Brownwater News, September 2017
US approves Jones Act waivers in wake of hurricanes
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved waivers of the Jones Act for areas hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke said the waivers, approved Sept. 8, ensured that all options would be available to distribute fuel to states and territories impacted by the storms. Duke said the waivers, in effect for seven days, were tailored to transportation of refined products.
Duke said the hurricanes "significantly disrupted" the distribution of fuel across the Southeast and caused the "largest mass evacuations in American history" along with "historic movements" of restoration and response crews, goods and commodities in the devastated areas.
As the industry well knows, the Jones Act prohibits the transportation of cargo between points in the U.S. on any vessels other than those built, owned and crewed by U.S. citizens. The last Jones Act waiver was issued in December 2012 for petroleum products to be delivered for relief assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Coast Guard revises Great Lakes pilotage rates
The Coast Guard has adopted a final rule setting new rates for pilotage services for the 2017 shipping season on the Great Lakes. The final rule also updates the Coast Guard's methodology for setting those rates.
The new methodology adjusts target pilot compensation by inflation, incorporates revenue derived from weighting factor charges into the ratemaking model, and eliminates the provision that the hourly pilotage rate for designated waters could not rise above twice the rate for undesignated waters.
In its Maritime Commons blog, the Coast Guard said it "believes that the new methodology will continue to encourage pilot retention, ensure safe, efficient and reliable pilotage services on the Great Lakes, and provide adequate funds to upgrade and maintain infrastructure."
Based on the changes, the revised Great Lakes pilotage rates are being lowered in most areas, the Coast Guard said. The blog called it "a needed correction to better align projected revenues with the pilot associations’ actual collections, as evidence shows that pilotage revenue significantly exceeded what was projected in 2016, even factoring in above-average traffic."
The final rule will become effective on Oct. 2. For further information, contact Todd Haviland, director of Great Lakes pilotage for the U.S. government, at (202) 372-2037.
SOCP releases guide on prevention of sexual assault, harassment
The Ship Operations Cooperative Program (SOCP) has released a best-practices guide on the prevention of sexual assault, sexual harassment, bullying, hazing, stalking and other prohibited behaviors in the merchant marine.
The guide is for merchant mariners on vessels of all types, including Great Lakes ships, inland towboats, dredges and government-owned vessels. In addition, the industry best practices apply to maritime operating companies, shipowners and operators, and shore-based personnel managing or interacting with merchant mariners.
The SOCP is a nonprofit organization of maritime industry professionals working together to improve the safety, productivity, efficiency, security and environmental performance of U.S. vessel operations. The guide was developed under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd).
The guide explains that sexual harassment can involve more than the offender and the victim. The guide says it also can involve bystanders, those who witness sexual harassment taking place, or those who hear about it.
“The U.S. Merchant Marine aggressively promotes a culture where sexual assault, sexual harassment and other prohibited behaviors cannot exist,” said Patricia Finsterbusch, president of the SOCP. “We strongly recommend that SOCP members and the maritime industry continue the dialogue and spread the word about the importance of these issues.”
AWO: Know minimum safe manning under Subchapter M
The American Waterways Operators (AWO), having announced that the U.S. Coast Guard has published final revisions to the Marine Safety Manual, encourages its members to familiarize themselves with the chapter that includes sample manning scales and variables for towing vessels inspected under Subchapter M.
The AWO said the officer in charge of marine inspection (OCMI) will use the scales and variables to evaluate manning proposals submitted by anytowing vessel operator seeking a certificate of inspection. The COI will establish the minimum safe manning for each of the vessel's areas of operation or routes. The recommended chapter includes a suggested template that vessel operators may use to prepare a minimum safe manning proposal.
The AWO said it understands the importance of manning and has reiterated that to Rear Adm. John Nadeau, the new assistant commandant for prevention policy, who assured the group that the Coast Guard is committed to taking a consistent, fair and practical approach to manning under Subchapter M.
EPA considers new definition for ‘waters of the United States’
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army have scheduled 10 teleconferences to hear recommendations to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.
Nine of the teleconferences will be tailored to a specific sector, such as agriculture, conservation, construction and transportation, and industry. One of the teleconferences will be open to the public at large.
The teleconferences will run throughout the fall on Tuesday afternoons beginning Sept. 19. In addition, the agencies will hold an in-person meeting with small entities on Oct. 23 and will accept written recommendations from any member of the public.
For more information on the sessions, go to https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule/outreach-meetings.
New members sought for navigation safety council
The Coast Guard has invited interested parties to apply for membership on the Navigation Safety Advisory Council. The council provides advice and recommendations on various maritime matters, including Inland Rules of the Road, navigation regulations and equipment, and aids to navigation (ATON) systems.
The Coast Guard will be considering applications for seven positions that will be vacant on Nov. 4 in five categories: commercial vessel owners and operators; professional mariners; recreational boaters; the recreational boating industry; and the Maritime Law Association.
Applications should be submitted to the Coast Guard by mid-October. For more information, contact George Detweiler at (202) 372-1566.