Coast Guard Implements NDAA Provision on Reductions in ATB Engine Room Crewing. Earlier this month, the Coast Guard published a notice on Maritime Commons to provide a public update on its implementation of Sec. 11508 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which directs the Coast Guard to issue COI amendments to ATB tugs that had previously been approved for reductions in engine room crewing on the basis of engine room automation. The notice advises owners/operators of ATB tugs to contact their local OCMI to submit objective evidence that their vessel meets the legislative criteria to be considered for a COI amendment.
As a result of continued AWO advocacy, the Coast Guard recently clarified its position and stated that under existing statutes, regulations, and policy, and as per MSM Vol. III B.2.W.3.b., inspected towing vessels with class notations for unattended machinery space that meet 46 CFR Part 130 Subpart D or an acceptable equivalent are eligible for engine room watch reductions that are consistent with hours of rest requirements, whether or not they have previously been issued an SMD or COI with engine room watch reductions. Any ATB operator that meets the criteria of MSM Vol. III B.2.W.3.b. and is interested in reducing engine room crewing may reach out to their OCMI to make a reduction request and provide objective evidence.
Please reach out to Caitlyn Stewart or Patrick Parsons if you have any questions or need additional information.
No Reporting Requirements for Inactive Status. AWO has secured confirmation from the Coast Guardâ€™s Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance that its Work Instruction (CVC-WI-018(2)) for putting vessels into and out of laid up and inactive status does not require vessel operators to notify the Coast Guard when putting a vessel into temporary inactive status. The Coast Guard also clarified that vessel operators are only required to submit a request to the OCMI for reduced manning levels for vessels in inactive status if they are seeking to operate the vessel with a reduced manning level â€“ not for vessels that are de-crewed and will not be getting underway while waiting for work, during a shipyard period, or in other similar situations. Please contact Bradley Trammell if you have any questions or experience a different interpretation of the Work Instruction by a Coast Guard field unit.
Federal Railroad Administration Corrects Website Following AWO Letter. Following AWOâ€™s March 7 letter to Administrator Amit Bose of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the FRA updated its website to correct an erroneous statement asserting that rail is the safest mode for transporting hazardous materials, an assertion that several press outlets had cited in their reporting on the Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. According to a January 2022 Texas A&M Transportation Institute Center for Ports and Waterways study, barge transportation is the safest of freight transportation mode in the United States. In its letter, AWO requested that the FRA correct its website, either by removing the statement altogether or by adding clarifying language. The FRA site now states that rail is the safest land-based mode for moving chemicals over long distances.
AWO Mariner Workforce Forum Highlights Recruitment Strategies. In AWOâ€™s first Mariner Workforce Forum on March 16, recruiting experts from two AWO member companies shared insights on how they recruit for mariner positions. Christa White of Ingram Marine Group and Rich Evans of McAllister Towing also highlighted lessons learned on interacting with potential applicants as well as marketing the benefits of a career as a mariner. Members participating in the virtual forum also had a chance to ask questions and respond to polls about their challenges with mariner recruitment, retention, and advancement to continue guiding AWOâ€™s Workforce Action Plan. A recording of the presentations from the first half of the forum is available in AWOâ€™s Member Resources Library here. Watch for registration details for next monthâ€™s Mariner Workforce Forum, scheduled for April 20, on the AWO events page.
ADM Fagan Touts Prevention Mission in State of the Coast Guard Address. Admiral Linda Fagan, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, delivered her first State of the Coast Guard address on March 7, focusing on the agencyâ€™s â€œenduring responsibility to safeguard the marine transportation system and enable the uninterrupted flow of commerceâ€ and noting that the maritime industry sustains more than 30 million American jobs and contributes more than $5.4 trillion to the U.S. economy every year. â€œJust as important as our major ports are the 14,000 miles of waterways on our inland rivers that power the economic engine of the heartland,â€ she emphasized, pointing to the low water crisis of 2022 to highlight the critical importance of river transportation and the necessity of new Waterways Commerce Cutters. The Commandant also discussed challenges like the growth of the offshore wind and commercial space industries and committed to balancing new and traditional activities in the maritime domain.
