John W. Stone Pursuing Certificate Of Inspection Using Coast Guard Option
John W. Stone Oil Distributor, headquartered in Gretna, La., recently announced that it will be the first inland towing company committed to pursuing its Certificate of Inspection (COI) using the Coast Guard option for inspecting vessels for Subchapter M compliance.
In addition to the Coast Guard option, which means the Coast Guard will inspect a vessel itself before issuing a COI, companies can choose to obtain a COI using a third-party organization (TPO).
This option requires that a company develop a Towing Safety Management System (TSMS) created by a Coast Guard-approved TPO to audit itself. The Coast Guard will then issue a COI after taking into consideration information developed with the TPO’s help in the audit.
Anthony Odak, chief operating officer for John W. Stone, said the company expects to receive its COI in mid-July. “Our vessel, the mv. Fuel Leader, is being inspected by the Eighth Coast Guard District right now, and we haven’t had any problems,” he said, adding that he doesn’t expect the Coast Guard to find anything to prevent them from obtaining a COI. “We intend to use the Coast Guard option for our entire fleet.”
Though not required, Odak said the company took the additional step of having Decatur Marine, a recognized TPO, review and certify its TSMS. “We felt that this added another layer of assurance for us and our customers, even after having passed multiple audits over the last five years or more,” he said.
Odak said that for the company, the Coast Guard option was the most efficient and cost-effective route. “We plan to have our entire fleet inspected over the course of the next five years using this option by doing so in phases,” he said. “With our geographic-specific fleet, as well as our long-standing relationship with the Coast Guard inspecting our regulated fleet of 49 barges, it made the decision abundantly clear.”
Business Is Good
In addition to claiming to be the first to receive its COI via the Coast Guard option, Odak said the company has had a very busy year so far in many aspects. “There have been many struggles for our customers over the last few years, with extremely low freight rates,” said Odak. “We are pleased to hear that the rates are slowly climbing and, as a result, there has been an increase in activity.”
Odak said that one very important business that is critical to John W. Stone and the region is the maintenance dredging of the Mississippi River. “The need to maintain proper depths is not only directly impactful on the deep-draft tonnage the Lower Mississippi River accommodates, but it indirectly impacts the inland river customer base through increases in needed equipment,” he said.
The 1,000 hp. mv. Fuel Leader is a 60-foot, twin-screw towboat that was built in 1976 by Rayco Shipbuilders & Repairs in Bourg, La.
John W. Stone operates nine facilities along the Mississippi River and inland waterways from Baton Rouge to Venice, La. The company provides mid-streaming services and dock services, and supplies customers with fuel, lubricants and water. The company has an expansive fleet of towboats and barges, with substantial tank and barge storage capacity and warehouses located at 19 locations throughout the Lower Mississippi River, Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway.