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Contents P r o f e s s i o n a l M a r i n e r      A u g u s t 2 0 1 3

Towing 12 Fifth-generation McAllister becomes top leader in family business, AWO

BY BRIAN GAUVIN

12

12 Correspondence 21 Overtaking or crossing? Don’t assume what other ship will do by Samuel R. Clawson, Jr

Book Review 43 O Pilot! Historical Sketches of the Coos Bay Bar Pilots

REVIEWED BY ALAN HAIG-BROWN

Trends & Currents

Industry Signals 4 In comments to Coast Guard, maritime groups urge caution on TWIC reader rule

7 Shipowners start shopping for ballast water treatment systems

11 U.S. preparing compliance system for the Maritime Labor Convention’s August deadline

4

44 When your license is at stake, hiring a consultant can make a difference

BY DAVID A. TYLER

A Mariner’s Notebook 48 Shorter training programs at public colleges are viable alternative

By Capt. Kelly Sweeney

www.professionalmariner.com

44

1


Leading the Way

PROFESSIONAL

MARINER JOURNAL OF THE MARITIME INDUSTRY

Customer Service: 1-866-918-6972 All Other Departments: 207-772-2466 Fax: 207-772-2879 www.professionalmariner.com

Editorial editors@professionalmariner.com

Editor Dom Yanchunas Assistant Editor Larissa Dillman Art Director Kim Goulet Norton

Gulf Coast Photographer/ Correspondent Brian Gauvin

www.mcallistertowing.com

West Coast Photographer/ Correspondent Alan Haig-Brown Columnist Capt. Kelly Sweeney

Advertising advertising@professionalmariner.com Photo: Peter Rodriguez

West Coast/Canadian/ International Susan W. Hadlock

East Coast Charlie Humphries

Gulf/Midwest Arthur Auger

Publisher Alex Agnew

Business

Business Manager Doreen Parlin

Finance Michael Payson Reprints Betsy White 877-394-7350

Website

Webmaster David Brunt

Subscription Services professionalmariner@pcspublink.com 1-866-918-6972 PROFESSIONAL MARINER (ISSN 1066-2774)

This magazine is printed in the U.S. Professional Mariner is published in February, March, April, May, June, August, September, October and December, with an annual special issue of American Tugboat Review in July and an annual special issue of American Ship Review in November for $29.95 per year by Navigator Publishing LLC, 58 Fore St., Portland, ME 04101. Periodicals postage paid at Portland, Maine, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Please send address changes to Professional Mariner, P.O. Box 461510, Escondido, CA 92046. Copyright © 2013 by Navigator Publishing LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without written permission from the publisher. Multiple copying of the contents without permission is illegal. Call 207-822-4350 x219 for permission. Subscription rate is $29.95 for one year (nine issues) in the U.S. and its possessions. Canadian subscription rate is $44.95 U.S. funds. Other foreign service is $49.95 U.S. funds. Overseas airmail is $94.95 U.S. funds. Multi-year discounts are available, call 866-918-6972 for details. Distribution: Newsstand distribution, domestically and internationally: Coast to Coast Newsstand Services LTD., 5230 Finch Ave. East, Suite 1, Toronto, ON M1S 4Z9. Phone (416) 754-3900; fax (416) 754-4900. Contributions: We solicit manuscripts, drawings and photo­graphs. Please address materials to Editor, Professional Mar­iner, P.O. Box 569, Portland, Maine 04112-0569. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee the safe handling of all contributed materials.

2

Professional Mariner August 2013


Contents P r o f e s s i o n a l M a r i n e r      A u g u s t 2 0 1 3

18

26

18 On the B.C. coast, regulations are catalyst for well-designed compact crew boats  BY ALAN HAIG-BROWN

Maritime Casualties 26 Three men burned when flammable vapors ignite, barge explodes 29 BC Ferries officer found guilty of criminal negligence in 2006 sinking 30 NTSB: Inadequate weather preparations, botched life raft launch led to Trinity II deaths

33 Probe: Tug sank in N.H. because of captains’ mistakes, boat design 36 Illinois River navigation halted after loose barges damage dam 37 Smoky fire at battery switch damages tugboat at California pier 38 Va. judge brings guilty verdict against tug captain who ran over skiff 40 Tugboat sinks, drifts underwater while it’s still attached to barge until towline snaps

41 Eleven barges sink after 114 break loose from Mo. fleeting area

18

42 Mississippi River closed after bridge strike breaks 30 barges loose

Vessels at Work 24 Weeks Marine suction dredge vital to restoring Louisiana’s coastline By Brian gauvin

ON THE COVER Cutter suction dredge C.R. McCaskill at work on a wetlands restoration project on the Mississippi River. See story, Page 24. Photo by Brian Gauvin

3 24


industry

Signals In comments to Coast Guard, maritime groups urge caution on TWIC reader rule

B

efore asking the industry to invest in Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) readers, the Department of Homeland Security should reassess the effectiveness of the entire program. That’s the consensus of many industry comments on the U.S.

Coast Guard’s proposed TWIC reader requirements. The Coast Guard solicited public comments via its website as well as public meetings. The comment period was extended 30 days until June 20, 2013, to allow for full industry participation. As part of the proposed rules,

Left, Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Lindsey Musselwhite checks Transportation Worker Identification Credential cards at Maryland’s Seagirt and Dundalk Marine Terminal. The operation ensured that each TWIC card is valid and that fingerprints matched what is on file. Below, the display on an electronic TWIC card reader.

Courtesy TSA

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

4

the Coast Guard classified vessels and facilities into three risk groups, prioritizing which vessels and facilities would be required to install and operate the readers and which could voluntarily install readers or rely on visual verification. Readers would be required only in the highest risk group that consists of vessels that carry certain dangerous cargoes in bulk, vessels certificated to carry more than 1,000 passengers and towing vessels that tow barges engaged in either of the first two activities. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union was among the commenters who said that the entire TWIC program should be reconsidered before rules on readers are implemented. “We urge the Department of Homeland Security to take a step back and order a neutral assessment of the efficacy of the TWIC program as a whole before imposing reader requirements on maritime employers and their workforces and adding to the program’s already high costs,” Leonard Carder, the union’s attorney, wrote in his comments. Carder mentioned the likelihood that port facility owners would reduce their security forces to offset the cost of the TWIC readers, lead-

Professional Mariner August 2013


ing to reduced security from human interaction on a daily basis. Other commenters cautioned that the Coast Guard should keep the TWIC program focused on identification verification rather than having it become an all-purpose ID card. On smaller vessels that would not require a reader, mariners would use the TWIC as a “flip pass,” or show it to security officers to board the vessel and gain access to secure areas. John Groundwater, executive director of the Passenger Vessel Association, in his comments asked the Coast Guard to remember that the “purpose of the TWIC reader is to ensure that the TWIC remains valid ... just because an employee holds a TWIC, it does not automatically grant unescorted access into a designated secure area.” Groundwater noted that many passenger vessels have secured areas separated by unsecured areas, so crew must walk through the passenger area moving between the engine room and pilothouse many times per day, for example. “In most cases the TWIC holder does not enter a secure area of a vessel and facility at the beginning of the shift and stay there,” Groundwater said. The King County (Wash.) Ferry District operates three water taxis on Puget Sound. Paul Brodeur, director of the county’s marine division, noted that access to the secure areas on the vessels is not manned, so “there would be no one to ‘flash’ their TWIC to.” The Offshore Marine Service Association asked the Coast Guard

www.professionalmariner.com

Audit: Unclear if TWIC improves maritime security The centerpiece of

portation Security

from the cards, and did

the nation’s port secu-

Administration began

not capture any reasons

rity program does not

pilot tests at four ports

why the cards could not

increase security and

to assess the technol-

be read.

the whole program

ogy and operational

should be reassessed,

impact of using the

the independent test

according to the U.S.

TWIC with card readers.

agent did not capture

Government Account-

The Department

data on malfunction-

ability Office.

Also, the TSA and

of Homeland Security

ing cards and did not

The GAO con-

report to Congress on

record data to compare

ducted an audit of the

the pilot tests conclud-

operational performance

Transportation Worker

ed that TWIC cards

at access points with

Identification Credential

and readers would pro-

TWIC readers.

(TWIC) card reader pilot

vide a critical layer of

program and found the

port security. However,

challenges, such as

results were “incomplete,

the GAO said the data

readers incapable

inaccurate and unreliable

did not support this

of recording needed

for informing Congress

conclusion.

data, prevented them

TSA officials said

and for developing a

“For example,

from collecting com-

regulation about the

DHS’s assumption

plete and consistent

readers.” The GAO com-

that the lack of a com-

pilot data. As a result,

pleted its report as part

mon credential could

the TSA could not

of the Coast Guard’s

leave facilities open

determine whether

Notice of Proposed

to a security breach

operational problems

Rulemaking on the

with falsified creden-

encountered at pilot

TWIC reader require-

tials has not been

sites were due to

ments after the Depart-

validated. Eleven years

TWIC cards, readers,

ment of Homeland

after initiation, DHS

users or a combination

Security submitted its

has not demonstrated

of all three.

assessment of the pilot

how, if at all, TWIC will

program to Congress.

improve maritime secu-

mends that Congress

rity,” according to the

halt DHS’s efforts to

GAO report.

promulgate a final reg-

The GAO audit questioned the program’s basic premise

The pilot program

The GAO recom-

ulation until the suc-

and effectiveness in

found weaknesses,

cessful completion of

enhancing security after

including the fact that

a security assessment

the results were found

the TWIC readers and

of the effectiveness of

to be unreliable.

access control systems

using TWIC.

In 2008 the Trans-

could collect the data

Gary Wollenhaupt

5


sea

the world

industry signals

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to reconsider the rule that would require inland fleeting areas that receive barges carrying certain dangerous cargoes to install a TWIC reader. Sarah Branch, director of government relations, noted that these fleets are “merely parking lots for barges” often without a nearby facility or even access to land. Also, towboat crew changes would be impeded by crews having to run the TWIC through a reader

before boarding a vessel that already has its own security requirements, Branch added. The Coast Guard rule proposal included additional requirements associated with electronic TWIC readers — recordkeeping requirements for those owners and operators required to use the reader and security plan amendments to incorporate TWIC requirements. Gary Wollenhaupt

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Approved For Veteran’s ’s s Training Traini i ing ining

A breakdown of the ves-

(2) vessels subject to 46

Risk Group C: (1)

sel categories in the U.S.

CFR chapter I, subchap-

Vessels carrying non-

Coast Guard’s proposed

ter D, that carry any flam-

hazardous cargoes that

rule requiring TWIC elec-

mable or combustible liq-

are required to have a

tronic readers:

uid cargoes or residues;

vessel security plan; (2)

(3) vessels certificated

vessels certificated to

highest group: (1) Ves-

to carry 500 to 1,000

carry fewer than 500

sels that carry certain

passengers; and (4) tow-

passengers; (3) towing

dangerous cargoes

ing vessels engaged in

vessels engaged in tow-

(CDC) in bulk; (2) ves-

towing a barge or barges

ing barges subject to

sels certificated to carry

subject to paragraphs

paragraphs (1) or (2); (4)

more than 1,000 pas-

(1), (2) or (3). Vessels

mobile offshore drilling

sengers; and (3) towing

and facilities in this group

units; and (5) offshore

vessels engaged in

would be required to

supply vessels subject

towing barges subject

use an electronic TWIC

to 46 CFR chapter I,

to paragraphs (1) or (2).

reader for Maritime

subchapters L or I. In

These vessels and facili-

Security Levels 2 and 3.

this group, vessels and

ties would be required to

During MARSEC 1, the

facilities would use the

use an electronic TWIC

TWIC would be used as

TWIC for visual identi-

reader at all times.

a visual identity badge.

fication. TWIC holders

Risk Group A, the

Risk Group B, the

6

TWIC readers would be

would have their TWICs

second highest risk

used on a random basis

scanned with a reader

group: (1) Vessels that

at least once per month

during Coast Guard

carry hazardous materials

to perform identity verifi-

inspections and random

other than CDC in bulk;

cation.

checks.

Professional Mariner August 2013


F

or years, commercial maritime fleet operators have known that stricter rules for ballast water discharges were on the horizon. In the spring of 2013, three regulatory milestones occurred that mean it’s now time for engineers to spring into action. In late March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its new Vessel General Permit (VGP) final rule. As expected, the regulation adds tighter standards for ballast water discharges, in hopes of limiting the spread of invasive species and pol-

lutants. The VGP specifies a compliance schedule that will prompt the installation of ballast water treatment systems on ships, with a series of deadlines that begin arriving in just a few months. The month after the VGP was made public, the U.S. Coast Guard announced a list of treatment systems that it has accepted for use for a five-year period. Then in May, the international Marine Environment Protection Committee reached an agreement on water sampling, port state control, vessel inspections and detentions.

