-9 (Open—Acceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Examine your oversight of small boat operations to determine where local procedures are inadequate, implement procedures nationally and at each station (including Station San Diego) to provide continual, systematic, and thorough oversight information, and require action on information obtained to ensure that crewmembers are operating their vessels safely in all conditions and circumstances. M-11-10 (Open—Acceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Require each small boat station, including Station San Diego, to establish specific operating procedures governing small boat speeds that account for prevailing conditions and circumstances affecting the safety of small boat operations. M-11-12 (Open—Acceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Establish a structured data monitoring program for your small boats that reviews all available data sources to identify deviation from established guidance and procedures. M-11-13 (Open—Acceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Conduct a ports and waterways safety assessment for the Sabine-Neches Waterway, determine from that whether the risk is unacceptable, and if so, develop risk mitigation strategies. M-11-14 (Open—Acceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Work through the International Maritime Organization to encourage the application of human factors design principles to the design and manufacture of critical vessel controls. M-11-15 (Open—Acceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Facilitate and promote regular meetings for representatives of pilot oversight organizations to communicate information regarding pilot oversight and piloting best practices. M-11-16 (Open—Unacceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Establish a database of publicly available pilot incidents and accidents and make the database easy to use and readily available to all pilot oversight organizations. M-11-23 (Open—Unacceptable Response, June 12, 2012) Establish standards for new and existing commercial fishing industry vessels of 79 feet or less in length that (1) address intact stability, subdivision, and watertight integrity and (2) include periodic reassessment of the vessels’ stability and watertight integrity. M-11-24 (Open—Unacceptable Response, June 12, 2012) Require all owners, masters, and chief engineers of commercial fishing industry vessels to receive training and demonstrate competency in vessel stability, watertight integrity, subdivision, and use of vessel stability information regardless of plans for implementing the other training provisions of the 2010 Coast Guard Authorization Act. M-11-25 (Open—Unacceptable Response, June 12, 2012) Require each person on deck of a commercial fishing industry vessel to wear a flotation aid at all times. M-11-26 (Open—Unacceptable Response, June 12, 2012) Require owners of commercial fishing industry vessels to (1) install fall overboard recovery devices appropriate for the vessel, (2) periodically ensure the functionality of such equipment, and (3) regularly conduct drills in which crewmembers demonstrate their competence in the use of such devices. M-11-27 (Open—Unacceptable Response, June 12, 2012) Require all crewmembers to provide certification of completion of safety training before getting under way on commercial fishing industry vessels, such training to include both prevention of and proper response to emergency situations as well as actual use of emergency equipment. M-12-8 (Open—Await Response) Align your standards for postaccident toxicological testing of Coast Guard military personnel with the requirements specified in 46 Code of Federal Regulations 4.06-3. M-12-9 (Open—Await Response) Align your standards for postaccident toxicological testing of Coast Guard civilian personnel, seeking appropriate legislative authority if necessary, with the requirements specified in 46 Code of Federal Regulations 4.06-3. M-12-10 (Open—Await Response) Disseminate guidance within the Coast Guard so that commanding officers have unambiguous instruction detailing the requirements for timely drug and alcohol testing of Coast Guard military and civilian personnel whose work performance may be linked to a serious marine incident. Thank you for your commitment to marine safety. We look forward to receiving further updates on the action being taken to implement the following safety recommendations: M-02-5 M-07-1 M-07-6 M-08-2 M-09-4 M-09-10 M-09-14 M-09-15 M-09-16 M-11-3 M-11-4 M-11-8 M-11-9 M-11-10 M-11-12 M-11-13 M-11-14 M-11-15 M-11-16 M-11-23 M-11-24 M-11-25 M-11-16 M-11-27 M-12-8 M-12-9 M-12-10

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 4/9/2013
