Need help interpreting CFR 8904 licensing requirement


#1

I’m trying to figure out if I can commercially tow with my 24’ boat without holding a USCG license. The USCG license is unavailable to me due to my citizenship status.

When I read the regulation (a) it seems that on towing vessels under 26’ in length the operator is not required to hold a license. When I read (b) it seems that if you are getting paid to do the tow (no mention of towboat length) then you need the license. Then there is an amendment that seems to add the length stipulation to item (b) but I’m not sure. Here is the text for 8904:

[I]TITLE 46 > Subtitle II > Part F > CHAPTER 89 > § 8904

§ 8904. Towing vessels

(a) A towing vessel that is at least 26 feet in length measured from end to end over the deck (excluding sheer), shall be operated by an individual licensed by the Secretary to operate that type of vessel in the particular geographic area, under prescribed regulations.

(b) A vessel that tows a disabled vessel for consideration shall be operated by an individual licensed by the Secretary to operate that type of vessel in the particular geographic area, under prescribed regulations.

Historical And Revision Notes

Revised section Source section (U.S. Code)

8904 46:405(b)(2)

Section 8904 requires that a 26-foot or larger towing vessel be operated by a licensed individual for that type of vessel and for a particular geographic area. AMENDMENTS 1986 - Pub. L. 99-640 designated existing provisions as subsec. (a) and added subsec. (b).

EFFECTIVE DATE OF 1986 AMENDMENT

[/I]I live in an area with no commercial responders to aid private boats in need of assistance and find that I am doing a fair bit of that type of work on a gratis basis. I’d like to legitimize the service and set it up as a business. Am I good to go if I don’t exceed the towboat length limit?


#2

QUOTE=Salty;16995 A vessel that tows a disabled vessel [B]for consideration [/B]shall be operated by an individual licensed by the Secretary to operate that type of vessel in the particular geographic area, under prescribed regulations.[/QUOTE]

im pretty sure that above highlighted words are cfr speak for payment; meaning that if you take money for your service, you must have a license. as a business, i would assume you’d be getting paid. at that point, you’d need a license. at least im pretty sure.

look at it like a fishing boat. if you take your friends out for a day of fishing gratis, everythings cool; but as soon as you take money from them you need a license.


#3

[quote=KEVD18;17002]im pretty sure that above highlighted words are cfr speak for payment; meaning that if you take money for your service, you must have a license. as a business, i would assume you’d be getting paid. at that point, you’d need a license. at least im pretty sure.

look at it like a fishing boat. if you take your friends out for a day of fishing gratis, everythings cool; but as soon as you take money from them you need a license.[/quote]

If I am not mistaken, can’t taking your buddies fishing for beer and food also be interpreted as “consideration”? I seem to recall hearing or reading that somewhere.


#4

Ther proposed operation you described sounds like sub-part (b), aka sassistance towing. You’d need a license for the appropriate tonnage for your boat on the specific route, and if the license is for less than 200 GRT, a commercial assitance towing endorsement. See 46 CFR 15.410


#5

Thanks all, particularly jdcavo

So, to put a slightly finer point on the discussion, should I read provision (a) as: No license required when conducting a tow with a towboat under 26’ if that tow is not considered an “assistance” situation? In other words, scheduled or by appointment towing services are OK by an unlicensed operator but assistance or emergency towing is not allowed?

I have trouble determining the way in which the amendment applies to the original rule. It looks to me like the amendment overlays the less than 26’ stipulation onto provision (b). In other words, if the towboat is under 26’ an unlicensed operator can do assistance towing “for consideration”. At least that is what I hope it means.

[B]Again . . .[/B]

[I] Historical And Revision Notes

Revised section Source section (U.S. Code)

8904 46:405(b)(2)

[/I][B]Does the (b) here mean the amendment applies to provision (b) in the original rule?[/B][I]

Section 8904 requires that a 26-foot or larger towing vessel be operated by a licensed individual for that type of vessel and for a particular geographic area. AMENDMENTS 1986 - Pub. L. 99-640 designated existing provisions as subsec. (a) and added subsec. (b).
[/I]


#6

i read them as seperate;

a) if your boat is over 26ft, you need a license

b) if you’re getting paid(reagrdless of the size of your boat) you need a license.

so you can tow all day long in a boat 25ft or less as long as your not getting paid. but once your charge or receive dollar one, it doesnt matter is you’re towing in a canoe. you need a license.

at least that my interpretation.


#7

[quote=Salty;17008]Thanks all, particularly jdcavo

So, to put a slightly finer point on the discussion, should I read provision (a) as: No license required when conducting a tow with a towboat under 26’ if that tow is not considered an “assistance” situation? In other words, scheduled or by appointment towing services are OK by an unlicensed operator but assistance or emergency towing is not allowed?

I have trouble determining the way in which the amendment applies to the original rule. It looks to me like the amendment overlays the less than 26’ stipulation onto provision (b). In other words, if the towboat is under 26’ an unlicensed operator can do assistance towing “for consideration”. At least that is what I hope it means.

[B]Again . . .[/B]

[I] Historical And Revision Notes

Revised section Source section (U.S. Code)

8904 46:405(b)(2)

[/I][B]Does the (b) here mean the amendment applies to provision (b) in the original rule?[/B][I]

Section 8904 requires that a 26-foot or larger towing vessel be operated by a licensed individual for that type of vessel and for a particular geographic area. AMENDMENTS 1986 - Pub. L. 99-640 designated existing provisions as subsec. (a) and added subsec. (b).
[/I][/quote]

If you are getting paid you have to have a license no matter what.


#8

I think that you are getting commercial towing(tugs) for example, confused with assistance towing…

It sounds to me like assistance towing is what the OP is after…Like vessel assist…

As Mr. Cavo stated you need a license( under 200 tons)but large enough for the vessel that you will be operating… and then you add assistance towing to the license…

The course for the assistance towing is usually 4 hours and runs anywhere from 50 to 100 bucks at most schools…It can usually be taken in conjunction with your original OUPV/100 ton course…

There are a lot of pit falls for towing broken down or disabled pleasure craft…Even if you are just being a good samaritan mariner…Once you tie up to someone elses boat you get a lot of liability to go with it…Do your research…good luck


#9

Thanks for the input . . . I’m getting a better understanding.

To clarify I am not eligible to apply for the OUPV/100T due to a citizenship issue. Found out the hard way, took & passed the course, documented ample sea time for 100t near coastal, did the drug test, the whole shebang but was surprisingly denied at the end due to my inability to adequately prove U.S. citizenship. Long story, not for this thread.


#10

Can anyone tell me if I have a master of towing license am I allowed to operate a crewboat ??


#11

Yes, I can tell you.
No, you cannot operate a crew boat with only Master of Towing.


#12

Negative. You can operate a 25 ft ‘towing vessel’ for a fee without a license, you just cannot tow disabled vessels without a license. A lot of small dredge tenders, inland construction assist boats, and other such work boats fall under this category of ‘tug’ under 26 ft.