Courtesy Severn Trent De Nora

U.S. shipowners start shopping for ballast water treatment systems

The BalPure BP-500 ballast water treatment system is one of eight Severn Trent De Nora models that have been accepted as Alternative Management Systems by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Environmental Protection Agency requires retrofits on certain vessels to begin as early as next year.

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7


industry signals

U.S. Coast Guard announces first wave of accepted ballast water treatment systems This past spring, the U.S.

who have gone ahead

Ecochlor; BlueBallast

Coast Guard announced

and installed a foreign-

from NK Co.; GloEn-

a list of ballast water treat-

administration-approved

Patrol from Panasia

ment systems that may

system on the ship and

Co.; OceanGuard from

be used in U.S. waters for

they want to use it in

Qingdao Headway

a period of five years.

U.S. waters,” said Cmdr.

Technology Co.;

The initial roster

Ryan Allain of the Coast

CleanBallast from RWO

includes products under

Guard’s Office of Envi-

GmbH Marine Water

nine brand names. More

ronmental Standards.

Technology and Veolia

makes and models are

“During the five years,

being added as proper

it’s really incumbent upon

Technologies; BalPure

paperwork is submitted

the maker to get the sys-

from Severn Trent De

and the Coast Guard

tem type-approved by the

Nora, and BalClor from

gives the go-ahead. At

Coast Guard,” Allain said.

SunRui.

this point, the Coast

An up-to-date list

Guard considers the

for our clients,” said Jim

— and copies of their

accepted products as

Mackey, key accounts

letters of acceptance

Alternate Management

manager with treatment

— can be found on the

Systems (AMS) for treat-

system manufacturer

Coast Guard Homeport

ing ballast water.

Hyde Marine, which had

website. Choose the

All of the currently

25 of its Hyde Guardian

Environmental mission on

accepted models had

models accepted by the

the left.

previously been approved

Coast Guard. Hyde prod-

The Coast Guard-

by foreign nations such

ucts are already installed

accepted systems won’t

as Norway, Germany,

on about 190 vessels.

automatically be type-

United Kingdom and

“We were scrutinized,

approved later.

South Korea. Later, the

and it helped the Coast

“An AMS gives a

U.S. Coast Guard will

Guard to understand the

signal that the maker is

undertake its own pro-

process a little bit,” Mack-

serious about getting

cess of “type approval,”

ey said. “But the type

U.S. type approval and

which will be a much

approval process will be

they are going down

lengthier, more strenuous

much more rigorous.”

the path, but it’s not a

protocol involving analysis by independent labs.

8

“It’s a necessary step

Water Solutions and

Other accepted

guarantee,” said Jad

brands in the U.S.

Mouawad, senior engi-

“AMS is really a

Coast Guard’s initial

neer for piping systems

bridging strategy that

announcement were

and pollution prevention

the Coast Guard has

PureBallast from Alfa

at Det Norske Veritas.

provided for shipowners

Laval Tumba AB;

Dom Yanchunas

The regulatory decisions give the maritime industry the long-awaited information it needs to begin its push toward installing ballast water treatment systems on vessels. With compliance deadlines rolling out in 2014 and 2016, shipowners need to recognize the scale of the decisions they soon will need to make, said William Burroughs, BalPure product line manager at Severn Trent De Nora. “Never before in the maritime industry has anybody ever done water treatment to this extent,” Burroughs said. VGP applies to commercial vessels greater than 79 feet in length, except for certain vessels that discharge in only one captain-ofthe-port zone. Unless the operator complies using other methods, the VGP requires ships to install ballast water treatment systems as retrofits at their scheduled dry dock after the beginning of 2014 or 2016. Ships with a ballast capacity of 1,500 to 5,000 cubic meters need to install at the next scheduled dry dock after Jan. 1, 2014. This includes many offshore supply vessels, anchor-handling tugs and small general-cargo ships. A ballast capacity of less than 1,500 cubic meters requires an installation at next dry-dock after Jan. 1, 2016. Many crew boats, oceangoing tugs and large fishing vessels fall into this category. The same deadline applies to the largest cruise, container and bulk ships plus tankers and car carriers whose capacity is greater than 5,000 cubic meters.

Professional Mariner August 2013


www.professionalmariner.com

lesser-capacity ultraviolet filter system on a smaller vessel can be around $200,000. There are many methods for killing microorganisms and removing water pollutants. Aside from UV, various manufacturers offer treatment systems that use filtration, chlorination, electrolysis, biocides, oxygen depletion, ultrasonic methods, heat or combinations thereof. Jim Mackey, key accounts manager with Hyde Marine, said the VGP schedule for 2014 and 2016 require shipowners’ attention now. Mackey’s Cleveland-based company manufactures Hyde Guardian

Courtesy Hyde Marine

The learning curve and lead time to arrange an installation are considerable, so vessel owners need to begin their research and accounting as soon as possible, said Jad Mouawad, senior engineer for piping systems and pollution prevention at Det Norske Veritas. “Familiarize yourself with the convention and talk with the makers,” Mouawad said. “The most important planning would be putting a budget aside. Depending on the size of the ship, it can be $2 million to $3 million per ship.” The multimillion-dollar price tag would apply to the largest tankers and bulk carriers. A

The Hyde Guardian HG-700 ballast water treatment system installed aboard a roll-on, roll-off ship. Hyde’s cleansing process employs filtration plus ultraviolet light.

9


industry signals

ballast water treatment systems, which use filtration and UV. “It’s absolutely time to get serious,” Mackey said. “Engage yourself with a manufacturer and perhaps engage a consultant. It’s time to do an evaluation of your fleet to determine where your vessels fall in this time line. That will tell you when you need to engage marine engineers to plan the work. ... You have to be conscious of the planning time, engineering time, dry-docking time and installation time.” Any new vessel with a keellaying date after Dec. 1 of this year needs to have its treatment system installed before it launches. The wave of retrofits after New Year’s Day of next year and in early 2016 is expected to create a scheduling crunch, so owners should study their product and installation options now. “You need to dry dock because you’re breaking into the main ballast lines and you end up cutting into the side shell of the vessel,” said Jim McGillivray, BalPure sales manager. The process requires “one year to 15 months lead time to do

10

it in a relaxed and calm fashion.” The installation itself takes about 15 to 18 days, McGillivray said. BalPure is a biocide-based treatment system. One large fleet operator that is trying to stay ahead of the game is Crowley, which is already planning numerous installations for 201415. When the final VGP schedule was released in March, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company prepared a spreadsheet with due dates for each oceangoing vessel, including tankers and articulated tug barges. Bill Metcalf, Crowley’s vice president for strategic engineering, said his company is asking manufacturers for technical details. For example, some ballast water treatment systems need more onboard machinery and space than others. “We’ll probably do our tankers first because they’re very active and we ballast them a lot,” Metcalf said. “Our dry-deck-cargo fleet is going to be more of a challenge. There is no power on board and there is no piping on board.” The EPA arrived upon the compliance dates, which are identical to the Coast Guard’s

schedule in a separate rulemaking, because they proved to be the most realistic by the time the new VGP was finished. “The big thing to highlight is how closely aligned the Vessel General Permit came with the Coast Guard regulation,” said Cmdr. Ryan Allain of the Coast Guard’s Office of Environmental Standards. “With the draft VGP, there were some implementation dates that were retroactive. EPA wound up coming out with a final permit that match our implementation dates.” The EPA decided that the vessel inspections would be conducted by the Coast Guard, which already boards ships anyway for maritime safety and security checks. “It’s good that they’re cooperating, because it lets the owner know that there’s going be one (agency) — the Coast Guard — boarding the ship,” said BalPure’s Burroughs, whose company is based in Sugar Land, Texas. “They have to rely on the Coast Guard’s manpower on the waterfront to actually do the inspections.” Dom Yanchunas

Professional Mariner August 2013


U.S. preparing compliance system for the Maritime Labor Convention’s August deadline

A

n international labor agreement creating standards for the working conditions of mariners goes into effect Aug. 20. The Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) sets the worldwide rights of mariners to decent conditions of work and living. The goal is to create a level playing field for countries and shipowners so they are not undercut by competition from poorly run ships, according to the convention document. Among the many parts of the treaty are rules for mariners’ employment, hours of work and rest, accommodations, health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection. There’s one catch: The United States has not ratified this convention. But vessels from countries that have not adopted the maritime convention still must meet the convention’s standards when sailing to countries that have adopted the treaty. So U.S.-flag ships could be subject to lengthy inspections when traveling to these countries. The Coast Guard is working on a voluntary inspection program for shipowners and operators to show compliance, through a certificate, with the requirements of the MLC, according to a draft Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) published in March. Although it is a voluntary program, owners of U.S.-flag vessels should take part, said Joseph Cox, president of the Chamber of

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Shipping of America. “I would advise any American shipowner to get the voluntary certificate,” he said. “Whether it will be something that is persuasive to a Port State Control, we don’t know yet.” About 200 U.S.-flag vessels are impacted by the MLC, Cox said. As of May, 40 countries have ratified the treaty, representing over 69 percent of the gross tonnage of the world’s ships, according to the website of the International Labor Organization. U.S. ships which travel only in the Great Lakes and waters east of the Strait of Juan de Fuca are exempt from the convention. Although Canada has ratified the treaty, the Coast Guard is working with Transport Canada to create an agreement that would allow each country to recognize current regulations as complying with the rules set down by the Labor Convention. One goal of this agreement would be to allow vessels of less than 500gt operating between ports in the U.S. and Canada to not be subject to an MLC inspection or to carry a certificate showing voluntary compliance with the convention. Canada is confident this agreement will be reached by Aug. 20, said Karine Martel, a spokeswoman for Transport Canada. The U.S. Coast Guard hoped to have the final version of its NVIC published by summer, said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Gagnon of the

Coast Guard’s Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance. Voluntary compliance certificates from class societies can be issued soon after the NVIC is out, he said. Shipowners who want the Coast Guard to issue the certificate will have wait several months, he said, because the program has to be approved by the federal Office of Management and Budget. The Coast Guard certificate does not have the same legal status as the MLC, said Douglas Stevenson, director of the Center for Seafarers’ Rights at Seamen’s Church Institute. “There is no obligation for any country to accept this certification,” he said. Despite that, Stevenson said the voluntary certificate should carry some weight internationally. “Even if the foreign port does not accept that certificate as the Maritime Labor Certificate, they will at least be ahead of the game in terms of getting an inspection,” he said. “They will have their ducks in a row.” Cox said the U.S. has been a supporter of the Maritime Labor Convention. The agreement is in the final stage of review by federal government agencies. The final step will be consideration by the U.S. Senate. It is important for American shipping for the MLC to be ratified by the U.S. “Management and labor want this,” Cox said. “To not do this puts us in a disadvantaged position in our international trade and for American shipowners.” • David A. Tyler

11


ATR Update

Towing

Story and photos by Brian Gauvin

Fifth-generation McAllister becomes top leader in family business, AWO tugboat, towboat and barge industry. If addresses mean anything in the tugboat world, then McAllister’s 17 Battery Place location, with New York harbor beckoning out of the 12thstory windows, is a great one. The halls and offices tell the McAllister story Left, Buckley McAllister recently was elevated to president of McAllister Towing and Transportation Co., which operates tugboats including Eileen McAllister, below.