During the address, Admiral Fagan announced a new West Coast-based Cyber Protection Team and a new Cyber Mission Specialist rating for enlisted personnel to enhance the agencyâ€™s capacity to protect the marine transportation system in cyberspace. She also announced a new Talent Management Transformation Task Force to reform the management of the agencyâ€™s workforce to grapple with expanding workloads and recruitment and retention challenges.
NMC Explains Dangers of Credentials Lost in the Mail. In a recent notice, the Coast Guardâ€™s National Maritime Center (NMC) noted that delivery of completed credentials can take up to 21 days through the U.S. Postal Service. In some cases, credentials are eventually returned to the NMC as damaged or undeliverable. If mariners believe their credentials have been lost in the mail, the notice details when and how to contact the NMC to determine if that has occurred. Additionally, to reduce the danger that an issued credential is lost in the mail:
- Have mariners validate their address. The address on an application form must be accurate and legible, and if a marinerâ€™s address changes after submitting an application, they must contact the NMC before the credential is issued so it can be mailed to the correct address.
- Consider utilizing the expedited mailing option â€“ while this option is an additional cost to mariners, it does provide a tracking number to verify timely delivery.
Supreme Court Rules Day Rate Employees Can Seek Overtime Wages. In a February decision, the Supreme Court ruled that day rate employees do not qualify as salaried employees, regardless of the amount of the day rate, and therefore may not be exempt from overtime pay guarantees under the Fair Labor Standards Act. While workers classified as FLSA seamen are exempt from overtime payments, those who are not exempt under FLSA and are paid on a day rate structure may seek overtime wages.
Inland Waterways Users Board to Meet in April. The Inland Waterways Users Board (IWUB) will meet in person and virtually April 13 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. EDT. The IWUB is an Army Corps of Engineers advisory committee tasked with monitoring the Inland Waterways Trust Fund and making recommendations on how to allocate resources to improve system reliability. The in-person meeting will take place in Pittsburgh, PA and is open to the public.
Updated East Coast PARS Released. The Coast Guard has released its update to the Consolidated Port Approaches Port Access Route Study (CPAPARS), which consolidates the Atlantic Coast PARS and several supplemental PARS to make recommendations for navigation safety measures along the Atlantic Coast. The most impactful change in the updated study reduces the size of the Offshore Delaware to New Jersey Connector Fairway from 7 nautical miles (NM) to 4 NM, despite AWO efforts to convince the Coast Guard that such a reduction would decrease navigation safety, particularly for tow-line vessels. The updated CPAPARS has a 90-day comment period. AWO will work with members on a response to ensure the best outcome for navigation safety. Comments are due June 8.
AWO Combined Regions Meeting in Houston. The AWO Midwest, Ohio Valley and Southern regions held their combined annual meeting in Houston, TX on March 1-2. AWO members were joined by representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and more. Panels and expert speakers covered topics including lessons learned from last yearâ€™s Mississippi River low water crisis, offshore wind, cybersecurity, and permitting for structures in or adjacent to navigable waterways. AWO members also discussed concerns regarding remotely-operated bridges, with specific emphasis on mariner safety. Additionally, attendees voted to approve AWOâ€™s 2023 advocacy priorities and elected new members of the Board of Directors from the Midwest, Ohio Valley, and Southern regions.
AWO Safety Committees Host Successful Winter Meeting. The AWO Interregion and Coastal Safety committees gathered in Houston February 28-March 1 prior to the Combined Regions annual meeting. Day one topics centered on mariner health and safety, featuring a report on AWOâ€™s upcoming Safety Leadership Advisory Panel work, a wellness presentation by Seamenâ€™s Church Institute, and distraction mitigation training produced by the Distracted Operations Working Group. Additionally, the Tankering and Barge Operations Safety Subcommittee presented on tankermen safety, and a panel of leading training providers discussed delivery methods, tools, and resources for engaging a multi-generational workforce.
Day twoâ€™s theme was navigation safety, opening with a â€œState of Marine Safetyâ€ report by U.S. Coast Guard Eighth District Commander RADM Richard Timme. Discussion topics included the ongoing transition to electronic charting, with speakers from Rose Point and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as lessons learned from operations near remotely operated bridges presented by Parker Towing and American Commercial Barge Line. To cap off the meeting, the National Transportation Safety Board led a discussion about maritime safety incidents.
Between meeting sessions, Kongsberg set up its new cloud-based simulator technology in the lobby and invited members to test their boat handling skills in head-to-head races.
