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Port Bureau News May 2012

www.txgulf.org

Cruising into Port USCG’s Tradition of Ensuring Cruise Ship Safety 10 Most Common Safety Deficiencies of 2011

Spotlight on CAPT Steve Nerheim, USN (Ret.) Director—Houston-Galveston Vessel Traffic Service

The Vessel Traffic Service: Origins and Operations


Tom Marian Receives a Formal Proclamation in Recognition from the Port of Houston Authority Board of Commissioners for his Service as Chairman of the Greater Houston Port Bureau’s Board of Directors (2006—2012)

Port Bureau Staff Bill Diehl Jeannie Angeli David Cooley Al Cusick Cristina Gomez Janette Molina Patrick Seeba Josh Whitehead

Board of Directors *Dennis Hansell—Chairman *Steve Stewart—1st Vice Chair *Capt. Bill Hennessey—2nd Vice Chair *John Taylor—Sec./Treas. *Tom Marian—Immediate Past Chair *David Ellis *Charles H. Flournoy *Capt. John G. Peterlin III *Vinny Pilegge *Nolan Richardson *Capt. Richard Russell *Captain Robert Thompson *Len Waterworth *Nathan Wesely April Bailey Jim Black Robert Blades Ken Burnett Mike Drieu Robert Garcia Celeste Harris Jason Hayley Mehdi Hejazi Kevin Hickey Guy W. Hitt Charlie Jenkins Brad Maxcey Jerry Nagel Bernt Netland Lloyd Schwing Colin Scott Capt. Christos Sotirelis Tim Studdert *Denotes Executive Committee Members


Captain’s Corner

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Runways, Railways, and Roadways

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“Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books”: Mr. Smith goes to Washington: “Honesty, sincerity, selflessness, duty, integrity, political courage, these are the things missing in Washington.” I would like to see a remake of this movie with the line changed to: “Ports are too precious a thing to be buried in silt.” Not as catchy as the original line, but one that requires equal political courage to carry out. The global health of our economy depends upon the vitality and expansion of international trade, and our waterway infrastructure is the conduit for this trade. Almost 1/3 of our economy is based on global trade and almost all of it comes and goes through our ports, yet Congress would rather talk about runways, railways, and roadways. We need to make them aware the value of our waterways. I was in DC in mid April as part of a Greater Houston Partnership Advocacy trip. We met with our entire Houston area delegation (representatives & senators) and they get the importance of our Port. We also met with other influential members of congress: from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Senator Ron Wyden (DOR), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, Fred Upton (R -MI); House Natural Resources Chairman, Doc Hastings (R-WA); House Rules Committee Pete Sessions (R-TX) and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Plus we spent half a day talking with key administration officials. The deficit, health care, and entitlements dominated the discussions. Few expressed any optimism that anything would get done until the lame duck session after the elections. Then they made it sound like a year’s worth of legislation would be passed in the three month lame duck session. This doesn’t sound right to me. What was promising while I was in DC, was Rep. Boustany (R-LA), who is the sponsor of the RAMP Act, attached most of his bill to the Surface Transportation bill in the House as an amendment. This bill passed. The amendment says all money in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) has to be spent where it is suppose to be spent. The Senate already passed its own transportation bill a few weeks back so now the two bills will hopefully go to a Conference Committee. This is a working group composed of selected members from both the House and Senate, where they will combine the two versions into one bill. Both the House and Senate will then have to vote on the final bill that is a merged version of the two separate bills that were passed. Although the RAMP Act is starting to get attention we have a bigger problem; most elected officials see RAMP as the end state; while we need to convince them that it is the beginning of a larger maritime strategy discussion we need to have as a country. Ships are getting bigger to serve global trade more effectively, at reduced cost—the Panama Canal Expansion is that wake up call. The main challenges ahead for us are: 1. To finance the maintenance of our current system, 2. To identify where to expand our port capacities, and 3. To determine how we are going to finance that capacity development. Normally you would do these in the order of 2, 1, 3, but we are in extremis with our maintenance, so we have to address that first to buy us some time to accomplish the other two. Yes it is easy to point to our elected officials in Washington and say: our “Ports are too precious a thing to be buried in silt,” but the real work is getting them to add Waterways to the Runways, Railways, and Roadways discussion and to get them to steps 2 and 3.


The Cruise Ship National Center of Expertise USCG’s Tradition of Ensuring Cruise Ship Safety Article Originally Printed in DNV Cruise Update 2012: Reprinted with Permission

PhotoUnless Courtesy of Capt.Photos Lou Vest, Noted—All Courtesy of Captain Lou Vest, Houston Pilots Association Houston Pilots; All Other Photos Courtesy of the United States Coast Guard

