The October 7th Annual Membership Conference for members of American Maritime Safety, Inc., was not officially billed as a 23rd anniversary event. Nevertheless, the story of AMS, an organization established by a group of U.S. based vessel owners and operators, is worthy of special mention. Indeed, this New York based Maritime Consortium has rapidly expanded in scope since its founding in 1988. From humble beginnings in New York, AMS has grown to over 400 vessel owners and operators and is now recognized as the leading industry association on regulatory compliance in the U.S.
Highlights from the Conference included an informative presentation from Louis Meltz, a lawyer by training and the president of AMS, who welcomed the delegates and officially opened the Conference with an impressive presentation on recent regulatory revisions to 49 CFR Part 40, an overview of acceptable drug and alcohol screening devices and an explanation of DER duties and responsibilities. Other topics included a discussion on what constitutes a serious marine incident and the recently enacted Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act.
Observed Mr. Meltz: "The Conference this year distinguished itself in its high level content, the involvement of representatives from the various segments of the maritime industry, and its venue - the prestigious Yale University Club in midtown New York. I am thrilled that delegates from the Canadian Great Lakes industry, the tug and barge industry as well as representatives from the Maritime Academies and international vessel operators stationed abroad were able to participate in this industry event."
Mr. Robert Schoening, the U.S. Coast Guard Drug and Alcohol Program Administrator, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, DC, spoke in detail concerning the changes made to 49 CFR Part 40 and revisions made to the Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form.
Captain Gene Albert from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and Captain Rick Smith, SUNY Maritime College, Fort Schuyler, spoke about the significant increase in cadet enrollment and thanked the industry for providing positions for their graduating cadets.
Lastly, RH Barry Sample, PHD from Quest Diagnostics Incorporated, gave an overview of the new DOT drug testing panel and thresholds. Dr. Sample also addressed abuse of pain medication and its impact on the industry.
During the Membership Luncheon Mr. Meltz stated, "The AMS Consortium presents three member companies with Maritime Safety Awards in recognition of the selected companies' dedication to preserving the maritime environment and promoting safe vessel navigation, operation and maritime work practices. These Maritime Safety Awards are designed to recognize Vessel Operations for their proactive efforts towards achieving safe and responsible maritime practices."
First on the awards agenda, Brendan O'Connor accepted the Quality Ship Management Award on behalf of The Interlake Steamship Company. This award was presented in recognition of Interlake Steamship's implementation of Quality Control Systems that enhance crewmember efficiency and reduce marine casualties.
Next, Christopher Dann accepted the Responsible Vessel Carrier Award on behalf of Dann Marine Towing, L.C. This award was presented in recognition of Dann Marine's implementation of safety systems and procedures that serve to promote safe vessel navigation and operation.
Finally, Captain Ralph Torjusen accepted the Safe Working Practices Award on behalf of Alaska Tanker Company, LLC. This award was presented in recognition of Alaska Tanker Company's implementation of safe working practices, as well as the company's training and educational programs, which serve to protect the marine environment.
The AMS Consortium was established in 1988 to facilitate the maritime industry's compliance with U.S. Coast Guard regulations and international protocols, and currently administers safety programs for deep-sea, Great Lake, cruise ship and tug & barge operators thereby representing the interests of over 400 vessel owners and operators in the U.S. and abroad.