[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 197 (Tuesday, October 13, 1998)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 54639-54645]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: X98-11013]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Coast Guard

33 CFR Part 165

[CGD1-98-151]
RIN 2115-AE84


Regulated Navigation Area: Navigable Waters Within the First 
Coast Guard District

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DOT.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Coast Guard proposes to establish a permanent Regulated 
Navigation Area (RNA) within the navigable waters of the First Coast 
Guard District to increase operational safety for towing vessels and 
tank barges. The proposed rule would require four sets of measure for 
towing vessels and tank barges operating in the waters of the 
Northeastern United States, including positive control for barges, 
enhanced communications, voyage planning, and areas of restricted 
navigation. These measures should reduce the risk of oil spills from 
the many tank barges operating in the waters of the region, and so too 
reduce the risk of environmental damage to the unique and extremely 
sensitive marine environment.

DATES: Comments must arrive on or before November 12, 1998.

ADDRESSES: You may mail or deliver comments to Commander (m), First 
Coast Guard District, 408 Atlantic Ave., Boston, MA 02210-3350. The 
First District Commander maintains the public docket for this 
rulemaking. Comments, and documents, as indicated in this preamble, 
will become part of this docket and will be available for inspection 
and copying at the same address between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday 
through Friday, except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Lieutenant Rich Klein, c/o Commander (m), First Coast Guard District, 
408 Atlantic Ave., Boston, MA 02210-3350; telephone 617-223-8243.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Request for Comments

    The Coast Guard encourages interested persons to participate in 
this rulemaking by submitting written data, views, or arguments. 
Persons submitting comments should include their name and address, 
identify this rulemaking (CGD1-98-151) and the specific section of this 
document to which each comment applies, and give a reason for each 
comment. Please submit all comments and attachments in an unbound 
format, no larger than 8\1/2\ by 11 inches, suitable for copying. 
Persons wanting acknowledgement of receipt of comments should enclose 
stamped, self-addressed postcards or envelopes. The Coast Guard will 
consider all comments received during the comment period. It may change 
this proposed rule in view of the comments.
    No public meeting is planned. Persons may request a public meeting 
by writing to the Project Officer at the address listed under 
ADDRESSES. If it is determined that the opportunity for oral 
presentations will aid in this rulemaking, the Coast Guard will hold a 
public meeting at a time and place announced by a later notice in the 
Federal Register.

Background and Purpose

    This rulemaking is proposed to improve the navigational safety for 
towing vessels and tank barges operating in the waters of the 
Northeastern United States. Between January 1992 and December 1996, 
there have been 289 marine casualties involving tank barges in the 
First Coast Guard District. Not all of these casualties were major or 
significant, but several resulted in oil spills.
    During 1996 and 1997, there were 12 marine casualties involving 
engine failure with tugs while they were towing tank barges in the 
waters of the First Coast Guard District. At least four of those tank 
barges were loaded with a combined cargo totaling about 21 million 
gallons of petroleum products.

[[Page 54640]]

In each of the 12 instances, the towing vessel was able to mitigate the 
casualty by switching propulsion to the second engine that was 
sufficient to control the barge. None of the casualties resulted in any 
pollution.
    A recent history of towing vessel casualties is described below, 
some of which were potential major pollution incidents.
    On January 5, 1994, a tug lost control of its loaded tank barge, 
spilling 4,200 gallons of gasoline into the East River, New York.
    On April 7, 1994, a steering gear failure aboard a tug caused a 
loaded tank barge to ground in New Haven harbor, while carrying a cargo 
of 2.1 million gallons of gasoline.
    On February 9, 1995, a tug lost control of a tank barge loaded with 
714,000 gallons of fuel oil near East Rockaway Inlet, New York.
    On April 6, 1995, a tug lost control of a tank barge loaded with 
5,376,000 gallons of No. 2 oil in the East River, New York.
    On January 19, 1996, off the coast of Rhode Island, the tug SCANDIA 
was towing the loaded single-hull tank barge NORTH CAPE. During the 
voyage the tug caught fire causing the crew to abandon the vessel 
during a severe winter storm. The barge grounded on Moonstone Beach 
spilling about 828,000 gallons of No. 2 oil into Rhode Island Sound.
    On February 12, 1996, a tug lost control of a tank barge in the 
East River, New York, spilling 4,415 gallons of No. 2 oil into Long 
Island Sound.
    On August 25, 1998, a loaded tank barge was set adrift off the 
Rhode Island coast when the towing hawser was cut by a passing vessel. 
A potential major pollution incident was avoided when an assist tug 
arrived to take the barge under control.

