The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) released UR 79 on Towing Winch Emergency Release System Requirements in October 2018 which will come into force on 1 January 2020. 

The UR defines minimum safety standards for winch emergency release systems provided on towing winches that are used on towing ships within close quarters, ports or terminals.The rules will apply to all new tugs however winches on existing tugs, which were part of the original debate, are not addressed by the UR. 

The UR sets out the performance, operational and testing requirements for emergency release systems and provides detail on installation trials for them. 

The BTA has been closely involved with LR and IACS in requesting the output and driving the work forward to improve the safety on board tugs. The BTA is satisfied with the UR and welcomes its publications which covers the key areas, and which will inevitably be built up with further detail when each Class Society incorporates the UR into their individual ship survey rules. 

Members are invited to review the new UR and revert with any questions or comments back to the BTA Secretariat, Robert Merrylees,