WASHINGTON, DC – Amid pressure on the Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security from Congressman Jeff Landry (Republican, New Iberia), Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has finally signed off on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – safety regulations for towing vessel inspections.

“I am excited to hear that – after seven years, two Congressional directives, and countless contacts to DHS by the American Waterway Operators (AWO) and other industry experts – Secretary Napolitano has finally agreed with the proposed towing vessel inspection rules,” said Landry. “My office and I have been working hard to get these congressionally-mandated safety measures approved and enforced. I am hopeful the forthcoming rules will make significant safety contributions and give industry the certainty it needs to make new investments in vessels.”

Congress passed these regulations in 2004 to increase operational safety for the largest segment of commercial, U.S. flagged vessels. The Coast Guard finished its drafting of the notice of proposed rulemaking and sent it to the Department of Homeland Security for approval two years ago. Last year, the Coast Guard Authorization bill required the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for towing vessel inspection published by January 13th and that deadline was not met until Congressman Landry grilled Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Papp.

“DHS approval of the towing vessel inspection proposed rule is a critical step toward improving safety, security, and environmental stewardship in the largest segment of the U.S. domestic vessel fleet,” said Jennifer Carpenter, Senior Vice President-National Advocacy for the AWO. “AWO appreciates Congressman Landry’s efforts to keep the pressure on DHS to release this important rulemaking by raising this issue in questioning of the Coast Guard Commandant at the recent Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee oversight hearing.”

“Putting together this set of Towing Vessel Inspection Rules is an effort that our industry has been working on for over ten years. We realized a long time ago that, to have true credibility toward safety, we would need a valid set of regulations under which to operate, ” said Z. David Deloach, owner of Deloach Marine Services. “And thanks to the efforts of many individuals and our industry organization – the American Waterways Operators – having the opportunity to work with our good common-sense, tough questioning Congressman Landry from Louisiana, it seems that we are now going to see these rules move into the final stages of implementation.”

The rule will now go to the Office of Management and Budget for final approval.