Earlier this month, Rear Adm. John Nadeau, assistant commandant for prevention policy, addressed American Waterways Operators members during AWO’s Fall Convention in Houston. Nadeau discussed the importance of the Marine Transportation System to the U.S. economy and national security and Coast Guard and maritime stakeholder contributions to a safe and secure MTS. Maritime Commons is posting an abbreviated version of his remarks for the benefit of our readers unable to attend. The remarks are not ‘as delivered.’
This morning I want to talk briefly about the challenges we will face together in the future and how the Coast Guard is preparing for those challenges in the present.
There is no doubt that what you do, as a maritime industry for our nation, is vital to our security, our economy and our environmental stewardship.
The Marine Transportation System is the lifeblood of our economy. It is the source of our national power and security, and it is the most environmentally sound means to meet the transportation needs of our nation.
There is no doubt that with the growth and diversification in domestic energy production and associated industries, new export markets, increased use of Arctic shipping lanes, and the simple need to move more people and cargo by water in the decades to come, the demand on our MTS is growing. As I travel around the United States, the future becomes increasing obvious and apparent.
Trillions of dollars in commerce flow through our rivers and ports each year, and there are billions of dollars in private sector investment in new terminals, manufacturing facilities, offshore oil exploration and production, export facilities, and enhanced passenger vessels and terminals.
The MTS is a gift to our nation that we must protect and preserve for future generations. This gift consists of 25,000 miles of inland waterways, 95,000 miles of coastline, marked by 50,000 aids to navigation that allow thousands of vessels to move safely. In doing so, the MTS sustains $4.6 trillion in economic activity each year and supports 23 million U.S. jobs.
Ships and cranes are getting bigger. New manufacturing processes are changing what we ship and how we ship it, and everything is enabled by cutting edge technology. What you are doing here at home is driving markets around the globe; just as what others do half way around the world has real impacts on the U.S.
At the same time, we face the challenge of growing the capacity of the MTS to meet this increasing demand, while simultaneously reducing the environmental impact and dealing with the increasing complexity that both enables the growth of the system and challenges our ability to provide the necessary shared governance.
The Coast Guard understands these challenges. Early in our Nation’s history, the Congress consolidated in the Coast Guard a set of authorities and capabilities that best position us to lead the Federal governance of the MTS.
We know that an enduring role of the Coast Guard will be to continue understanding the strategic environment in which the maritime industry operates, to anticipate transformative changes in technology, operations and maritime governance, and to lead in ensuring the safety, security and environmental stewardship of our MTS.
Our Commandant recently signed the Coast Guard Maritime Commerce Strategic Outlook. It describes the environment in which we will operate over the next decade. It will help us identify those actions and initiatives the Coast Guard, working alongside all of you and all other MTS stakeholders, must take today in order to remain ready, relevant and responsive in the future. The real work is ahead of us as we develop a comprehensive implementation plan, and we will be asking for your help in that effort.
The strategic outlook outlines three lines of effort.
The first is facilitating lawful trade and travel on secure waterways. This includes understanding and managing risks to critical infrastructure, building system resilience and acting strategically with transparency and unity of effort across all stakeholders. This is governance, and the Coast Guard is America’s maritime governance force.
Governance is about influencing behavior of all stakeholders in a manner that maximizes the benefits of the MTS for our nation. When you aggregate our many and diverse legal authorities, our operational capacity, and, most important, our people, the Coast Guard has a lot of organic capability to influence behavior.
But governance is more than the government, and the Coast Guard is only part of the shared governance needed to ensure our MTS is resilient today, and ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges.
Shared governance is the responsibility of all MTS stakeholders, from individual mariners and port workers, to companies, corporations and industry associations, to academics and scientists, to state, local and federal governments, to international bodies such as the IMO.
Governance shared by all stakeholders means we can use tools ranging from individual best practices, to industry standards, to regulations and international conventions. With these tools, we can build awareness into operations at every level in order to maximize system-wide efficiency, safety, security and stewardship and build resilience.
The second line of effort, modernizing aids to navigation and mariner information systems, is a critical strategic imperative for the Coast Guard. It is one means to help manage increasing complexity on our waterways and in our ports. The strategic outlook recognizes that we have to optimize our marine and coastal planning processes across industries and the interagency, and we must streamline and update our information systems.
We have already started this through several key initiatives carried out with extensive stakeholder and interagency outreach and coordination.
To enhance our physical ATON constellation, we are now broadcasting hundreds of electronic aids through our Nationwide Automatic Identification System.
We have prototyped our “Smart Bridge,” “Smart Lock” and “Digital Lightship” initiatives; all of which provide waterway users real time information about navigational aids and conditions, and enable smarter decisions to help increase safety, reduce congestion and enhance the environment.
Our enhanced Marine Safety Information initiative is coordinating all government-provided navigation information services into a single integrated service, delivered via the web, accessible on common devices, and interoperable with existing shipboard and landside navigation and logistics systems. For the first time ever, a mariner will be able to enter an intended route and quickly and easily find all of the information needed to navigate that route. In the near future, we hope to build the capability to provide real time updates to the mariner during the transit.
We remain focused on implementing the proper mix of physical and electronic Aids to Navigation. The Coast Guard understands that physical aids will continue to be a vital component of our ATON system, and it is critical that we recapitalize our aging inland ATON and construction tender fleets.
Our third line of effort is transforming workforce capacity, and building and leveraging partnerships.
We must have a highly adaptive Coast Guard workforce equipped with the latest tools, technologies, training and education that is able to flex as industry innovation transforms commercial markets and service demands. We must leverage the total maritime workforce, including the regulated industry, third parties, NGOs and others to ensure a safe, secure and environmentally sound MTS. Our ability to be an honest broker across all stakeholders groups must remain a core competency and key strategy for our future workforce.
To summarize, the Coast Guard’s Maritime Commerce Strategic Outlook describes key enablers for long-term success and contains a lot more detail for each line of effort.
There is nothing radically new here. The strategic outlook makes it clear that the Coast Guard understands and recognizes the incredible value of what you do as an industry for our nation, and it requires that we constantly focus on upping our game so that we keep pace. It describes how we will do this through the facilitation of lawful trade and travel, while also modernizing our navigational services and focusing on our workforce and partnerships.
Think of it as a roadmap to the future, as together we wrestle and tackle challenges like the integration of increasingly automated and unmanned vessels; the move to alternative fuels; the management of cyber risk; the makeup and training of the future maritime workforce; the inclusion of wind and fish farms; and other challenges that are still beyond the horizon.
Thank you for your time and attention today. I look forward to your questions.
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.