The US Coast Guard foreign passenger vessel compliance program started in 1968. And, much like the cruise industry has grown since 1966, our program has grown significantly in scope,” says Commander Wilford (Buddy) Reams, Detachment Chief in the US Coast Guard Cruise Ship National Center of Expertise. However, ‘grown significantly in scope’ understates how the US Coast Guard has consistently focused on cruise ship safety since the beginning of the modern cruise era. A short conversation with Commander Reams shows that the US Coast Guard passenger ship safety programs have grown with the cruise industry, which carried more than 10 million passengers embarking on cruises from American ports in 2010. Today, 171 foreign passenger ships regularly call at US ports and 45 US Coast Guard offices are actively involved in cruise ship inspections. Cruise ship safety is such an important mission for the US Coast Guard that it has established a Cruise Ship National Center of Expertise in Port Everglades, Florida. According to Commander Reams, “It is this center of expertise that ensures consistency, competency and capability for cruise ships throughout the US Coast Guard. The center strives to achieve consistency in the application of international and US passenger ship regulations, including those applicable to quality and safety management systems, throughout the US Coast Guard. Equally important, the national centre is responsible for the competency in passenger ships of all US Coast Guard marine inspectors. In addition, the center invites the industry, including classification societies, to participate in many of its training courses. It also monitors the expected movements of passenger ships and the manning and competence of personnel at US Coast Guard stations to ensure that the US Coast Guard has sufficient capacity to inspect passenger ships.” A USCG Team Checks Paperwork During a Vessel Inspection in Washington, D.C.

While all passenger vessels are required to meet the flag state and international regulations governing safety, security, environmental protection and crew competency, the US regulates foreign passenger ships through a rigorous port state control safety regime and the issuance of certificates of compliance. The US Coast Guard involvement typically begins when designers, shipyards, owners and classification societies meet with the Marine Safety Center in the initial concept or design stage. This has become more important for considering new technologies and innovative designs, since existing regulations may become barriers to the further development of technologies and safety systems. Although most cruise ships today no longer fly the US flag, the US Coast


The USCG Cruise Ship National Center of Expertise In 1993, Marine Safety Office Miami began administering the Passenger Vessel Control Verification Course out of local necessity. As the cruise industry grew, so did interest in the course. In 2008, the USCG’s Marine Safety Enhancement Plan memorialized the concept of “Centers of ExperCDR Buddy Reams tise” whose attention would be foChief, USCG Cruise cused on a particular facet of the Ship National Center marine industry. One of those seven of Expertise Centers was to be established in Miami, focused on the Cruise Shipping Industry. Because of it’s existing foundation, the Cruise Ship COE was established first as a sub-unit of Sector Miami in September 2008. The following summer, the full complement of Active Duty staff arrived and all but one of the 5 civilian positions were filled. In September of 2009, all Centers of Expertise became detached units of USCG Headquarters, specifically the Office of Traveling Inspectors and National Centers of Expertise (CG-54-TI), and by October 2011, all NCOE’s initiated a transition to the USCG’s new Force Readiness Command with a direct association to the Marine Safety Branch at the CG’s Training Center Yorktown.

Guard diligently conducts plan reviews to ensure compliance 4 with international requirements for structural fire protection, fire alarms, protection systems, steering gear, watertight doors, lifesaving equipment and arrangements, emergency lighting systems and the range of equipment and systems that are essential for safety. In fact, the US Coast Guard regularly meets with the owner and shipyard throughout a typical period of six months in order to complete the plan review. Then, the USCG inspections begin at the shipyard, with the first inspection about half-way through construction. The initial inspection usually keeps about 2-4 US Coast Guard inspectors busy for about 3-4 days, while the inspection immediately before delivery has a team of about The USCG Conducts Cruise six people from the Marine Safety Center, Ship Inspections a MiniNational Center of Cruise Ship Expertise mum of Twice Annually and USCG Marine Inspection office at the first planned US port call in addition to the overseas Officer in Charge of Marine Inspection from either USCG Activities Europe or USCG Activities Far East who leads an overseas inspection. As Commander Reams explained the scope of the operating inspections that are carried out at least twice annually, it is even more apparent that the USCG has kept a sharp eye on cruise ship safety. As Commander Reams thinks about it, he re-


marks, “Cruise ship safety really depends upon a continuum in which the flag state is at one end and the port state is at the other. Both have this responsibility and I would place the US Coast Guard, as a port state, in the middle. So we do as much as possible as the port state and, as a flag state, we actively participate in the International Maritime Organization.”

So, how comprehensive is the USCG ­foreign passenger ship examination? These inspections cover three main areas: documentation, ship systems, especially safety systems, and crew competency. The documentation element includes a review of the safety management system, including decision support systems for emergencies and the ship’s search and rescue plan. Crew merchant mariner certificates or licenses, crew medical certificates, crew training logs, drill records and SOLAS and SCTW training manuals are also studied. Vessel systems A Coast Guard Team from Sector are, as expected, exBaltimore Checks Life-Jackets During an Inspection tensive in scope, covering everything from life preservers and lifeboats, including launching functionality, to fire and smoke detection and protection, watertight doors, generators and engines. The communication equipment that is inspected includes radio and public address systems as well as search and rescue transponders. Navigation systems, such as radars, charts, voyage data recorders, steering and engine control systems, receive equal attention. In addition, the hospital, crew spaces, galleys and guest spaces are inspected for sanitation, equipment and signage. Of course, crew competency is a critical safety component and fire drills, evacuation drills and abandon ship drills are conducted to test this. The fire drills assess crew communications, the use of fire control equipment, systems and procedures, the medical team response and whether proper instructions are given to passengers. The crew’s orders to and communication with passengers and abilities to control muster areas and assist passengers to evacuate safely are tested in evacuation drills. Finally, abandon ship drills are conducted to test direction from the bridge and the crew’s abilities to launch and operate lifeboats and fast rescue boats and deploy life rafts.


