26 Apr 2016
Peter Rowand
Marketing and Business Development

The Cost of Sub M

About a week ago Joe Keefe from Marine News handed me the latest issue to show me the article entitled: Subchapter M Looming Large. In that article several daunting numbers jump off the page. They predict that:

  • 33% of existing companies may cease to exist due to Sub M,
  • Sub M will cost the industry about $153 million; and
  • The minimum estimated startup cost of a Safety Management System, from the ground up, is $100,000.

Wow, a lot of extra expenses are being incurred due to Subchapter M – something, unfortunately many towing operators cannot avoid. Well, we can’t do anything about that. But what we can do is talk about the savings you can experience as a result of Sub M.

Wait, did he say savings?


As many operators know, part of the cost of Sub M is going to occur in the form of increased audits (3rd party SMS audits and Towing Vessel audits) that operators will have to pay for. Auditors cost money – and the longer they linger, the more they could cost. In our experience, the only thing that can speed up an audit is organization, i.e. having the ability to provide your auditor with the information he needs quickly and succinctly. Any time an auditor has to search through endless files to find what he wants, the clock is ticking. So for many operators out there, finding a way to reduce this workload for an auditor makes a lot of sense.

How can you reduce workload and save time on your audits? Implementing a Maintenance and Compliance software such as Helm CONNECT can help. Not only can it help save you time and money on your audits, but an operator who isn’t using any software today would see savings in many areas as a result of Helm CONNECT. Most notably, the time savings from increased organization of your fleet maintenance. Some of our customers say they save roughly 15 hours a week using our maintenance software. That’s almost two full days a week of someone’s time. If you’re paying that person $70,000 a year, Helm CONNECT alone can save you $26,250 a year in productivity costs. Not bad for software that costs only $99 a month per boat. And that’s just for someone like a Port Engineer. Imaging the savings in productivity by keeping everyone accountable to their tasks, or never doing redundant work orders ever again, or gaining visibility on common orders so you can negotiate bulk discounts with your vendors.

So, for all those operators who think Sub M is going to just be a costly thing. Think of it as an opportunity to gain some efficiency in your organization.