AWO Letter - August 25

AWO Welcomes New Member Seapath Group. AWO is excited to welcome new member Seapath Group. Seapath partners with local communities, government agencies, and private industry to sustainably advance America’s infrastructure. Through innovative projects and solutions in the areas of maritime connectivity, industrial technologies, port real estate, Jones Act vessels, and broader maritime needs, Seapath is focused on investing in America’s critical infrastructure and economic resiliency. Visit their website to learn more.
AWO 2024 Equipment Reporting Season Underway. The equipment reporting process for 2024 is now underway! Equipment reporting is the annual process by which each carrier member of AWO verifies and updates their equipment lists. Carrier equipment lists are then used to calculate membership dues for the following year. By ensuring that each member’s annual invoice is accurate, we ensure that the costs of running AWO are fairly and equitably apportioned among members. Equipment reports can be found on your Membership Dashboard page. We are asking all carriers to update their equipment lists by September 11. Please email Violet Daniels with any questions.
AWO Participates in ASP Workshop. On August 3, AWO participated in the National Alternative Security Program Workshop held by the Coast Guard in Washington, DC. The annual workshop is an opportunity for ASP-sponsoring organizations to come together and discuss maritime security.
During the meeting, the Coast Guard advised participants that the agency will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to add cybersecurity requirements to vessel and facility security regulations by the end of the year. Additionally, the Transportation Security Administration provided an update on the TWIC program and thanked AWO for supporting the development of an online renewal process, noting that 80% of renewals are now conducted online. The Coast Guard also announced the release of NVIC 09-02, Change 6, guidance on the development and maintenance of Area Maritime Security Plans, which are now required to include a cybersecurity risk plan.
CISA, FBI, NSA, and International Partners Highlight Routinely Exploited Cyber Vulnerabilities. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency, and international partners have released a Cybersecurity Advisory detailing common vulnerabilities and exposures that were routinely exploited by malicious cyber actors in 2022. The agencies are urging all organizations to review and implement recommended mitigations, including, but not limited to, applying timely patches to systems and using security tools, such as endpoint detection and response, web application firewalls, and network protocol analyzers to reduce the risk of compromise.
AWO Speaks at Coast Guard Prevention Department Heads Conference. On August 17, AWO Vice President – Regulatory Affairs Caitlyn Stewart addressed a gathering of senior Coast Guard officers from sectors around the country during the 2023 Prevention Department Heads Conference in Chicago. The presentation was an opportunity to highlight the Coast Guard-AWO Safety Partnership as a critical and successful forum for agency-industry cooperation at the national and regional levels, and to highlight key issues for towing vessel and barge operators related to vessel inspections, investigations, and waterways management activities. Attendees expressed interest in understanding how workforce issues, including increasing diversity, growing state legalization of cannabis, and heightened focus on the prevention and response of sexual misconduct, have impacted our industry and mariners. AWO will also address the 2023 Chief, Inspection Division Conference in Washington, DC, on September 18.
Coast Guard-AWO Safety Partnership’s National Quality Steering Committee Meets. During the National Quality Steering Committee meeting on August 8, Co-Chairs Coast Guard Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy Rear Admiral Wayne Arguin and AWO President & CEO Jennifer Carpenter led a discussion of current and future challenges impacting the agency-industry relationship and opportunities for closer collaboration. AWO’s Executive Committee discussed a number of important, timely issues with RDML Arguin and members of his team, including vessel inspection topics such as drydocking and internal structural examinations, COI renewals, and the crewing of ATBs. RDML Arguin shared that the Coast Guard has begun a quality management initiative to improve the training of its inspectors and ensure greater consistency in the application of regulations and policies, which he expects to be in pilot testing by the end of the year. The NQSC also discussed our shared commitment to eradicating sexual misconduct from the maritime industry and talked about ways to work together to clarify the new statutory requirement for reporting incidents or complaints of harassment. RDML Arguin reiterated that the responsible entities of a commercial vessel – owners, masters, or managing operators – must report such incidents or complaints if they are violations of company policy or law, and he told the Executive Committee that he is working with the Coast Guard Investigative Service to ensure that companies involved in reports are notified as quickly as possible.
Towing Industry Recorded Second-Lowest Rates in Crew Fatalities, Tank Barge Spills in 2022.  The Coast Guard Office of Investigations and Casualty Analysis shared in the Coast Guard-AWO Safety Partnership’s Annual Report that the 2022 crewmember fatality rate per 100,000 full-time employees (FTE) is the second-lowest ever recorded by the Partnership. Four towing vessel crewmembers died in incidents related to towing vessel operations in 2022, according to the Partnership’s report. Two of the fatalities were attributable to a fall into water, one was the result of being struck by a line, and one was due to being struck by a suspended load during crane operations. The report also shows that 3,109 gallons of oil were spilled from tank barges in 2022, which is – for the second year running – the lowest spill volume recorded by the Partnership since 2010 and the second-lowest ever. The tank barge spill rate for 2022 is only 0.05 gallons of oil, or less than one cup, per million gallons transported.
AWO Working Group to Discuss Apprentice Mate/Steersman Sea Time, Electronic Charting, Radar Training Requirements. The AWO Mariner Credentialing Working Group will meet virtually on August 30 at 2 PM Eastern to discuss a proposal to reduce the sea time required to advance from the Apprentice Mate (Steersman) of Towing Vessels endorsement to the Mate (Pilot) of Towing Vessels endorsement. The meeting will also provide an opportunity for member feedback on appropriate skills and training requirements needed for paper and electronic navigation charts and radar and collision avoidance systems, which AWO can then convey to the Coast Guard during the September 6-7 meeting of the National Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee. Interested members are encouraged to attend the meeting and/or join the AWO Mariner Credentialing Working Group. For these and any other inquiries related to the Group, please contact Patrick Parsons.
Replacing Credentials Lost Due to Hawaii Wildfires. The National Maritime Center (NMC) will issue duplicate merchant mariner credentials (MMCs) and medical certificates free of charge to mariners whose credentials were lost or destroyed because of recent wildfires in Hawaii. The NMC has detailed the process for requesting duplicates here, and the Coast Guard will make every effort to mail duplicate credentials by the next business day.
National Maritime Center Updates Fax Numbers for Submissions. Effective August 25, Regional Exam Centers will no longer maintain separate fax numbers. If submitting documentation to the National Maritime Center (NMC) please use the following fax numbers as detailed in a recent NMC bulletin:
  • Documentation related to merchant mariner credentials (MMCs) including forms, supporting documents, and awaiting information responses: 304-433-3416.
  • Documentation related to medical certificates including forms, supporting documents, and awaiting information responses: 304-433-3407.
  • Documentation related to designated examiners, qualified assessors, and course approvals/renewals: 304-433-3408.
  • Documentation related to safety and suitability including supporting documents, TWIC information, and residency/citizenship: 304-433-3411.
Help Update USCG Towing Exam Questions. The Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC) periodically holds exam working groups during which teams of industry experts review existing and new exam questions to ensure mariner examination questions are correct, relevant, and up-to-date. This year, a review session focused on towing questions will take place September 12-14 at the NMC in Martinsburg, WV. Details on participation can be found here.
MARAD Releases Center for Maritime Innovation RFI. The Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Maritime Environmental and Technical Assistance (META) program is developing a Center for Maritime Innovation. The center, which will be established by a competitive cooperative agreement, was authorized by Congress last year with the goal of supporting the study and deployment of emerging marine technologies and practices. MARAD recently issued a request for information (RFI) to help inform the structure, organization, and focus of the center, which could benefit the development of sustainable maritime processes and equipment. Responses to the RFI are due on October 2.
EPA Offering Funding for Diesel Emissions Reductions. The Environmental Protection Agency is requesting applications for its Diesel Emissions Reductions Act (DERA) National Grants Program, through which approximately $115 million in grants is available to public entities for projects aimed at reducing diesel emissions by upgrading or replacing older diesel engines. While private fleets are not directly eligible for the funding, EPA encourages them to partner with eligible public entities to take advantage of the program. The deadline for applications is December 1.
AWO PAC and Inside Elections. AWO PAC has partnered with Inside Elections for another special edition, featuring insights on elections from around the country.
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.

New AWO Video Encourages Member Engagement, Inclusivity. This month, AWO released a short video featuring members discussing how being actively engaged with AWO’s work has benefitted their companies. The video, Engaging with AWO: Getting Involved, Helping Your Company, includes members from companies of all sizes, sectors and regions, working in a variety of roles, sharing their perspective on the benefits of active involvement in AWO. As AWO’s President & CEO Jennifer Carpenter notes in the video, “When you get involved in AWO’s work, you strengthen our ability to deliver results that benefit you. You also get more from your investment in AWO in ways that benefit you and your company directly.” The full video can be viewed here.
AWO Industry Sustainability Video Reaches Almost 323,000 Views. AWO’s recently-released video, The Tugboat, Towboat and Barge Industry: A Sustainability Leader Today, And Tomorrow, reached nearly 323,000 views across AWO’s social media platforms as of late August. The video, produced as part of our work to implement the Board-approved recommendations of the CEO Sustainability Task Force, uses real-world images as well as animated graphics to highlight our industry’s environmental advantages and commitment to sustainability leadership.
Seattle Maritime Academy and Maritime High School Partner to Address Workforce Shortage. Seattle Maritime Academy and Seattle Maritime High School recently reached an agreement that will allow Maritime High School’s junior class to participate in a two-year vessel Operations and maintenance program at Seattle Maritime Academy. Seattle Maritime Academy reports that it has hit full capacity for the fall with 18 students in its deck and engineering programs.
Congressional Towboat Tour held in Chicago. On August 2, AWO and Middle River Marine, LLC hosted a congressional towboat tour on the Chicago River. Congressional staffers from the offices of Senators Mike Braun (R-IN) and Todd Young (R-IN) and Representatives Raja Krishnahmoorthi (D-IL) and Robin Kelly (D-IL) participated in the tour. AWO thanks Middle River for sponsoring this scenic and successful tour!
Join Us in Philadelphia for the AWO Fall Convention. Registration is open for the AWO Fall Convention and Board of Directors Meeting, to be held in Philadelphia on October 10 and 11. Please reach out to Caitlin Clark if you have any questions or need help registering.