Container Safety Issues: A Message from USCG Sector Houston-Galveston

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Recently Coast Guard investigators have responded to several incidents involving leaking containers loaded with Hydrochloric Acid being shipped to facilities along the Houston Ship Channel. These incidents were caused primarily by improper packaging procedures and insufficient blocking and bracing measures. Additionally, the placards on these containers were too small and the emergency response contact information required on the shipping paperwork was not adequate. The shippers of the containers in question have been limited to companies located in India. These incidents expose both facility and vessel personnel to potential injury and life threatening hazards. Hydrochloric acid is a class 8 corrosive that is clear, colorless to pale yellow liquid that causes severe burns and can be fatal if inhaled or swallowed. It is also corrosive to metal. Fortunately, there have been no injuries or deaths associated with these incidents. It is of great importance to ensure that all necessary precautions are taken in the handling of these containers. Facility owners are encouraged to conduct inspections of containers to ensure there are no leaks. Failure to do so could endanger facility and vessel personnel, as well as cause significant damage. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, please contact Commander M. A. Bottiglieri, U.S. Coast Guard, Chief, Prevention Department, at (713) 671-5105. Each year, the US Coast Guard Cruise Center publishes a list of the top 10 recurring deficiencies found during cruise ship inspections. At the top of the list is the improper stowage of combustible materials and blocked or impeded egress paths. Fire screen doors that do not close properly or inoperative fire detection devices, particularly smoke and heat detectors, are also commonly found during inspections. Often, signage to lifeboats or designated muster stations is found to be confusing or inadequate. Operational failures are typically the improper use of door wedges or hold-back hooks and malfunctions in equipment, such as emergency power batteries or generators, are also seen too frequently. “We hope that sharing our inspection findings with the industry


will help it focus on these common deficiencies,” says Commander Reams, adding “After all, passenger ship safety is a priority for the US Coast Guard and has been since 1968.” - Blane E. Collins, Det Norske Veritas, printed with permission. Det Norske Veritas’ unique risk management approach to services allows the organization to offer innovative services that meet customers' needs across industries and countries. DNV is recognized as a trusted partner for improved quality, safety and efficient operations in high risk global industries. Services Include:  Ship Classification  Statutory Services  Certification of Materials and Components  Consulting  Maritime Transport System Design and Analysis  Fuel Testing  DNV Navigator Services

Rising from the Deep—A Sequel to the RMS Titanic Last month, mariners and historians the world over held memorial services, lectures, conferences and discussions on the hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic whose encounter with an iceberg on the evening of 15 April 1912 led to the loss of over 1,500 passengers and the first International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). In late April, eccentric and outspoken Australian billionaire Clive Palmer announced that he had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese CSC Jinling Shipyard to build a near-perfect replica of the original ship. The vessel will be designed and constructed to mimic the original, however “the tribute to the original will have state-of-the-art 21st century navigation and safety systems”. In addition, the space where the original Titanic’s coil boilers were located will house a museum to Palmer’s native territory of Queensland, Australia. Though the vessel will attempt to claim the title of most accurate replica ever built, Palmer’s Titanic will not be the only ship named after the ill-fated ocean liner; in the ensuing century, dozens of other vessels of varying sizes and configurations have borne the name Titanic including a 16 ft. cabin cruiser owned by Mr. Mark Wilkinson of Birmingham, England whose vessel sprang a six inch diameter leak on her initial cruise and sank in West Bay Harbor, Dorset.


Port Watch

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Tom Marian—Buffalo Marine Service

Spring has Sprung

A mild winter has yielded a verdant spring throughout the Texas coastal plains. This paved the way for warmer temperature which finally broke the back of fog-induced disruptions. So ended March with vessel arrival activity above last year’s and well above last month. Every Texas port - large and small - saw more vessels and less fog that resulted in a cumulative increase of nearly 27%. Even taking into consideration an additional two days of commerce, the monthly rise was quite heartening. However, for several of the ports, the jump in arrivals was not enough to improve over last year’s first quarter. The port of Galveston embodied the up-for-the-month-but –down-for-the-quarter phenomenon with a 15% monthly vessel arrival gain. Yet, the port was still off 27% compared to Q1 of 2011; nearly all of this was due to the significant drop in vessel calls at the port’s public wharves. Likewise, Freeport’s 36% monthly gain barely made a dent in its poor quarterly numbers which are still down 13% as compared to last year. Corpus Christi’s improvement of 31% over February’s vessel arrivals had a bit more meaningful impact on the quarter as 2012 was only 5.5% below that of 2011. It is of note that despite Corpus Christi’s strong March 2012 it was also below the March 2011 vessel arrival total. The remaining ports were not only up for the month but for the quarter as well. At the far reaches of the Intercoastal Waterway the Port of Brownsville was up 14% for the month and a blistering 71% for the quarter. Energy continued to exert its influence on commerce as Texas City’s monthly arrivals rose nearly 8%, Sabine’s climbed 20% and Houston posted a 31% gain. Tows that populated the Houston Ship Channel also benefited from continued strengthening in the refined products arena as 7% more tow movements were recorded for the month – besting the year-to-date figures by nearly 3%. When one focuses on the Port of Houston’s monthly vessel category statistics, not surprisingly, every vessel type was up. Non containerized cargoes that are typically transported by bulk and general cargo vessels were up 35.5% and nearly 29% respectively. However, bulk still remained off by 20% on a same-quarter basis while general cargo is up 11%. Containers and cars added to the monthly positive gains with 18% and over 62% respectively. Both LPG and tanker traffic remained below last year’s quarterly number but continued to gain ground with 12% and 34% monthly increases respectively. Of course, the darling of the vessel categories was the ubiquitous chemical tankers as 44% more of these vessel called upon Houston from February to March. This further secured its year-to-dateimprovement lead at more than 81%. For all of the good news in the last month or so, the first quarter of 2012 was still below that of 2011. This could simply be a reflection of a more measured growth pace in 2012 as the economy continues to firm despite Europe’s groaning debt picture. On the other hand, it could simply indicate that cautious optimism combined with uncertain global economic trends creates a reactive and unsteady market environment that does not lend itself to long term growth. Then again, it’s an election year so all of the gains may merely be a result of that optimistic and euphoric feeling that embodies all that is Spring.—T. Marian, Buffalo Marine Service