AWO Members Tour Kirby Training Center. Following the safety and combined regional meetings, AWO members participated in a tour of Kirby Corporationâ€™s Center for U.S. Coast Guard Approved Training. Led by Tara Kilgore, General Manager - Training & Personnel, members visited classrooms, tested their skills inside a fully immersive vessel simulator system, and toured an outdoor training area that featured a simulated barge coupling, line throwing skill-improvement area, and mock tank barge. Kirbyâ€™s instructors Scott Glatter, Stacey Prisk, and Chris Stallings also demonstrated emergency response procedures in the outdoor area, simulating a drip pan and electric panel fire by igniting a piped propane burner system and using dry chemical to extinguish the flames.
AWO PAC Corner
AWO and Inside Elections. AWO has partnered with Inside Elections for another special edition, featuring an overview of the 2024 House of Representatives election landscape.
AWO PAC is the connected political action committee for The American Waterways Operators and serves as the trade associationâ€™s separate segregated fund. As a trade association, AWO is prohibited from using general treasury funds or membership dues to make federal contributions. AWO is one of the most effective advocacy associations in Washington, DC, and relies on voluntary personal contributions to fund AWO PAC.
AWO PAC supports federal candidates who are champions of the U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry and who are leaders on issues important to our industry. AWO PAC is dedicated to protecting AWO membersâ€™ investments in the safest, most environmentally responsible and most economical mode of freight transportation and safeguarding the integrity of the Jones Act to protect the bottom lines of our members. AWO PAC may solicit contributions from individuals of a member company once the member representative gives AWO written prior approval.
AWO Pacific Region Meeting Brings Members Together in Seattle. AWO members gathered in Seattle March 8-9 for the Pacific Region Annual Meeting and Coast Guard-AWO Safety Partnership Regional Quality Steering Committee (RQSC) meeting. Attendees heard from U.S. Coast Guard 13th District Commander RADM Mel Bouboulis, elected new members of the Board of Directors from the Pacific Region, endorsed AWOâ€™s 2023 advocacy priorities, and discussed AWOâ€™s advocacy agenda in the Pacific states. The following day, AWO members and guests joined Coast Guard officials from throughout the Pacific Area for the semiannual meeting of the RQSC, where AWO presented the American Waterways HERO Award to the crews of Foss Maritimeâ€™s tugs, Betsy L. and P.J. Brix, for their rescue of a person in distress on the Columbia River last summer.
If you were unable to attend the meeting and would like more information, please reach out to Peter Schrappen, AWOâ€™s Vice President â€“ Pacific Region.
AWO Chairman Tours Pacific Northwest. AWO Chairman Clark Todd, Blessey Marine Service, spent two days visiting with members in the Pacific Northwest prior to the Pacific Region Annual Meeting. After flying into Portland on March 5, he visited Foss Maritimeâ€™s Fleet Monitoring Center, Shaver Transportation, Tidewater Barge Lines and Brusco Tug & Barge. Clark also stopped in Olympia, WA, and met with State Representative Julia Reed at the Washington State House. The following day, Clark and AWO Vice President â€“ Pacific Region Peter Schrappen met with the Port of Tacoma to learn about their operations and also visited with new AWO Board member Michiel Versteeg of Saltchuk Marine.
Send Us Your Nominees for the American Waterways HERO Award. On March 1, AWO announced the newly-launched American Waterways Honor & Excellence in Rescue Operations (HERO) Award, which documents and recognizes rescues undertaken by AWO member company employees that demonstrate selflessness, skill and bravery. To nominate employees for an American Waterways HERO Award, visit our website and fill out the informational form. Information submitted through the program may be shared by AWO with members and the public to support safety efforts such as lessons-learned presentations or safety trending reports, and to raise public awareness of the industry's role in ensuring safety on America's waterways.
Join Us for AWO Board of Directors Meeting, Spring Convention & Barge-In. Join AWO in Washington, DC May 10 and 11 at the Grand Hyatt for our annual Spring Convention & Barge-In! Donâ€™t miss this opportunity to educate Members of Congress on our industryâ€™s advocacy priorities and spend time learning from and networking with industry colleagues.
Visit the AWO Member Dashboard to register and view the schedule.
Please contact Caitlin Clark for sponsorship opportunities.