AWO Letter - April 24, 2024

AWO Celebrates, Thanks Lynn Muench for 23 Years of Outstanding Service
By Jennifer Carpenter, AWO President & CEO
Lynn Muench, AWO’s Senior Vice President – Regional Advocacy, will retire on May 3 after 23 years of outstanding service to AWO members and the tugboat, towboat and barge industry as a whole. I invite all AWO members and industry colleagues to join me in thanking this extraordinary woman and passionate advocate for our industry for all she has done to support and advance our industry during her long and distinguished career.
Lynn joined AWO in 2001 and immediately put her background and experience in agricultural sales and advocacy for the inland navigation system to work on members’ behalf, making an outsized impact from the start. Hired as AWO’s Vice President – Midcontinent Office, she quickly established herself as a leader of the regional advocacy team, setting an example of commitment, persistence, and creativity that inspired more-experienced colleagues. Promoted to Senior Vice President – Regional Advocacy, she architected the transformation of AWO’s regional team into the highly effective fighting force it is today, pioneering the Congressional tugboat/towboat tour and Coast Guard Sector lunch programs, among many other innovations. In 2020, she partnered with Del Wilkins, Illinois Marine Towing, to lead the States of Concern Task Force. The Task Force’s Board-approved recommendations have taken AWO’s capacity and capability for effective state advocacy to the next level, including the creation of a Director – State Advocacy position on the AWO staff (ably filled by Kyle Burleson) and the launch of the new State Barge-In program.
As staff manager for the River Industry Executive Task Force (RIETF) for two decades, Lynn worked side by side with AWO members, Coast Guard and Corps of Engineers leaders to keep the rivers open for navigation through all manner of challenges, from historic droughts to historic floods. During the development of Subchapter M, she led the Bridging and Implementation Team (BAIT) that helped prepare AWO members and the Coast Guard for the changes that towing vessel inspection would bring.
Lynn’s contributions to AWO’s and our industry’s success are far too numerous to catalog here. Just as important as what she accomplished, however, is how she did it: with unparallelled dedication, a legendary work ethic, persistence and creativity in the face of challenges, and bottomless respect and affection for the AWO members she served. As her retirement approaches, Lynn has been characteristically tireless and generous, “running through the tape” and sharing her knowledge with others to enable us to move forward to build on her legacy.
Thank you, Lynn, from the bottom of our hearts. A grateful industry joins us in celebrating your legacy and wishing you and Stephen the best in your well-deserved retirement.
Lynn Muench Receives Army Public Service Award. Lynn Muench, AWO Senior Vice President – Regional Advocacy, was awarded the Department of the Army's Commander's Award for Public Service “in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the success of the nation's waterborne commerce and the inland navigation system.” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Brigadier General Kimberly Peeples presented Lynn with the award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the community in partnership with the Army, following the River Industry Executive Task Force meeting April 11 in Baton Rouge, LA. The award states, in part:
Ms. Muench’s tireless efforts directly contributed to the strengthening of the partnership with RIETF through the development of a memorandum of understanding to improve communications between the river industry and the Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard that established a communication process to ensure the safe and efficient movement of waterborne commerce during extreme weather events, lock outages and other unforeseen challenges facing the navigation industry.
Congratulations and well deserved, Lynn!
George Foster to Receive First Mike Rushing Legacy Service Award. The Towing Vessel Inspection Bureau (TVIB) has announced that George Foster, founder of JB Marine Service Inc. and AWO Chairman of the Board from 2010-2011, has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Mike Rushing Legacy Service Award. The award, which recognizes an individual who exhibits the core principles of community service, professional excellence and mentorship, will be presented during this year’s Inland Marine Expo in Nashville, TN May 29-31.
“I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of the first Mike Rushing Legacy Service Award,” said AWO President & CEO Jennifer Carpenter. “George Foster embodies leadership, service, generosity, dignity and decency. Like Mike, George is the kind of person whose humble, thoughtful, self-giving way of leading and living brings out the best in the people around him.” Reflecting on Mr. Foster’s long tenure of leadership within AWO, which also included service as Harbor Services Sector Chairman and River Industry Executive Task Force Chairman, Ms. Carpenter noted, “By his example, George showed small members and companies in the inland harbor sector that not only do they have a place and voice in AWO leadership, but that they are respected and essential contributors to AWO’s and our industry’s success.”
TRANSCOM Commander Reiterates Support for Jones Act. During a recent hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, General Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, commander of U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), testified to TRANSCOM’s support of the Jones Act, the Maritime Security Program and laws that bolster the country’s sealift capabilities. General Van Ovost further highlighted the importance of the domestic maritime industry, explaining that "sealift is the backbone of our ability to deliver a decisive joint force." She also voiced support for recapitalizing the Ready Reserve Force fleet through acquisition of existing vessels on the international commercial market and the domestic construction of new-build vessels.
USTR Initiates Investigation into China's Maritime, Logistics, and Shipbuilding Sectors. In response to a petition from five national labor unions, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced it will investigate the People's Republic of China's use of non-market policies and practices used to unfairly undermine competition and dominate the global maritime, logistics, and shipbuilding markets. Under the authority of Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, USTR may take action against unjustifiable, unreasonable, or discriminatory foreign government practices that burden or restrict U.S. commerce. China's public goals to dominate the international shipping and shipbuilding industry provide ample evidence of the security imperative for supporting the U.S. maritime industry and upholding the Jones Act as a foundation of the industry.
