Sub M Explained

“Subchapter M”, also known as ‘The Inspection of Vessels Rule,” is a historic sea change in the way most U.S. based tug and towboats manage their safety concerns.

The new Subchpater M rules give owners and operators of towing vessels multiple compliance options for safety inspections and operational ship maintenance, as well as higher standards for new equipment and new vessel construction.

Subchapter M regulations establish two paths to compliance for towing & tug vessel operators: Either annual Coast Guard inspections OR the implementation of a Coast Guard-accepted Towing Safety Management System (TSMS).

Decatur Marine believes the TSMS option is not only the best way for inland waterway operators to promote continuous regulatory compliance and prevent accidents. It also gives vessel operators maximum operational flexibility under the new requirements – meaning less overall downtime, reduced costs, and higher profitability.

“Subchapter M” rules apply to any U.S. flagged towing vessel that is either:

  • Over 26 feet in length
  • Under 26 feet that is carrying oil or any other potentially hazardous material
Through Subchapter M, the United States Coast Guard hopes to
achieve safer waterways and vessels.
For the official USCG rules and regulations, please