BrownWater News September 2010

New WRDA awaits final congressional approval

Among the waterway bills awaiting final congressional approval now that the House and Senate are back from their summer recess is H.R. 5892, the Water Resources Development Act of 2010.

The measure was approved at the end of July by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee without the Inland Waterways Capital Development Plan, which included a recommended increase in the diesel fuel tax to fund navigation projects (BWN, August 2010).

The legislation authorizes about $6 billion for water resources studies and construction projects by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but no spending permission for maintenance of locks, dams and other inland waterway infrastructure.

The Waterways Council Inc. said the bill would require all harbor maintenance tax funds be used for navigation maintenance dredging of ports “instead of being held in reserve to mask the deficit. But there is no aid for inland waterways in the legislation, save for a couple of tiny projects on minor tributaries.â€

Cornel Martin, president of the council, said the organization tried to get the committee to include the Inland Waterways Capital Development Plan in the WRDA 2010 bill, but was informed that discussions with the Obama administration and within Congress about shaping inland waterway policy had not been completed by the time of the vote.

Last December, the Inland Waterways Users Board, comprising industry stakeholders and the Corps of Engineers, completed the Capital Development Plan, prioritizing infrastructure improvements for the next 20 years.

Bill would call for new intermodal transport plan

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) has introduced a bill that would require the transportation secretary to conduct a study and develop a national intermodal transportation plan.

The so-called Transportation Efficiency Act (H.R. 5799) calls on the president to create a National Intermodal Transportation Planning Task Force, whose job it would be to conduct the study and complete the intermodal transportation plan.

The bill calls for the study to look ahead 30 years and identify within that period national transportation priorities, deficiencies in the current transport systems and what obstacles exist to improve intermodal transport planning to meet national priorities.

Legislation protects small commercial vessels from excessive regulation

Legislation intended to protect fishing and small commercial vessels from excessive federal regulation for incidental discharges, such as deck wash, bilge water and the condensation from air conditioning units was approved July 29 by the House.

The bill, S. 3372, extends to Dec. 18, 2013, an exemption for commercial fishermen, charter boat operators and owners of other commercial vessels less than 79 feet, from Environmental Protection Agency regulations on incidental discharges. 

Rural exporters held hurt by lack of container shipping service

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been urged to address “serious challenges†that are impeding the ability of exporters in Midwest rural areas to ship goods to the global market.

The plea was made in a letter to LaHood by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) who said that rural shippers are being disproportionately impacted by the lack of container shipping service.

As the National Industrial Transportation League reported August 13, Conrad said “Producers are not getting access to the containers needed to ship their products overseas. Carrier bookings have become worthless as many exporters are left without containers to ship their products, despite contract stipulations that containers will be available.â€

Conrad said the situation is “simply unacceptable and it must be addressed.â€

Signet Maritime buys Colle Towing assets

Signet Maritime Corp., a marine transportation and logistics company headquartered in Houston, has purchased the assets of the Colle Towing Co., of Pascagoula, Miss. Colle Towing, now known as Colle Maritime Co., a division of Signet Maritime, has been providing offshore, harbor and intracoastal marine towing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast since 1878. Colle Maritime operates tugs for the Port of Pascagoula in both the Bayou Casotte and Pascagoula River ports and operates a full-service shipyard and 600-ton Travelift for vessel and barge repairs.

AAPA applauds funding for America’s Marine Highway program

Susan Monteverde, vice president of government relations for the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), applauded the recent announcement of the selection of 18 corridors, eight projects and six specific initiatives eligible for funding as part of America’s Marine Highway program (BWN, August 2010).

“AAPA has long supported the development of a federal program to support expanded use of marine highways in the U.S. to help alleviate highway congestion and improve environmental sustainability,†Monteverde said. “We were a strong advocate for Congress appropriating funds for this program, and we’re very pleased to see DOT make these grant funds available for the first time.â€

Coast Guard reviews use of cellular phones aboard ship

The U.S. Coast Guard is reviewing a National Transportation Safety Board recommendation that policies be developed on the use of cellular phones on U.S. Coast Guard vessels, and that a safety advisory should be issued to the marine industry on the possible dangers of crewmember use of electronic communications devices.

The Coast Guard issued a directive July 16 to its personnel prohibiting the use of such devices as cell phones and smart phones by operators of Coast Guard boats and also restricted their use by other crewmembers. Coast Guard policy prohibits the use of cell phones and other such devices on Coast Guard boats without the permission of the coxswain. 

Two senators introduce Maritime Transportation Security Act

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), ranking member of the committee, have introduced the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2010 (S. 3639).

The two sponsors of the bill, said the legislation would strengthen security at the nation’s ports by focusing resources on critical areas, including certain hazardous cargo, small vessel security and global supply chain security.

