It's on us. Share your news here.

American Waterways Operators (AWO) Letter – June 5, 2024

Posted on June 11, 2024

AWO Welcomes Two New Members. Please join AWO in giving a warm welcome to our newest members:

  • Kluber Lubrication NA LP is based in Tyler, TX and offers products including advanced formulations for Z-drives and stern tubes to enhance machinery longevity and align with stringent environmental standards. 
  • Spinergie Corporation is a maritime technology company specializing in vessel performance, emission reduction, and optimization of marine operations.

For more information, please contact Caitlin Kidd.

AWO Advocates for Risk-Based Approach to Cybersecurity Regulations. In comments submitted May 22 to the U.S. Coast Guard, AWO urged the agency to reconsider its proposed cybersecurity regulations for U.S.-flagged vessels and facilities subject to the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA). AWO’s comments–which were informed by a member working group and coordinated with industry partners–advocate for a risk-based approach, regulatory harmonization across federal agencies to combat onerous reporting requirements, and other changes to reduce the costs and burdens of the proposed rule. AWO repeatedly highlighted the diversity of organizational and operational profiles and technology usage among vessel operators in the maritime industry and stressed that a one-size-fits-all approach is not the most effective solution, recommending instead a risk-based, tiered framework that tailors requirements to a vessel’s unique risk profile.

AWO thanks our member working group, as well as our many members who submitted comments to the Coast Guard. For more information, please contact Liam Morcroft.

President Biden Reiterates Jones Act Support on National Maritime Day. In his May 21 proclamation celebrating National Maritime Day, President Biden again expressed his Administration’s support for the Jones Act and recognized the “service and sacrifice” of America’s mariners and their families. President Biden’s proclamation noted American mariners’ role in delivering humanitarian aid and military equipment, facilitating trade, strengthening supply chains, and transporting billions of dollars of goods as “engines of our economy.” AWO joins the President in thanking American mariners for their commitment and service. We will continue to work to harness the President’s support to uphold the Jones Act and strengthen its enforcement.

AWO Holding Virtual Roundtable on STCW Changes. On June 18, AWO will hold a virtual roundtable to gather input on possible amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention), which will be open to all AWO members. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is currently conducting a review of the STCW Convention, and the U.S. Coast Guard is seeking public input through its National Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (N-MERPAC) to guide its position in those negotiations. AWO actively participates in N-MERPAC meetings and will use feedback from this roundtable to advocate for necessary changes to the STCW Convention. In particular, discussions will focus on:

  • Changes needed to keep pace with current and future technologies;
  • Flexibilities that should be added to existing requirements in the STCW Convention and Code;
  • Removal of obsolete training requirements and incorporating new training practices; and
  • Review of sea service requirements and changes in learning technologies.

If you or someone from your company are interested in participating, contact Patrick Parsons.

Coast Guard Seeks Feedback on Training Requirements for New Fuels. Through its National Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (N-MERPAC), the U.S. Coast Guard is seeking public input on the training and experience requirements necessary for mariners working aboard vessels using alternative fuels, including methyl/ethyl alcohols, LPG, fuel cells, batteries, and ammonia. N-MERPAC will meet virtually June 11-12 to develop recommendations that the Coast Guard will use to develop national training guidance and U.S. positions during International Maritime Organization (IMO) negotiations. To participate in that meeting and help shape the direction of training requirements associated with new fuel types, contact Patrick Parsons.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Passes WRDA 2024. On May 22, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee completed its markup and approval of the Water Resources Development Act of 2024 (WRDA 2024). Notably, Section 109 of the bill includes measures to expedite project completion, promising a more streamlined future for navigation construction programs. Among these measures is a permanent change in cost-sharing for construction and major rehabilitation of inland waterways to 75% from general revenues and 25% from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF), compared to the previous 65%/35% split.