Response: -From Peter V. Neffenger, Vice Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Deputy Commandant for Operations: Please find enclosed our agreed upon semiannual update of actions on safety recommendations issued to the Coast Guard by the National Transportation Safety Board that are currently assigned an "open" status by the Board and are awaiting Coast Guard response. There are currently 42 safety recommendations with an "open" status issued to the Coast Guard. Of those, we attest that our actions are complete for six, six are pending resolution, and five require long-term agency action. Updates for the remaining 25 have been or will be provided in separate correspondence. Enclosure (1) provides specific information for each recommendation. There has not been a change in the status since the last update for the following four recommendations: M-07-6 Finalize and implement the new towing vessel inspection regulations and require the establishment of safety management systems appropriate for the characteristics, methods of operation, and nature of service of towing vessels. (Supersedes M-00-10) M-08-2 Propose to the International Maritime Organization that it mandate the recording on voyage data recorders of heel angles through the complete range of possible values. M-09-14 Modify Form 719K (Merchant Mariner Physical Examination Report) to elicit specific information about any previous diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea and about the presence of specific risk factors for that disorder. M-11-4 Until you can develop regulations governing nonoperational use of cell phones and other wireless electronic devices by on-duty crewmembers in safety-critical positions, continue your outreach program of information and education to the maritime industry on this issue.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 2/4/2013
Response: Although the NTSB is encouraged that the Coast Guard published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (76 FR 49976) on August 11, 2011, which includes the topic of towing vessel safety management systems, we are concerned with the delay in implementing final rules that are required by the Coast Guard and the Transportation Act of 2004 (PL 108-293, of August 9, 2004, Section 415). Despite the slow progress to address this nearly 6-year-old recommendation, pending timely publication of the required final rules, Safety Recommendation M-07-6 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 8/15/2012
Response: -From Peter V. Neffenger, Vice Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Deputy Commandant for Operations: The Coast Guard published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (76 FR 49976) on August 11,2011, which includes the topic of Towing Vessel Safety Management Systems. We will keep the Board informed of our actions on this recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 12/8/2011
Response: Notation 7703A: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the U.S. Coast Guard's notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), titled "Inspection of Towing Vessels," published at 76 Federal Register 49976 (August 11, 2011), proposing to establish safety regulations governing the inspection, standards, and safety management systems (SMS) of towing vessels and seeking additional data, information, and public comment on potential requirements for hours of service or crew endurance management for towing vessel operators. This letter addresses the proposed inspection and SMS regulations; the NTSB will address the hours of service or crew endurance management issue in a separate letter to the docket. The NTSB commends the Coast Guard, the Towing Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC), and those members of the maritime community who participated with the TSAC to develop a comprehensive set of proposed rules for towing vessels. We support the intent of the proposed rules, as they would most certainly enhance safety; however, we believe that a number of other important issues should also be addressed. NTSB Recommendations At present, two NTSB recommendations issued to the Coast Guard, applicable to the NPRM, remain open and are included in the NPRM discussion section. Safety Recommendation M-04-3 addresses pilot/wheelhouse alerter systems: Direct the U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center to evaluate the utility and effectiveness of wheelhouse alerter systems on inland towing vessels for preventing accidents. Safety Recommendation M-07-6 addresses SMS and the inspection of towing vessels: Finalize and implement the new towing vessel inspection regulations and require the establishment of safety management systems appropriate for the characteristics, methods of operation, and nature of service of towing vessels. Comments on the proposed rules Safety Management Systems The NTSB has long supported the adoption of SMS on board ships, both domestic and foreign. In 2010, we placed SMS on our Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements, stating, "The NTSB believes that all domestic vessel operators should develop, implement, and maintain a systematic and documented SMS to improve their safety practices and minimize risk." Our current Most Wanted List, adopted in June 2011, includes SMS as one of 10 issues that we intend to highlight in the coming year to raise public awareness and support for action. The proposed rules provide two alternative approaches for enabling towing vessel operators to meet inspection requirements. One approach requires towing vessel companies to implement a towing safety management system (TSMS); doing so would result in less frequent Coast Guard marine inspections (every 5 years). Choosing this option would satisfy the