AWO Letter - November 16, 2023

AWO Welcomes New Member. AWO is excited to welcome new member The American Equity Underwriters, Inc.! Headquartered in Mobile, Alabama, The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. is program administrator for American Longshore Mutual Association Ltd., a group self-insurance fund authorized by the U.S. Department of Labor for waterfront employers in all 50 states under the United States Longshore and Harbor Act.
Coast Guard Releases Three Policy Letters to Provide Guidance on SASH Provisions of Safer Seas Act. These include CG-CVC Policy Letter 23-04, on the statutory requirement for merchant vessels over 100 gross tons to post information regarding prohibitions on sexual assault and sexual harassment; CG-CVC Policy Letter 23-05, on the statutory requirement for certain vessels (including vessels with overnight accommodations for 10 or more persons on seagoing voyages of 600 or more miles) to install and maintain video and audio surveillance systems; and CG-CVC Policy Letter 23-06, on the statutory requirement for inspected vessels to establish a master key control system. More information about AWO’s preliminary analysis of these policy letters can be found in our recent member alert. The Coast Guard has also released an update to CVC-WI-004(3), Flag State Interpretations on the ISM Code, to address the statutory requirement to report harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. AWO is communicating our deep disappointment to the Coast Guard about its lack of stakeholder consultation in the development of these policy letters. We will be consulting with members and industry partners to ensure the agency implements the statutory requirements reasonably and practicably and does not exceed its authority by regulating by policy. Please share your questions, concerns, and other feedback with Caitlyn Stewart.
AWO Advances Advocacy to Remove “Harassment” from Reporting Requirements. AWO continues to hold meetings with the offices of Senate Commerce Committee members to advocate for removal of the term “harassment” from the statutory reporting requirement. Meanwhile, Majority Staff of the Commerce Committee has asked the Coast Guard to provide a recommended statutory definition of harassment for inclusion in next year’s Coast Guard authorization act. AWO is urging Senators and Representatives to oppose creating a new definition of harassment and instead to convey their support for removal of the term. A short AWO white paper outlines our arguments to strike “harassment” from the statute while leaving the sexual assault and sexual harassment provisions of the Safer Seas Act intact.
Coast Guard Updates Guidance on COI Renewal Inspections. The Coast Guard has released CVC-WI-013(7), Towing Vessel COI Inspections Under the TSMS Option, which provides new information about how the Coast Guard will approach renewal COI inspections for TSMS option vessels. Notably, the Coast Guard has created an equivalency for a “Reduced Risk-Based Inspection and Certification,” which provides that a vessel owner/managing operator may request a reduced Coast Guard inspection at the time of COI renewal if: 1) the owner/managing operator provides objective evidence that a full TSMS survey was conducted that year; 2) the TPO provides objective evidence that the vessel has had no major non-conformities in the last five years; and 3) the vessel has not been issued any Code 30 deficiencies by the Coast Guard in the last five years. If approved by the OCMI, the renewal COI inspection will be reduced in scope to essential systems. The work instruction also provides flexibility by clarifying that the requirement to schedule COI inspections 90 days in advance applies only to initial COI inspections, not renewal COI inspections, and stating that when the renewal inspection is conducted up to three months before the COI expires, the new COI expiration date is based on the previous anniversary date. In addition, the work instruction reinforces the process for coordination across OCMI zones. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Caitlyn Stewart.
AWO Testifies in CA Committee Against Harbor Craft Rule. On November 2, AWO Director of State Advocacy Kyle Burleson testified at a field hearing in San Francisco held by the California Assembly Select Committee on Ports and Goods Movement. Kyle and Capt. Sly Hunter of the International Union of Masters, Mates & Pilots emphasized the serious safety concerns about the new amendments to the California Air Resources Board’s Commercial Harbor Craft Rule (CHC) and promoted AB 1122, a newly-introduced bill that would make needed changes to the CHC to address these issues. The Inlandboatmens Union of the Pacific also shared its safety concerns with the CHC and emphasized that business and labor are united in opposition to this rule.
After the hearing, Kyle and AWO’s Sacramento lobbyist Greg Hurner joined committee chair Mike Gipson and Assemblymember Diane Papan for a tour of the Port of San Francisco, during which they discussed other concerns about the CHC.
Assemblymember Bains Champions AWO CHC Legislation in Sacramento. Assemblymember Dr. Jasmeet Bains, who represents the Bakersfield area, has introduced AB 1122 to make needed changes to the controversial Commercial Harbor Craft (CHC) rule’s requirement to install unapproved Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs). The bill states that if CARB mandates equipment on a vessel, that equipment needs to be verified by a vessel classification society for safe use before it can be installed. Additionally, in the event of a DPF regeneration or failure, an override or bypass can be used to ensure that the crew can maneuver the vessel to safety before they have to deal with the root cause of the failure. The bill also requires that any operator using a bypass or override system report to the Coast Guard and to the State as soon as safely possible to keep records of these events. Assemblymember Bains was recently featured in an article in Marine Log about AB1122.