Top Ten Cruise Ship Deficiencies of 2011 As Found by the Cruise Ship National Center of Expertise and the Office of Investigations & Analysis Improper stowage of Combustibles Combustibles were stored in spaces not designed for that purpose (i.e. in Category 7 spaces considered low fire risk, or in Category 3 and 2 evacuation routes). These situations are addressed in a number of different ways ranging from removal and relocation of the combustible material (if it is evident the use of the space has been permanently changed) to recategorize the space including fitting of fire detection, suppression and Structural Fire Protection (SFP). Egress path found blocked or impeded Objects were found obstructing or creating a bottle-neck in a space designated as a category 4 escape route1. This could mean that a door was locked or an escape route was impeded or blocked in some way. Another example of this situation is when there are concession tables, advertisements, or displays located in an escape route. These situations were usually corrected on the spot by moving the obstruction to a designated stowage area or by moving a display out of the egress path. Fire screen doors did not close Fire screen doors did not fully close due to a damaged sequencing bar, air pressure differential between the two spaces on either side of the door, or the door simply did not fully close and latch. This is usually corrected on the spot by adjusting the door closure speed and force. Improper use of plastic waste receptacles Plastic waste receptacles are to be used in garbage rooms for sorting combustible waste or for stowing wet food waste. Plastic waste receptacles were not used in this fashion and thus caused a fire hazard. Rectification of this deficiency usually took 14 - 30 days and was completed to the satisfaction of the USCG by the vessel implementing proper procedures for using plastic waste receptacles. Improper use of hold back hooks/door wedges Doors adding to the structural fire protection of the vessel (cabin doors) were held open by a hold back hook / door wedge for convenience purposes thus negating the structural fire protection the door provides. Door wedges must be used in accordance with the vessel’s safety management system. Rectification of this deficiency usually took 7 days to clear and was done to the satisfaction of the RO and the USCG by the vessel implementing proper procedures for using door wedges. Malfunction of fire detection system / component, notably smoke/heat detectors Malfunctions typically found with individual detectors not working or not providing indication at the control station. If the deficiency was unable to be corrected on the spot, equivalent arrangements are made by the ship and approved by the RO and USCG until the component is brought back into full service. Malfunction of low location lighting system The low location lighting failed to light in an area where it is


installed. If the deficiency was unable to be corrected on the spot, the vessel was given 7 – 30 days to fix the problem and 10 was also provided an equivalent level of safety for the lights that failed to illuminate that was approved by the RO. Missing or inadequate muster station, embarkation station, exit sign Signage that leads through a category 4 space toward lifeboats or designated muster stations is confusing or inadequate. This deficiency was cleared by replacing any missing signage in accordance with the approved escape plan. It was also cleared by changing the escape plan to allow for better indication of an egress path and then ensuring the escape plan was updated and approved by the RO. Errors found on ship paperwork This includes errors or lack of ship’s statutory documents, vessel plans, or personnel documentation such as licenses and certificates. This deficiency was cleared by the company providing the proper paperwork or updates to paperwork from the issuing authority to the Coast Guard. Malfunction of emergency power system (emergency gener­ ator or transitional batteries) This includes emergency generators not supplying power or failing to start upon a loss of power. This also includes transitional power batteries not supplying adequate power for ship’s lighting. This deficiency was cleared by ensuring equivalent arrangements are made by the ship and approved by the RO and the Coast Guard until the system / component is brought back into full service.