T

he first half of 2013 was eventful in the life of Brian Buckley McAllister. First it was announced that Buckley, the son of Capt. Brian McAllister and a fifthgeneration member of the famous New York tugboat family, was promoted to president of McAllister Towing and Transportation Co. (MT&T), a posi-

12

tion his father held since 1984. The elder McAllister remains as chairman of the company founded in 1864 as the Greenpoint Lighterage Co. by Capt. James McAllister. Then, in May, Buckley was elected chairman of the American Waterways Operators (AWO), the national trade association representing the


and a good portion of the harbor’s history is detailed in a profusion of prints, paintings and vessel models, arranged in a spatial competition between office and museum space. On a bright brisk afternoon this past spring, Buckley was sitting in the conference room flanked by a model of the z-drive tug Rosemary McAllister, named for his mother. The view behind him was of shimmering water rendering the Statue of Liberty a dark abstract shape piercing the tremulous light reflecting off the choppy water. Capt. Brian McAllister appeared in the room, hovered for a moment, and said, “It seemed a good time to pass things along, but I’m still here looking after the boys,” and then disappeared. The boys — there are five of them working in the company — are Buckley, president; Eric, chief financial officer; Capt. A.J. McAllister III, senior vice president of sales; Andrew, vice president, and Capt. Jeffrey McAllister, senior docking pilot in the port of New York. “I think one of my first jobs was going to work for Arthur Fournier up in Belfast, Maine,” said Buckley. “I can’t remember

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how old I was, but I was certainly younger than a person should be working on a tugboat. I remember asking if there were any child labor laws that would apply and everyone just laughed and said, ‘Child labor laws don’t apply when your parents own the tugboat.’” During high school and college, Buckley worked stints at MT&T’s operations in Charleston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Hampton Roads and also in Houma, La., where the company had a fabrication yard and a fleet of crew boats and OSVs. “At Christmas break during my senior year in college I went to Puerto Rico. And there was one really great trip sometime between my junior and senior year of college that we went through a reasonable sized storm off the Florida Keys, and I thought there are worse things you can do other than staying in school. So I went on to become an attorney and practiced law for four years in California, and got married out there.” Buckley McAllister graduated from Hamilton College, cum laude, in 1989 and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in 1993. He worked for four

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towing years as an associate at Hill Betts & Nash LLP, before joining McAllister Towing in 1998 as the company’s vice president and general counsel. In 1996, McAllister won a legal battle over ownership of the company, saving the company name, and its beloved tugboat and Bridgeport & Port

what we were going to pay ourselves, how we were going to run this place. Very, very good people had already been running it for a decade, but that was the date when the McAllister family regained full control of the business. I came in as vice president and general counsel.” The first order of busi-

Jefferson Steamboat Co. from a sell-off. “I came home to help out with the split-up of the company in 1997,” said McAllister. “So my wife Beth and I, and our son Rowan, moved back into my room that I had when I was in high school. Aug. 3, 1998, was my first day working for the company. I’d already spent a year working on the split, but that day we all came in and decided what our titles would be,

ness was to upgrade the company’s ferry fleet with a new ferry, the 306-foot P.T. Barnum, named for the famed circus impresario who was one of the original owners of Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Co. The new ferry was delivered from Eastern Shipbuilding’s Panama City yard in 1999. P.T. Barnum joined Park City and Grand Republic, built in the 1980s. The latter ferry was replaced with a

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From left, MT&T Chairman Capt. Brian McAllister, President Buckley McAllister and Chief Financial Officer Eric McAllister gather around a model of tug Rosemary McAllister at the company’s New York office. Below, McAllister’s Staten Island yard.

new 300-foot ferry of the same name built at Eastern in 2003. “At that point it was clear that McAllister was behind in the tractor tug race,” said McAllister. “We went back to Eastern because we had a good relationship with them and we knew that they built good boats,” Eastern Shipbuilding delivered the 4,650-hp Janet M. McAllister, named for McAllister’s daughter, in 2001, the first of MT&T’s modern z-drive fleet. Then came Vicki M. McAllister, Emily Anne McAllister, A.J. McAllister, Shannon McAllister, and Reid McAllister and Gregg McAllister. “Then we stepped up to 6,000 horsepower with the Rosemary and Andrew,” said McAllister. “The Andrew is up in Portland, and the Rosemary, named for my mom, is on charter to Bay-Houston Towing.”

Janet is on charter to Bay-Houston Towing and Shannon is chartered to Suderman & Young Towing, both Houstonbased companies operated by G&H Towing. A.J. McAllister and Emily Ann McAllister are FiFi-1 certified tugs on contract to the Cove Point LNG terminal on Chesapeake Bay. All of the above ASD vessels were designed by Jensen Maritime Consultants of Seattle. “The key thing for us is listening to our customers and trying to anticipate what their needs are and figuring out how to take care of them,” McAllister’s president said. The past four years have been hard on those customers, especially in the deep-sea market, which took a big hit in the economic crash. But the shipyards, particularly in Asia, continue to deliver ships, creating a global inventory

Professional Mariner August 2013


of vessels that, for the present, outstrips the need. “The shipyards are continuing to deliver vessels and the companies that have vessels that are just 15 years old are scrapping them,” said McAllister. “You have these large fleets of vessels and there’s just too much capacity chasing the cargo. It’s going to take a long time for that market to find an equilibrium. So even as the trade routes rebound, there is so much capacity that companies such as OSG can’t get out from under

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the burden of debt that they have. And we just saw OSG go bankrupt, which is unfortunate.” The subject of short-sea shipping seems to creep into every conversation related to the Panama Canal’s expansion project. The construction is slated for completion in 2014, but the wild speculation of a continuous stream of container vessels flooding the East Coast terminals of a few years ago has been tamed by reality. “I’m optimistic but it’s going to take a lot of

work,” said McAllister. “It would be great if it happened and it makes a lot of economic sense.” McAllister pointed out that one major problem facing short-sea shipping is the blunt economic competition between water and road commercial transportation. Simply put, it costs more to load and unload a lift-on, lift-off barge than it does a truck. “It has to do with the stevedoring cost,” said McAllister. “You get charged for a maritime lift if it’s going onto a barge and that maritime lift is a

much higher cost than the gate fee for lifting onto a truck.” McAllister cites one of MT&T’s customers, Columbia Coastal Transport, as a good example of the dilemma faced by short-sea shipping. MT&T operates the barge tow for Columbia Coastal’s container barge service from Norfolk, Va., to Baltimore and Philadelphia. “Ultimately Columbia Coastal is the best example. They’re running this business the best they can, but

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towing the trucks are getting the vast majority of cargo that’s using the I-95 corridor. If you’re driving on I-95 you see a lot of ocean containers. They’re getting the bulk of the cargo and that is ultimately determined by raw economics.” Increasingly, natural disaster is muscling with economics for front-page attention. This spring, the bird’s eye view of Battery Park from McAllister’s conference room revealed a disheveled swath of uprooted earth and tangled tree limbs punctuated by backhoes and enclosed in chain link. Hurricane Sandy’s pressure wash of Lower Manhattan last October rendered several buildings, including 17 Battery Place, uninhabitable for months. MT&T employees were displaced from their offices until mid-March, but the company’s New York fleet, operating from its Staten Island yard, tugged on through it all. “The good news is that our tugs and ferries were able to operate throughout the storm without a hitch,” said McAllister. “Phone systems were down but we were able to maintain contact with the Coast Guard through VHF radio throughout the crisis. For me, what it really highlights is that

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resiliency is a critical aspect of our operations, and resiliency is something we are going to keep in mind every time we design our systems or make investments in our business. “The teamwork in New York harbor is fantastic. When you look at how much damage there was to shoreside infrastructure and how quickly the harbor was returned to operational, it is really heroic. And it makes me extremely proud to be in the maritime industry to think of all of the sacrifices that all of the deck-plate folks did to keep the harbor running.” Prompted by Morton Bouchard of Bouchard Transportation, McAllister joined AWO shortly after joining MT&T. “Morty Bouchard called me and said, ‘Bucky you’ve got to get involved with the AWO. It’s a good organization for the industry.’ So I started attending meetings and getting involved and ultimately joined the board about five years ago.” From there the progression ascends to Atlantic region vice chairman, Atlantic region chairman, vice chairman and chairman. McAllister’s election to chairman of the AWO comes at a demanding time for the marine industry. Perhaps the hottest topic

crowding the offices and pilothouses of the industry is the looming Subchapter M towing inspection regulations that are mired in uncertainty and creating anxiety over the cost of compliance. Another topic concerns the capricious nature of the Mississippi River system, running at flood one year, plunging toward coulee status the next. Mark Twain would surely have something to say on this subject. “In the last year, probably one of the biggest issues the AWO worked on is the low water issues in the Mississippi River,” McAllister said. “That was a very dramatic event for the whole industry and a very complicated policy issue with many stakeholders.” Following the floods of 2011, the water level in the Mississippi River dropped quickly and dramatically during the 2012 drought, especially at Thebes Gap, the geological break point between the upper and lower Mississippi, located between St. Louis, Mo., and Cairo, Ill. As the water dropped, rock pinnacles reared their heads, first slowing and then threatening to halt commercial navigation in the winter of 2012. “The AWO went

to the Army Corps of Engineers and said, ‘Let’s see what we can do here.’ And between October and January, the Corps targeted those rock pinnacles as an issue that they were going to tackle. And even in this environment of serious, budgetary constraint, the Corps was able to green light that project.” The Corps dredged, blasted, dredged and released water into the river from nearby lakes to keep river commerce flowing, an amazing feat when you consider the glacial pace of the Corps and the “do nothing but squabble” nature of Washington. “If you take a look at how hard it is for the Army Corps of Engineers to move ahead with some of the lock and dam projects they’ve got, that was really miraculous,” said McAllister. “They blasted them out and added two feet of draft to the Mississippi River at that location. And that was one of the pinch points.” Ask someone on the waterfront or on a workboat what they think of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card and you may get a response more suited to the subject of a tick.

Professional Mariner August 2013


The AWO spotted one aspect of the TWIC card renewal process that seemed, not just silly, but onerous on marine industry people, especially those who resided far from a decreasing number of TWIC card centers. “The AWO spotted that as an issue and began the legwork with elected officials to eliminate the need for a second trip to a TWIC center to get fingerprinted and pick up the card,” said McAllister. “And despite the gridlock you hear about in D.C., the AWO was able to get that legislation passed. So that’s another milestone to be proud of. I think there are over 2 million TWIC cards out there. When you count all those second trips it’s a stunning number of trips.” McAllister keeps a personal, signed letter he received from Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire thanking him for bringing the AWO and mariners’ issues to her attention. The senator introduced a bill to direct the Department of Homeland Security to reform the TWIC enrollment process to require only one visit. “I was one of many people working on this but it is something when a U.S. senator responds with a letter like this in response to

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having sponsored the bill that eliminated the second TWIC card center visit,” McAllister said. The senator expressed her support for the inclusion of a ballast water standard in the Coast Guard reauthorization bill, another issue with which AWO is concerned. “The EPA is now on their second round of Vessel General Permit regulations,” said McAllister. “Related to that is the issue of ballast water standards and no discharge zones (NDZ). Some of these environmental regulations put a burden on maritime commerce, and at a certain level they can affect the seaworthiness of a vessel because of storage issues and configuring the storage in multiple tanks.” McAllister pointed out the efficiency, cost and environmental benefits of short-sea shipping on a ton-per-mile basis as compared to commercial truck transportation, especially in a congested urban environment such as the Interstate 95 corridor, connecting the tip of Florida with the Canadian border in Maine. “But part of that efficiency is having operational parameters that are workable,” said McAllister. “Some types of regulations have had to be suspended

because it’s not even possible to comply with them. It’s not a product of bad intentions. It just calls for a lot more educating and working through the best ways to make our industry efficient while recognizing the environmental stewardship that our industry represents. “There’s no doubt that the New York harbor today is a lot different than when I was growing up. I think that everyone would say that the improvement in the environmental conditions in the harbor is a great thing. It’s something we all want to continue to improve, period.” Building on the environmental benefits that the marine industry offers to commercial transportation, McAllister points out that the industry is a good provider of good jobs. MT&T is a member of the Marine Response Alliance (MRA), teamed up with Crowley Maritime, Titan Salvage, Marine Hazard Response, and Marine Pollution Control, to respond to maritime emergencies. McAllister stated that developing a work force that not only provides better service to McAllister’s customers, but also is trained and ready to work within the MRA to respond to differ-

ent contingencies — 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy to wit — is of great benefit to the port. “Those are big issues that express themselves differently in different parts of the country but those will be the issues that I will be concerned with,” he said. “For the AWO, the best thing we can do is to educate policy makers about the consequences of the various types of decisions that they might make. On a national and regional level, more familiarity with the reality of vessel operations and the need to enhance maritime commerce helps to make sure that the legal framework within which we’re working is reasonable, workable and effective.” Big issues they are, but a president of a modern tugboat company still has a fleet to run. Capt. Brian McAllister and Eric joined Buckley in the conference room for a family photo with the model of the tug Rosemary McAllister. The trio launched into a jocular conversation revolving around the 5,150-hp ASD Eric M. McAllister, under construction at Senesco Marine of North Kingston, R.I. A sister vessel to Eric, also designed by Jensen Maritime, is rumored to be named Buckley McAllister.• 17


On the B.C. coast, regulations are catalyst for well-designed compact crew boats Story and photos by Alan Haig-Brown

Below right, a new Daigle Marine crew boat undergoes sea trials. Above, the command center for a crew boat going into marineresearch service at British Columbia’s Hakai Pass.