Development of the Regional Risk Assessment Team (RRAT) Report

    On June 5 and 6, 1996, the commander of the First Coast Guard 
District hosted a two-day Workshop on Safety of Towing Vessels and Tank 
Barges at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Nearly 150 people 
gathered to discuss goals for the safety of the marine environment, and 
economic and operational considerations of the tank barge industry in 
the Northeast. The participants represented the Coast Guard, the 
industry, the States of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maine, 
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and various environmental interests.
    The RRAT was chartered and established by the American Waterways 
Operators and Coast Guard National Quality Steering Committee on July 
10, 1996. The 25-member team, with similar representative stakeholders 
from the two-day workshop, conducted a risk assessment of the tank 
barge transportation network in the Northeastern United States, The 
RRAT's report, completed February 6, 1997, examined current operational 
and navigational practices for towing vessels and tank barges operating 
in the Northeast. Although it did not evaluate the measures for cost-
effectiveness, it developed ten measures to improve the safe navigation 
of these vessels, eight of which were recommended for rulemaking. This 
rulemaking proposes four of those eight measures that are within the 
authority of the First District Commander to address. The remaining 
recommendations for rulemaking will be addressed as the subject of 
national rulemaking.
    This rulemaking takes a regional approach responsive to the 
particular risks inherent in the transportation of petroleum products 
on the waterways in the Northeastern United States. The network of 
sounds, estuaries, coastal ponds, and shallow coastal shelves hosts one 
of the most prolific habitats for marine life in the nation. This 
sensitive region contains 4 of the 20 Estuaries of National 
Significance, designated by Section 320 of the Federal Clean Water 
Act--Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay, and Casco Bay--
and 5 of the 22 National Estuarine Research Reserves established to 
monitor the health of the nation's most valued estuaries. Moreover, the 
shelves encompassing the Great South Channel, Massachusetts Bay, and 
Cape Cod Bay provide the seasonal habitat for the Northern Right Whale, 
one of the world's most endangered species of whale with a population 
of only about 300. One of the whale's primary food sources, plankton, 
is particularly susceptible to damage from oil spills.
    In addition, the fishing grounds of the Northeastern United States 
are among the most productive in the world. It is estimated that over 
25,000 vessels are employed in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean fisheries 
trade. The threat to the productive fishing grounds from a tank barge 
spill further supports the need for the measures proposed here.
    In the aftermath of the NORTH CAPE oil spill, several states in the 
Northeast have drafted or enacted legislation to regulate the tank 
barge industry. The Rhode Island legislature enacted an Oil Spill 
Pollution Prevention and Control Act, which it amended with a Tank 
Vessel Safety Act (codified as Chapter 32 of its Public Laws). Further, 
Maine officials are considering a legislative initiative to regulate 
the petroleum transportation industry. The States' differing 
legislative initiatives may result in inconsistent regulation of the 
industry.
    The several operating conditions proposed in this rule are intended 
to reduce the risks to the marine environment posed by tank barges 
transporting oil in the region without imposing undue economic burden 
on the industry.

Discussion of RRAT Recommendations

    Each of the RRAT recommendations are summarized below.

1. Manning

    For vessel manning, the RRAT recommended that barges being pushed, 
or being towed alongside the towing vessel, be considered as the 
equivalent to being a manned barge if the towing vessel has a certified 
individual in excess of the required manning on the towing vessel. This 
recommendation impacts lifesaving equipment and shipboard habitability 
issues that are required for manned barges. As such, it is the subject 
of national rulemaking.

2. Anchoring and Barge Retrieval System

    The RRAT recommended requirements for anchoring and barge retrieval 
systems for manned and unmanned barges operating in the Northeast. 
These requirements are the subject of the national rulemaking 
addressing emergency control systems for tank barges. See 62 FR 52057 
(Oct. 6, 1997).

3. Navigational Safety Equipment Aboard Towing Vessels

    The RRAT recommended--
    (a) The extension of the navigational safety equipment requirements 
for towing vessels in 33 CFR part 164 to include all waters beyond 
three miles, and not just the navigable waters of the Northeast; and
    (b) A requirement for Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) 
on towing vessels operating in all waters of the Northeast.
    This recommendation is being addressed separately by Commandant (G-
M).

4. Lightering Activities

    The RRAT referred to the existing regulations contained at 33 CFR 
part 156, subpart B, governing lightering, and recommended only that 
individual Captain of the Ports (COTP) develop guidelines that reflect 
the best recognized practices for lightering of

[[Page 54641]]

petroleum products in their areas of responsibility.

