Towing Vessel Stability: An often overlooked but critical safety consideration

As regulatory compliance has become more demanding, and as towing vessels have become more complex, it is important to note that understanding basic stability and knowing how to comply with the stability instructions for one’s vessel is tantamount to the safety of people, property, and the environment. In general, the term “stability” refers to the ability of a vessel to float upright. It also refers to its resistance to inclination by an external force. Subchapter M towing vessel regulations state that the vessel must comply with all stability requirements in the vessel’s trim and stability book, stability letter, certificate of inspection, and Load Line Certificate, as applicable, and that towing vessels must be maintained and operated so the watertight integrity and stability of the vessel are not compromised. Among the most critical instructions found on the stability letter are the requirement to keep cross-connections between port and starboard tanks closed while underway to prevent hydrostatic balancing and the requirement to determine the cause of any list prior to taking corrective action. Vessel stability will always be a critical factor for the master and crew and is one of the basic tenets of proper seamanship.


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  • Accession Number: 01705412
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 29 2019 9:11AM