Origins of The Houston Galveston Vessel Traffic Service Keeping Traffic Flowing by Looking Forward with a Focus on Prevention

What is a Vessel Traffic Service? The concept of monitoring ship movements through a shore-side radar station is generally accepted to have first appeared in the port of Liverpool in 1949. In 1956, the Netherlands established a system of radar stations for the surveillance of traffic at the port of Rotterdam. As VTS evolved and spread in Western Europe, the commercial well being of the port was the stimulus for new or expanded service. U.S. Concerns regarding vessel movements were first brought to light during The Cold War. The Magnuson Act of 1950 authorized the president to: “…govern the anchorage and movement of any foreign flagged vessels in the territorial waters; inspect such vessels at any time; safeguard against destruction, loss or injury from sabotage or other subversive acts, accidents, or other causes of similar nature, vessels, harbors, ports, and waterfront facilities … subject to the jurisdiction of the United States …”. The first Federal VTS was an outgrowth of a 1968 research and development effort in San Francisco Bay called Harbor Advisory Radar Project (HARP). It was, as the name suggests, an advisory activity and participation in the system was voluntary. Because it was voluntary, not all vessels availed themselves of the assistance or contributed to the service. At 0141 on January 18, 1971, the tankers Arizona Standard and Oregon Standard collided in San Francisco Bay under the Golden Gate Bridge, releasing 800,000 gallons of bunker C fuel. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) attributed the cause to the following:  Failure of both vessels to establish/maintain communications,  Navigating a narrow channel in dense fog,  Failure of the Oregon Standard to make timely radar contact  Loss of radar contact by the Arizona Standard, and  Negligence on the part of both masters. The incident received nationwide attention and resulted in two significant maritime safety related legislations:  The Bridge to Bridge Radiotelephone Act (Title 33 USC §1201, 33 CFR 26) and


The Ports and Waterways Safety Act of 1972 (PWSA) (Title 33 USC §1221).

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The latter act grants the Coast Guard authority to construct, maintain and operate Vessel Traffic Services. It also authorizes the Coast Guard to require the carriage of electronic devices necessary for participation in the VTS system. How Did the Ports and Waterways Safety Act of 1972 Kick Things Off? The purpose of the Ports and Waterways Safety Act (PWSA) was to establish good order and predictability on United States waterways by implementing fundamental waterways management practices. Using the PWSA as the authority and the San Francisco Harbor Advisory Radar Project as the operational model, the Coast Guard began to establish VTSs in critical, congested ports. San Francisco was formally established along with Puget Sound (Seattle) in 1972. Louisville, KY which is only activated during high water in the Ohio River (approximately 50 days per year) was started in 1973; Houston-Galveston, Prince William Sound; Berwick Bay (Louisiana) and the St. Mary’s River in Michican. New Orleans and New York provided services on a voluntary basis throughout the 1970-80's, however; these operations were curtailed in 1988 due to budgetary restraints, and, brought back on-line subsequent to the EXXON VALDEZ disaster, when the Coast Guard was mandated by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to make participation mandatory at existing and future VTSs. At 1300 on July 19, 1972 RADM J.D. McCubbin, Commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District, called to order the first meeting of the Houston Vessel Traffic System Advisory Committee, their charter was to: “Represent the Houston maritime community in a cooperative planning effort with the U.S. Coast Guard, review the progress of development, installation and operation of the system, and advise and assist the Coast Guard in:  Determining system characteristics, particularly with regard to system operations and to meet the unique problems posed by this waterway.  Education of system users.  Publicize system implementation.  Determine system effectiveness.” The membership of the committee was comprised of the Captain of the Ports of Galveston and Houston, presiding officers from the local Pilot Associations, General Manager of the Galveston Wharves, Deputy Director of the Port of Houston Authority, representatives from Inland Towing companies, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, and various other maritime associations and interests. On February 4, 1975 at 1400 VTS Houston-Galveston was commissioned, providing advisory service from the Sea Buoy to the Houston Turning Basin, including the Ports of Galveston and Texas City and the segment of the GICW that crosses the Houston and Texas City Channels. Participation in the VTS was voluntary. How did the Port and Tanker Safety Act of 1978 Amend the Coast Guard’s Mandate and Powers? At approximately 0600 on December 15, 1976, the Liberian tanker Argo Merchant went aground on Fishing Rip, 29 nautical miles southeast of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, in high wind and 10 foot seas. The vessel was carrying 183,000 barrels of No. 6 fuel oil. On December 21 the vessel broke in half aft of the kingpost, spilling approximately 36,000 barrels of cargo into the sea. The bow section split forward of the bridge and capsized on December 22, resulting in the loss of the remaining cargo. This incident resulted in the Port and Tanker Act of 1978 (PTSA), which amended the PWSA by authorizing the Secretary of the department under which the Coast Guard operates to: “in any port or place under the jurisdiction of the United States, in the navigable waters, or in any area covered by international agreement, establish, operate and maintain vessel traffic services, consisting of measures for conThe Argo Merchant Sinks into the Sea trolling or supervising vessel traffic or for protecting navigation and the marine environment…”. Additionally it authorized the Secretary to “require vessels which operate in an area of a vessel traffic service to utilize or comply with that service” as well as, install and use specified equipment necessary to comply with a vessel traffic service. The PTSA also gave the Secretary the “Special Powers” to: “…order any vessel to operate or anchor in a manner to which he directs…” Enter the Exxon Valdez On March 24, 1989, shortly after midnight, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound,


Alaska, spilling more than 11 million gallons of crude oil. The spill was the largest in U.S. history. The size of the spill and its remote location, accessible only by helicopter and boat, made government and industry efforts difficult and tested existing plans for dealing with such an event. In the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez incident, Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which required the Secretary (under whom the Coast Guard operates) to conduct a study and within a year, submit to Congress a report: “of whether the Secretary should be given additional authority to direct the movement of vessels on navigable waters and should exercise such authority; and to determine and prioritize the United States ports and channels that are in need of new, expanded, or improved vessel traffic service systems, by evaluating-(i) the nature, volume, and frequency of vessel traffic; (ii) the risks of collisions, spills, and damages associated with that traffic; (iii) the impact of installation, expansion, or improvement of a vessel traffic service system; and (iv) all other relevant costs and data. The Port Needs Study, as required by OPA 90, was delivered to congress in March 1992. It evaluated 82 deep-draft ports in 23 selected areas that load or unload 80 percent of the total U.S. cargo, Prince William Sound (the site of the Valdez oil spill) was not included in the study because Congress had already legislated in OPA 90 to improve and expand its VTS.