5. Double-Hull Tank Barges

    The RRAT acknowledged the expected benefits from the use of double-
hull tank barges but deferred recommendations until after the National 
Research Council's review, conducted in accordance with section 4115 of 
the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, Pub. L. 101-380 (OPA 90), of the 
economic and operational impacts of the double-hull requirement on the 
marine petroleum transportation industry. Subsequently published in 
November 1997, after the RRAT recommendations, the report of the 
National Research Council did not recommend any change to the phase-out 
schedule for single-hull tank vessels established by OPA 90.

6. Crew Fatigue: The Human Factor

    The RRAT recommended providing human factors awareness training to 
operational and management personnel every two years and ensuring that 
records of the training be kept for a period of two years.
    The human factor, specifically as it relates to crew fatigue, is a 
national issue. Commandant (G-M), through the Coast Guard Research and 
Development Center, is currently conducting a study to develop measures 
that counteract crew fatigue in the towing industry.
    This Coast Guard study, ``Watchstanding Alertness in Towing 
Operations,'' will examine the nature and extent of fatigue among 
towing vessel crews. Following analysis of the data, measures will be 
recommended that the towing industry can implement to counteract crew 
fatigue. The results will be presented to the Towing Safety Advisory 
Committee.

Discussion of Proposed Rule

    The First District Commander has limited delegated authority to 
impose operational requirements based upon circumstances peculiar to 
his jurisdiction. Design, construction, or equipment standards are 
generally subject to national standards. This proposed rule would 
require four operational measures to improve the safety of towing 
vessels and petroleum laden tank barges operating on the navigable 
waters of the First Coast Guard District.

1. Positive Control for Barges

    This proposal would require vessels towing single-hull tank barges 
carrying petroleum oil as cargo in bulk, to be equipped with twin-
screws and two engines while operating on the navigable waters of the 
First Coast Guard District. Each engine must--
    (a) Be independent of the other; and
    (b) Be capable of maintaining the navigational control of the tank 
barge in the event of a casualty to the other engine. Under the 
proposed rule, the use of double-hull tank barges precludes the need 
for twin-screw, twin engine tugs as a primary towing vessel. Double-
hull vessels provide a greater level of protection than single-hull 
vessels. Further, single-hull vessels are being phased-out in 
accordance with OPA 90. Therefore, the present use of double-hulls is a 
sufficient measure of protection under the proposed rule.
    The requirements of the proposed rule for twin screws and two 
engines would supplement the language used in 33 CFR 157.460. That rule 
requires certain vessels to be equipped with twin-screw propulsion 
unless they have installed alternative steering systems. This proposed 
rule would require that all towing vessels not equipped with twin-screw 
propulsion and two engines, and engaged in towing single-hull tank 
barges carrying petroleum oil in bulk on the navigable waters of the 
First Coast Guard District, must operate with an escort or assist tug, 
or provide an equivalent means of positive control for the barges 
acceptable to the COTP, regardless of any secondary or alternative 
steering system. Unless the bank barge meets the definition of a 
double-hull vessel in 33 CFR 157.03, it is a single-hull vessel. The 
Coast Guard believes that the operational conditions proposed in this 
rule would significantly reduce the likelihood of an oil spill.
    Most of the vessels towing tank barges in the Northeast are already 
of the twin-screw propulsion, two-engine type. This propulsion 
redundancy ensures a backup system in the event of engine failure or 
fouling of one screw. The Coast Guard would require an escort or assist 
tug in those instances when only a single-screw towing vessel is towing 
a single-hull tank barge. Such an alternative would enhance safety and 
reduce the risk of oil pollution to the marine environment.
    On certain restricted routes, however, limited channel depths and 
widths may make application of these standards impracticable. In these 
instances, the COTP may grant exemptions upon application and 
consideration.
    Additionally, this proposed rule would require the immediate 
calling of additional resources to assist a towing vessel towing any 
tank barge if either the tank barge or towing vessel suffers a casualty 
that adversely affects its safe navigation or seaworthiness.
    Other situations requiring the employment of additional resources 
include steering-gear failure and loss of the tow. The requirement to 
call on these additional private resources to render emergency 
assistance does not negate or otherwise lessen the requirement to 
notify the Coast Guard if the tank barge or towing vessel suffers a 
reportable marine casualty in accordance with 46 CFR subpart 4.05, or 
develops a hazardous condition as defined in 33 CFR 160.215.

