3/08/2018: Coast Guard-American Waterways Operators Steering Committee meeting

The Coast Guard-American Waterways Operators Safety Partnership held its National Quality Steering Committee meeting Feb. 21, 2018, with an agenda focusing on the concerns of the partnership and industry. For the convenience of our readers, Maritime Commons attended the meeting and provides a summary and key points of the discussions.

The Coast Guard/AWO partnership was formalized with a memorandum of agreement in 1995, after recognition that each organization shared the common goals of improving towing industry safety and increasing environmental protections. The partnership is a non-regulatory body that promotes sharing of best practices, waterways management and professional cooperation.

Rear Adm. John Nadeau, assistant commandant for prevention policy and Coast Guard co-chair to AWO, said in his opening remarks that he recently spent time underway on a towboat in Paducah, Kentucky to observe firsthand the constant action required of inland waterway towboat operators to maintain vigilance over an operation. Nadeau also reflected on how the positive, professional relationship the Coast Guard has with the towing industry ensures there are no “blind spots” when it comes to tackling important and challenging issues.

“I’m confident our two organizations are connected in the right places and that the right people are collaborating on the topics that are most critical for the towing industry,” Nadeau said.

Nadeau and AWO Co-Chair Tom Allegretti heard from industry representatives about a variety of issues facing the towing industry:

• Economic implications of overbuilding the dry and liquid cargo barge fleet.
• Ensuring the success of Subchapter M implementation and using a risk-based approach to compliance and enforcement.
• Day-to-day challenges of operations that span multiple State jurisdictions with differing requirements and the importance of uniform national standards to the safety and efficiency of maritime commerce.
• The need to look at the current and future national infrastructure needs from a uniquely maritime perspective.
• Potential effects of the 2020 sulphur cap on the bunkering industry.

Mr. Paul Eulitt with the Office of Investigations and Analysis presented the 2016 Annual Safety Report, charting crew fatalities, oil spilled from tank barges, severity of towing vessel incidents and number of injuries.

The National Quality Steering Committee looks at three safety measures to track overall trends in towing vessel safety and environmental protection:

• Crew fatalities per 100,000 towing industry workers.
• Gallons of oil spilled from tank barges per million gallons transported.
• The number of towing vessel marine casualties (overall or by incident severity).

This report also includes summary statistics on crew member injuries, which the National Quality Steering Committee began tracking in 2006, for calendar years 2006 to 2016.

A detailed summary of this year’s report is available here.

The meeting also included a series of updates from workgroups and quality action teams on the progress of new initiatives and policy/regulatory implementations.

• The Towing Industry Cyber Management Team presented a report on the methods to keep costs associated with cyber security manageable, such as practicing good cyber hygiene on a regular basis, to help prevent larger issues.
• AWO’s Fatigue Risk Management Working Group will complete its work on a model fatigue Risk Management Plan and share it with members this spring.
• AWO members requested the Coast Guard provide guidance to the towing vessel fleet on how to find safe harbor during severe weather without violating local port condition requirements.

The next meeting is scheduled for July 31, 2018.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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