Exxon Valdez before the Accident

The study revealed substantial benefit from the operation of a VTS in seven study zones: Boston, MA; Corpus Christi, TX; Houston-Galveston, TX; Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA; Mobile Al; New Orleans, LA; and Port Arthur, TX. The Coast Guard already operated a VTS in Houston-Galveston and several other locations at that time but the report further prioritized 17 other locations for the establishment of VTS’s. The Port Needs Study laid the groundwork for the VTS 2000 initiative, a plan to implement the findings of the Port Needs Study and establish VTS’s in the 17 port areas without VTS’s and expand and improve the existing installations. In April 1996 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified before Congress regarding the status of VTS 2000 citing that the system’s benefits had not been demonstrated in ports under consideration, final costs were uncertain, support for VTS 2000 not widespread among key stakeholders. Most importantly the GAO reported that more cost effective solutions to VTS 2000 systems and alternative forms of VTS exist so in September 1996 Congress terminated funding for VTS 2000. OPA 90 and the Port Needs Study also led to the promulgation of the VTS National Regulations (33 CFR 161) which were promulgated in the Federal Register on July 15, 1994 and effective October 13, 1994. PORTS AND WATERWAY SAFETY ASSESSMENT A VTS Watchstander Keeps Careful Eye on Waterway Traffic

The 1997 Appropriations Bill, directed the Coast Guard “to identify minimum user requirements for new VTS systems in consultation with local officials, waterways users and port authorities” and also to review private / public partnership opportunities in VTS operations. As a result of this Congressional direction, the USCG established the Ports and Waterways Safety System (PAWSS) to address waterway user needs and place a greater emphasis on partnerships with industry to reduce risk in the marine environment. As part of PAWSS, the USCG immediately convened a national dialogue group comprised of maritime and waterway community stakeholders to identify the needs of waterway users with respect to Vessel Traffic Management (VTM) and VTS systems. Those stakeholders, representing all major sectors of the U.S. and foreign-flag maritime industry, port authorities, pilots, the environmental community, and the USCG, were tasked to: 1. Identify the information needs of waterway users to ensure safe passage; 2. Assist in establishing a process to identify candidate waterways for VTM improvements and VTS installations; and


3. Identify the basic elements of a VTS.

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The NDG was intended to provide the foundation for the development of an approach to VTM that would meet the shared government, industry, and public objective of ensuring the safety of vessel traffic in U.S. ports and waterways, in a technologically sound and cost effective way. Work done by the NDG led to the development of the Ports And Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) process, which was established to open a dialogue with waterway users and stakeholders to identify needed VTM improvements and to determine candidate VTS waterways. PAWSA provides a formal structure for identifying risk factors and evaluating potential mitigation measures through expert inputs. The process requires the participation of professional waterway users with local expertise in navigation, waterway conditions, and port safety. In addition, stakeholders are included in the process to ensure that important environmental, public safety, and economic consequences are given appropriate attention as risk interventions are selected. Over 35 ports / waterways have completed the PAWSA process, which generally VTS Personnel Maintain Careful Watch has been well received by local maritime communities and has resulted in some resoundover the Houston Ship Channel ing successes. The ultimate goal of PAWSA is not only to establish a baseline of waterways for VTS consideration, but to provide the local host and waterway community with an effective tool to evaluate risk and work toward long term solutions tailored to local circumstances. The goal is to find solutions that are both cost effective and meet the needs of waterway users and stakeholders. The Houston/Galveston Port complexes’ PAWSA Port Risk Assessment was conducted on January 25 and 26, 2009. with a workshop on July 14 and 15, 2009. The final reports of both can be found at http://www.navcen.uscg.gov. The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002—An Expanded Focus for the PWSA On September 11, 2001, members of the Al Qaeda terrorist network seized control of 4 airliners, and in a series of coordinated suicide attacks flew them into the World Trade Center buildings in New York, the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and the fourth was defended by the passengers and downed in an unpopulated field in Pennsylvania. A total of 2,996 people Continued on Page 16


Spotlight on CAPT Steve Nerheim, USN (Ret.) Director—Houston Vessel Traffic Service “You never think of yourself as a part of history, certainly I don’t, but one of these days I guess I should get to writing some of these things down for my family at least; then again, do I really want people to be reading about how I was running from a Shore Patrol in Athens – in Service Dress Whites, because as an enlisted Sailor, we didn’t rate civilian clothes in those days – and my buddy hit his head on a stop sign, and when we turned a corner, he looked at me, blood running down his head, saying “Is it bad?” and I looked at him and said “Doesn’t matter, we can’t stop running!” … I guess it was a different Navy back then, but that’s progress for ya’.” Born in Ludington, MI, and growing up in western Michigan in the 1950’s, Steve enlisted in the US Navy in 1968 and went to sea aboard WWII-era Gearing and Sumner class destroyers. As a petty officer, he was soon selected for the Navel Enlisted Scientific Education Program (NESEP) as the Navy looked to add scientifically trained officers to the ranks of the unrestricted line. He spent three years studying for his Geological Oceanography degree at the University of Washington before rejoining the fleet – “enough to know that Washington tries to fool you with good weather: the first ninety days I spent up there were beautiful, and then it rained from October to May.”