2. Enhanced Communications

    This proposed rule would require that masters of vessels towing any 
loaded tank barge initiate and broadcast securite calls identifying 
their positions at specific locations during transits in the First 
Coast Guard District.
    Currently, there are no regulations requiring towing vessel 
operators to share operational information or to issue securite calls 
at specific locations, Enhanced communications among vessels is 
critical in reducing the risk associated with transporting petroleum in 
tank barges in the Northeast United States. This proposed rule should 
increase situational awareness and enhance communications, thereby 
reducing the risk of casualties.
    There are recognized areas in Long Island Sound, Block Island 
Sound, Narragansett Bay, and Buzzards Bay where the risk of collision 
is higher because cross-traffic is more likely to be encountered. These 
locations include dedicated ferry routes and areas where the bays and 
sounds open to the ocean. Accordingly, this proposed rule contains a 
list of locations for initiating securite calls.

3. Voyage Planning

    This proposed rule would require that the owner or operator of a 
towing vessel employed to tow a tank barge prepare a voyage plan, 
addressing specific minimum requirements, before a voyage. The master 
would validate the contents of the voyage plan before the voyage, 
adjust the plan if necessary, and ensure its proper use. Currently, 
there are no regulations requiring the use of voyage plans aboard 
towing vessels or tank barges. Proper planning and preparation of the 
vessel and crew may identify potential risks, equipment concerns, and 
human factors, one or a combination of which may lead to a marine 
casualty during a voyage. A comprehensive voyage plan should improve 
the prospects for the successful execution and completion of a voyage.
    The minimum contents of a voyage plan are as follows:

[[Page 54642]]

    (1) A description of the type, volume, and grade of cargo.
    (2) Applicable information from nautical charts and publications; 
including Coast Pilot, Coast Guard Light List, and Coast Guard Local 
Notice to Mariners, for the destination(s).
    (3) Current and forecasted weather, including visibility, wind, and 
sea state for the destination(s).
    (4) Data on tides and tidal currents for destination(s).
    (5) Forward and after draft for the tank barge, and under-keel and 
vertical clearance for the ports(s) and berthing area(s).
    (6) Pre-departure checklists.
    (7) Calculated speed and estimated time of arrival at proposed 
waypoints.
    (8) Communication contact at Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) (if 
applicable), bridges, facilities and port-specific requirements for 
Very High Frequency (VHF) radio.
    (9) Master's standing orders for closest point of approach, special 
conditions, and critical maneuvers.
    The proposed rule would authorize an abbreviated version of the 
voyage plan to address short intra-port tank barge transits. A short 
intra-port transit is a transit of not more than four hours within the 
same port complex. The abbreviated version would contain:
    (1) Weather conditions including but not limited to visibility, 
wind and sea state.
    (2) Data on tides and tidal currents.
    (3) The draft of the barge.
    (4) Channels of VHF radio to monitor.
    (5) Other considerations such as availability of pilot, assist tug, 
berth, and line handlers, depth of berth mean low water, danger areas, 
and securite calls.

4. Navigation Restriction Areas

    The proposed rule would establish navigational restrictions for 
towing vessels with tank barges in two areas in order to protect 
significant environmental and cultural resources. Located off the 
Connecticut coast, Fishers Island Sound is subject to strong currents 
and is bordered by environmentally sensitive areas that would be 
greatly affected by a spill. Given the strength of the current and wind 
variability in that area, any spill would quickly spread, reducing the 
critical time needed to begin taking protective measures. The Sound has 
less risky routes immediately adjacent, which provide for greater 
navigational safety of tank barge transits.
    As a place with a high level of plankton concentration, the eastern 
part of Cape Cod Bay is a breeding ground for the endangered Northern 
Right Whale. Any significant oil spill would potentially destroy the 
particularly susceptible plankton and have a devastating result on this 
important breeding area. Cape Cod Bay is a complex marine ecosystem 
that contains a variety of sensitive tidal marshes, flats and estuarine 
areas, making protection strategies more difficult in the event of a 
significant oil spill.

Regulatory Assessment

    This notice of proposed rulemaking is not a significant regulatory 
action under 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 and does not require an 
assessment of potential costs and benefits under section 6(a)(3) of 
that Order. It has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) under that Order. It is not significant under the 
regulatory policies and procedures of the Department of Transportation 
(DOT) (44 FR 11040; February 26, 1979).
    A Preliminary Regulatory Evaluation under paragraph 10e of the 
regulatory policies and procedures of DOT is available in the docket 
for inspection or copying where indicated under ADDRESSES. A summary of 
the Evaluation follows:

Summary of Benefits

    The principal benefits of this proposed rule would be reduced 
injuries and loss of life, environmental damage caused by navigation-
related incidents of tank barges and towing vessels while under way in 
the navigable waters of the First Coast Guard District. Quantifiable 
benefits will accrue in the forms of avoided pollution, avoided 
injuries and deaths, and avoided damage to vessels and property.
    Using information from the database of the Coast Guard Marine 
Safety Management System from January 1, 1992, to December 31, 1996, we 
reviewed 96 tank barge casualty cases. These casualties involved 
vessels that were underway within the boundaries of the First Coast 
Guard District which would have been affected by this proposed rule if 
it had been in effect. This period is one which represents post OPA-90 
experience, is intended to be long enough to survey a significant 
number of casualties, and short enough to avoid old problems which are 
now solved. These 96 incidents provided the pool from which the 
benefits are estimated. During this base period, there was no reported 
oil spilled from double-hull barges.
    For all four proposed measures, we reviewed each casualty case 
report to assess whether the casualty could have been prevented or 
diminished in severity by this rule. A team of Coast Guard analysts 
assigned an effectiveness degree to which each proposed measure which 
would have positively affected each casualty case. The Coast Guard 
tabulated data on deaths and injuries, oil spillage, and dollar totals 
reported for damage to the tank barges, towing vessels, piers, or other 
structures, and estimated benefits for each measure adjusted to the 
accurate degree of effectiveness.
    The assessment indicated that, until the phase-out of single-hull 
tank vessels (Sec. 4115(a) of OPA 90), the requirements of this RNA 
would bring total benefits of $495,640 in avoided damage to vessels and 
property (1998 dollars); $189,276 in avoided deaths (1998 dollars); and 
459.76 barrels of oil in avoided pollution.

Summary of Costs

    Businesses that use tank barge and towing vessels within the 
geographic boundaries of the First District, as well as the tank barge 
and towing vessel industries themselves, will bear the majority of the 
costs of this proposed rule.
    The cost of this proposed rule is the sum of costs from the 
requirements for positive control for barges, enhanced communications, 
voyage planning, and restricted navigation areas. These anticipated 
costs recognize that many of the towing vessels and tank barges 
operating within the geographic boundaries of the First District are 
already in compliance with these requirements.
    (1) Positive Control for Barges: Data from the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers indicated that there are approximately 12,892 transits 
occurring within the District each year. Of these transits, we estimate 
1.95%, or 251, involve a single-hull, petroleum-laden tank barge being 
towed by a tug without twin engines or twin screws, and thus, this 
proposal would require an escort or assist tug. The cost of an escort 
or assist tug is $300 an hour. It is assumed this escort or assist tug 
would, on average, spend 20 hours in round trip service on each 
transit. The cost of the tug for a single transit would therefore be 
$6,000. Discounting to 1998 dollars, and factoring in the phase-out of 
single-hull tank barges, we calculate the costs of these tugs at 
$12,796,834.
    (2) Enhanced Communications: This proposed rule would require the 
operator of a towing vessel to make approximately eight securite calls 
during the average transit in the Coast Guard's First District. Each 
securite call would take about 30 seconds or 4 minutes each transit. 
The securite calls

[[Page 54643]]

will be placed by the person on watch and it is assumed that the master 
and the mate each make half of the securite calls. The average daily 
billing rate for a towing vessel's master is $400, while the average 
daily billing rate for a towing vessel's mate is $270. Based on an 
eight hour day, the opportunity cost of the securite call proposal for 
each transit is $2.79. The Coast Guard estimated that approximately 55% 
of the 12,892 annual transits, 7,091 transits, involve oil-laden tank 
barges. With 7,091 transits within the Coast Guard's First District 
each year affected by the enhanced communications proposal, discounting 
to 1998 dollars, we calculate the opportunity cost of enhanced 
communications at $186,892. However, these enhanced communication 
requirements do not truly represent a cost upon the towing vessel 
operator. The Securite calls will become a routine task of the person 
on watch, and will neither cause this person to spend additional time 
performing his watch duties, nor detract from the time available for 
performing existing duties. Therefore, the total cost of enhanced 
communications is $0.
    (3) Voyage Planning: For each transit, as a representative of the 
owner or operator, the master of the towing vessel spends approximately 
30 minutes preparing the voyage plan. Again, the average daily billing 
rate for a towing vessel's master is $400. The Coast Guard, using data 
from the American Waterway Operators, assumes that 90% of transits 
already are in compliance with this proposed rule. Further, the Coast 
Guard estimates that approximately 55% annual transits involve oil-
laden tank barges. For the 12,892 transits within the First District 
each year, voyage planning affects 714 transits. The cost of voyage 
planning, discounted to 1998 dollars, would be $167,461.
    (4) Navigation Restriction Areas: Currently all towing vessels and 
tank barges operating within the geographic boundaries of the First 
District, avoid operating in the areas of Fishers Island Sound and the 
eastern portion of Cape Cod Bay addressed in this proposal. The cost of 
navigation restriction area is $0.
    Summary: The total present value of the costs of this proposed rule 
(1998 dollars) would be $12,964,345 [$12,796,834 for positive control 
of barges + $0 for enhanced communications + $167,461 for voyage 
planning + $0 for navigation restriction areas]. In terms of cost-
effectiveness, this rule would prevent future pollution in the Coast 
Guard's First District at a cost of $26,708 per barrel of oil not 
spilled.