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he greater part of the rugged inlets and islands that make up the British Columbia coast are accessible only by floatplane or boat. Most floatplanes take only three to five passengers and not a lot of freight. Heavy cargos are hauled on ramp barges or landing craft. When a larger crew or smaller freight needs to be transported, the role of the crew boat or water taxi has become paramount. Recognizing that requirements for larger passenger vessels make no sense for small, near-shore boats, Transport Canada regulations define a set of standards for Small Commercial Vessel Compliant boats. These are generally under five gross registered tons and not more than 8.5 meters, or 28 feet, in length. They include exhaustive regulations with regards to stability, electrical systems, fire/heat sensors and alarm panel, engine air vent closures, CO2 extinguishers and a wide range of other

details. As any builder will assure you, these are indeed comprehensive. Each new vessel requires completion of a detailed compliance report that includes eight pages with 137 specific items as well as spaces to describe the waters where the vessel will operate. Transport Canada Personnel

regulations define certification for operators of passenger vessels with 12 passengers or less, requiring Small Vessel Operators Proficiency (SVOP) and MED (medical) A3 certificates. The certification for such operators is less stringent in terms of sea time and formal course work than the 60-ton

Professional Mariner August 2013


masters certificate required for passenger vessels over five gross tons — 28 feet, or more than 12 passengers. This makes it possible for a logging company or sport fishing lodge to employ a skipper for their own crew boat more readily than if they were to meet requirements for larger passenger vessels. Similarly small charter crew boat operators can employ people with appropriate levels of competence for their service. As a result of the above two sets of regulations, British Columbia boatbuilders have developed a compact vessel that meets the above regulations for vessel design, construction and less stringent crewing regulations. In a perfect marine world, form would always follow function. But regulations have led to tonnage frames and

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doors that can be used in the calculations to reduce registered tonnage on many U.S. and Canadian tugs. In fish boat design there is often a length limit that leads to boats with chunky 2:1 length-to-beam ratios. Happily for B.C., the 12-passenger 28-foot crew boat builders have reached a compromise that is at once pleasing to the eye and maintains a high level of functionality. Invariably built in aluminum and, in most cases, with one or two diesel inboards, dozens of these hardy little vessels do vital work to service both industry and recreational needs on the Pacific Coast of Canada. It is not unusual to see these boats, which comfortably provide seating for 12 with a 10.5-foot beam, taking kids to school in island communities, taking loggers or tree planters in to up-coast camps for their work week or delivering tourists from the end of the high-

way or a land-based airport to sport fishing lodges on coastal islands. It is reasonable to assume more than 6,000 passengers use these vessels each day on the West Coast. Loggers and salmon farmers are notoriously hard on equipment, so many of the earlier versions of these crew boats were pretty rough and ready vessels built within the Transport Canada requirements. But over the years, many operators, particularly those carrying guests to fishing lodges, have specified additional features within the mandated envelope. As people carriers, often competing with the charter floatplanes for market share, speed and safety are important. At the same time, even inside waters on the B.C. coast can see some steep sharp choppy waves when winds go counter to tidal flows. Anyone familiar with the 1960s deep-V hull designs from C. Raymond Hunt will

The bottom and transom for a crew boat newbuild at Daigle Marine in Campbell River, British Columbia. Daigle is known for its proven hull design.

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Above, a crew boat belonging to Bute Inlet Lodge doing a freight run out of Quathiaski Cove. The vessel is carrying building supplies. Below, Discovery Launch operates a water taxi service from the Campbell River waterfront.

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recognize the generational influences on these hulls. As with all discussions of modified deep-V, and planing hulls in general, much thought is given to deadrise and the transition from a steep deadrise on the bow to a reduced deadrise aft. The focus is often the advantage or disadvantage of carrying the steep forward deadrise to a more or less reduced deadrise at the transom. Too much deadrise and it will take a lot of power to get up and planing, and stability is compromised. Too little, especially forward, and the passenger’s teeth will be rattled when pushing into a 30-knot westerly blowing down Johnstone Strait against a 3- or 4-knot ebb tide.

Steve Daigle, building at Campbell River on Vancouver Island, has been a leader in custom-built 12-passenger crew boats. “Our hull design is well proven so we don’t vary that hull form, but the customer can specify the options,” he said. Each vessel is designed for the end use in mind. This is much easier than taking an existing production line boat and converting it for some use other than that for which it was intended. In mid-March, Daigle had one of his 31-by-10.5-foot “Eagle Craft” crew boats nearing completion in his shop alongside a half dozen other vessels of varying sizes and in various stages of completion. The red-hulled boat for a marine research institute at Hakai Pass halfway up the B.C. coast was being finished to a very high standard. Daigle’s passenger vessel hulls have an 18.5-degree deadrise aft at the transom with a gradual increase over the length of the hull. Keel doublers and lift strakes are welded to the bottom that also provide grounding protection along

with a log guard mounted just ahead of the props. They generally use a quarter or 5/16inch 5086 alloy hull plate with transverse frames on 24-inch centers. Most boats are powered by a single six-cylinder 330-hp Volvo D6-330 or 370 engine turning a DPH Duoprop leg or a pair of D4-260 Duoprop 260-hp engines. There is a four-inch reverse chine, a narrow horizontal stripe extends from the stern, where it helps provide initial lift and stability. It continues forward to the bow where it serves to knock down spray. Various builders have developed their own modification of the shape of the hull with some using less deadrise to allow less horsepower. A few boats in this class have been built with outboard power. Others have modified interiors to function as patrol craft or pleasure boats. These vessels are fitted out with the latest in marine electronics, suspension seats, head compartments, safety equipment, paint jobs, non-skid deck surfaces and sound-proofing. Fortuitously the British Columbia crew boat is one of those cases in which government working with industry have created regulations and good design principles that have resulted in a vessel design and construction that needs not compromise form and function to regulations. Unfortunately for Canadian builders, the U.S. Jones Act does not allow any vessel used in the U.S. for “commercial use” to be built anywhere other than the U.S. • Professional Mariner August 2013


Correspondence

by Samuel R. Clawson, Jr

Overtaking or crossing? Don’t assume what other ship will do

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he overtaking situation is generally regarded as a type of vessel encounter presenting the least risk to the vessels involved. This is primarily due to the fact that, in contrast to crossing and head-on situations, overtaking often involves low relative speeds between the vessels, resulting in a more slowly developing situation that the mariner is better able to appreciate, analyze and react to. Despite this perception of low risk, mariners must be aware that there are certain risks inherent to overtaking. Overtaking situations frequently require vessels to be in close proximity to each other for extended periods of time, resulting in an increased danger of collision between vessels if there is a failure to appreciate a change in course or speed of one of the vessels, as well as potentially limiting both vessels’ maneuverability, which may be required as other crossing or head-on traffic is encountered. Furthermore, the starboard quarter approach, one of the most nuanced aspects of the overtaking situation, presents a very real risk to both vessels when there is a lack of appreciation of the situation or a misapplication of the rules, which can lead to confusion as to the status and responsibilities of vessels. Consider the following hypo-

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thetical scenario. It is a calm, clear night in the western approaches to the English Channel. Charleston, a 950-foot containership, is outbound on a west-southwesterly course making 20 knots. Houston, a 550-foot petroleum product carrier, is outbound on a westerly course making 12 knots. Houston is 22 nm southwest of Charleston when Charleston first begins to track it on radar, but Charleston has not seen it visually at that time. The situation continues to develop and Houston is 16 nm southwest of Charleston when Charleston is able to make out its green sidelight and white masthead lights. By the time the vessels are eight miles from each other, neither vessel has altered course or speed and there is a zero-nm closest point of approach. At this point, the vessels converse on VHF radio and it becomes apparent that there is a disagreement between them as to the status of Charleston. Houston believes that Charleston started out as an overtaking vessel, that a subsequent change in bearing between the two vessels cannot make it a crossing vessel, that Charleston is the give-way vessel and that Charleston should alter course or speed to keep out of the way of Houston. Charleston believes that Houston, although stating the

applicable rule correctly, has misapplied the rule to the situation and its analysis is flawed. Charleston has no doubt that this is a crossing situation, that Houston is the give-way vessel and that Houston should alter course or speed to keep out of the way of Charleston. How should this encounter, which one vessel sees as an overtaking situation and the other vessel sees as a crossing situation, be resolved? ColRegs Rule 15 governs crossing situations and states that, “when two power-driven vessels are crossing so as to involve risk of collision, the vessel which has the other on her own starboard side shall keep out of the way and shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid crossing ahead of the other vessel.” ColRegs Rule 13 governs overtaking situations and states that, “any vessel overtaking any other shall keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken.” This rule applies to all vessels, not just power-driven vessels, as is the case in crossing and head-on situations. The rule does not require the overtaking vessel to maneuver in any particular manner, generally allowing an overtaking vessel to pass on either side of the overtaken vessel. However, care should be exercised by the overtaking vessel to maintain an appropriate distance off the

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correspondence

Virginia Howe illustration

overtaken vessel to prevent the effects of interaction, as well as to ensure that it is well clear of the overtaken vessel before any subsequent alteration of course ahead of the overtaken vessel. Rule 13(b) states that, “a vessel shall be deemed to be overtaking when coming up with another vessel from a direction more than 22.5 degrees abaft her beam,” such that only that overtaken vessel’s stern light and neither of its sidelights would be visible at night. Thus, there are clear tests that can be employed, which are intended to eliminate any doubt as to whether a vessel is overtaking or crossing. A vessel may employ the use of radar and automatic radar plotting aids to determine its relative position and angle of approach, as well as observe the lights of other vessels. Despite these efforts at providing a bright line test for determining one’s status, there are certain factors, such as the failure to track a vessel on radar or the range at which lights may become visible and identified, which may lead to uncertainty. However, Rule 13(c) attempts to resolve any uncertainty as to the status of an

In this starboard quarter approach, the relative position of the vessels and configuration of navigation lights change over time. While the steering and sailing rules apply to vessels in sight, this scenario can still lead to confusion as to whether this is an overtaking or crossing situation under certain circumstances. Never assume the other vessel shares your view of which rules apply. Be prepared to take evasive action.

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overtaking vessel by stating that, “when a vessel is in any doubt as to whether she is overtaking another, she shall assume that this is the case and act accordingly.” Finally, Rule 13(d) states that, “any subsequent alteration of the bearing between the two vessels shall not make the overtaking vessel a crossing vessel within the meaning of these Rules or relieve her of the duty of keeping clear of the overtaken vessel until she is finally past and clear.” Rule 13(d) is intended to resolve the starboard quarter approach problem. Whereas a vessel coming up on another vessel’s port quarter would be the give-way vessel regardless of whether it is an overtaking or crossing situation, the same cannot be said for the starboard quarter approach, where the vessel coming up would be the give-way vessel in an overtaking situation and the stand-on vessel in a crossing situation. Rule 13(d) is intended to prevent such a shift in status by prohibiting an overtaking vessel, by virtue of a change in its position relative to the overtaken vessel, from becoming a crossing vessel once it is less than 22.5 degrees abaft of its beam or in such a position as to see its running light and masthead light(s) and not its stern light. Despite the bright line tests for overtaking status, default assumption of overtaking status, and prohibition on shift in status from overtaking to crossing set forth in Rule 13, the starboard quarter approach nevertheless presents problems in application. Mariners who are competent in Professional Mariner August 2013


their knowledge of the ColRegs are still subject to misapplication of the rules resulting from faulty appreciation or analysis of the situation. Consider the previously mentioned hypothetical scenario involving Charleston and Houston wherein the vessels disagreed about the status of Charleston as either an overtaking or crossing vessel. The key to analyzing this scenario is the relative position and angle of approach of Charleston at the time Charleston was able to make out Houston’s green sidelight and masthead lights. Rule 13 governing the overtaking situation and Rule 15 governing the crossing situation are part of the steering and sailing rules and, as such, Rule 11 states that these rules “apply to vessels in sight of one another.” Rule 3(k) states that, “vessels shall be deemed to be in sight of one another only when one can be observed visually from the other.” The implications of this definition are significant, as only visual observations made by the mariner’s eye, as aided by binoculars or other optical aids, meet the requirement of being in sight. As Craig H. Allen, University of Washington law professor, retired U.S. Coast Guard officer, and recognized authority on the ColRegs, notes rather tongue-incheek in the eighth edition of Farwell’s Rules of the Nautical Road, “there are those who would argue that even observations using these optical devices should be excluded. Whether these hair splitters would exclude eyeglasses as well is unclear.” Regardless, it is clear that for vessels to be in sight of www.professionalmariner.com

one another, there must be a visual observation by the mariner and not merely an electronic observation, e.g. tracking by radar. In the aforementioned scenario, while Charleston was initially more than 22.5 degrees abaft of Houston’s beam when it began tracking Houston on radar, Charleston was less than 22.5 degrees abaft of Houston’s beam when it was able to make out Houston’s lights. As a result of its relative position and angle of approach at the time the two vessels were in sight, Charleston was not locked in as an overtaking vessel, but rather enjoyed the status of a crossing vessel to starboard. Accordingly, Houston should take early and substantial action by altering course or speed in order to keep out of the way and well clear of Charleston and, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid crossing ahead of Charleston. However, there is room for confusion in the starboard quarter approach where factors such as differences in vessels’ height of eye and visibility of lights can lead vessels to reach different conclusions about the rights and responsibilities of vessels involved in the encounter. It is entirely possible that Houston would maintain the validity of its analysis and insist that it is the stand-on vessel in an overtaking situation. In that event, even if Houston had incorrectly analyzed the situation, Charleston would be permitted and eventually required to take action under the rules even as the stand-on vessel in a crossing

situation. Rule 17 would allow Charleston to take action to avoid collision by its maneuver alone when it became apparent that Houston was not taking appropriate action and would require Charleston to take action to avoid collision when it became apparent that collision could not be avoided by the action of Houston alone. While a seasoned deck officer may not consider the starboard quarter to be one of the most esoteric aspects of the ColRegs, it is a fine example of the importance of not only knowing the ColRegs, but also the importance of analyzing situations accurately and applying the ColRegs correctly. As this scenario demonstrates, a lack of appreciation of the situation or a misapplication of the rules can lead to confusion as to the status and responsibilities of vessels. Mariners involved in a starboard quarter approach situation should never assume that the vessel ahead/to port considers itself to be the give-way vessel in a crossing situation or, likewise, that the vessel astern/to starboard considers itself to be the give-way vessel in an overtaking situation and should be prepared to take avoiding action as necessary in accordance with the rules. • Samuel R. Clawson Jr. is an attorney with Clawson & Staubes LLC in Charleston, S.C., who holds an unlimited tonnage merchant marine deck officer’s license and has sailed for a major international container liner. He has lectured on topics including terrestrial navigation and Rules of the Road. 23


vessels

At Work Weeks Marine suction dredge vital to restoring Louisiana’s coastline Photos and story by Brian Gauvin

