Safety Leadership

Responsible Carrier Program

The Responsible Carrier Program is a safety management system for tugboat, towboat and barge companies that provides a framework for continuously improving company safety performance. AWO members of all sizes use the RCP to develop company-specific safety and environmental policies and programs tailored to their unique operations. The program complements and builds upon existing government regulations, requiring company safety standards that exceed those required by federal law or regulation. Since 2000, compliance with the RCP has been a condition of AWO membership.
The RCP incorporates best industry practices in three areas: company management policies, vessel equipment and human factors. The program requires companies to undergo an audit by an independent third party auditor to verify compliance. The RCP has been lauded by the U.S. Coast Guard and shipper organizations, and in 2012 was recognized in a Coast Guard report to Congress as a major factor in the dramatic decline of oil spills since the 1990s.
In 2014, the AWO Board of Directors approved changes to the RCP in order to ensure its acceptance by the U.S. Coast Guard as a Towing Safety Management System under the towing vessel inspection regulations at 46 CFR Subchapter M. Now that Subchapter M has been released, AWO is working with the Coast Guard to identify any additional changes to the RCP needed to finalize its acceptance as a TSMS.
To advance the industry’s foundational commitment to safety, the RCP continues to evolve. In 2012, AWO entered into an agreement with the Towing Vessel Inspection Bureau, which trains and certifies RCP auditors and develops resources to enhance the quality and consistency of RCP audits. In May 2016, AWO entered into an agreement with ClassNK, under which this recognized classification society will be authorized to conduct RCP audits.
The RCP proposed changes would go into effect in July 2018 to coincide with the Subchapter M effective date. Additionally, these revisions have been proposed by the RCP Standards Board to align the RCP with Subchapter M. Comments, concerns, and questions are requested by COB Friday, September 15th to Brian Bailey at
Click here to view the AWO-recognized third-party audit partners who are authorized to provide auditing services related to the Responsible Carrier Program®. AWO’s goal is to provide members with a large, geographically dispersed pool of well trained, well qualified auditors to conduct RCP and TSMS audits to facilitate the
implementation of Subchapter M.