Small Entities

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), the 
Coast Guard considers whether this proposed rule, if adopted, will have 
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. ``Small entities'' include small businesses, not-for-profit 
organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not 
dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with 
populations of less than 50,000.
    The proposed rule would require that all transits involving towing 
vessels not equipped with twin-screw and twin-engine propulsion, and 
that are engaged in towing petroleum-laden tank barges in the navigable 
waters of the First Coast Guard District, employ an escort or assist 
tug.
    It is primarily the businesses that hire the towing vessels and 
tank barges for transporting their goods who directly incurs the costs 
of this rulemaking by having to pay for the escort or assist tug. 
However, some towing vessel companies, the majority of which are small 
entities, may be indirectly affected by the proposed rule if they can 
no longer provide tug service at a competitive price due to the 
requirement that they employ an escort or assist tug.
    These towing vessel companies do have alternatives available 
allowing them to use their non-twin-screw and twin-engine towing 
vessels, such as pushing barges in narrow rivers or pushing freight 
barges. Additionally, with only 5% of all towing vessels not having the 
necessary propulsion equipment, nearly all the towing vessel companies 
are already in compliance. Further, preliminary information from towing 
vessel operators indicate that they already select against the use of 
their non-twin-screw and twin-engine towing vessels for the practice of 
towing petroleum-laden tank barges. Finally, the cost of escort or 
assist towing vessels is low in comparison with the cost of replacing 
or retro-fitting all their non-twin-screw and twin-engine towing 
vessels with a compliant propulsion system.
    Therefore, the Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that 
this proposed rule, if adopted, will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. If, however, you 
think that your business or organization qualifies as a small entity 
and that this proposed rule will have a significant economic impact on 
your business or organization, please submit a comment to the Coast 
Guard at the address under ADDRESSES explaining why you think it 
qualifies and in what way and to what degree this proposed rule will 
economically affect it.

Assistance for Small Entities

    In accordance with section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory 
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-121), the Coast Guard 
wants to assist small entities in understanding this proposed rule so 
that they can better evaluate its effects on them and participate in 
the rulemaking. If your small business or organization would be 
affected by this rule and you have questions concerning its provisions 
or options for compliance, please call LT Rich Klein at 617-223-8243.
    The Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman 
and 10 Regional Fairness Boards were established to receive comments 
from small businesses about Federal agency enforcement actions. The 
Ombudsman will annually evaluate the enforcement activities and rate 
each agency's responsiveness to small business. If you wish to comment 
on the enforcement actions of the Coast Guard, call 1-888-REG-FAIR (1-
888-734-3247).

Collection of Information

    This proposed rule provides for a collection of information under 
the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). As 
defined in 5 CFR 1320.3(c), ``collection of information'' includes 
reporting, recordkeeping, monitoring, posting, labeling, and other, 
similar actions. The title and description of the information 
collection, a description of the respondents, and an estimate of the 
total annual burden follow. Included in the estimate is the time for 
reviewing instructions, searching existing sources of data, gathering 
and maintaining data needed, and completing and reviewing the 
collection.
    Title: Regulated Navigation Area: Navigable waters within the First 
Coast Guard District.
    Summary of the Collection of Information: The requirement of a 
voyage plan would serve as a preventive measure and assist in ensuring 
the successful execution and completion of a voyage in the First Coast 
Guard District.
    Need for Information: The information for a voyage plan would 
provide a mechanism for assisting vessels towing tank barges in 
identifying those specific risks, potential equipment failures, or 
human errors that may lead to accidents.
    Proposed Use of Information: The information would focus on the 
voyage

[[Page 54644]]

