There are a number of industry standards and guidelines that discuss the planning and execution of safe towing operations. The source document for these guidelines is IMO MSC/Circ. 884, "Guidelines For Safe Ocean Towing".
"The objectives of these Guidelines are to ensure safety at sea, prevention of human injury or loss of life, avoidance of damage to the environment, in particular to the marine environment, and to property through providing minimum recommendations for the organization, planning and execution of ocean towages and the design of associated equipment. "
Surveyors will review the details of a proposed towage operation and attend prior to the departure of the tow to verify that the organisation and planning of the tow meets the standards as specified within MSC/Circ. 884 as a minimum.