AWO Letter - June 8

U.S. Celebrates National Maritime Day. On May 22, the maritime industry, lawmakers, and the public recognized National Maritime Day. Celebrations across the country marked the day and honored American mariners, as exemplified by these events at the Port of Jacksonville and the Port of New York/New Jersey.
On social media, AWO and many others shared posts highlighting the maritime industry’s importance to the nation and thanking mariners who serve or have served our country. Federal and state officials and a large, bipartisan array of Members of Congress representing states from every region also shared their appreciation, highlighting the people of the maritime industry on various social media platforms.
President Biden Affirms Support for Jones Act in National Maritime Day Proclamation. President Joe Biden issued a proclamation celebrating May 22, 2023 as National Maritime Day, praising the contributions of merchant mariners over the years and highlighting the importance of the maritime industry to the country’s economy. He also noted the key role of the Jones Act, emphasizing that his “Administration remains steadfast in its support of the Merchant Marine as well as the Jones Act, which ensures American workers see the benefits of our domestic maritime industry.”
AWO Members Meet with OCIMF, Energy Majors. On May 31, AWO organized a meeting for members in the inland and coastal liquid cargo trades with representatives of the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) and major oil companies serving North America. The day-long meeting, held at Ingram Barge Company’s Nashville office, provided a forum for subject-matter experts to discuss an upcoming OCIMF Barge Safety Guide, the SIRE program, TMSA, and other safety and inspection-related issues important to the U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry.
Conversation was robust, and much of the morning session focused on SIRE 2.0, which has been deployed for blue water operators. The inland version of SIRE 2.0 is planned for release in 2027, according to OCIMF Barge Advisor Ton Mol. AWO and OCIMF agreed in principle to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), to be produced in late summer, which will ensure AWO has a voice in OCIMF programs and publications. The morning wrapped up with a discussion about technology solutions that could standardize pre-arrival checklists for liquid terminals and facilities.
The afternoon session was an open discussion about problematic elements of the SIRE and TMSA programs, including standardization and acceptance by the Majors of each other’s SIREs and TMSAs; improving the crew-related elements of each program; standardization of cost schedules, inspector issues, and specific line items of OCIMF inspections; and more.
Action items from the meeting will be shared with AWO members who have joined the North American Safety Working Group. A second in-person meeting is tentatively planned for Philadelphia during the week of AWO’s Fall Convention in October. If you are interested in joining this working group, or for more information, please contact the AWO Safety Department.
EPA Holds Hearing on California Harbor Craft Rule Waiver. On June 1, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a virtual hearing on the California Air Resources Board’s request for authorization to enforce its amendments to the commercial harbor craft (CHC) rule. EPA agreed to hold the hearing came after AWO and other stakeholders voiced concerns about the rule. Fifteen industry representatives, including AWO members and AWO Vice President – Pacific Region Peter Schrappen, testified that the regulation is arbitrary and capricious and not technologically feasible. EPA is required to approve California’s waiver request unless it does not meet these two requirements. Stakeholders now have until July 1 to submit written comments, after which EPA will make a final determination. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about submitting written comments, please contact Peter Schrappen.
May 2023 Issue of Navigating to Zero – AWO’s Safety Newsletter Now Available. The latest edition of AWO’s Navigating to Zero Safety and Sustainability Newsletter, published on May 31, highlights new academic research on the value of safety management systems; recognizes recent winners of the American Waterways Honor & Excellence in Rescue Operations (HERO) Award, including Genesis Marine; and shares a High Value Near Miss learning opportunity, as well as a brief form for members to share their lessons learned.
In the Safety Professional Focus interview, Joel Morton, Marine Superintendent for Crowley, shares his safety priorities and discusses how Crowley promotes its safety culture using Human Organizational Performance-based programs.
The newsletter also discusses the NTSB’s Quarterly Summary of Marine Safety Events; safety alerts from the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement; AWO safety and sustainability subcommittee updates; and a recap of the Wear Your Lifejacket to Work Day campaign.
If you didn’t receive the safety newsletter directly, you can sign up to join our distribution list by emailing the AWO Safety Department.
TRB/CMTS to Host Conference on Marine Transportation Sustainability. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, in partnership with the U.S. Committee on the Marine Transportation System, will host the Seventh Biennial Conference on the Marine Transportation System, “Innovative Science and Technologies Toward Greater Sustainability,” on June 20-22 in Washington, D.C. Speakers will discuss technological solutions and sustainability research relating to alternative fuels, vessel and port electrification, use of dredged materials, and more. Register to attend on the Transportation Research Board website.
PAC Corner
AWO PAC and Inside Elections. AWO PAC has partnered with Inside Elections to bring you the latest special edition, featuring insights into nearly 100 House races as well as U.S. Senate races.
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 Industry Video Highlighting Maritime Careers Celebrates Anniversary. One year ago on June 1, 2022, AWO released the video, The Tugboat, Towboat and Barge Industry: Careers that Make Waves. The video’s message about our industry’s impactful, family-wage career opportunities is more relevant than ever today. AWO is committed to sharing the story of the tugboat, towboat and barge industry’s great careers and to strengthening mariner recruitment and retention, including through implementing AWO’s Board-approved Workforce Action Plan.
Illinois Waterway 2023 Consolidated Maintenance Closures Begin. Effective June 1, the Marseilles, Dresden Island, and Brandon Road Locks are closed until September 30, 2023 to accommodate long-scheduled maintenance projects on the Illinois waterway. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers thanked the navigation community for managing queues proactively and getting vessels where they needed to be prior to the lock closures. USACE is keeping its Navigation Status webpage up-to-date and has released a short video about the project.
Washington Legislature Appropriates Funding for Seattle Maritime Academy. The Washington State Legislature appropriated $855,000 for the Seattle Maritime Academy (SMA) during the 2023 legislative session. This funding supports operational costs of the school and builds on its partnership with the Washington State Ferries. SMA was previously slated to close but received COVID-related funding in 2022. This Coast Guard-approved training program works to fill vacancies in all sectors of the $38 billion Washington State maritime industry.
Labor Dispute Slows Port Operations Along West Coast. As of June 5, two of the Port of Long Beach’s six terminals remain closed for the fourth straight day. Operations have also slowed at the Ports of Los Angeles, Oakland, and Seattle. The slowdown stems from a labor dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association over lingering negotiations on a contract which expired July 1, 2022.
Please Join Us at an AWO Summer Event! Register today to join the AWO staff and member colleagues for one or more of our upcoming summer events. Registration is now open on your AWO Member Dashboard or contact AWO Meetings for assistance.
All employees of AWO member companies are warmly welcome to attend -- company executives, operations managers, safety professionals, port captains, mariners, you name it. Your AWO membership benefits all your teammates!
June 15 - Ohio Valley Region Roundtable, Memphis, TN
June 20 - Southern Region Roundtable, New Orleans, LA
August 1 – Pacific Region Roundtable, San Francisco, CA
August 3 – Midwest Region Roundtable, Chicago, IL
August 16-17 – Safety Committees’ Summer Meeting, St. Louis, MO
August 23 – Atlantic Region Roundtable, Staten Island, NY