§ 15.610Master and mate (pilot) of towing vessels.
(a) Except as provided in this paragraph, every towing vessel of at least 8 meters (at least 26 feet) in length, measured from end to end over the deck (excluding sheer), must be under the direction and control of a person holding a license or MMC officer endorsement as master or mate (pilot) of towing vessels or as master or mate of vessels of greater than 200 gross register tons holding either an endorsement on his or her license or MMC for towing vessels or a completed Towing Officer's Assessment Record (TOAR) signed by a designated examiner indicating that the officer is proficient in the operation of towing vessels. This does not apply to any vessel engaged in assistance towing, or to any towing vessel of less than 200 gross register tons engaged in exploiting offshore minerals or oil if the vessel has sites or equipment so engaged as its place of departure or ultimate destination.
(b) Any towing vessel operating in the pilotage waters of the Lower Mississippi River must be under the control of an officer meeting the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section who holds either a first-class pilot's endorsement for that route, MMC officer endorsement for the Western Rivers, or meets the requirements of paragraph (a) and meets the requirements of either paragraphs (b)(1) or (b)(2) of this section as applicable:
(1) To operate a towing vessel with tank barges, or a tow of barges carrying hazardous materials regulated under part N or O of this subchapter, an officer in charge of the towing vessel must have completed 12 round trips over this route as an observer, with at least 3 of those trips during hours of darkness, and at least 1 round trip of the 12 within the last 5 years.
(2) To operate a towing vessel without barges, or a tow of uninspected barges, an officer in charge of the towing vessel must have completed at least four round trips over this route as an observer, with at least one of those trips during hours of darkness, and at least one round trip of the 12 within the last 5 years.