Oregon tug gets Coast Guard-option Subchapter M certificate

The Oregon ship assist tug Sommer S was one of the first towing vessels to receive a certificate of inspection under the Subchapter M Coast Guard option. Shaver Transportation photo.

Shaver Transportation Co., Portland, Ore., submitted its 77’x36’x14’, 5,360-hp ship assist tug Sommer S for Coast Guard certification under the new towing vessel safety rules, which went into full effect Friday. It is one of the first COIs issued by a Coast Guard inspection team. Since the spring, most COIs issued under the regulations have come through the use of qualified third-party inspectors, with the American Bureau of Shipping notably in the forefront.

Companies have the option of using the Coast Guard or hiring an approved third-party organization (TPO) to inspect vessels, audit safety management systems and validate their compliance with Subchapter M. Under the Coast Guard option, local Coast Guard marine safety unit inspectors check out vessels and ensure they are ready for COIs.

In a joint statement with the Coast Guard, said Steve Shaver, president of Shaver Transportation, said the COI “validates our company’s safety management system” and commitment to operating safe and reliable vessels on the Columbia-Snake River System.

“We chose the Coast Guard option for certification of our vessels because it was the most efficient and effective option, given the nature of our operations on the Columbia River. Also, we enjoy a great relationship with the local Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Portland and feel their presence aboard our vessels enhances the safety of our vessels and crews.”

The issuance came on the day of another milestone in the long-running effort by the Coast Guard and industry partners to implement the towing safety rules, with July 20 being the deadline for operators to come into compliance. Full implementation, including COIs for all U.S. towing vessels, will be phased in over five years.

“Coast Guard marine inspectors have been actively engaging with the towing vessel industry over the last two years to prepare for today’s implementation of the towing vessel regulations,” said Capt. Tom Griffitts, commanding officer MSU Portland. “Issuing the first ‘Coast Guard option’ COI is a major milestone for our inspectors and the Columbia River maritime community.”