Editor’s note: Rear Adm. John Nadeau, assistant commandant for prevention policy, presented awards to the five winners of the William M. Benkert Award for Environmental Excellence, during a ceremony in New Orleans, March 2, 2018. Maritime Commons announced the winners in a post Feb. 22, 2018, but we are sharing additional details about the achievements that earned them this prestigious award. For more information about the Benkert awards, visit Coast Guard Homeport. All photos courtesy of American Petroleum Institute.
In 1995, the Coast Guard established the William M. Benkert Award for Environmental Excellence to recognize outstanding achievement, well past mere regulatory compliance. The criteria include several critical success factors such as environmental policies, objectives and targets, pollution prevention activity, safety management, outreach, partnership, and performance metrics. The award program has five levels of recognition, Osprey, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorable Mention, to acknowledge the applicant’s progress in pursuing environmental excellence.
Following is a summary of the accomplishments of the five recipients of the 2018 Benkert awards.
Osprey Winner: Polar Tankers of Houston, Texas
Polar Tankers currently transports crude oil from the terminus of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System located in Valdez, Alaska, to approximately twelve refineries along the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii. The company transports roughly 80 million barrels of crude oil per year with five Endeavor Class (E-Class) double hull vessels.
Polar Tankers invested in state-of-the-art environmental equipment above industry standards such as ballast water treatment retro-fit and updates to water-lubricated stern tube systems, instead of using oil. Furthermore, Polar Tankers participated in the Green Flag Incentive in Southern California, as part of local efforts to improve air quality control in the Port of Long Beach, which resulted in their fleet’s main engines meeting voluntary emission standards to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 15%. Polar Tankers also funded the development of rapid response aero-dispersant application systems intended to improve the availability and response time for marine industry emergency operations in the remote and vast Prince William Sound.
Gold Winner: Norwegian Cruise Lines, Miami, Florida
Operating worldwide, Norwegian Cruise Lines has 15 ships with the commitment of five more by 2024. They demonstrated outstanding environmental commitment through operations such as quality investments in an advanced wastewater treatment system, use of energy efficient equipment, as well as a recycling program that includes donating furniture, mattresses, food, and clothing to local charities. Additionally, they expanded environmental awareness beyond the immediate company and made it part of the experience for the millions of passengers who embark on their vessels
Silver Winner: Harley Marine Services, Seattle, Washington
As a tug and barge operation, Harley Marine demonstrated excellent green initiatives stemming from its Environmental Management System such as going paperless and partnering with local recycling companies to use old tires as tug fenders that eventually become AstroTurf in playgrounds and fields. Furthermore, Harley Marine operates two facilities certified as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold buildings, including its company headquarters.
Bronze Winner: Marathon Petroleum Company – Marine Transportation, Catlettsburg, Kentucky
Marathon Petroleum Company – Marine Transportation’s inland river operation uses 16 line haul towboats, two harbor boats, and a fleet of over 200 tank barges. Marathon’s dedication to the enhancement of environmental programs, such as developing a vessel fuel conservation program, a wildlife habitat on company property, and working with local Cub Scout groups, stand out as evidence of the company’s strong commitment to environmental awareness.
Honorable Mention: Alaska Maritime Prevention and Response Network, Anchorage, Alaska
The Network helps connect over 450 companies with over 3,200 non-tank vessels and over 290 tanks vessels to cover Western Alaska and Prince William Sound, an area of approximately 1.5 million square miles of coastline. Additionally, the Network provides access to the largest inventory of spill response capabilities in Western and Southcentral Alaska to include response hubs in various remote locations including Barrow and Nome.