intent of Safety Recommendation M-07-6. The other approach requires annual Coast Guard inspections, but no SMS implementation. Under this second approach, the NTSB notes that although towing vessel companies would not be required to implement a TSMS, such companies would still need to comply with requirements similar to those of a TSMS. These requirements would include: the responsibility of the owner to ensure compliance with all regulations (46 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 13 7.120); documenting certain procedures; keeping records; conducting training and drills; and reporting and resolving nonconformities. The NTSB believes that a TSMS offers a higher standard of safety than any system currently administered by the Coast Guard, and is therefore preferable. For those towing vessel companies that do not choose the TSMS option, the NTSB encourages the Coast Guard to develop its own program demonstrating objective evidence of an internal quality system based on American National Standards Institute/American Society of Quality Control Q9001-2000 or an equivalent quality standard. In addition, we believe that all TSMSs, and regulations for vessels not required to implement a TSMS, should require specific procedures and training for masters and crew to identify potential safety hazards on vessels under their control. The NTSB investigation of the October 12, 2006, fire on board the towing vessel Miss Megan and the construction barge Athena 106 in West Cote Blanche Bay, Louisiana, demonstrated that towing vessel masters should ensure that vessels under their control are safe to move before beginning a tow. The master of the Miss Megan did not ensure that the Athena 106's securing pins-used for preventing the barge's mooring spuds from dropping-were securely applied before transiting from one site to another. During the transit of the Athena 106, one of its spuds, secured only by a brake, dropped and punctured a natural gas pipeline. The rupture caused a fire that engulfed the tow, which included the Miss Megan, the Athena 106, and another deck barge. Five crewmembers, including the master, were killed, and damages totaled $1.6 million. The NTSB issued Safety Recommendation M-07-6 (referenced earlier) as a result of this investigation. Because of the Miss Megan/Athena 106 accident, we believe that all TSMSs, and regulations for vessels without a TSMS, should include requirements for identifying potential safety hazards on vessels. Safety on board barges such as the Athena 106 needs to be improved. Finally, we believe that SMS requirements should apply to all seagoing towing vessels over 300 gross tons. The regulation, as proposed, does not apply to the 22 seagoing towing vessels over 300 gross tons already inspected in accordance with 46 CFR Subchapter I. Currently, only vessels measuring more than 500 gross tons and operating on international voyages are required to have SMS, in accordance with regulations at 33 CFR Part 96. The NTSB encourages the Coast Guard to extend the SMS requirement to these seagoing vessels by requiring SMS on all seagoing towing vessels of more than 300 gross tons. Pilothouse Alerter System The NPRM proposes a new requirement for certain towing vessels to be equipped to detect incapacitation of the vessel operator, an event that caused the allision of the towing vessel Robert 1'. Love with the 1-40 highway bridge at Webbers Falls, Oklahoma on May 26, 2002. The accident killed 14 people and caused more than $60 million in bridge damage. Following the accident investigation, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendation M-04-3 (referenced earlier) to the Coast Guard. The NTSB strongly endorses the requirement for a pilothouse alerter system; however, we believe a few modifications to the proposal are warranted. As drafted, the proposal would require acknowledgement in the towing vessel pilothouse within 10 minutes of an alarm. The NTSB believes that this delay is excessive, especially considering that the operator may be incapacitated and unable to react. To reduce the risk of accidents, the time to acknowledge the alarm should be significantly reduced. Further, the addition of pilothouse alerter systems is a key strategy for preventing an accident such as the one involving the Robert L. Love. Incapacitation of the towing vessel operator should be treated as an emergency and should be addressed in Part 140 Subpart D, Crew Safety. Compliance The NTSB encourages the Coast Guard to publish the final rule without delay, as the rulemaking for this largely unregulated sector of the commercial maritime industry ha~: taken too long. Nearly 7 years have passed since the December 30, 2004, publication of the advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on this issue. In addition, we are concerned that the Coast Guard is proposing to allow a 6-year implementation period once the final rule is published: 2 years for company certification and 4 years for all vessels to be included. This implementation period is excessive. Moreover, existing vessels, which are more likely degraded due to age, would have an additional 5 years to enter full compliance with electrical and machinery requirements. Safety is not served by affording higher-risk vessels greater leniency-almost 20 years-to comply with legislation. The NTSB therefore urges the Coast Guard to shorten the compliance time. Summary Observations The NTSB's view of the NPRM is that the enhancements to the Coast Guard's regulatory regime, if adopted, will improve marine safety by implementing inspection and SMS standards on all towing vessels subject to inspection. The NTSB urges timely action on the proposed rule changes and encourages the Coast Guard to address the issues raised in this letter. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this NPRM.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 11/16/2011