USS Enhance, (MSO-437)

Commissioning in 1975, he became a Surface Warfare Officer and started as a communications officer on a guided missile frigate before moving to become a boiler officer on the aircraft carrier America. His career took him across many ships and commands, from surface vessels to the operations desk at a destroyer squadron before, in May 1987, CDR Nerheim took command of the USS Enhance (MSO-437) where a former sailor remembers his “sitting on top of the doghouse during sweep operations… wearing a Detroit Tigers ball cap”. Three minesweepers later, Steve came ashore to study at the Marine Corps War College before assuming command of the Spruance class destroyer USS Caron where he participated in anti-mine exercises off the coast of Denmark.

Soon, CAPT Nerheim was posted as the American liaison to the NATO base at the Rock of Gibraltar where his office in the tunnels were steps away from General Eisenhower’s command post during Operation Torch during WWII. “If you read the General’s biography, he claimed that the drip of water through the limestone set everyone on edge with the constant sound; by the time I got there, they’d constructed real walls and ceilings, and I really enjoyed the time working with partner services like the British Navy on various operations and exercises.” USS Caron (DDG-970) Eventually, Steve found himself posted to the Army War College where he remained until his retirement in 2005. Nearing the end of his 37 year career, he heard of an opening at the Coast Guard’s Vessel Traffic Service in Houston, and jumped at the opportunity.

Captain Nerheim’s nearly 37 years in the US Navy begat interesting stories, however any discussion about his life begins with a variant on the statement: “You’re asking the wrong question: let me tell you about my people - the fifty hard-working men and women of the Vessel Traffic Service who are maybe the most frequent point of contact for many mariners with the USCG.” As the Director of the Houston Vessel Traffic Service, Steve overseas an operation that keeps traffic flowing along the waterways of HoustonGalveston-Texas City and over 400 vessel movements every day. “My people work their butts off to make sure that daily operations don’t turn into minor crises, and minor crises don’t turn into major ones; I inherited a great organization from my predecessors and preach patience, politeness, and professionalism – I think that if we can operate with pa-


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tience, politeness and professionalism, we can keep the can-do Texan spirit and effectiveness of this port growing to meet whatever challenges we’re faced with.” His approach at the VTS is to make the traffic system an integral and value-added service to the Port of Houston; “I’ve always believed that if someone’s checking in just because they have to, then we’re doing something wrong. We need to be a useful tool working with industry and I think we’ve been able to do that; we’ve seen a growth in the size of ships, number of ships, and number of terminals, and keeping everything flowing smoothly is a testament to the entire industry and how well we’ve been able to work together.” When Steve manages to find time for leave, he enjoys fly fishing, Tigers baseball, and his new hometown Astros, “who are really playing above and beyond the expectations of a lot of people this year; I think these kids are a lot better than people give them credit for”. Steve and his wife Chris have two grown sons of whom they are extremely proud; his son Pete is a Captain of Marines with the 24th MEU, and his other son Steven is a banker in Richmond, VA with Capital One. Origins of Houston VTS—Continued lost their lives in the attack, including 411 emergency workers. Congress acted quickly to secure the nation and prevent terrorist activity in the homeland, and among other actions the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) was passed and signed by the President on November 25, 2002. The Maritime Transportation Security Act amended the Ports and Waterways Safety Act to include “…security of United States Ports and Waterways.” The Act also requires vessels and waterfront facilities to maintain certain security practices and plans as well as subjects them to security inspections. The MTSA also accelerated the phase in period for Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) carriage requirements as well as additional carriage requirements for vessels operating on the navigable waters of the United States. With a focus on providing accurate, relevant, and timely information to mariners, port authorities, facility operators, and local, state, and federal agencies VTS HoustonGalveston facilitates the prevention of vessel collisions, allisions and groundings; and consequently reduces the potential for loss of lives and property, as well as the environmental damage associated with these incidents. VTS information also enables waterway managers, mariners, and advisory groups to better understand the processes at work in the port’s complex waterway system and to make improvements to those processes. Interacting with every vessel transiting the ship channel, the Houston-Galveston Vessel Traffic Service often engages in first contact with new arrivals and is a model of professionalism and efficiency welcoming mariners to Houston.