planning in the preparation of the crew and vessel for an anticipated 
voyage.
    Description of The Respondents: The owners or operators of towing 
vessels and tank barges in the First Coast Guard District.
    Number of Respondents: 709 estimated transits of towing vessels a 
year.
    Frequency of Response: The frequency of response is once per 
transit.
    Burden of Response: The owner or operator of a towing vessel 
engaged in a towing a tank barge must prepare a written voyage plan 
before departure.
    Estimated Total Annual Burden: 354.5 hours.
    As required by section 3507(d) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 
1995, the Coast Guard has submitted a copy of this proposed rule to OMB 
for its review of the collection of information.
    The Coast Guard solicits public comment on the proposed collection 
of information to: (1) Evaluate whether the information is necessary 
for the proper performance of the functions of the Coast Guard, 
including whether the information would have practical utility; (2) 
evaluate the accuracy of the Coast Guard's estimate of the burden of 
the collection, including the validity of the methodology and 
assumptions used; (3) enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; and (4) minimize the burden of the 
collection on those who are to respond, as by allowing the submittal of 
responses by electronic means or the use of other forms of information 
technology.
    Persons submitting comments on the collection of information should 
submit them both to OMB and to the Commander (m), First Coast Guard 
District, where indicated under ADDRESSES by the date under DATES.
    Persons are not required to respond to a collection of information 
unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. Before the 
requirements for this collection of information become effective, the 
Coast Guard will publish notice in the Federal Register of OMB's 
decision to approve, modify, or disapprove the collection.

Federalism

    This action has been analyzed in accordance with the principles and 
criteria contained in Executive Order 12612, and it has been determined 
that the proposed rulemaking does not have sufficient federal 
implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment. 
Although the Coast Guard has determined that this proposal does not 
warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment, there will be 
preemptive impacts on existing state law, specifically the Rhode Island 
Tank Vessel Safety Act, 46 Rhode Island General Laws Sec. 12.6. The 
proposed regulations on positive control for barges [33 CFR 
165.100(d)(1)] will preempt 46 R. I. Gen. Laws Sec. 12.6-8(a)(3). The 
proposed regulations on enhanced communications [33 CFR 165.100(d)(2)] 
will preempt 46 R. I. Gen. Laws Sec. 12.6-8(b). The proposed 
regulations on voyage planning [33 CFR 165.100(d)(3)] will preempt 46 
R. I. Gen. Laws Sec. 12.6-8(c). However, Rhode Island law, at 46 R. I. 
Gen. Laws Sec. 12.6-12 specifically envisions preemption and 
supercession of their laws by the adoption of Coast Guard regulations 
on the areas covered by this proposal. No other states within the 
proposed regulated navigation area have similar existing provisions. 
Thus the Federalism implications of this proposal are expected to be 
minimal.

Unfunded Mandates

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA), (Pub. 
L. 104-4, 109 Stat. 48), requires Federal agencies to assess the 
effects of certain regulatory actions on State, local, and tribal 
governments, and the private sector. UMRA requires a written statement 
of economic and regulatory alternatives for proposed and final rules 
that contain Federal mandates. A ``Federal mandate'' is a new or 
additional enforceable duty imposed on any State, local, or tribal 
government, or the private sector. If any Federal mandate causes those 
entities to spend, in the aggregate $100 million or more in any one 
year, the UMRA analysis is required. This proposed rule would not 
impose Federal mandates on any State, local, or tribal governments, or 
the private sector.

Environment

    The Coast Guard considered the environmental impact of this 
proposed rule and concluded that under figure 2-1, paragraphs 34(g) and 
(i) of Commandant Instruction M16475.1C, this rule is categorically 
excluded from further environmental documentation. A ``Categorical 
Exclusion Determination'' is available in the docket for inspection or 
copying where indicated under ADDRESSES.

List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

    Marine safety, Navigation (water), Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Waterways.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, the Coast Guard proposes 
to amend 33 CFR part 165, as follows:

PART 165--REGULATED NAVIGATION AREAS AND LIMITED ACCESS AREAS

    1. The authority citation for part 165 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 33 U.S.C. 1231; 50 U.S.C. 191; 33 CFR 1.05-1(g), 
6.04-1, 6.04-6 and 160.5; 49 CFR 1.46.

    2. Add Sec. 165.100 to read as follows:


Sec. 165.100  Regulated Navigation Area: Navigable waters within the 
First Coast Guard District.

    (a) Regulated Navigation Area. All navigable waters of the United 
States, as that term is used in 33 CFR 2.05-25(a), within the 
geographic boundaries of the First Coast Guard District, as defined in 
33 CFR 3.05-1(b).
    (b) Definitions. Terms used in this section have the same meaning 
as those found in 33 CFR 157.03. Single-hull identifies any tank barge 
that is not a double-hull tank barge.
    (c) Applicability. This section applies to primary towing vessels 
engaged in towing tank barges carrying petroleum oil in bulk as cargo 
in the regulated navigation area, or as authorized by the District 
Commander.
    (d) Regulations--(1) Positive Control for Barges. (i) Except as 
provided in paragraph (d)(1)(iii) of this section, a single-hull tank 
barge, unless being towed by a primary towing vessel with twin-screw 
propulsion and with a separate system for power to each screw, must be 
accompanied by an escort or assist tug of sufficient capability to 
promptly push or tow the tank barge away from danger of grounding or 
collision in the event of--
    (A) A propulsion failure;
    (B) A parted towing line;
    (C) A loss of tow;
    (D) A fire;
    (E) Grounding;
    (F) A loss of steering; or
    (G) Any other casualty that affects the navigation or seaworthiness 
of either vessel.
    (ii) Double-hull tank barges are exempt from paragraph (d)(1)(i) of 
this section.
    (iii) The cognizant COTP may authorize an exemption from the 
requirements of paragraph (d)(1)(i) of this section for any tank barge 
with a capacity of less than 25,000 barrels, to operate in an area with 
limited depth or width such as a creek or small river. Each request for 
an exemption under this section must be submitted in writing to the 
cognizant COTP.
    (iv) The operator of a towing vessel engaged in towing any tank 
barge must immediately call for an escort or assist tug to render 
assistance in the event of any of the occurrences identified in 
paragraph (d)(1)(i) of this section.