Response: This letter concerns 29 open safety recommendations, enclosed, that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued to the U.S. Coast Guard between 1995 and 2010. For some of these recommendations, the NTSB has not received an update in almost 3 years regarding the status of action either taken or planned to address the important safety issue that the recommendation addresses. We are interested in knowing whether and how our recommendations are implemented, both to ensure that the traveling public is provided the highest level of safety and to identify creative solutions that might be shared with others. NOTE TO FILE (not in original letter): The 29 safety recommendations are: M-95-013, M-98-033, M-98-037, M-99-001, M-00-004, M-01-001, M-02-005, M-04-003, M-05-006, M-06-001, M-06-002, M-07-001, M-07-006, M-07-007, M-08-001, M-08-002, M-09-001, M-09-002, M-09-003, M-09-004, M-09-009, M-09-010, M-09-014, M-09-015, M-09-016, M-09-017, M-10-005, M-10-002 and M-10-006.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 4/6/2010
Response: NMC# 1033967: In addition to placing the above three recommendations on the Most Wanted List, Safety Recommendations M-02-5 and M-07-6 were classified Open Unacceptable Response because of the lack of timely action since they were issued in 2002 and 2007, respectively. Safety Recommendation M-05-6 remains classified OPEN -- UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE, a designation given in the NTSB’s August 27, 2009, letter because the Coast Guard has sought legislative authority requiring SMS only on vessels carrying more than 399 passengers, rather than on all ferry vessels, as requested. However, the NTSB is aware from discussion and e-mail exchanges between Coast Guard and NTSB staff that the Coast Guard’s long-planned notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for uninspected towing vessels (UTV) has been forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security for review and final approval and that the NPRM proposes that UTVs be inspected, have SMS programs, and have new UTV manning standards. We are also aware that the Coast Guard intends to consider requiring PMP and SMS for ferries and small passenger vessels.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 2/18/2010
Response: At the February 18, 2010 Board meeting addressing the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements (MWL), the Board voted to place Safety Recommendations M-02-05, M05-06, and M-07-06 on the MWL under the issue category “Require Safety Management Systems (SMS) for Domestic Vessels.”

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 8/27/2009
Response: Safety Recommendations M-07-6 and -7, stated below, were issued to the Coast Guard on July 11, 2007, as a result of the NTSB’s investigation of the October 12, 2006, fire aboard the construction barge Athena 106 in West Cote Blanche Bay, louisiana. The NTSB is pleased that the Coast Guard will include SMS requirements appropriate for towing vessels in its draft regulations addressing towing vessel inspections. Accordingly, pending issuance of the final regulations regarding SMS, Safety Recommendation M-07-6 is classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 2/13/2009
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 2/20/2009 11:16:05 AM MC# 2090085: -From W.D. Rabe, U.S. Coast Guard: We continue to work toward developing regulations for the inspection of towing vessels and as mandated by Congress, are including language in our draft notice of proposcd rulemaking (NPRM) that addresses safety management systems. We will kccp lhc Board informed of our progress on this recommendation,

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 2/29/2008
Response: The Safety Board is pleased that the Coast Guard concurs with the recommendation and will include SMS requirements appropriate for towing vessels in its pending proposed regulations addressing towing vessel inspections. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation M-07-6 is classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE, pending issuance of the final regulations.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 12/4/2007
