Interview: Brendan Smith, President, Seaward Services
Brendan Smith brings more than a decade of maritime experience to his role as president of Seaward Services, a marine services company specializing in the operation, maintenance and repair of government and privately owned vessels. The company is part of the Hornblower Group.
During his 6.5 years with the U.S. Navy, he served aboard the nuclear-powered submarine USS Santa Fe, and his roles included chemistry and radiological controls assistant (CRA), quality assurance officer (QAO) and combat operations instructor. In his first role as a civilian, he oversaw property operations at Paramount Group, a Manhattan-based real estate investment company. Smith joined Hornblower Group in 2016, citing a desire to return to the water. He joined NYC Ferry in 2016, first as director of engineering before his promotion to vice president. Smith holds a Bachelor of Science in Climatology from The Ohio State University and a Master’s of Engineering Management from Duke University. He also graduated from the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command and the Navy's Nuclear Prototype Training Unit where he received certification from the Department of Energy to manage an S5W nuclear reactor.
Smith took over as president of Seaward Services in June 2022 and now oversees the operation and maintenance of both government and privately owned craft, including high-speed craft, range craft, experimental craft, training craft, research vessels, uncrewed surface vessels, and Seaward’s own Trinity Class multi-mission offshore vessels. He will also lead Seaward Services’ maintenance of U.S. Navy Ranges and port facilities.
Now that you’ve had some time to settle into your current role, how do you envision the future for Seaward Services? What are your top goals for both the short and long term, and where do you see greatest opportunities?
Seaward’s future will entail pursuing opportunities to grow our commercial chartering services, continuing to operate our current government and non-government contracts safely and reliably, and preparing the company to operate in the booming windfarm market. Short-term goals are to maximize efficiencies with our processes to better prepare for new business opportunities we foresee in 2023. We will accomplish this by pursuing ISO 14001 and 45001 to bolster the 9001 certification Seaward already has. This will allow us to have the processes and standards in place to pursue our long-term goal of growth in the commercial offshore charter and windfarm markets.
Please give an overview of Seaward Services’ current owned and operated fleets, with details on vessel types, work and customers.
USNS Guam is a high-speed transport vessel managed and operated by Seaward under an MSC contract. It supports the III Marine Expeditionary Force in Japan. Experimental Littoral Combat Ship Sea Fighter (FSF-1) is operated by Seaward to support Office of Naval Research (ONR) testing.
M/V Alakai is a high-speed transport vessel operated by Seaward to support Bay Ferries Limited.
M/V Seaward Explorer is an offshore supply vessel (OSV) owned and operated by Seaward services, currently located in Guam and available for charter from the US west coast to Guam. Another OSV Seaward services owns and operates is the M/V Seaward Endeavor, currently located in San Diego, and available for charter from the U.S. west coast to Guam.
Seaward will also manage and operate three crew transfer vessels (CTV) for the Vineyard Wind project starting in June 2023.
Seaward Services is also active in other parts of the marine services business, including maintenance/repair as well as new construction. Will you please provide an overview with details on some recent highlights?
We successfully supported numerous sea trials in 2022 for the U.S. Navy’s LCS and EPF platforms. USNS Guam’s professional port engineering team completed a multimillion-dollar repair period in Thailand and is currently completing a planned overhaul period on the vessel in Singapore. Seaward also operates the South Florida Ocean Measurement Facility in Dania Beach, Fla. that supports Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock in their mission to perform electromagnetic signature tests of U.S. Navy assets.
In addition, we are working with our partners at Hornblower Marine to oversee the successful new construction on three CTVs that we will operate in the summer of 2023.
What other types of services does the company currently offer?
Seaward’s strength is in its professional mariner corps, and we continue to offer crewing support from OSVs to highly technical high-speed vessels. We also offer professional engineering services, shipyard project management, and consulting services.
How do you see opportunities in the growing U.S. offshore wind business, and how is the company currently participating? How is it preparing for future growth in this area?
We see incredible opportunities for growth into the offshore wind market, whether that is providing survey vessels, operating CTVs, brokering vessels for wind farm needs or providing other maritime solutions that wind farms may need.
Seaward’s current greatest challenge and, indeed, opportunity is planning and preparing to support the country’s first large-scale commercial offshore wind farm in 2023 and the years ahead. Seaward representatives recently visited Europe to learn lessons from companies who have been operating wind farms for over a decade. We are engaging partners in the U.S. to ensure we have adequate support when operations begin, and we are performing outreach to local communities, career development programs, and maritime training where the wind farm is being built to hire as many local mariners as possible.