Safety of Dead Ship Towing Operations - SSB No.: 06/2015

PDF Version

RDIMS No .: 10506677
Date ( Y-M-D ): 2015-05-13

We issue Ship Safety Bulletins for the marine community. Visit our Website at to view existing bulletins and to sign up to receive e-mail notices of new ones.



To inform tug masters of additional safety measures being taken to assess the safety of a dead ship towing operation prior to departing Canada on an international voyage.


Dead ship towing operations departing from a place in Canadian waters on an international voyage.


Recent failures in dead ship towing operations resulting in the loss of the tow have illustrated the need for additional oversight of such operations.

International Maritime Organization (IMO) Guidelines for Safe Ocean Towing (MSC/Circ.884) provide important information for a safe towing operation covering such areas as; planning and preparation, environmental considerations, and requirements for the towing vessel, the towing equipment and the towed object. These Guidelines can be viewed at:

The towing vessel’s master is responsible for ensuring the safety of the towing operation and that the towing arrangements are adequate for the intended voyage.

Safety Assessment Prior to Departure:

Transport Canada Marine Safety and Security has implemented a policy to conduct a safety assessment of dead ship towing operations prior to departure from Canada on its international voyage.  This safety assessment has the aim of achieving the objectives set out by the IMO Guidelines is for Safe Ocean Towing (MSC/Circ.884).

In addition, foreign towing vessels will be subject to a Port State Control inspection at the same time as the safety assessment of the towing operation.

Notification of Transport Canada

The owner, operator or master of the towing vessel for the dead ship towing operation should contact the nearest Transport Canada Centre with Marine Safety Services to arrange for the safety assessment as early as possible to avoid any potential delays.

The following document is available for downloading or viewing:
Safety of Dead Ship Towing Operations (156 KB )

To access the Portable Document Format (PDF) version you must have a PDF reader installed. If you do not already have such a reader, there are numerous PDF readers available for free download or for purchase on the Internet:

Questions concerning this bulletin should be addressed to:
1. Dead Ship
2. Towing
3. Safety assessment
Navigation Safety and Radiocommunications
Transport Canada
Marine Safety and Security
Tower C, Place de Ville
330 Sparks Street, 11th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N8

Contact us at: or 1-855-859-3123 (Toll Free).