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n a drizzly Gulf Coast morning in March, the Weeks Marine cutter suction dredge C.R. McCaskill was pumping a thick mud sludge of dredge spoil through a 30-inch diameter pipe at 400 psi on a sixmile journey into Louisiana’s marshland. It took the mud 25 minutes to reach its destination. “The project is called a Beneficial

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Use Project,” said the project manager, Brett Dupuis. Working just north of Head of Passes at the mouth of the Mississippi River, the dredge was re-working a dredge disposal area and sending the material into the marsh to make peninsulas for marsh creation. “The fingers grow vegetation to hold the material in and the marsh fills in between the fingers,” said Dupuis. In the past quarter-century, Louisiana wetlands have drowned at the rate of one football field an hour according to a recent survey by the U.S. Geological Survey. That adds up to 16.57 square miles per year of prime hurricane protection and wildlife habitat. Perhaps if we played football in the marsh, there would be more public uproar. However, the new Weeks Marine 293-foot dredge was designed and constructed to move massive amounts of material quickly in order to build barrier

berms and to restore lost marshland. Charlie McCaskill, the dredge’s namesake and the company’s dredging division technical and equipment manager, began his dredging career in 1976. McCaskill migrated to Weeks Marine when the New Jersey-based company acquired the Louisiana-based dredging company T.L. James. “This is the most modern cutter suction dredge in the country with Tier 2 engines and fully automated controls,” said McCaskill. “I’ve never seen a new vessel start up with such ease. Especially one with such complexity.” C.R. McCaskill was constructed in Louisiana at the Weeks Marine Houma Repair Facility from modules fabricated and purchased from companies throughout the U.S. The hull and forward superstructure were manufactured by Corn Island Shipyard in Lamar, Professional Mariner August 2013


Facing page, top, cutter suction dredge C.R. McCaskill adjusts an intake pipe during a wetlands restoration project on the Mississippi River near Head of Passes. Bottom left, dredge pump No. 1 on the job, moving material to pump No. 2.

Ind. The custom-built switchgear and power distribution equipment were supplied by Avid Controls of Cypress, Texas. At the working end, the A-frame, cutter ladder, ladder hoist, cutter, underwater pump, pump motor and swing winches were fabricated by SPI/Mobile Pulley Works of Mobile, Ala. GIW and Mobile Pulley Works supplied the dredge pumps. “Each pump has a custombuilt two-speed gear, built to our specs by Horsburgh & Scott,” said McCaskill. “The two pumps are in line and allow flexibility to pump at maximum pressure and still be able to push with the same horsepower.” The MP1 and MP2 pumps are powered by two 5,680-hp GE Tier 2 diesels. Three 2,000-hp Tier 2 diesels provide power to operate the cutter, winches, spuds, underwater pump and hotel load. “The dredge was engineered and built with all of the best available technology in order to impact the environment in the least invasive way,” said McCaskill. One new dredge, high-powered and environmentally friendly as it is, isn’t going to bring back all of those lost football fields, but C.R. McCaskill is a big part of a huge effort to stabilize the wetlands. “The peninsulas already out there have stood up against Katrina and Rita and other storms,” said Dupuis. “They’re still here, so they’re doing their job.” • www.professionalmariner.com

Above left, Chief Engineer Dustin LaGrange with two 5,680-hp GE 16V 250 Tier 2 engines. Above right, the 30-inch pipe wraps around the dredge’s starboard side to connect with the No. 2 pump. Left, C.R. McCaskill oiler John Brown, in training to be a watch engineer, monitors the pumping system.

Above, a mud ball forms as a result of disgorging six miles of 30-inch pipe at the project’s disposal site. Right, dredge operator Javier Pena enjoys both a panoramic and electronic view of the operation and the river.

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maritime

Casualties Flames erupt into the sky after flammable vapors caught fire, causing explosions involving two barges in Mobile, Ala. Three crewmen were injured.

Tad Denson

Three men burned when flammable vapors ignite, barge explodes hree people suffered severe burns when an empty gasoline barge T exploded and later sank near down-

town Mobile, Ala. According to a preliminary U.S. Coast Guard investigation, gasoline vapors that accumulated on and around the barges during cleaning at the Oil Recovery Co. Marine Terminal traveled into the engine room of a passing tugboat and ignited at about 2040 on April 24. One member of the cleaning crew and two people aboard the tugboat Safety Runner were injured in the

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blasts, the Coast Guard said in a news release. “The resulting explosions and fire critically injured three persons, created a 30-gallon oil spill in the Mobile River, caused fire damage to the tug and destroyed the two tank barges,� Coast Guard Lt. Mike Clausen said in a statement. The injured men were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and the fires were put out by the City of Mobile Fire Department and local harbor tugs outfitted with fire monitors.

Several local and federal agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), also are investigating the incident. According to the Coast Guard, cleaning crews from Oil Recovery Co. had begun cleaning the two gasoline barges owned by Kirby Inland Marine shortly before the explosions. The crew was pumping residual gasoline from the barges and using mechanical blowers to ventilate the fumes.

Professional Mariner August 2013


maritime casualties

Early into this process, however, all of the blowers were shut down while crews began repairs on one blower that was malfunctioning, the Coast Guard said. This allowed gasoline vapors to collect around the barges’ tanks and on the water’s surface immediately adjacent to the barges. Safety Runner arrived at the same pier as the workers were repairing the blower. As the vessel approached, vapors from the gasoline barge traveled into the tugboat’s engines and engine space, ignited and caused a brief fire, the Coast Guard said. “The resulting fire spread across the accumulated flammable vapors from the towing vessel and back to the adjacent tank barges,” Clausen said. “This chain of events caused the flammable vapors within the tank barge’s cargo tanks to explode and engulf the barges in fire.” Six other explosions soon followed, creating a massive fireball. The explosion tore a hole in the gas tanks and ultimately sank the gas barge and another barge nearby. The explosions were heard up to six miles away and damaged a building more than 150 feet away, Clausen said. The blasts temporarily disrupted repairs on the cruise ship Carnival Triumph across the bay, he said. The sunken barges are Kirby 28194 and Kirby 28182, the Coast Guard said. A lawsuit filed on behalf of Texas resident Casey Tyson, one of the injured men, accuses several parties of negligence, including Kirby Inland Marine, of Channelview,

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Texas; Oil Recovery Co. of Alabama, and AEP River Operations of Chesterfield, Mo., which owns Safety Runner. Tyson’s attorney, Skip Finkbohner of Mobile, declined to comment. Oil Recovery Co. and Kirby Inland Marine did not answer requests for comment. “The investigation of the explosion remains ongoing and a cause has not yet been determined,” said Melissa McHenry, director of external communications for AEP. “Our thoughts continue to be with the injured individuals and their loved ones.” There are several safe methods for venting gasoline vapors, said John Hess, project manager with the Portland, Maine, consulting firm Safety Management Systems. One calls for pumping an inert gas into the tank to sharply reduce the oxygen levels, thereby preventing combustion. Another calls for using special mechanical blowers to safely ventilate the fumes through vents located well above the deck. Regardless of the method, he said the goal is to reduce the presence of oxygen and gasoline vapors below the flammable range of the gasoline. There are several “best practice” guidelines for safely venting gasoline fumes. The International Safety Guide for Oil Tankers and Terminals, or ISGOTT, publishes a widely followed set of standards, Clausen said. OSHA also publishes safety guidelines. Clausen said the Coast Guard is not pursuing criminal charges. Casey Conley

Professional Mariner August 2013


BC Ferries officer found guilty of criminal negligence in 2006 sinking

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he officer in charge of the bridge during Queen of the North’s fatal accident in 2006 has been convicted of criminal negligence. Two passengers were missing and presumed drowned after the BC Ferries vessel struck a rock and sank March 22, 2006. Karl Lilgert was the fourth officer on Queen of the North and was in the wheelhouse with the quartermaster when the ship missed a scheduled turn at Sainty Point in Wright Sound. The vessel collided with Gil Rock adjacent to Gil Island on British Columbia’s North Coast. The vessel was on a routine trip from Prince Rupert on the North Coast to Port Hardy on northern Vancouver Island. Of the 101 passengers and crew aboard, 99 abandoned ship and were rescued, but passengers Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette were never found. The survivors were plucked from lifeboats and rafts by fishing vessels in the area, Coast Guard responders smithberger13h 2/15/05 3:01 PM Page and residents from the nearby First Nations community of Hartley Bay. They were taken to Hartley Bay for

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preliminary care before being taken to Prince Rupert. In 2008, a Transportation Safety Board of Canada report into the sinking attributed the mishap to human error and determined that a “conversation of a personal nature” was among the factors that distracted Lilgert from his duties. The report said Lilgert and the quartermaster had not followed the “basic principles of safe navigation” in navigating the vessel. On May 13, 2013, a jury in Vancouver convicted Lilgert of criminal negligence causing death. During the nearly four-month trial, the 59-year-old defendant testified that he was attempting to navigate through rough weather and avoid two other vessels when the vessel struck Gil Rock. At the trial, evidence from Queen of the North’s electronic chart system, which kept a record of the ship’s position and course, showed that the ship traveled in a straight line from the position where it should have changed course and instead headed straight for Gil Island with

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no change in course or speed. Evidence at the trial reached soap-opera proportions as it confirmed that Lilgert and the quartermaster had recently broken up after a sexual affair that the two had conducted aboard ship. The Crown prosecutors in the case suggested that Lilgert neglected his duties. They said Lilgert missed the turn and then failed to take any action to avoid the island or even slow the ferry down because he was distracted by the quartermaster, either because they were arguing or having sex. Lilgert denied the accusation. Lilgert’s lawyer argued that Lilgert’s work was hampered by poor training, unreliable equipment, inadequate staff policies within BC Ferries and the poor weather. His defense argued that the system, not Lilgert, should be blamed for the crash. Lilgert was scheduled to be sentenced in early summer. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment. His lawyer has indicated that he intends to appeal the conviction. Michel Drouin

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5/24/12 12:24 PM


maritime casualties

NTSB: Inadequate weather preparations, botched life raft launch led to Trinity II deaths

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he Trinity II disaster that killed four people happened because of poor weather planning and mishandling of life rafts, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has ruled.

