[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 245 (Friday, December 20, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 77027-77029]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-30259]



Coast Guard

33 CFR Parts 117, 161, and 164

46 CFR Part 4

[Docket No. USCG-2013-0466]

Overhead Clearance (Air-Draft) Accidents

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION: Request for comments on petition for rulemaking.


SUMMARY: The Coast Guard seeks public comment on a petition that 
requests the Coast Guard to initiate a rulemaking to address the 
problem of overhead clearance (air-draft) accidents. In its petition, 
which calls for vessel masters to be provided with accurate vertical 
air draft information, a maritime organization has described 16 
overhead clearance accidents that it says were avoidable and that 
resulted in damage to or destruction of waterway infrastructure and 
inconvenienced the public. The Coast Guard will consider all comments 
received in response to this notification in determining whether or not 
to initiate the requested rulemaking.

DATES: Comments and related material must either be submitted to our 
online docket via http://www.regulations.gov on or before March 20, 
2014, or reach the Docket Management Facility by that date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-
2013-0466 using any one of the following methods:
    (1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
    (2) Fax: 202-493-2251.
    (3) Mail: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
    (4) Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 
p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone 
number is 202-366-9329.
    To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods. 
See the ``Public Participation and Request for Comments'' portion of 
the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below for instructions on 
submitting comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this notice,

[[Page 77028]]

contact LCDR William Nabach, Office of Vessel and Facility Operating 
Standards (CG-OES-2), U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, at telephone 202-
372-1386, or by email at William.A.Nabach@uscg.mil. If you have 
questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Renee 
V. Wright, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.


Public Participation and Request for Comments

    We encourage you to submit comments and related material on the 
rulemaking petition described below regarding Overhead Clearance (Air-
Draft) Accidents. All comments received will be posted, without change, 
to http://www.regulations.gov and will include any personal information 
you have provided.
    Submitting comments: If you submit a comment, please include the 
docket number for this notice (USCG-2013-0466) and provide a reason for 
each suggestion or recommendation. You may submit your comments and 
material online, or by fax, mail or hand delivery, but please use only 
one of these means. We recommend that you include your name and a 
mailing address, an email address, or a telephone number in the body of 
your document so that we can contact you if we have questions regarding 
your submission.
    To submit your comment online, go to http://www.regulations.gov, 
and follow the instructions on that Web site. The following link will 
take you directly to the docket where you may submit your comment: 
http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=USCG-2013-0466. If you 
submit your comments by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an 
unbound format, no larger than 8\1/2\ by 11 inches, suitable for 
copying and electronic filing. If you submit them by mail and would 
like to know that they reached the Facility, please enclose a stamped, 
self-addressed postcard or envelope. We will consider all comments and 
material received during the comment period.
    Viewing the rulemaking petition and comments: To view the petition 
and comments that have been submitted to the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, and follow the instructions on that Web site. The 
following link will take you directly to the docket: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=USCG-2013-0466. If you do not have 
access to the internet, you may view the docket in person by visiting 
the Docket Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of 
the Department of Transportation West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue 
SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays. We have an agreement with the 
Department of Transportation to use the Docket Management Facility.
    Privacy Act: Anyone can search the electronic form of comments 
received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review a 
Privacy Act, system of records notice regarding our public dockets in 
the January 17, 2008, issue of the Federal Register (73 FR 3316).

Description of Petition for Rulemaking

    In its Petition for Rulemaking dated May 22, 2013, the National 
Mariners Association (NMA) describes 16 separate marine casualties 
involving allisions with overhead structures which it identifies as 
resulting from inaccurate or non-existent air draft data available to 
the master of the vessel. NMA views these allisions as avoidable and 
noted that they resulted in unnecessary damage to or destruction of 
waterway infrastructure and inconvenienced the public.

Air Draft Determination

    NMA requests that the Coast Guard establish regulations to require 
(1) the permanent marking of maximum design air draft for masts and 
booms on stationary vessel apparatus, and (2) the owner or operator to 
mark all crane or derrick barges with the maximum air draft or 
otherwise provide this maximum air draft information in writing to any 
vessel contracted to tow the barge. (See p. 4 of the Petition.) The 
petitioner identifies the vessel owner or operator as the responsible 
party for providing accurate vertical air draft information, for both 
the vessel and its tow, to the master of a vessel prior to conducting 
underway operations. (See pp. 3, 4 & 16 of the Petition.)
    The petitioner notes that masters of towing vessels are greatly 
affected by this air-draft issue particularly because the barges they 
tow have cargo with significant and dynamic air draft requirements. 
(See pp. 5 & 7 of the Petition.) Moreover, the petitioner states that 
the master often lacks the necessary equipment to accurately assess the 
true vertical clearances. (See pp. 5 & 11 of the Petition.) Lacking 
such capacities, the mariner then estimates the height of their vessel 
or towed barges as best he or she can. (See p. 3 of the Petition.) The 
petitioner recommends a regulation to require that the Master of a 
towing vessel be provided with the air draft of the vessel, and that 
before a tow begins, the Master is provided with the air draft of the 
tow. The Petition states that ensuring that those persons directing and 
controlling the movement of towing vessels know the maximum overhead 
clearance (air draft) for their vessel and the barges in their tow will 
enable them to avoid trying to pass under bridges when there is 
insufficient clearance. (See p. 4 of Petition.)

Voyage Planning

    NMA further notes that a professional pre-sailing survey may be 
required to protect waterway infrastructure. The petitioner recommends 
that the Coast Guard amend what NMA views as ``severely qualified'' 
language in 33 CFR 164.80 so that it covers all towing vessels. 
Paragraph (c) of Sec.  164.80 requires the master to check the planned 
route for proximity to hazards before the voyage begins and that the 
voyage plan must consider ``vertical clearances (air-gaps) for all 
bridges, ports, and berthing areas.'' (See pp. 4 & 6 of Petition.)

Towing Safety Advisory Committee

    The petitioner requested this issue be submitted to the Towing 
Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC). (See NMA submission to TSAC Meeting 
Notice docket USCG-2013-0605.) TSAC is a Federal advisory committee 
under 5 U.S.C. App. (Pub. L. 92-463). It was established under 
authority of 33 U.S.C. 1231a and advises the Secretary of Homeland 
Security on matters relating to shallow-draft inland and coastal 
waterway navigation and towing safety. The Coast Guard agreed with the 
petitioner and has tasked TSAC with reviewing the issue and providing 
recommendations with respect to towing vessels. See September 2013 TSAC 
meeting notice (78 FR 49543, 49544, August 14, 2013) and copy of Task 
13-10, Recommendation to Establish Criteria for Identification 
of Air Draft for Towing Vessels and Tows, which is available in the 
docket for this notice.

Request for Comments

    We invite you to review the petition in the docket and submit 
relevant comments, including comments on whether a rulemaking would be 
beneficial, or not. The Coast Guard will consider the petition, any 
comments received from the public, and other information to determine 
whether or not to initiate the requested rulemaking.
    This notice is issued under authority of 5 U.S.C. 552(a) & 553(e), 
and 33 CFR 1.05-20.

[[Page 77029]]

    Dated: November 27, 2013.
F.J. Sturm,
Acting Director of Commercial Regulations and Standards, U.S. Coast 
[FR Doc. 2013-30259 Filed 12-19-13; 8:45 am]