Additionally, the Senate bill includes:

  • 100% federal funding for projects funded through the IIJA, or the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which includes the MKRANS 12-foot deepening and the Kentucky Lock;
  • A section calling for ensuring navigation along the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, which was severely disrupted for 4 months this year due to a lock closure stemming from an upper miter sill failure at the Demopolis lock and dam; and
  • Authorization for a Chief’s Report for the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Brazoria and Matagorda Counties, with a budget of $314,221,000, shared between the Federal treasury ($204,244,000) and the IWTF ($109,977,000).

In the meantime, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is crafting its version of the WRDA bill, aiming to unveil the text and hold a markup in June. Please feel free to reach out to Liam Morcroft with any questions.

Marine Highway Funding Opportunity Announced for 2023. The Maritime Administration (MARAD) recently announced the availability of $4.8 million in funding for the United States Marine Highway Program. This is down from recent funding amounts, including the $12 million made available in 2023. The notice of funding opportunity details the process for applying for a Marine Highway Grant. These grants are intended to utilize marine highways in shifting cargo from congested landside modes onto more fuel-efficient waterways.

AWO President & CEO on RFD-TV. AWO President & CEO Jennifer Carpenter appeared on RFD-TV, a 24-hour news station focused on agribusiness and rural issues, last month to discuss the California Air Resources Board Commercial Harbor Craft emissions rule and the risks it poses to safety and the import and export of agricultural cargoes. She also touched on the importance of adequate funding for the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers to keep commerce moving safely and efficiently throughout the marine transportation system.

Engine Tier Upgrade Funding Opportunity. AWO was recently approached by a representative from Burke Porter with a funding opportunity for tugboat engine upgrades from Tier-0 to Tier-4. The funding is part of a settlement between an engine manufacturer and the federal government resulting from underreported NOx emissions. Burke Porter is now seeking to achieve NOx abatement through marine engine tier upgrades. They are interested in harbor tugs but may be open to other vessels so long as they operate within one EPA Region. To be eligible for replacement, the existing equipment must be 100% retired. Vessels in California will receive 20% of the funding, and the other 80% will be distributed throughout the other states. The settlement is slated to be finalized in October. If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, please contact Bradley Trammell.

AWO PAC Corner

AWO PAC and Inside Elections. AWO PAC has partnered with Inside Elections for another special edition, featuring analysis of primary results from throughout the country as well as the state of the presidential race in Pennsylvania.

AWO PAC is the connected political action committee for The American Waterways Operators and serves as the trade association’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 members’ 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 Releases Additional State Advocacy One-Pagers. AWO has produced five more state one-pagers for Maine, Michigan, Louisiana, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. These documents, designed to assist in advocacy and public affairs efforts, highlight the industry’s positive economic and environmental impact in each state, detail the industry’s safety record, and underscore the benefits of the Jones Act. They also include high-quality, member-submitted images to showcase the tugboat, towboat and barge industry’s story. There are now 16 completed state one-pagers available on the AWO website.

Summary of May 2024 Navigating to Zero. The latest edition of AWO’s Navigating to Zero Safety and Sustainability Newsletter features an update on the work of the AWO Recreational Boater Safety working group; information from the CDC about the increasing number of drownings in the U.S.; recognition of our latest American Waterways HERO Award recipients; a recap of the recent National Towing Safety Advisory Committee meeting; and a preview of the AWO Summer Safety Meeting.

The newsletter also includes member-submitted high-value near misses and lessons learned from recent Coast Guard and NTSB investigation reports, including the initial report of the Key Bridge incident; the monthly Safety Professional Focus featuring Woody Collins of American Equity Underwriters; and a recap of the Human and Organizational Performance article written by AWO Director of Safety and Sustainability Mike Breslin and published in Marine News.

Read these stories and more in the March NTZ – and please be sure to send in your SSRP reports for the 1st quarter, submit your High Value Near Misses, and recognize your crew’s HEROic acts!

