Towing-vessel report released

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After a three-month-long investigation, dubbed Operation Big Tow, the Coast Guard reports that 99 percent of all towing vessels are, in fact, properly licensed. The Eighth Coast Guard District launched the investigation after a collision involving the Mel Oliver, an uninspected towing vessel pushing a loaded oil barge on the Mississippi River that spilled more than 282,000 gallons of fuel oil into the river.

"Operation Big Tow was necessary to restore confidence in the towing vessel industry," says Capt. Verne Gifford, chief of the Eighth Coast Guard District Prevention Division.

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