AWO continues to advocate for improvements to the CHC, including exemptions for ATBs and the ability to use an engine for the duration of its useful life.
AWO Reaches New Audiences with Industry Sustainability Story. In September, Caitlyn Stewart, AWO Vice President – Regulatory Affairs, participated in a panel on the regulatory landscape in the U.S. for reducing the carbon footprint of maritime transportation as part of the Argus Sustainable Marine Fuels Conference. She spoke about the tugboat, towboat, and barge industry’s status as the most sustainable mode of freight transportation, the unique characteristics of towing vessels and their implications for the adoption of alternative fuels, and how the federal government can support the industry’s efforts to identify viable low-carbon technologies. Ms. Stewart also participated as a panelist at November’s Clean Gulf Conference to discuss the industry’s sustainability journey, during which she highlighted ways that the industry is continuing to improve on its already successful record of sustainability.
In November, Government & Communications Affairs Associate Bradley Trammell joined a meeting of the Clean Fuels Alliance America’s Board of Directors to educate the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry about the tugboat, towboat, and barge industry, sharing the industry’s sustainability story.
These efforts stem from the recommendation of AWO’s CEO-level Sustainability Task Force to tell our industry’s positive sustainability story to government, industry customers, other stakeholders, and the public to secure our seat at the table as a proactive partner in sustainable transportation. AWO will continue to seek opportunities to reach new audiences and build relationships with new industry and government partners to build awareness of our industry’s environmental advantages and commitment to sustainability.
AWO, AMP Obtain Critical Offshore Wind Ruling Change to Uphold the Jones Act. In July, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which interprets application of the Jones Act, issued a ruling letter with several troubling determinations on the potential use of foreign-flag vessels in the transportation and installation of offshore wind components. AWO President & CEO Jennifer Carpenter, in her capacity as Vice President of the American Maritime Partnership (AMP) and chair of its offshore wind committee, challenged the ruling and ultimately secured a new ruling from CBP that upheld the consistent application of the Jones Act when transporting cargo between locations on the outer continental shelf, such as wind turbine sites.
Jennifer Carpenter Elected as Next AMP President. During the recent annual meeting of the American Maritime Partnership, AWO President & CEO Jennifer Carpenter was unanimously elected to serve as president for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2024. Ms. Carpenter is joined on the new AMP leadership team by Vice President-elect Sara Fuentes, Vice President of Government Affairs at the Transportation Institute, and James Weakley, President of the Lake Carriers’ Association, who will serve as Secretary-Treasurer of AMP.
AWO Seeks Member Feedback on Possible Inclusion of Fentanyl Testing. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently published a notice soliciting public comments on whether fentanyl and norfentanyl should be included in the federal workplace drug testing program. Any change to those requirements would apply to mariners. To understand member views on the potential inclusion of fentanyl testing, AWO will hold a virtual meeting on Thursday, December 7 at 2PM (Eastern). To participate in that call, please contact Patrick Parsons.
Missed the Latest AWO Mariner Workforce Forum? Watch the Recording! The latest AWO Mariner Workforce Forum, Harnessing Apprenticeships to Grow Your Workforce, featured staff from the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS), who discussed their Maritime Apprenticeship Program (MAP). MAP trains mariners with little or no maritime industry experience to obtain their mates’ licenses in roughly two years through a combination of coursework and service on partnering companies’ vessels. In addition to the MITAGS staff, several vessel operators spoke about their long-time participation in the program and experience training and ultimately recruiting the apprentices into their companies.
If you missed the Forum, you can check out a recording available on the AWO resource library here. Join us live for future Forums to gain access to Q&A with the featured speakers and other AWO members.
AWO Launches Deck Barge Working Group. AWO has launched a Deck Barge Working Group, which will meet every few months to explore issues relevant to the deck barge industry, with the goal of tackling problems that require coordinated action. The first two topics the group will address are Single Voyage Load Line Execution and Marine Condition Surveys. The Load Line committee will include TPO engagement, and the Survey committee will include NAMS surveyor representation. If you are a deck barge owner or operator and want to join the working group, or if you are a TPO or NAMS member interested in attending the relevant committee meeting, please contact Bradley Trammell at The next working group meeting will take place at 3pm EST on Wednesday, December 6.
AWO President to Moderate Marine Money Panel Featuring Inland Dry and Liquid Sector Leaders. AWO President & CEO Jennifer Carpenter will moderate a panel at Marine Money’s Marine Finance Forum in New Orleans on November 30. The panel, which will focus on the inland marine dry and liquid sectors, will feature AWO members Mike Ellis, CEO of American Commercial Barge Line; Immediate Past Chairman of the Board Clark Todd, President & CEO of Blessey Marine Services; Bob Thomas, Chief Operating Officer of Southern Devall; and former AWO Chairman Del Wilkins, President of Illinois Marine Towing.