Courtesy Steve Myers

The deaths occurred after the crew of the 94-foot jack-up lift boat abandoned the vessel in Mexico’s Bay of Campeche during Hurricane Nate on Sept. 8, 2011. After two life rafts failed to deploy properly, the 10 crewmembers clung to a life float for three days. They had evacuated Trinity II because the vessel’s 145-foot stern jacking leg failed due to the force from the waves and from the weight of water on the deck, the NTSB said in an April 2013 report. An earlier, more orderly evacuation never happened because Hurricane Nate was

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Courtesy Mexican Navy

Longtime crewmates, from left, Craig Myers, Jeremy Parfait, Nicholas Reed and Ted Derise gather aboard Trinity II, at right, about a year before the ill-fated evacuation during Hurricane Nate. Myers and Reed were killed.

born of a rapidly forming local storm that surprised the crew. Two of the men killed were mariners with Trinity Liftboat Services of New Iberia, La. Another was an employee of seismic explorer Geokinetics, which had chartered the boat. The fourth was a contract oil worker. Investigators said Trinity and Geokinetics had prepared hurricane contingency plans, but they never had time to evacuate the Trinity II crew in the face of this particular storm. The NTSB said the probable cause of the deaths was the companies’ failure “to adequately plan for the risks associated with a rapidly developing surface low-pressure weather system, which ultimately subjected the elevated lift boat to hurricaneforce conditions, causing the stern jacking leg to fail and the onboard personnel to abandon the vessel.” Exacerbating the risk was “the failure of the Trinity II crewmembers to make effective use of the vessel’s available lifesaving equipment, resulting in the personnel’s prolonged exposure to the elements while awaiting rescue.” Nate was not preceded by the customary hurricane warnings because

no tropical storm had yet formed whose direction could be tracked. “The plans assumed that weather systems affecting the area of operation would arrive from the east and thus provide a few days’ advance warning,” the investigators wrote. “Further, neither plan would be activated unless a named tropical weather system approached the area. However, in this accident, the conditions that eventually would produce Hurricane Nate developed locally from a strengthening surface low-pressure system. “As a result, the company hurricane plans were never activated, and the personnel on board the Trinity II had minimal advance warning to prepare.” The NTSB recommended that Trinity Liftboat Services and Geokinetics revise weather-preparedness plans to include contingencies for surface low-pressure systems and nontropical storms. When they decided to abandon ship, Trinity II’s mariners failed to make proper use of all safety equipment available to them — in particular the two life rafts and the vessel’s emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB). “Inflating the life raft on deck — instead of throwing the canister containing the life raft into the water, which was the proper method and was clearly illustrated in the launching instructions posted where the life rafts were stowed — caused the life raft to blow away from the deck in the hurricane-force winds and vanish in the rough seas,” the NTSB wrote. “The second life raft was also lost in the high winds after a large wave

Professional Mariner August 2013


hit the canister, causing the life raft to inflate while still aboard the vessel.” Crewmembers reported that they didn’t grab the EPIRB because it was stowed in an area of the boat where a crane was swaying dangerously in the wind. “The EPIRB, had it been brought along and activated, would have enabled search-and-rescuers to narrow the search area and reduce the time the men had to spend in the water,” the report said. Francis Spagnoletti, an attorney representing some of the victims, agrees with the NTSB’s findings on the inadequate weather planning. “The standby vessel should have been there for them,” Spagnoletti

said. “They should have taken these guys off the day before.” Spagnoletti said he hopes the Trinity II disaster focuses the industry’s attention on the safety of lift boats in the Gulf of Mexico. He said Trinity II, built in 1982, can work safety along a coastline but not offshore. “That class of vessel should not be operating in tropical weather conditions in any kind of exposed environment,” Spagnoletti said. “You put (crew) in questionable circumstances whenever you put them out there in the summertime.” Spagnoletti disagrees with the aspect of the report that questions the mariners’ actions during the harrow-

ing evacuation, including attempts to deploy life rafts in 70 mph winds. “They were doing the best they could under extreme circumstances, so I take exception to that,” he said. Trinity Liftboats didn’t respond to a request for comment on the NTSB report. Houston-based Geokinetics also didn’t respond. The NTSB recommends that the Offshore Marine Service Association inform members about this casualty. The Coast Guard and OMSA should emphasize the need to tailor weather planning to such circumstances and to make clear that life rafts should not be inflated out of the water. Dom Yanchunas

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Professional Mariner August 2013


Probe: Tug sank in N.H. because of captains’ mistakes, boat design

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sinking of a tugboat at a New Hampshire bridge was blamed, in part, on the failure of the crew to change the mooring arrangement when the tidal current reversed. While participating in a reconstruction project, Benjamin Bailey capsized on Oct. 24, 2012, alongside the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth, N.H. The current flipped the boat after ill-conceived action by the captains, open hatches and the design of the fuel system, according to the U.S. Coast Guard investigative report. The capsize moment occurred while the captain was attempting to maneuver the tug away from barges using a “reverse, forward, reverse” sequence, while fuel moved from the port fuel tanks to starboard fuel tanks. The boat listed 5°, and there was a 3-knot ebbing current. “Water is starting to cascade over the low freeboard and the freeing ports are unable to adequately flush the deck of standing water. The back and forth movement from the tug maneuvering continues to push water onto the deck of the Benjamin Bailey pushing the starboard side of the vessel further underwater,” the report said. The three crewmembers escaped without injury. The tug was declared a total loss. The Coast Guard is pursuing an enforcement action against the tug owner, Riverside & Pickering Marine Contractors of Eliot, Maine. Coast Guard personnel observed an estimated 225 gallons of red-dyed marine diesel fuel discharging from the tug

www.professionalmariner.com

into the Piscataqua River, creating a visible sheen on the water. The report blames human error and unclear company policy for the accident. The primary cause was the captain failing to change the position of the tug before the tide began to ebb. The problem was compounded when the relief captain on duty left to get lunch about 30 minutes before the accident, the report said. When he left, the full-time port captain, who usually runs the tug but was supposed to be off that day, boarded to help with a repair job. But the captain made the problem worse in the actions he took to save the vessel, the Coast Guard concluded. Upon arrival shortly before 0700, the captain moored the vessel on the port side with a line run to one of the barges. The bow of the boat was touching a second barge in front of it. The crewmember opened the engine room watertight door on the port side that opens to the outside of the vessel. The captain and a crewmember conducted “routine preventative maintenance,” the report states. One project was replacing the shaft packing on both propellers. Because the deck hand didn’t know how to complete the task, the port captain agreed to come in on his day off to assist. He arrived about 1100 and called the relief captain to ask him to bring a hard hat and life jacket to the parking lot. The relief captain left his cell phone in the pilothouse and the crewmember was unaware that he had left the vessel. The captains met in the parking

lot and a hard hat and life jacket were handed over. But “there was never a pass down,” the report states, and the relief captain “retained the role as ‘on hire’ captain for the day.” The relief captain walked away to get lunch. High tide was expected at about 0757 and the river tide began to ebb at about 0900. Around 1100 the tug began listing to starboard. When the port captain boarded about 1116 he immediately asked the crewman why the ship was moored in the same configuration as when it first arrived. “The tide was ebbing 3 knots perpendicular to the Benjamin Bailey’s starboard beam, giving the vessel a few degrees of a starboard list,” the report said. The watertight engine room door on the port side was still open and the line locker hatch on the bow was open. That was where shaft packing material was stored. With the vessel listing 5° to starboard, the port captain told the crewmember that the “vessel needs to be moved. I’m not comfortable with the vessel’s current position.” He ordered the deck hand to start the generator to power the engines and capstans. He ran a line from the starboard quarter capstan down the starboard side, through the port side bullnose on the bow, around the front of the tugboat’s push knee and to a kevel off the starboard bow of the tug on the adjacent deck barge. For seven minutes, the captain adjusted the capstan settings and the line because he was not getting the power he wanted. The captain estimated he had made three turns on

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maritime casualties

the gate line but with each turn the rubber fenders on the side of the vessel gripped tighter against the adjacent barge, holding Bailey in place. With the water now ankle-deep at the capstan, the captain slackened the

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gate line and ran to the pilothouse. He attempted to use the engines to free the tug, first moving in reverse, then forward, then reverse. Abeam of the 3-knot ebbing current, the boat became unstable and its list was exac-

erbated by the weight of shifting fuel. “The vessel is designed with a manually operated sluice valve that remains open to allow for even consumption of fuel between the port and starboard forward fuel tanks and the port and starboard aft fuel tanks,” the report states. “Once the Benjamin Bailey began to list, due to the force of the ebbing tide, it is believed that the fuel transferred from port to starboard giving the vessel starboard list and was unable to recover even keel because the vessel was being pinned against the crane barge on the Benjamin Bailey’s port side.” The crew “abandoned the Benjamin Bailey seconds before the vessel completely submerged,” the report states. “The force of the ebbing tide, pushing the vessel further underwater, eventually caused water to enter into the engine room through the open watertight door on the port side and open line locker hatch on the bow; however, neither are believed to have caused the original capsize,” the report states. “The tide began to ebb long before” the two captains met in the parking lot at approximately 1115,” the report states. The relief captain decided to leave the vessel in the original mooring position because of “his comfort level having been a mariner for nearly 30 years.” The report said the attempt to move the vessel away from the barge with the engines was a mistake because it brought more water on board. Had the crew attempted to move the vessel with just the capstan first, the Coast Guard report said they

Professional Mariner August 2013


might have had better results. “The use of a ‘gate line’ and starboard quarter capstan to move the bow away from the two barges was a good attempt,” the report states. “However, the force of the ebbing tide and current, against the starboard beam of the Benjamin Bailey, was too much.” The Coast Guard cites “preconditions” that contributed to the accident, including company policies that were “unclear.” The port captain is the senior captain in the company, but he was reluctant to second-guess the relief captain in charge because the other mariner had more years of experience. The report calls the tug company’s handbook “inadequate. The document does not provide information on mooring arrangements… The company handbook did not define the role of the port captain.” The handbook did not discuss environmental factors, such as the tide in the Piscataqua River. It left all decisions up to the captain’s discretion. The report says that while it is common for captains to leave for lunch at that work site, “not having a captain on board the vessel places the vessel at a higher risk of danger.” Riverside & Pickering told Professional Mariner it has been working with Tug & Barge Solutions to develop an improved Towing Safety Management System (TSMS). “The purpose has been to create a safer environment and a system that ensures compliance with all federal regulations and moves us closer to Subchapter M compliance,” said company president Ken Anderson.

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maritime casualties

Illinois River navigation halted after loose barges damage dam

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even runaway barges struck a dam on the Illinois River, causing extensive damage to the gate system and disrupting navigation for almost a month. The accident at the Marseilles Dam happened April 18 dur-

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

them were removed. Two gates received significant damage, but final inspections will have to wait until all the barges are removed, said Andrew Barnes, project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District. “On the two gates that were hit and rendered inoperable, we don’t know if we’re looking at repair or replacement of those gates,” Barnes said. Salvage operations began quickly as the Army Corps of Engineers and Ingram Barge Co., operator of Dale A. Heller, brought in cranes and receiving barges to lighter cargo and refloat four submerged barges. A Unified Command consisting of the Army Corps, the Coast Guard and Ingram Barge was formed to manage the incident. The seven runaway barges were loaded with a variety of cargoes that presented unique challenges, such as iron ore, coiled steel, steel plate and cement. Barnes said some of the cement in a barge had set up and had to be removed with jackhammers before the barge could be refloated. The Corps planned on having the remaining two barges removed by June. About 100 tows were affected during navigation restrictions that were in effect until May 17,

Runaway barges that broke loose from the towing vessel Dale A. Heller are caught up against the Marseilles Dam. The damaged gates will cost millions of dollars to repair.

ing a heavy rain when the river swelled to record levels. Dale A. Heller was downbound on the Illinois River when it lost control of its tow approaching the entrance to the Marseilles Lock canal. Seven of the 14 barges broke away and came to rest against the dam southwest of Chicago, 245 river miles above the confluence with the Mississippi River. The dam was not breached, but five of the eight gates were affected. Three of those gates were temporarily repaired and returned to service after the barges resting against

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according to Cmdr. Jason Neubauer, commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Chicago. Two of the gates suffered damage to the trunnion anchorage, part of the hinge mechanism that allows the gate to raise or lower. The gates are stuck in the raised position and will require extensive repair before returning to service. The Army Corps built a 300-foot-long rock dike to make salvage and repair operations easier in the path of the water flow through the damaged gates. The navigation pool was lowered four feet for seven days to facilitate construction of the dike. “Instead of water rushing through those gate bays in an uncontrolled manner, there’s calm water now which will facilitate the removal of the remaining barges,” Barnes said. Barnes expected the rock dike to be removed by early July. Temporary repairs have cost about $10 million so far, but the full damage to the dam is unknown at this point. Based on current assessments, permanent concrete and steel repairs to the dam could run as high as $50 million. The investigation into a cause is ongoing. The Coast Guard is the lead investigative agency in conjunction with the National Transportation Safety Board. Due to pending litigation, Ingram Barge officials would not comment on the incident. Gary Wollenhaupt

Professional Mariner August 2013


Smoky fire at battery switch damages tugboat at California pier

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n electrical fire damaged part of an engine aboard a tugboat at a California dock. The fire broke out on Z-Five, a 95-foot tractor tugboat, at a Starlight Marine Services dock in Alameda, Calif., on March 20. The blaze started at approximately 1000 and was put out by three crewmembers. The Alameda Fire Department responded to a call and confirmed that the fire had been extinguished. “The fire was caused by a battery wire that shorted out, producing a small flame but a lot of smoke,” said