[[Page 54645]]

    (2) Enhanced Communications. Each vessel engaged in towing a tank 
barge must communicate by radio on marine band or Very High Frequency 
(VHF) channel 13 or 16, and issue securite calls on marine band or VHF 
channel 13 or 16, upon approach to the following places:
    (i) Execution Rock Light (USCG Light List No. [LLNR] 21440).
    (ii) Race Rock Light (LLNR 19815).
    (iii) Cable & Anchor Reef Buoy (LLNR 21330).
    (iv) Stratford Shoal Middle Ground Light (LLNR 21260).
    (v) Old Field Point Light (LLNR 21275).
    (vi) Approaching Stratford Point from the south (NOAA Chart 12370).
    (vii) Faulkner Island Light (LLNR 21170).
    (viii) TE Buoy (LLNR 21160).
    (ix) CF Buoy (LL 21140).
    (x) PI Buoy (LLNR 21080) and Valiant Rock Buoy (LLNR 19825).
    (xi) Approach to Point Judith in vicinity of Block Island ferry 
route.
    (xii) Buzzards Bay Entrance Light (LLNR 630).
    (xiii) Buzzards Bay Midchannel Lighted Buoy (LLNR 16055).
    (xiv) Cleveland East Ledge Light (LLNR 16085).
    (xv) Hog Island buoys 1 (LLNR 16130) and 2 (LLNR 16135).
    (xvi) Approach to the Bourne Bridge.
    (xvii) Approach to the Sagamore Bridge.
    (xviii) Approach to the eastern entrance of Cape Code Canal.
    (3) Voyage Planning. (i) The owner or operator of a towing vessel 
employed to tow a tank barge shall prepare a written voyage plan for 
each tank barge transit. The master of the towing vessel shall ensure 
the proper use of each voyage plan.
    (ii) Except as provided in paragraph (d)(3)(iii) of this section, 
each voyage plan must contain:
    (A) A description of the type, volume, and grade of cargo.
    (B) Applicable information from nautical charts and publications, 
including Coast Pilot, Coast Guard Light List, and Coast Guard Local 
Notice to Mariners, for the destination(s).
    (C) Current and forecasted weather, including visibility, wind, and 
sea state for the destination(s).
    (D) Data on tides and tidal currents for the destination(s).
    (E) Forward and after drafts of the tank barge, and under-keel 
vertical clearances for all port(s) and berthing area(s).
    (F) Pre-departure checklists.
    (G) Calculated speed and estimated time of arrival at proposed 
waypoints.
    (H) Communication contacts at Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) (if 
applicable), bridges, and facilities, and port-specific requirements 
for VHF radio.
    (I) The master's standing orders detailing closest points of 
approach, special conditions, and critical maneuvers.
    (iii) Each owner or operator of a tank barge on an intra-port 
transit of not more than four hours may prepare a voyage plan that 
contains:
    (A) The information described in paragraphs (d)(3)(ii) (C), (D), 
and (E) of this section.
    (B) The channels of VHF radio to monitor.
    (C) Other considerations such as availability of pilot, assist tug, 
berth, and line-handlers, depth of berth at mean low water, danger 
areas, and securite calls.
    (4) Navigation Restriction Areas. Unless authorized by the 
cognizant COTP, no tank barge may operate in--
    (i) The waters of Cape Cod Bay south of latitude 42 deg. 5' North 
and east of longitude 70 deg. 25' West; or
    (ii) The waters of Fishers Island Sound east of longitude 72 deg. 
2' West, and west of longitude 71 deg. 55' West.
    Dated: October 5, 1998.
R.M. Larrabee
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, First Coast Guard District.
[FR Doc. 27361 Filed 10-9-98; 8:45 a.m.]
BILLING CODE 4910-15-M