NAVIGATION SAFETY EQUIPMENT
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Navigation safety equipment requirements are based primarily on vessel length (under 39.4 feet or 39.4 feet and more in length).  Regardless of the prescribed carriage requirement, all navigational safety equipment shall be properly maintained and fully functional aboard each towing vessel.    Any navigational safety equipment that fails during a voyage must be repaired at the earliest practical time.  When determining the repair of failed equipment and deciding whether it is safe for the vessel to proceed, prudent seamanship factors such as the condition of equipment, weather conditions, visibility and traffic shall be considered.  Failures of navigation safety equipment and subsequent repairs need to be recorded in the official log, Towing Vessel Record, or in accordance with the towing vessel’s TSMS if applicable.

Regulatory Cites:  
33 CFR 164.01(b) Applicability
33 CFR 164.72 Navigational Safety Equipment Required on Towing Vessels
33 CFR 164.82 Maintenance, Failure, and Reporting (towing vessels 39.4 feet or more)
46 CFR 140.620 Navigational Safety Equipment (towing vessels under 39.4 feet)

Items to check:

  • AIS Class A device installed.
  • Ability to reinitialize the AIS; includes access to power source and password.
  • Ability to access AIS information from primary conning position on vessel.
  • Accurate maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number.
  • Accurate input and upkeep of all AIS data fields and system updates.
  • Continual operation of AIS and supporting equipment.  

Regulatory Cites:

33 CFR 164.46 Automatic Identification System
46 CFR 140.725 Additional navigation equipment

Additional Guidance:
NVIC 8-01 CH-2 Approval of Navigation equipment for ships
Coast Guard Navigation Center

Installed VHF-FM radio must be capable of monitoring VHF-FM Channels 13 and 16, except when transmitting or receiving traffic on other VHF-FM channels, when participating in a Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) or when monitoring a channel of a VTS.   

Items to check:

  • One (1) handheld VHF-FM radio.
  • One (1) VHF-FM radio with two (2) receivers or two (2) VHF-FM radios installed at operator’s station.
  • VHF-FM radio connected to a functioning battery backup.
  • Ability to receive on Channel 13 or Channel 67 (for sections of the Lower Mississippi River) and separately monitor Channel 16.
  • Radio-station license for radio transmitters.
  • Radio operator holds restricted operator’s license or higher.  

Regulatory Cites:

33 CFR 26 Vessel Bridge-To-Bridge Radiotelephone Regulations
33 CFR 164.72(3) VHF-FM Radio
46 CFR 140.715 Communication Equipment

Items to check:

  • Echo depth-sounding device
  • Readable from vessel’s main steering station  

Regulatory Cites:

33 CFR 164.72(5) Echo Depth-sounding Device
46 CFR 140.725 Fathometer

Additional Guidance:

TVNCOE Part 140 FAQs.  See question 140-043.

Items to check:

  • The GPS automatically acquires satellite signals after initial operation settings have been entered
  • Position updates derived from satellite information during each usable satellite pass  

Regulatory Cites:

33 CFR 164.72(6) Electronic Position-Fixing Device
33 CFR 164.41 Electronic Position-Fixing Devices
46 CFR 140.725 (c) Electronic Position -Fixing Device

Additional Guidance:

NVIC 01-16 Ch-1 Use of Electronic Charts and Publications in lieu of Paper Charts, Maps and Publications - contains an equivalency for electronic position fixing device

When pilothouse engine controls and the access to the engine room are within 3m (10ft) of each other and allow for unobstructed visible contact, direct voice communication is acceptable instead of a communications system.

Items to check:

  • Fixed or Portable communication system between pilothouse and engine room.
  • Main or Reserve power independent of towing vessel’s electrical system.
  • Provides two-way voice communication between pilothouse and either the engine room or location immediately adjacent to an exit from the engine room.  

Regulatory Cites:

46 CFR 143.240 Communication Requirements

Items to check:

  • An illuminated card type magnetic steering compass or;
    • An illuminated swing meter (Western Rivers only)
  • Visible from vessel’s main steering station

Regulatory Cites:

33 CFR 164.72(4) Magnetic Compass
46 CFR 140.725(d) Illuminated Magnetic Compass or Illuminated Swing-meter

Compliance with RTCM standards is difficult to verify. The following is a summary of features found on marine radars in compliance with RTCM recommended standards:

  • Range scales:
    • Less than 300 GRT, range scales of 0.25, 0.5, 0.75/0.8, 1.5, 3.0, 12.0 and 24.0 NM.
    • Equal to or greater than 300 GRT, ranges scales of 0.05-0.08 (minimum), 1.5, 3.0, 6.0, 12.0, 24.0 NM.
  • Display:
    • Has means of plotting target track history (echo trails, etc.)
    • Has fixed electronic range rings
    • Has variable range marker (VRM) with numeric readout.
    • Meets minimum diagonal/diameter display sizes:
      • 10” for LCD
      • 9” for CRT
  • Heading Indicator: Indicated electronically from own ship to edge of display.
  • Bearing Measurement: Electronic Bearing Line (EBL) able to quickly obtain the bearing of any object whose echo appears on the display.
  • Discrimination: Needs to meet minimum performance standard which typically requires a rotating array (antenna). Most dome arrays will not meet this requirement.
  • Anti-Clutter: Suitable means to suppress unwanted echoes.  

Items to check:

  • Meets Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements of 47 CFR 80
  • Meets RTCM Standard 

Regulatory Cites:

46 CFR 140.710 Marine Radar
33 CFR 164.72(1) Marine Radar  

Additional Guidance:

RTCM Website

Items to check:

  • If vessel is less than 65 ft, lights meets requirement of 33 CFR 183.810 or Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standard 1104. 46 CFR 143.415
  • If vessel is 65 ft or greater, lights meet Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standard 1104 or other standards accepted by the Coast Guard. 46 CFR 143.415 

Regulatory Cites:

33 CFR 83-90 Inland Navigation Rules
46 CFR 143.415 Navigation Lights
46 CFR 140.720 Navigation Lights, Shapes and Sound Signals
Pubic Law 95-75; 91 Statute 308; 33 U.S.C. Chapter 30 1601-1608 International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS)

Items to check:

  • Controllable from the operating station
  • Capable of Illuminating objects at distance of two times the length of the tow

Regulatory Cites:

33 CFR 164.72(2) Searchlight
46 CFR 140.725(b) Searchlight

A power-driven vessel normally engaged in pushing ahead or towing alongside may, at all times, use a whistle characteristic for the longest customary configuration length of the vessel and its tow. 33 CFR 86.01 

Vessel Length

Whistle

Bell

Gong

Other means of making an efficient sound signal

<12 meters

 

 

 

x

12 meters

x

 

 

 

20 meters

x

x

 

 

100 meters

x

x

x

 

Items to check:

Ensure the vessel is provided with the equipment according to its length.  The bell or gong or both may be replaced by other equipment having the same respective sound characteristics, provided that manual sounding of the prescribed signals shall always be possible.

Regulatory Cites:

33 CFR 83.33 Equipment for sound signals (Rule 33)
33 CFR 86.01 Whistles
33 CFR 86.02 Bell or Gong