Jonathan Mendes, general manager of Starlight Marine Services. “The fire was contained to one of the boats auxiliary engines,” added Mendes. The three crewmembers were not harmed by the fire, but the company drove the workers to the hospital as a precautionary measure, as they had been exposed to smoke. All three were released with no injuries. Minor damage on the boat was confined to the battery isolation switch where the fire originated. Repairs were rendered the same day and Starlight Marine contracted a company to treat the boat for smoke

exposure. Z-Five was back in service the next morning. “The crew did a great job responding to a minor fire that appeared to be more serious due to the large amount of smoke,” said Mendes. “From a company standpoint, we are proud of the crew for responding how they did.” Z-Five is owned and operated by Starlight Marine Services, a subsidiary of Harley Marine Services, which provides petroleum transportation, tanker escort and other maritime work on San Francisco Bay. Andrew Hopkins

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maritime casualties

Va. judge brings guilty verdict against tug captain who ran over skiff

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Virginia tugboat captain was convicted of improper operation after his tow ran over a skiff, dumping its 77-year-old occupant into the Elizabeth River. William Spencer, 69, was ordered to pay a $200 fine for the misdemeanor, which had been reduced from a more serious charge of reckless operation. Spencer was at the helm of Albert Pike on the morning of Nov. 26, 2012, when his 120-foot barge plowed into the 17-foot skiff near the edge of the river’s Southern Branch navigation channel. While pushing

the barge, Spencer was making a turn to port, intending to moor the barge at a pier. Speed was about 1.5 knots. The accident happened at 0845 in clear weather. According to testimony, neither Spencer nor his mate saw the little boat. The skiff’s sole occupant, who was drift-fishing, never saw the tow approaching from behind him. After being dumped into the water, the 77-year-old man was assisted by a good Samaritan vessel and eventually taken aboard Albert Pike, where Spencer helped him and took precautions against hypothermia. The skiff was not found until

three days later, when Albert Pike moved the barge away from the pier and the capsized, damaged skiff popped out from underneath the barge. Virginia Marine Police charged Spencer with reckless operation of a vessel for allegedly failing to maintain a proper lookout. In an April trial in Chesapeake General District Court, the judge found no evidence of willful disregard for safety and convicted him of the reduced offense, still a misdemeanor. “It’s the captain’s responsibility to operate the vessel safely,” Judge

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Professional Mariner August 2013


Timothy Wright said in announcing his verdict and the $200 fine. Albert Pike is owned by Skanska USA Civil Southeast Inc. The southbound tug and barge, which carried demolition debris from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, were turning into the Higgerson-Buchanan Inc. dock when the barge’s bow swamped the 17-foot Maycraft owned by James Phelps, who had no time to radio or to restart his motor to flee. “I looked back and water was spilling in the boat ... and I went in the water. It happened real fast,” hart_13h 3/20/07 6:50 PM Page ‘Help!’ 1 Phelps testified. “I hollered, It was cold.” Testimony at trial never pinpoint-

ed the location of the skiff. Phelps said he was near the channel but not in it. Spencer said he and his mate were looking out during the maneuver. They didn’t know Phelps and the skiff were there until they saw Phelps struggling in the water. At trial, the lawyers and Marine Police officers discussed whether the Rules of the Road required Spencer to sound his horn periodically while turning out of the channel toward the dock. The police officers noted a rule requiring horn blasts when turning in an area where the pilot’s visibility is obstructed, but no one testified with certainty on whether the barge itself should be considered

such an obstruction. Phelps was unhurt in the accident. Spencer lost his job as a result of the incident. “He no longer works for us,” said Skanska spokeswoman Jessica Murray. “We felt that his abilities were no longer needed.” Murray said the company requires crews to enforce and discuss all safety policies before each job. She declined to say if any navigation practices would be modified as a result of the Albert Pike accident. Spencer’s lawyers, noting potential Coast Guard action against his license, said they may appeal the misdemeanor conviction. Dom Yanchunas

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maritime casualties

Tugboat sinks, drifts underwater while it’s still attached to barge until towline snaps

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tugboat sank off the California coast and was suspended underwater while its deck barge drifted, until the towline eventually parted. Delta Captain, an 83-foot twin screw tugboat, sank in stormy conditions approximately 13 nm off Point Sur, Calif., on April 13. The four crewmembers were rescued by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter from Air Station San Francisco. There were Page 1 no reports of injuries. Seas off Point Sur were 14 to 16 feet with gale force winds at 1455, when the Coast Guard received a distress call from Delta Captain. The tug was towing a deck barge with a crane and carried a total of 22,000 gallons of diesel — 18,000 on the tugboat and 4,000 on the barge. After sinking, the tugboat remained attached by a 1,400-foot tow cable beneath the barge. The tug and barge drifted south along the coast of California toward Monterey, where the tow cable snapped and the tugboat came to rest on the ocean floor. The barge continued to drift for roughly 300 miles, until it was retrieved off the coast of Palm Beach by two tugboats commissioned by Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles. Within an hour of the sinking, three Coast Guard rescue crews had reported to the scene: the HH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter, a 47-foot lifeboat from Station Monterey and the cutter Sockeye from Bodega Bay. The helicopter located the crewmembers in a lifeboat and deployed

a rescue swimmer to hoist them aboard. All four crewmembers were transported to Monterey where they received medical evaluation and were released with no injuries. As of June, Delta Captain was still on the ocean floor south of Monterey. The tug is not considered an environmental threat, but the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Office of Spill Prevention and Response is monitoring the situation. “Delta Captain came to rest on the ocean floor at a depth of almost 3,000 feet,” said Alexia Retallack, spokeswoman for the Office of Spill Prevention and Response. “The temperature and pressure at that depth causes diesel to condense, so that it will be released very slowly, if at all.” Retallack said the technology necessary to salvage the vessel is not available, and sending divers down at that depth would pose a high risk to human life. “Each environmental risk, however small, must be weighed against the safety concerns of sending divers in. The greatest depth at which we have pursued a sunken vessel is around 800 feet, and that was using remotely operated vehicles,” said Retallack. Delta Captain is owned by Marine Express of Alameda, Calif. The company declined to comment on the incident. The official cause of the sinking is still under investigation. Andrew Hopkins

Professional Mariner August 2013


Eleven barges sink after 114 break loose from Mo. fleeting area

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ore than 100 barges broke away from a large fleeting area near downtown St. Louis, and 11 sank in the Mississippi River. At least four of the runaway barges struck a six-lane bridge carrying an interstate highway between Missouri and Illinois. The accident closed a 15-mile section of river and shut down the Port of St. Louis for nearly 36 hours, the U.S. Coast Guard said. Although the cause has not been released, Coast Guard investigators say a towboat was in the vicinity of the fleeting area around the time the breakaway occurred. “The vessel is involved in the investigation and we will not release the name of the ship, company, or master of the vessel until the investigation is complete.” said Lt. Colin Fogarty, incident management chief for Sector Upper Mississippi River in St. Louis. “It is unknown whether a vessel struck the fleeting area. An investigation is underway to determine the exact cause,” he said. The accident occurred at about

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2215 on April 20 during a period of high water along the Upper Mississippi River, according to Accuweather.com. Coast Guard officials said river conditions posed a serious challenge. “High water conditions, like those St. Louis is experiencing now, can pose a significant and very dynamic risk,” Cmdr. Scott Stoermer, deputy sector commander for Sector Upper Mississippi River, said in a statement. The fleeting area affected by the accident is located near mile marker 179, just south of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, Fogarty said. Most of the barges that broke free were secured by boats that tend the barge fleets along the river, the Coast Guard said. However, 11 barges loaded with coal sank, including at least one that went down in or near the navigation channel. All tank barges carrying hazardous cargo were accounted for after the accident, the Coast Guard said. American Commercial Lines, of Jeffersonville, Ind., owns 84 of the

barges that broke away, and all 11 that sank. A spokeswoman declined to comment on possible causes of the breakaway. “We continue to work closely with the Coast Guard to investigate the cause of the incident and salvage the three remaining sunken barges,” said Kim Durbin, the company’s manager of corporate communications, adding that the company’s total damages were still being calculated. “We are very focused on learning from this incident as our number one operating priority remains the safety of our people, our customers’ cargoes and the communities in which we operate,” Durban said. Eight of the 11 sunken barges have been raised by June, but “three submerged barges remain in the river,” Fogarty said. “The limiting factor in removing them is currently the high river levels.” Durban said the company will keep working with the Coast Guard to salvage the remaining barges. Casey Conley

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maritime casualties

Mississippi River closed after bridge strike breaks 30 barges loose

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hirty barges being pushed south on the Mississippi River broke free after the lead barge struck a concrete bridge support near Vicksburg, Miss. Capt. Buck Lay was guiding barges loaded with petroleum coke and grain downstream April 21 when the lead barge rammed a support pillar on the old U.S. Highway 80 bridge, which has railroad tracks but is not open for public use. All of the barges were ultimately accounted for, but one sank near the channel and at least two others became partially submerged after the towline snapped. Nearly 20 miles of river were closed for almost a day following the accident. “The facts are that the vessel was operating within the navigable channel of river (between the buoys) prior to the collision,” said Lt. Ryan Gomez, spokesman for Coast Sector Lower Mississippi River in Memphis. “The lead barge being pushed by the towing vessel struck the Vicksburg railroad bridge.” The accident occurred shortly

before noon during a period of high, fast water along much of the Mississippi, according to Accuweather.com. The Coast Guard is investigating the accident, but declined to specify a cause or discuss whether river conditions were a factor. The agency declined to make the investigating officer available for comment. Gomez said no other vessels were nearby when the accident occurred. The 8,000-hp Capt. Buck Lay was built in 1981. The boat is owned by a subsidiary of American Electric Power, a power utility based in Columbus, Ohio. One of the barges sank a few hundred feet south of the bridge. Another ran aground on a dike and a third was partially submerged on a riverbank, the Coast Guard said. Jennifer Mason, a spokeswoman for AEP, said cargo was transferred from the two damaged barges into empty ones “in order to secure the product for transit southbound.” “The sunken barge still remains on the riverbed due to high water

conditions,” she said. “Once the river recedes to a safe level, the salvage efforts will commence.” The company declined to comment on a possible cause for the initial bridge strike. The Coast Guard closed the Mississippi River shortly after the accident and set a safety zone from mile marker 436 to mile marker 415. The closure affected 17 northbound tows and 12 heading south. Herman Smith, superintendent of the Vicksburg Bridge Commission, which operates the U.S. Highway 80 railroad bridge, said it sustained only minor scrapes from the barge impact. No repairs were necessary. The bridge is struck about 1.5 times a year on average, with as many as five occurring in one year, he said. The vast majority of strikes are caused by southbound vessels. “Mostly, that’s because the northbound tows are going a lot slower,” he said, giving them more time to safely steer around the bridge. • Casey Conley

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Professional Mariner August 2013 (No phone calls please)


Book Review O Pilot! Historical Sketches of the Coos Bay Bar Pilots By Capt. Steven E. Woods & Jeanne Woods Coos Historical Society, 2013, 134 pages

Reviewed by Alan Haig-Brown

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lfred Lord Tennyson used the significance of a ship crossing the bar as a metaphor for death. He hoped for a gentle crossing with “such a tide as seems asleep.” I expect that pilots have thought those words as they went out to meet one more ship. Such crossings are regular events, although they can be, as in Tennyson’s metaphor, a deadly occasion. Happily in this history of the Coos Bay Bar pilots by Capt. Steven E. Woods (who is himself a pilot, 1986 to present) and his wife, Jeanne Woods, most crossings are routine. Even those with exceptional tides or weather are nearly always successful. At the same time they do not

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avoid accounts of the dangers and death that await pilots and pilot boat crews on the Coos Bay Bar. Published in March 2013, the book modestly declares itself Historical Sketches of the Coos Bay Bar Pilots. Sketches they well may be, but the sum total is a carefully researched and definitive history of pilotage in a small port with a challenging bar and long reaches of shallow harbor waters. Starting in the mid19th century, we learn of the haphazard nature of the earliest bar crossings: “…although Native Americans had been crossing the bar for centuries in their canoes. The pilot of record was Patrick Flanagan who traveled down from the Umpqua River area in 1850 with his Indian guide and piloted out the brig Kate Heath, which was headed for the Umpqua and had arrived in Coos Bay by mistake.” In those early days of rough to nonexistent charts, local knowledge was as important as luck. The authors of O Pilot! do a great job of explain-

ing the gradual updating of charts, the addition of breakwaters and of dredging and the licensing of pilots. Tales of heroic boat handling, rescues and loss are intertwined with history. This makes for exciting sea-story reading and there is no shortage of stories. The 1909 rescue of seamen from the fourmasted schooner Marconi by Capt. Bror Olsson is one such. Olsson served as pilot from 1931 to 1952. The authors have brought together an amazing collection of eyewitness accounts from archival and oral sources. Dale Holden, pilot from 1941 to 1971, tells of the 1957 collision between M/V Thorshell and the dredge Russell. Capt. Ralph Hansen (1957-1984) tells how the pilots’ 76-foot tug Coos Bay, launched in 1969, had one of the wheelhouse windows blown out while crossing the bar. The pilots had the front of the wheelhouse rebuilt to give the tug distinctive round portholes that can take the green water. Fortunately for the chronicling of Pacific mar-

itime history, the authors included an account of the grandfather of pilot Capt. Gerry Davis (19741996), developer of the Davis Raft. This ingenious system of assembling a log raft so that millions of board feet of logs could be towed in ocean swells was used on the Pacific coast for decades. Perhaps the only thing that takes more care than piloting a ship is the chronicling of those who do. The Woods have brought this ship into port in a very readable fashion. Copies of O Pilot! can be purchased from the Coos Historical & Maritime Museum by phone (541756-6320) or at www. cooshistory.org. Proceeds benefit the museum. • 43


trends & currents

When your license is at stake, hiring a consultant can make a difference

Capt. Randy Cole, on the job in a tugboat’s wheelhouse. When Cole renewed his Merchant Mariner Credential, a licensing consultant guided him through the process and showed him a path to career advancement.