IMO Advances Work to Address SASH. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Labor Organization (ILO) recently concluded a second joint meeting to consider measures to address bullying and harassment in the maritime industry, including sexual assault and sexual harassment. Measures adopted by the IMO have direct implications for mariners operating on the authority of an STCW credential endorsement and can also guide other domestic standards. Recent recommendations adopted by the joint group include:
  • that IMO and ILO adopt a common terminology of "violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and sexual assault" in relevant guidance and standards;
  • that IMO support and consider revising or developing new guidance that would incorporate policies and procedures for prevention and response in safety management systems, including victim care and protection against retaliation;
  • that ILO invite member states to amend the Maritime Labor Convention (the U.S. has not ratified the MLC but U.S. vessels are subject to it if operating in a country that has) to include, among other things, a requirement for shipowners to adopt relevant policies and measures to prevent and address violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and sexual assault;
  • that IMO utilize the common terminology in draft amendments to the STCW Code that will require mariner training in the prevention of and response to bullying and harassment, including SASH.
For questions, please contact Patrick Parsons.
AWO Finalizing Comments on Proposed Cybersecurity Rule. AWO’s cybersecurity working group convened twice over the past month to discuss the Coast Guard’s proposed cybersecurity regulations for vessels and facilities and assess the potential impact on U.S.-flagged vessels and the marine transportation system. At the request of AWO and other maritime industry associations, the Coast Guard extended the deadline for public comments until May 22 to allow more time for industry to analyze and provide feedback on the proposed regulations.
Based on the cybersecurity working group’s feedback, AWO is advocating to remove U.S.-flagged vessels from the proposed regulations because – unlike maritime transportation facilities – they have not been previously subject to domestic cybersecurity requirements, making the NPRM a significant regulatory escalation. However, if vessels are to be included, AWO strongly recommends adopting a tiered, risk-based framework that better reflects the extensive diversity in the use of cyber-connected systems among U.S.-flagged vessels and ensures cybersecurity measures are based on identified vulnerabilities.
In navigating the complexity of cybersecurity, AWO aims to strike a balance between safeguarding critical infrastructure and acknowledging the practical challenges faced by vessel operators. AWO members are encouraged to submit their own comments on the proposed rule and can do so here. Please contact Liam Morcroft with any questions about the proposed regulations or the commenting process.
AWO PAC Corner
AWO PAC and Inside Elections. AWO PAC has partnered with Inside Elections for another special edition, featuring analysis of the Arizona Senate race, the Maryland Senate primary, and more.
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.
Safety MOU Signed for Offshore Energy. The Coast Guard, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for safety and environmental enforcement related to energy installations and vessels on the outer continental shelf, including offshore wind. The MOU will guide the agencies in coordinating their overlapping regulatory activities. The Coast Guard and BOEM have agreed to effective communication throughout the leasing and development processes. The MOU also details the agencies’ plans to share information, coordinate on regulatory and policy development, and more. AWO has long advocated to the Coast Guard and BOEM to better synchronize and communicate on their offshore wind processes.
Sustainability Tech Working Group Update. The AWO Sustainability Tech Working Group recently held its second meeting of 2024, featuring two guests who spoke about the current state of biofuels in the U.S. and their potential for maritime use. The panelists, Bill Fitch from Clean Fuels Alliance America, the trade association for biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuels, and Dan Falcone from Approved Oil, the largest renewable diesel distributor on the East Coast, also discussed climate disclosure standards, the EPA’s Clean Ports Program Build America Buy America waiver, and an update on the IMO’s recent Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting. The working group meetings are held every two months and the next one scheduled for the end of May. If you or someone in your organization would like to join the working group, please email Bradley Trammell at
TOTE Group CEO Joins AWO’s Jennifer Carpenter on AMP Podcast. On a recent episode of the American Maritime Podcast, TOTE Group President & CEO Tim Nolan joined AWO President & CEO and American Maritime Partnership President Jennifer Carpenter to discuss the Jones Act, LNG shipping, and more. Watch it online or listen wherever you get your podcasts.
RIETF Holds Annual Meeting, Elections in Baton Rouge. The River Industry Executive Task Force (RIETF) met on April 11, led by RIETF Co-Chairs Todd Behlke, Kirby Inland Marine, LP; RDML David Barata, U.S. Coast Guard District 8 Commander; BG Kimberly Peeples, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi Valey Division Commander; and MG Mark Quander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Commander. Attendees discussed a variety of topics including implementation of a RIETF working group’s low water recommendations, progress on signing an MOU with Tennessee Valley Authority on water releases, hurricane planning, the Delta Casting Field, and the Lower Mississippi River Comprehensive Management Study.
Prior to the annual meeting, RIETF held its annual nomination process and selected the following members for two-year terms:
  • Darin Adrian, Marquette Transportation Co., Inc.
  • Marty Hettel, American Commercial Barge Line LLC
  • Jake Brodbeck, American River Transportation Co.
  • Walter Wepfer, Wepfer Marine, Inc.
    • Alternate: Graham Wogan, Canal Barge Company
Todd Behlke, Kirby Inland Marine, LP, and Russ Lampkins, Ingram Barge Company, will fulfill the second year of their terms as Co-Chair and Vice Chair, respectively.
AWO Continues Advocacy for Improved CA Commercial Harbor Craft Rule. In mid-April, AWO staff and members held another round of visits with California legislators to discuss AB 1122 and why this bill is needed as vessels comply with the new California Air Resource Board emissions rule that took effect in January 2022. Members from Crowley Corporation, Centerline Logistics, HF Sinclair and organized labor joined AWO’s Senior Vice President – Regional Advocacy Lynn Muench and Vice President – Pacific Region Peter Schrappen for this trip to Sacramento.