Response: In doing so, the Safety Board recognized that the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004, PL 108-293, of August 9, 2004, section 415, contains an amendment to Vessels Subject to Inspection, specifically Title 46 United States Code Section 3306, which adds (15) towing vessels. The Board noted that Section 415 (b) Safety Management System-Section 3306 is amended as follows: (j) The Secretary may establish by regulation a safety management system appropriate for the characteristics, methods of operation, and nature of service of towing vessels. As a result of this legislation, the Coast Guard now has the authority the Board recommended it seek after the 1998 St. Louis accident. In addition, the Safety Board is aware that the Towing Vessel Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC), in its working group on towing vessel inspection, Task #043, recommended that the pending towing vessel regulations to be established in Subchapter M in Title 46 CFR, be divided into two major sections: Coast Guard Accepted Safety Management System and Standards. The Board understands that a number of TSAC recommendations are being evaluated, including Task #04-3, and encourages the Coast Guard to incorporate the recommendations in the final towing vessel inspection regulations. The Safety Board issued Safety Recommendation M-04-3, stated below, to the Coast Guard on September 9, 2004, as a result of the Board’s investigation of the May 26, 2002, allision between the towboat Robert Y. Love and the Interstate 40 highway bridge near Webber Falls, Oklahoma.

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 10/23/2007
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 10/30/2007 1:07:54 PM MC# 2070610: 10-23-07: - From Brian M. Salerno, Rear Admiral, Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security, and Stewardship: We concur with this recommendation. We are continuing our development of proposed regulations implementing a towing vessel inspection regime in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act that will include safety management system requirements appropriate for towing vessels. We will keep the Board informed of our progress on this recommendation. Sincerely, Brian M. Salerno, Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security and Stewardship.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 3/23/2005
Response: Notation 7703A: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is pleased to respond to the rulemaking initiative published in the Federal Register, Vol. 69, No. 250, Thursday, December 30, 2004, which follows from the enactment of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004 (H.R. 2443), primarily responds to 46 U.S.C. 3301 and 3306, and directs the Coast Guard to add towing vessels to the list of vessels subject to inspection, and to consider the establishment of a safety management system appropriate for towing vessels, respectively. The Coast Guard’s request for comments is in the form of a series of seven questions, each of which has been listed below, together with responses from the Safety Board. Question # 1 Towing vessels of a certain size (300 or more gross register tons) are already inspected vessels and are subject to a variety of existing requirements. Should the Coast Guard use any of these existing standards (or standards for other types of inspected vessels) for incorporation into the new regulations regarding the inspection of towing vessels? If so, which regulations or standards should be incorporated into these new regulations? In Marine Accident Report NTSB/MAR-98/03, the Safety Board addressed concerns regarding inadequate Coast Guard towing vessel risk mitigation regulations for tug-barge systems. Oil spill statistics for 1992 to 1996 showed that oil barges spilled eight times more oil than tank ships; therefore, the Safety Board questioned whether the Coast Guard’s safety regulations for tug-barge systems were adequate when compared to those for tank vessels. A comparison of some fire safety regulations that were relevant to the Scandia accident showed that tank ships were subject to significantly higher safety regulations than tug-barge systems, although both carried similar cargoes. The Safety Board believes that the Coast Guard has the responsibility to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment to develop risk mitigation regulations for tug-barge systems that provide a level of safety against marine pollution equivalent to that provided by regulations for tankers. Question # 2 Title 46, United States Code, specifies the items covered with regard to inspected vessels, including lifesaving, firefighting, hull, propulsion equipment, machinery, and vessel equipment. However, the legislation that added towing vessels to the list of inspected vessels authorized that the Coast Guard may prescribe different standards for towing vessels than for other types of inspected vessels. What, if any, different standards should be considered with regard to inspected towing vessel requirements from other inspected vessels? In Marine Accident Report NTSB/MAR-90/05, the Safety Board addressed concerns regarding emergency towline release mechanisms for towing vessels. The Safety Board concluded that had the Barcona been fitted with an emergency towline release mechanism operable from the pilothouse, the Barcona operator might have been able to release the tow in time to prevent the sinking of the tug. The Coast Guard initially concurred with the intent of this recommendation and stated that it had worked with the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and the