by David A. Tyler Bryan Joyce

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andy Cole, a captain on articulated tug barges, renewed his 200 ton master near coastal and 200 ton master of towing licenses in 2011. He did not do it alone. Cole, an employee of Bouchard Transportation Co., works one month on, one month off. While at sea, he could not send follow-up information to the Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC) and wouldn’t be aware if any requests had arrived in the mail at his Connecticut home. Concerned that he’d miss crucial information while at sea, Cole hired a licensing consultant to assist him with his application and to monitor its progress. “I don’t know for a month that it’s kicked back,” said Cole, 52. “All of a sudden, the clock is ticking and you realize:

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I don’t have a license.” Mariners hire licensing consultants for a variety of reasons. The consultant can serve as eyes and ears while the applicant is away for long periods of time, easing fear that delays could jeopardize the license. Some mariners need help documenting sea service in a format that the NMC will accept. Others have medical conditions and need assistance with Coast Guard requests for diagnostic results. In general, consultants help the mariner prepare and compile applications and send them to the NMC, located in Martinsburg, W.V. Consultants can verify legal documents, handle appeals of license denials, answer specific questions about the process and review the medical evaluation process and qualifying sea service. Consultants also assist with license

upgrades and endorsement. Licensing consultants understand what the NMC is looking for, because most of the consultant used to be Coast Guard employees themselves – in licensing. They can help mariners navigate the paperwork. “The Coast Guard licensing forms and procedures for licensing have become extremely cumbersome, detailed (and) difficult to understand and complete properly,” said Paul McElroy of McElroy Maritime Consulting in Florida. “A single mistake can hold up the mariner’s application for weeks or months, especially if that mariner is out of the country.” In 2008, the Coast Guard stopped issuing licenses from 17 Regional Exam Centers (REC). Now it processes all licenses and upgrades centrally at the NMC. Consultants say the switch has

Professional Mariner August 2013


made the process more difficult and complex. Capt. Anthony S. Lloyd, commanding officer of the NMC, disagrees. “Our goal is to make it as simple and as straightforward as possible for the mariners,” Lloyd said. A mariner with no medical, criminal or security issues might not need to hire a consultant. A mariner who is concerned that his or her application could include a complication that triggers delays should consider hiring a consultant, said Capt. Andy Hammond of Andy Hammond Consulting in Massachusetts. “In today’s world of the way the Coast Guard operates,

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anybody who thinks there may be any issues with delays, or denials, or doesn’t want a lot of back and forth with the Coast Guard … that’s where a consultant comes in – to hopefully reduce that,” said Hammond. Charles “Chuck” Kakuska, president of Sea K’s Maritime Licensing Service in Temperance, Mich., said he makes sure that a client’s sea service is correct for the license for which he or she is applying. However, mariners might not be aware of the additional licenses they can get with their sea time. “You really have an opportunity to look at their sea time and say: Did you

know you can do this, this and this?” he said. Kakuska was working with a mariner who is a deckhand on a Great Lakes tug who was seeking a renewal of his 100 ton mate license. Kakuska pointed out that this deckhand, using his current sea time, could also apply for a 200 ton mate license, a 200 ton apprentice mate (steersman) license and an Able Seaman card. Kakuska was the former chief of the RECs in Toledo, Ohio, and Portland, Ore. License consultants also help with upgrades. During his 2011 renewal, the consultant Cole hired discovered a Coast Guard

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trends & currents regulation that would allow Cole to move from a 200 ton master of towing license to a 500 ton master of towing with a limited exam. In addition, with the proper sea time, and no additional exams, Cole could also get a 1600 ton master of towing. The consultant told him, “OK, do you want to go down this path? This is what you have to do to get the training.” Cole embarked on a two-year process of taking courses and passing the Coast Guard exams. By June of this year he was scheduled to get his credentials for the 500 ton and 1600 ton licenses. This helped Cole take another step in a career that has included work as a captain on harbor tugs, on tugs working on dredging operations and on luxury charter yachts. Mark Grossetti, of Grossetti License Consulting in Framingham, Mass., said he has helped mariners going from military service to civilian maritime work. “Anybody with any kind of military sea service – Navy, Coast Guard – they get thrown in the mix like everyone else,” he said. “They invariably get put through the ringer.” Grossetti said the problem is the evaluators at the NMC. “These people are not trained to know the difference and to figure out the similarities with civilian jobs,” he said. Grossetti was the chief of the REC in Boston from 1986 to 1990 and also worked at

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Coast Guard headquarters. Lloyd defended his evaluators. “They have done thousands of evaluations,” he said. “I believe they are very experienced. We are always training and evaluating and holding ourselves to the highest standards we can, to ensure that we are doing the best job we can.” A basic piece of advice to mariners: Don’t file at the last minute. “Don’t wait until your license is close to being expired before applying to be renewed,” said Hammond. He said a mariner should start the process about a year before expiration. That means there is plenty of time in case there are any snags in the process. If everything gets done ahead of time, the Coast Guard will delay issuing the license until a month before expiration. “It gives the mariner peace of mind,” he said. Hammond was chief of the REC in Boston from 1998 to 2006. Many mariners seeking the help of a license consultant are concerned with the medical part of the renewal. When the rules creating the Medical Evaluation Division of the NMC went into place in 2008, this process has become more rigorous. “Many conditions and medications that were routinely approved five years ago are now grounds for denial,” McElroy said. Consultants obviously cannot change a mariner’s medication condition or the Coast Guard regulations. But they can help a mariner present his information

the correct way. And they can work with doctors about pitfalls caused by certain medications. McElroy said any physicians are not aware of what medications can trigger a license refusal. The most common condition he sees is mariners taking medication for depression, anxiety or insomnia. “Doctors don’t recognize the effect that anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications can have on a guys’ life,” he said. When he takes on a client, McElroy gets a 12-month list of all medications that mariner is taking. He then talks to the doctor and points out the medications that will prevent his client from getting a license. He asks the doctor if an alternative treatment is available. McElroy then advises his client to take all unused medications to the doctor to be destroyed and to cancel the prescriptions for these specific medications. It does no good to complain to the NMC that the system is now unfair because in the past the mariner’s license was approved with a physician’s signature, he said. “If a mariner has a medical issue, or is taking a prescribed medication, that was approved five, 10 or 20 years ago and is denied today, that tells me that the Coast Guard is doing a much better job today of screening out mariners who are potentially hazardous to maritime and public safety,” McElroy said. “And I support their efforts.” •

Professional Mariner August 2013


continued from page 48

endorsement, good for ships and boats working on inland or nearcoastal waters. On the East Coast, there are two public college programs that enable graduates to start as licensed deck or engine officers. A mate I sailed with, who worked on the famous sailing ship Lady Washington, first told me about Maine Maritime Academy’s (MMA) Small Vessel Operations program. This program includes sea time gained on the academy’s 88-foot schooner Bowdoin, and on other vessels during a required internship. After four semesters/two years of college-level work in math, writing and other general education classes, along with professional courses such as navigation and meteorology, students successfully completing the program earn an associate degree and a 200-ton near-coastal mate’s license. Graduates can then sail as a licensed deck officer on many types of smaller coastwise vessels such as crew boats, lift boats and ferries. While deciding on which maritime academy to attend, I visited SUNY Maritime College in New York on a nice fall day in November. Back then it was strictly a four-year college, graduating third mates and third engineers. Today, the school offers many different professional tracks, including two 30-month associate degree programs. Collegelevel general education classes along with professional maritime courses are required, and students obtain sea time on the academy’s training ship as well as commercial vessels. After fully completing all the requirements, graduates earn a 500/1600-ton (oceans) mate license with STCW certification as an officer in charge of a navigational watch (OICNW), www.professionalmariner.com www.professionalmariner.com www.professionalmariner.com

or an assistant engineer’s license and STCW endorsement as an officer in charge of an engineering watch (OICEW). This allows them to work on a variety of oceangoing vessels, including supply boats, oceanographic ships and passenger vessels. Public school programs such as those above have many advantages for men and women entering the industry. They are accessible and open to everyone, cost only a fraction of what a full four-year state academy does, and can be paid for with the standard college financial aid loans and grants if needed. Best of all, graduates can enter the industry years earlier than had they attended a four-year school, and start their maritime careers earning 50 percent to 200 percent better pay than entry-level wages. When STCW ’95 came into effect over 10 years ago, many were concerned that it marked the end of the hawsepipe route for upgrading, and that anyone not graduating from a four-year academy would essentially be penalized. Fortunately, that didn’t happen — in large part because of U.S. Coast Guardapproved programs. The Coast Guard deserves thanks for opening up even more avenues for entering the industry, and by doing so has helped continue the grand maritime tradition of egalitarian access for all who choose a career at sea. Till next time I wish you all smooth sailin’. • Kelly Sweeney holds the licenses of master (oceans, any gross tons) and master of towing vessels (oceans), and regularly sails on a wide variety of commercial vessels. He lives on an island near Seattle. You can contact him at captsweeney@ professionalmariner.com.

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A Mariner’s Notebook

by Capt. Kelly Sweeney

Shorter training programs at public colleges are viable alternative

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efore entering the industry, I looked at different ways to begin my career. Back then working my way up from the bottom, “coming up the hawsepipe,” or attending a four-year academy were essentially the only two choices available to me. I decided on the academy route after visiting a couple of those four-year public institutions, SUNY Maritime College and California Maritime Academy, ultimately deciding on Cal Maritime since it was the only one on the West Coast and closest to my parents’ home in Spokane, Wash. Today, I would have a third major route open to me — attending a U.S. Coast Guard-approved program. Mariners are legally allowed to earn certain deck and engine officer licenses, qualified member of the engine department 48

(QMED) endorsements, and able seaman (AB) credentials by successfully completing a Coast Guard-approved program of instruction. Different than a course or class that lasts a week or two, these programs usually involve at least one or two years of combined classroom time and practical onboard experience — but not the four years required at Cal Maritime or the other academies. These programs are offered throughout the country, and the National Maritime Center’s website has a listing of those that have been approved. One such program helped an airline pilot I met at a book signing in Newport Beach, Calif., a few years ago. He was considering a second career as an engineer on a vessel. Exploring his options, from working his way up from a wiper to going to get his third engineer’s license, Dave wasn’t sure either choice was right for him. He told me, “I’m in my 50s and

only plan on shipping out for five to 10 years. I don’t have the time to start at the bottom or spend four years at an academy.” I told him about programs at union schools, private schools and public colleges that allow graduates to enter the industry as a QMED. The next time I saw him, about 16 months later, Dave told me he had already gotten into and completed the public college program at Seattle Maritime Academy (SMA). After graduating from SMA he ended up sailing to South Africa and Australia as a QMED on oceanographic ships, and was then hired full-time with the Washington State Ferries — fulfilling his dream of working as a marine engineer. A campus of the Seattle Central Community College, SMA is a oneyear public college certificate program. The curriculum not only includes community college level general education classes such as math and composition, but maritime professional certification

classes such as proficiency in survival craft as well. Practical onboard experience is gained on one of the academy’s training vessels, and during internships with other vessel operators. Upon successful completion of all program requirements, graduates earn a certificate for 77 college credits, and can sail as a QMED/rating forming part of an engineering watch (RFPEW), or able seaman (special)/rating forming part of a navigational watch (RFPNW) on inland, near-coastal and oceangoing vessels. Another approved public program on the West Coast is given at Clatsop Community College in Astoria, Ore. Having only received USCG approval in May 2013, this two-year program combines general education classes with maritime training on the school’s vessel, Forerunner. Graduates earn an associate degree in Vessel Operations, as well as an able seaman (special) continued on page 47

Professional Mariner August 2013


Career advancement opportunities can be hard to find

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Professional Mariner #171