American Waterways Operators members are eligible for a discount on registration - register online or click here for the form and email the form to Andrea Farrison.
AWO PAC Corner
AWO PAC and Inside Elections. AWO PAC has partnered with Inside Elections for another special edition featuring a review of 2023 election results, insights into key House races, 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.

Port Infrastructure Development Program Grants Awarded. More than $653 million in grants were awarded to 41 port improvement projects earlier this month from the Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP), which supports projects to modernize the nation’s port infrastructure. This year’s awardees include projects that advance electrification and emissions reduction at ports, as well as projects supporting offshore wind in Virginia, California, New Jersey, and Maryland. A full list of awardees can be found here.
NOAA Denies Environmental Group Petition to Restrict Vessel Speed. On October 27, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that the agency will deny the petition from several environmental groups to establish “Vessel Slowdown Zones” in the Rice’s Whales core habitat area. These zones would have established mandatory speed limits and prevented vessels from transiting at night. AWO submitted comments opposing the petition in July. While NOAA has not ruled out future regulations, the agency said that it needs to finalize the critical habitat designation, draft a species recovery plan, and conduct a quantitative vessel risk assessment before moving forward with any kind of rulemaking. The agency also plans to reach out to vessel operators and others in the maritime industry. AWO will continue to monitor this issue and engage with NOAA, industry partners, and other stakeholders. If you have any questions, please contact Leah Harnish.
Date Change for Right Whales Technology Workshop. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that the North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Risk Reduction Technology Workshop originally scheduled for mid-February has been rescheduled for March 5 and 6, 2024. NOAA is hosting this workshop to learn more about technological advancements, mitigation strategies, and other ideas to reduce the risk of vessel collisions with right whales. You can sign up to pre-register here. Please contact Leah Harnish if you have any questions.
AWO Member ARTCo Featured on PBS News Hour. AWO member ARTCo was prominently featured in a recent PBS News Hour story about the low water situation on the Mississippi River. The story highlights the industry’s key role in the supply chain, particularly agricultural shipping, and as well as its efficiency and environmental benefits in comparison to other modes of freight transport.
AWO Holds Sector Luncheon in St. Louis. On November 2, AWO members including Marquette Transportation Company, SCF Marine Inc., James Transportation LLC, Crounse Corporation, TVIB, Ingram Barge Company, ARTCo, and PTL Marine engaged in a luncheon discussion with Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River. Topics discussed included 2023 low water, harassment reporting, dayboard maintenance, and Coast Guard personnel changes.
Government Requests Extension on Columbia River System Agreement. On October 31, the federal government requested 45 more days to continue working toward a mediated agreement with litigants in the Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement litigation. The results of the mediation will impact the operation of four lower Snake River dams – with opponents calling for the dams to be breached. This extension follows a 60-day extension granted by a federal judge over the summer. If an agreement is reached, stakeholders could enter into a multi-year stay to implement a plan as agreed upon in mediation. AWO is standing by to ensure that any agreement allows for the continued operation of the Snake River dams and safe and reliable navigation on the River.
New Economic Study Highlights Maritime Industry Importance to WA State. A new economic impact study commissioned by the Washington Maritime Federation underscores the importance of the maritime industry to Washington State. According to the study, the state is home to 174,300 maritime careers and its total maritime industry revenue is more than $45.9 billion. The report was released during Seattle’s annual Maritime Economic Forecast Breakfast, with over 250 maritime leaders in attendance. AWO sponsored a portion of the research.
Third Quarter Safety Statistics Were Due October 31. The deadline for submitting your 3rd Quarter safety statistics to the AWO Safety Statistics Reporting Program (SSRP) was October 31. If you have not had the opportunity to do so, please enter your July, August, and September data at your earliest convenience.
If you have missed any other reporting periods or need to update past data, we have designed the user-friendly SSRP interface to allow updates or new entries for any past time period, allowing members the flexibility to manage your data on your schedule.
If you have not yet participated in the SSRP, or you haven’t participated in a while, please feel free to reach out to Michael Breslin at or (504) 417-2136 to get your account set up and learn more about the program.
Liam Morcroft Joins AWO Government Affairs Team. We are pleased to introduce Liam Morcroft, who recently joined the AWO staff as a Government Affairs Associate. Liam is a graduate of Roanoke College and a native of Brooklyn, New York, where he attended the New York Harbor School. Liam can be reached at or 703-841-9300, extension 261.
Visit AWO at WorkBoat. AWO will be at WorkBoat! Visit the AWO team at booth #956. As an AWO member you are eligible for a complimentary WorkBoat Show and Underwater Intervention exhibit hall pass, plus 25% off the UI Technical Conference Program -- register here and enter promo code IWBS2330462 when prompted.