Towing Safety Advisory Committee in developing new ABS rules for towing vessels, which included optional rules for quick release devices. Vessels meeting those requirements receive the additional classification symbol “QR.” The Coast Guard believed that it was not necessary to publish these standards as regulations for ocean towing vessels because these vessels are reviewed to ABS standards. The Safety Board believes that towing vessel regulations should include a requirement for all ocean towing vessels to be equipped with an emergency towline release mechanism operable from the pilothouse and each steering station. Question # 3 Towing vessels vary widely in terms of size, horsepower, areas of operation, and type of operation. Under what circumstances, if any, should a towing vessel be exempt from the requirements as an inspected vessel? See response to Question #5. Question # 4 Should existing towing vessels be given time to implement requirements, be “grandfathered” altogether from them, or should this practice vary from requirement to requirement? See response to Question #5. Question # 5 Should existing towing vessels be treated differently from towing vessels yet to be built? In Marine Accident Report NTSB/MAR-98/03, the Safety Board took exception to a Coast Guard Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, concluding that it proposed a lower level of fire safety for existing tugs than for new tugs and would not make existing tugs any safer from the kind of fire that the Scandia experienced in the accident. The Safety Board believes that towing vessel safety standards should be based on an assessment of the operational risk and not whether the towing vessel is existing or new. Expanding on this established position, the Safety Board believes that operational risk should be the determining factor in which vessel safety standards should apply to towing vessel companies, taking into consideration types of operations, areas of operation, and vessel and tow particulars (question # 3). Moreover, how quickly existing towing vessels should be required to implement new safety requirements should be driven by an operational risk assessment (question # 4). Question # 6 The same act that requires inspection of towing vessels authorizes the Coast Guard to develop a safety management system appropriate for the towing vessels. If such a system is to be developed, should its use be required for all inspected towing vessels? In Marine Accident Report NTSB/MAR-00/01, the Safety Board addressed the lack of safety management systems for towing industry companies, concluding that the lack of a requirement for such systems for all U.S. towing industry companies represented a threat to waterway safety. This accident demonstrated that the Safety Board’s concern regarding the lack of safety management systems for towing industry companies that are not American Waterway Operators (AWO) members was well founded. The Anne Holly’s owner, American Milling, was not an AWO member and had no safety management system. Approximately 15 percent of the tonnage that is moved on U.S. waterways is transported by towing companies that are not AWO members. Because non-AWO members are not required to follow a safety management system similar to the AWO’s Responsible Carrier Program (RCP), they do not benefit from the organized safety procedures that such systems provide. The NTSB supports regulations that will require all domestic towing companies to develop and implement an effective safety management system that ensures adequate management oversight of the maintenance and operation of all towing vessels. Question # 7 Examples of existing safety management systems include the International Safety Management (ISM) code and the American Waterways Operators Responsible Carrier Program. If a safety management system is used, what elements should be included in such a system? In Marine Accident Report NTSB/MAR-00/01, the Safety Board addressed examples of existing safety management systems for towing vessels and stated that towing vessel operators should develop and implement a safety management system similar to the AWO’s RCP, which is modeled after the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) ISM code. A safety management system would establish effective policies and procedures that ensures adequate management oversight of the maintenance and operation of towing vessels. The Coast Guard subsequently concurred, stating that the use of safety management systems by all U.S. commercial vessels would result in significant benefits and that it supported the development of such programs. The Coast Guard further stated, however, that there was neither sufficient evidence nor industry support to ask Congress to require safety management systems for domestic towing companies and that it would actively encourage voluntary implementation of such systems by those companies not required to have them. The Safety Board notes that Congress has since granted the Coast Guard the authority to require safety management systems for domestic towing companies. The Board continues to believe that the Coast Guard should require a safety management system similar to the AWO’s RCP, which is modeled after the IMO’s ISM code.