The two senators said that the bill would, among other things, extend to 2015 the requirement that 100 percent of U.S.-bound cargo containers be scanned and authorize the Port Security Grant Program through 2014.

Mississippi River panel to meet in New Orleans

The Lower Mississippi River Waterway Safety Advisory Committee will discuss various issues relating to navigational safety on the Lower Mississippi River and related waterways at a meeting scheduled for Sept. 23 at the New Orleans Yacht Club.

For more information, contact Coast Guard CWO David Chapman at (504) 565-5103.

NTSB sets forum on fishing vessel safety

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will hold a forum on fishing vessel safety Oct. 13 to 14 at the NTSB’s Board Room and Conference Center in Washington, D.C. The forum will be chaired by board member Robert Sumwalt, who noted that last year commercial fishing “had the highest fatal work-injury rate of all occupations in the United States.â€

“Creating a safer environment and eliminating hazardous conditions on the high seas is one of the goals of the NTSB,†Sumwalt said. “The forum will provide a great opportunity to identify strategies to improve safety.â€

The forum is intended to identify safety issues in the commercial fishing industry and to identify strategies for preventing accidents and reducing the industry’s high rate of injuries and fatalities.

The board’s media contact is Keith Holloway, (202) 314-6100.

Navigation safety panel to discuss Houston waterway improvements

The Houston/Galveston Navigation Safety Advisory Committee and its working groups will meet next month at the West Gulf Maritime Association offices in Houston to discuss waterway improvements, aids to navigation, area projects impacting safety on the Houston Ship Channel and various other navigation safety matters in the Galveston Bay area.

The working groups met Sept. 9 while the full committee is scheduled to meet Sept. 23. The committee’s agenda will include reports on navigation operations, dredging, technology, waterway safety and area maritime security.

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy has a new superintendent

Rear Adm. Philip H. Greene Jr. became superintendent of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., succeeding Rear Adm. Allen Worley, who retired in January after a year, citing a relative’s illness. Greene holds a master’s license and is a 1978 graduate of the academy.

Greene’s most recent assignment was that of director of the Navy Irregular Warfare Office, where he developed and employed a global maritime preventive security strategy. Before that, he served as commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, where he helped establish the first multinational Maritime Center of Excellence in East Africa.

Previously, as executive assistant to the superintendent and chairman of the Seamanship and Navigation Department at the U.S. Naval Academy, Greene shaped the mandatory professional mariner curriculum and instruction for 4,000 midshipmen.

Matsuda to keynote Chinese inland waterways forum

Maritime Administrator David T. Matsuda is scheduled to deliver the opening keynote address at the Yangtze-Mississippi Strategic Cooperation Forum Oct. 18 in Chongqing, China.

The forum is jointly organized by the American Society of Transportation and Logistics (ASTL), the China Communications and Transportation Association and the Chongqing Municipal People’s Government.

ASTL said that the forum is the first high-level platform for dialogue between the United States and China on issues concerning inland waterway transportation and economic development. The two nations are to share experiences about the development of shipping and logistics industries, regional economic issues along the rivers, and exchange views on strategic cooperation. ASTL said “we also want to build a platform for communication and cooperation between the administrators of the two rivers, a high-level communication platform for the shipping and logistics industries on the two rivers and economic cooperation between the two regions.â€

AWO sets 2010 Fall Convention for Oct. 13 to 15

The American Waterways Operators has scheduled its 2010 Fall Convention for Oct. 13 to 15 at The Fairmont in San Francisco.

For convention registration or hotel information, contact Ashley Smith at (703) 841-9300.

Northwest river port to be honored by AAPA

The Port of Benton (Wash.) will be recognized for exemplary projects, programs and initiatives at the annual awards program event of the American Association of Port Authorities Sept. 19 to 23 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The barge port, on the Columbia River at Richland, Wash., was selected for the Award of Excellence in the Advertising-Series category for its 50th anniversary advertising series. The port (http://www.crowbutte.com) also won honorable mention in the Web sites category for its recreation park microsite.

About the Author:

Carlo Salzano has been in journalism since graduating from La Salle University in 1948 as a chemistry major. That’s right, chemistry. He began his career as a copy boy at the Philadelphia Inquirer, before moving on to United Press International in Philadelphia, Charleston, West Virgina, Baltimore and Washington. After 14 years, Carlo joined Traffic World magazine and stayed on for 23 years, retiring as editor in 1990. A majority of Carlo’s time at Traffic World was spent covering the maritime community and he continued on in the maritime field while freelancing throughout his “retirement.” He is married and has three children and eight grandchildren.

Categories: Maritime News