AWO Participates in Joint Hurricane Team Meeting. AWO Directory of Safety and Sustainability Mike Breslin and Vice President – Southern Region Jill Bessetti represented AWO at the annual meeting of the Gulf Inland Waterways Joint Hurricane Team (JHT) on May 23 at the Port of New Orleans. Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, state governments, and inland marine industry attended to review the Gulf Coast Inland Waterways Joint Hurricane Response Protocol. The JHT was established after the hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, which nearly devastated the maritime transportation system along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and Lower Mississippi River. The JHT helps to coordinate efforts to secure the waterways pre-storm and restore them post-storm. June 1 marks the beginning of what is anticipated to be a very active hurricane season.

California Assembly Adopts Maritime Resolution. On May 30, the California Assembly adopted via voice vote a resolution recognizing National Maritime Day. Assemblymember Mike Gipson, who chairs the Select Committee on Ports and Goods Movement, introduced House Resolution 103 on May 21 and quickly added over 60 cosponsors. The resolution also acknowledges the importance of the Jones Act and Jones Act mariners and vessels for their role in transporting goods in the state of California.

Asm. Gipson previously held a hearing at the Port of San Francisco in November 2023, during which AWO Director of State Advocacy Kyle Burleson testified about the maritime industry’s importance to California’s economy and the dangers associated with CARB’s Commercial Harbor Craft Rule. That hearing can be found here. AWO thanks Asm. Gipson and all of his cosponsors in the Assembly for recognizing the importance of the tugboat, towboat, and barge industry.

AWO Gears Up for Hearing to Improve Commercial Harbor Craft Rule. Ahead of a June 11 California Senate Transportation Committee hearing on CARB’s Commercial Harbor Craft rule, AWO’s Pacific Region Vice President & Regional Team Lead, Peter Schrappen, briefed attendees of the Propeller Club of Northern California on the rule and its potential impacts. Additionally, AmNav’s Ben Ostroff served on a panel during the recent CARB technical workshop. Members are encouraged to join Kyle Burleson, AWO’s Director of State Advocacy, for AWO’s next California Barge-In on June 10-12 in Sacramento to advocate for our bill, AB 1122, which will make significant improvements to the CARB rule.

AWO Comments on Atlantic Coast Fairways NPRM. AWO recently submitted comments on the Coast Guard’s Atlantic Coast Fairways Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The NPRM recommended a series of shipping safety fairways to safeguard maritime transportation routes in light of offshore wind development. While AWO has been successful in expanding the majority of the fairways to widths necessary for safe navigation, there remain a few areas without the proper widths or depths for tug-barge units to safely transit. AWO detailed these areas in the comments, and plans to take additional advocacy actions to ensure safe navigation is at the forefront of any decisions about the future of ocean use on the Atlantic Coast.

AWO Attends Sector San Francisco Change of Command.  AWO recently attended the Coast Guard Sector San Francisco Change of Command ceremony, during which CAPT Jordan M. Baldueza replaced CAPT Taylor Q. Lam as Captain of the Port. CAPT Lam heads to Alameda to serve as the new chief of staff for District 11. AWO members from Baydelta Maritime, Crowley Corporation, and Foss Maritime, as well as Peter Schrappen, AWO Pacific Region Vice President & Regional Team Lead, attended the event.

AWO Urges Hawaii Governor to Veto Line-Handling Bill. In a letter to Governor Josh Green, AWO Director of State Advocacy Kyle Burleson expressed concerns about Hawaii House Bill 1936, which requires tugboat and barge crews to incur an unnecessary expense with the use of extra labor that is not needed when bringing vessels into port. AWO worked as part of the “Hawaii Cost of Living Coalition” in this effort, which included Matson and Par Hawaii. The Governor has until June 25 to inform the legislature if he intends to veto the bill, and he must cast a veto by July 10.


It's on us. Share your news here.
Submit Your News Today

Join Our
Click to Subscribe