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(1) David Vise, Merryll Lynch and Ted Pardee, Dowley Security Systems; (2) Frank Schrader, Schenker, International, Robert Schwarz, Hartman Shipping, and Michael Halm, Albacor Shipping (USA) (3) Dave Cooley, 11 GHPB and Mike Vance, TASC (4) Philip Ugalde, Bank of Texas and Cecil Gray, Pasadena ISD (5) Ralph D’Onofrio, D’Onofrio Works Management, and Captain Robert Thompson, Houston Pilots Association (6) Kent Wardlaw, DGM Training Institute, 12 and Nathan Gaines, Caldwell Companies (7) Richard Almeada and Guillermo Lambarri, IBC Bank (8) David Halbert, Houston Mooring Company, and David Vise (9) Craig MacFarlane, Adobe Equipment, Karen Wheatley, and Reed Eastman, Reed Logistics (10) Joni Vollman and 13 Joe Pennington (11) Guy Hitt, Frost Bank, and Kathy Plemer, Chaffe McCall (12) James Nash, Port Freeport and Brad Maxcey, Danners, Inc. (13) Charlie Jenkins, Port of Houston Authority, Captain Mike Morris, Houston Pilots, and Bill Diehl, GHPB (14) Steve Nerheim 14 and Warner Welch, Houston Vessel Traffic Service, John Taylor, Houston Mooring Company, and Vinny Pilegge, Manchester Terminal Corporation (15) / (16) Gary Sera, TEEX, addresses the Commerce Club in April


Cooperation in Houston: Excerpts from a Case Study

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Following Hurricane Ike, VTS Director Capt. Steve Nerheim, USN (Ret.) wrote an article for the USCG Journal Proceedings wherein he described the spirit of cooperation that “Managed Chaos, Texas-Style” using the Port Coordination Team—a group whose form and function was captured and formalized by then-VTS Director, CDR Tom Marian, USCG. When Hurricane Ike roared ashore in Texas in September 2008, it carried a 15-foot storm surge and 100-mph winds into one of the nation’s largest petrochemical complexes disrupting regional infrastructure; decimating Galveston Island, the Bolivar Peninsula, and other lowlying areas; and damaging/destroying 58 percent of the aids to navigation along the Houston ship channel. This was not our first rodeo, and Ike was not our first heavy weather of the 2008 season, so while the storm was still churning east of Cuba, the Greater Galveston Bay Port Coordination Team convened to advise and inform the USCG captain of the port and implement/ operationalize his guidance and directives. Pre-landfall actions focused on sharing available information, promulgating the COTP’s intent, prioritizing last-minute arrivals, and clearing the port. Early season storms and near-misses contributed to a near-record population of more than 90 ships in port as Hurricane Ike approached. We anticipated that three reduced operational capability MSC ships and one chemical tanker with an engineering defect would weather the storm in harbor. With 11th-hour cargo operations completed, ships cleared, and those remaining securely moored, our focus shifted from emptying the port to securing the port. Many tasks occupied the PCT’s attention, such as sharing information on barge fleeting area preparations, the movement of horsepower between fleeting areas, movement of USCG assets and pilot boats to heavy weather berths, the location of harbor tugs, and updating emergency and post-landfall communications plans. Post-Landfall: Assess the Mess You can’t have a storm of this magnitude pass through the heart of the nation’s largest petro-chemical complex and expect anything but a mess. The port coordination team’s most recent previous experience was in returning fogdelayed or storm-diverted ships to intact facilities. The team had not yet dealt with a “mess” of this magnitude. Team members had to cope with wind and water damage to the Army Corps of Engineers Galveston Island office building, where survey data is normally evaluated; the devastation of USCG facilities on Galveston Island; a total Storm Damage to USCG Station Galveston lack of awareness of navigational channel conditions and no information on the condition of scores of facilities along those channels; and a certainty that the aids to navigation system supporting all waterways of Sector Houston/Galveston’s two COTP zones was shattered. “Moving traffic with a purpose” has always been the whole point of the PCT. In this situation, the regional devastation and initial uncertainty as to facility status and conditions was a new wrinkle for most port coordination team members. We needed to know things like: Who had a safe berth? What facilities had power, other services, available labor, and a need to receive raw materials or ship product? The COTP requested representatives from Houston, Galveston, Texas City, Freeport, and the offshore/ Gulfport lightering interests to assist in facility validation. They convened almost immediately at VTS Houston/Galveston. Armed only with laptops and cell phones, this group worked with sector prevention department facilities inspectors to develop a new selfassessment form and a facilities tracking system that provided the COTP with domain awareness down to individual berths. This system permitted optimization of the available facilities inspectors, who were then able to focus on facilities that had completed an internal self-assessment and were ready to receive vessels. The Way Ahead Surveyo rs, data analysts, Aids to Navigation personnel, and PCT members across the board made possible an astonishingly rapid reopening of an economically vital waterway. We were lucky that our telephonic infrastructure was only degraded, not destroyed, and was rapidly restored to full capability. We’re all proud of the port coordination team’s success, but we aren’t resting on our laurels. We have yet to solve, or even identify, all the problems the next heavy weather event or waterway incident will reveal to us, and are looking at webbased conferencing and new tools such as Twitter to enhance our information sharing. But, technology aside, it is our habitual relationships and the mutual trust and confidence among this group of Texas maritime professionals that makes the Greater Galveston Bay Port Coordination Team work. I’m confident that what we can’t solve or identify in advance, we can deal with in real time. –S. Nerheim, Houston Vessel Traffic


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May 2012 Port Bureau News