Western Rivers Question

My question is will a Master of towing vessels near coastal lic cover trips into and out of the lower Mississippi river without a western rivers endorsment, as long as the holder has enough trips to satisfy the recency requirments.
On a non oil ATB

No, in order to work on the Western Rivers route…you will need to have 90 days of observation and training, complete the TOAR on that specific route, and complete an examination on Western Rivers. You can go to a CG approved school or go to the CG to test.

I have western rivers and so does most every one that I work with in the oil field. If fact, I’ve seen twenty or thirty guys with the Master of Towing near coastal/ Oceans/ Western Rivers to the point where I thought “western rivers” just came with the near coastal or Oceans. Anywayz…haven’t been on a tow in the Mississippi since I was a deckhand, but the Coast Guard seems to think me and thirty others can handle it without being there. Don’t know how this came about, or if it should be, but it is.

According to federal regulations at [B]46 CFR - Part 15.610(d)[/B] you [B]DO NOT[/B] need a Western Rivers endorsement to operate on the pilotage waters of the Lower Mississippi River (below Baton Rouge) if you are a 1st Class Pilot or have completed the minimum number of round-trips to “act as pilot.” There were some unsubstantiated rumors floating around that during [I]Operation Big Tow[/I] the Coast Guard was busting people in the NOLA area for not having the WR endorsement but so far none of these reports has been positively confirmed.

I’ll also quote from pages 10 & 11 of the Coast Guard’s [B]NVIC 4-01[/B]:

[I]k. Lower Mississippi River.
(1) Until May 21, 2001, an officer with an endorsement for Great Lakes–inland waters,
Near-Coastal waters, or Oceans would serve on Western Rivers under lesser-included
authority. The interim rule changed this. After May 20, 2001, an officer entering the
licensing process who wishes to operate on Western Rivers must obtain an
endorsement for Western Rivers.
(2) However, an officer of towing vessels with an endorsement for Great Lakes–inland
waters, Near-Coastal waters, or Oceans may operate a towing vessel in the pilotage
waters of the Lower Mississippi River if he or she meets one of the following
requirements from 46 CFR 15.812(b):
(a) Holds a first-class pilot’s license for the route.
(b) If operating ‘light boat’, or a tow of uninspected barges, has made four round
trips through this route, as an observer, with at least one of those trips in hours of
darkness, and afterwards maintains at least one round trip within the last 5 years.
© If operating a tow of tank barges, has made 12 round trips over this route, as an
observer, at least three of those trips during hours of darkness; and afterwards
maintains at least one round trip within the last 5 years.
(3) An officer who meets one of these requirements need not obtain an endorsement for
Western Rivers on his or her license, but must maintain evidence of having completed
the required experience.

This is the regulation. Does anyone who meets those minimal requirements have any business running that river with so little experience? I would say no. Years ago, sitting safely at the Shell base in Venice, I had a ringside seat to watch people make death-defying attempts to turn into [I]The Jump[/I]. Seeing guys regularly doing it (and sometimes not) with under-powered rattletrap towboats really was an eye-opening experience that convinced me it was no place for amateurs… Why does the Coast Guard allow it? Who knows. I can’t think of any good reasons for it. Not a one.

I understand completely. I hear it all the time. What I thought is you need the experience in order to gain the route…a raise in scope…its just like when a guy has a NC license and wants to go IN they need the same thing and will be tested on that route, along with a TOAR and 30 days observation and training…not my call :slight_smile:

Wow, though that was news to me CaptJack…I guess if he can document the experience on those waters of the lower MS he will be okay :slight_smile:

If you were grandfathered to the Towing license, you probably got it as some RECs provided the grandfathering so as not to take any authority away as a resuilt of the new regs. Your old near coastal license would have let you go on western rivers, so the REC gave you the same authority on the new license. This type of inconsistency is among the reasons the RECs were centralized.

That does makes sense of why (I was grandfathered), but just me thinking (as I do too much), what would happen if you needed to take safe harbor that’s on a route that you’re not qualified for and your professional judgment dictates for the safety of the crew, you need to take this route? Even embarking a pilot does not alleviate the requirement (I think). Good seamanship and navigation skill are tested in the capacity of going to unfamiliar places just for this reason. So will you get a ticket, or a reward? …I love subjectivity…

Thanks for the response, this is still a gray area and I have another question as far as this goes.
If you where grandfathered in and did not recieve the western rivers endorsment [U]do you still need to produce a w/r toar[/U] along with the time to get the w/r endorsment. I look after a small fleet of tugs and all of the wheelhouse guys have many years of time in the towing industry all over the country, and don’t need to be tested on thier skills as far as running a tugboat is concerned, most are designated examiners themselves.
It is very difficult when you are in a position that requires you to come up with answers to these kinds of questions so therefore I really do appreciate the help

Notwithstanding the exception mentioned above (Miss. R. below Baton Rouge, if you have pilotage authority), if you weren’t endorsed for WR’s when grandfathered and you don’t [B]presently[/B] have a completed WR TOAR and at least [B]90[/B] 8-hour days of service on the WR’s then you [B]can’t[/B] operate on the WR’s. To get the WR route endorsement under the [B]current[/B] regulations you would need [B]both[/B] of those things, and it doesn’t matter how much experience a person has elsewhere. That’s the whole point of having the different routes.