Congress News

06 Apr 2020

Acting Navy Head Blasts Fired USS Theodore Roosevelt Captain

File photo: Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly briefs the press about the Navy’s response to COVID-19, at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., April 1, 2020. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

The acting head of the U.S. Navy, in a surprise speech to the crew of a coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier, castigated their former commander for writing a leaked letter that demanded the Navy take stronger action to halt the spread of the illness.Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly stood by his decision to relieve Captain Brett Crozier of his command in a speech to crew members of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt while it was docked in Guam early on Monday.“If he didn’t think that information was going to get out into the public in this information age that we live in…

03 Apr 2020

Dredging: Managing the Impact of Channel Deepening and Widening on Surrounding Structures

Photo: Scott Dobry Pictures

U.S. ports have worked toward increasing the depth and width of their channels to allow for larger ships with greater capacities. The equation is generally: bigger ships = more throughput = increased profitability. But what are the impacts around a channel after it’s widened? The ripple effects may go further than you think.Managing the Impact of Channel Improvement Projects on Structures and PipelinesWith more water to impact them, structures around an expanded channel may need improvements, and pipelines under the channel may need relocation to make way for dredging.

01 Apr 2020

Cruise Passengers Await Florida Deal Allowing Them to Disembark

(Photo: Holland America Line)

The U.S. government and Florida were working on a plan on Wednesday to allow thousands of cruise ship passengers exposed to an onboard coronavirus outbreak to disembark, a day after President Donald Trump urged the governor to drop his opposition to their docking.Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said he was not opposed to them docking in his city. But he said a clear protocol was needed to protect residents of his South Florida city from infection.“There can be no missteps in this process…

30 Mar 2020

What Will COVID-19 Mean for US Offshore Wind?

© Bragapictures / Adobe Stock

What will COVID-19 mean for the offshore wind industry? An industry not yet spinning on its own.Epitomized by the roller coaster ride that defined the stock market over the last few weeks, unpredictability has emerged as one of the few certainties of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis. Every industry has seen the effects of the pandemic, from hospitality, to travel, and even to the renewable energy sector. Indeed, even though the US offshore wind industry is not yet fully established…

20 Mar 2020

U.S. Clean Energy Sector Seeks Subsidies to Keep Projects Moving

© Federico Rostagno

Wind and solar energy companies on Thursday called on Congress to pass tax incentives that would help the sector avoid project delays and keep financing flowing amid a pandemic that has choked off supply chains and slowed construction.In a letter to House and Senate leadership, seven clean energy trade groups asked lawmakers to extend deadlines that would allow their projects to qualify for generous wind and solar federal tax credits despite delays caused by the spread of the coronavirus across the globe.The American Wind Energy Association…

16 Mar 2020

Fed Funds Could Aid Battered Cruise Lines

© smallredgirl/AdobeStock

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday officials will have a better idea this week of the total cost of a coronavirus aid package, but predicted it will likely be "significant but not huge."Mnuchin told "Fox News Sunday" he also planned to talk to lawmakers about critical aid to airlines, as well as the hotel and cruise ship industries."It's hard to model some of these things because you don't know how many workers are going to be home. I want to be careful about throwing out numbers," he said.

10 Mar 2020

Maritime's 'Path to Zero': The Case for Ferries

Image courtesy of Maid of the Mist Corp.

Ferries have pioneered zero-emission technology deployment for good reason. Short routes and regular port visits provide opportunities for shipboard stored energy technology, and it is the commercial case that is turning the tide towards zero emissions where the ferry market is concerned. Supported by shoreside charging infrastructure, a fully charged battery pack can be used to propel a ship along a predictable route at relatively low operating cost and little wear and tear,…

16 Mar 2020

The National Freight Strategic Plan and the Inland Waterways

© Gerard Corprew / Adobe Stock

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act was enacted in December 2015. The FAST Act required the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop a National Freight Strategic Plan to address multimodal freight transportation. In the Federal Register of December 27, 2019, DOT requested information from the public, including industry trade groups, to aid development of the National Freight Strategic Plan.This article summarizes certain of the comments that were submitted by Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals, Inc. (IRPT) in response to DOT’s request.

09 Mar 2020

Big Ship Ready Port Dredging Kicks off 2020

Photo: Weeks Marine

The end of the 2019 saw some unprecedented funding measure pass through Congress and signed into law by President Trump. The Gulf and East Coast have continued to receive significant funding to help deepen and widen navigational channels and gateways. One of the projects passed into law included the Gulf Coast Regional Demonstration Project. Some of the ports receiving funding and underway include Mobile, Baltimore, Houston, Port Everglades and Norfolk. All these projects funded by Congress draw a direct correlation to the expanded Panama Canal.

01 Mar 2020

CNO Michael Gilday Visits Ingalls Shipbuilding

Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias explains the recently-completed capital investment made at the shipbuilding facility to (left to right) Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS); Adm. Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations; George Jones, Ingalls Vice President of Operations; and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). Photo by Derek Fountain/HII

America’s largest military shipbuilding company Huntington Ingalls Industries announced that Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday visited the company’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division.During his visit, Gilday toured the shipyard facility and received an overview of infrastructure improvements as well as an update on shipbuilding programs. Adm. Gilday, who was sworn in as the Nation’s 32nd chief of naval operations in August 2019, also met with crew-members of ships currently under construction or modernization at Ingalls.“Along with Mississippi’s two U.S. Senators, Sen.

24 Feb 2020

Insights: Jennifer Carpenter, AWO President & CEO

Jennifer Carpenter (Photo: AWO)

Jennifer A. Carpenter serves as President & CEO of The American Waterways Operators (AWO), the national trade association representing the inland and coastal tugboat, towboat and barge industry. Carpenter joined AWO in August 1990 and became President & CEO in January 2020. Before assuming her current position, she worked her way up the hawsepipe from Government Affairs Assistant to Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, holding a series of progressively responsible positions including Manager-Regulatory Issues…

27 Feb 2020

Adm. Schultz Delivers State of the Coast Guard Address

Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Karl Schultz delivers the State of the Coast Guard Address in Charleston. (Photo: Eric Haun)

U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz outlined his vision for the service Thursday during the State of the Coast Guard Address in Charleston, highlighting the organization’s top initiatives, accomplishments over the past year, and challenges facing the service today and on the road ahead.The 26th Commandant stressed the importance of America's marine transportation system and highlighted Coast Guard's role in safeguarding maritime commerce among the service's many crucial contributions to U.S. security. “Our interconnected global economy relies on efficient ports and waterways.

19 Feb 2020

2020 Vision

(Photo: Jessica Haas, USACE)

The Congress worked hard and most importantly together at the end of the recently-concluded First Session in December to finalize and pass Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations that included the Energy & Water Development (E&WD) Appropriations bill that funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) work on the nations’ waterways.By law, 60 days after the President signs the E&WD appropriations bill, the Corps must release a Work Plan that shows specific allocations for funding projects.

18 Feb 2020

Anatomy of a Marine Casualty Investigation

MV Argo Merchant was a Liberian-flagged oil tanker that ran aground and sank southeast of Nantucket Island, Mass., on Dec. 15, 1976, causing one of the largest marine oil spills in history. U.S. Coast Guard Archives

Blank Rome’s maritime attorneys have represented clients in some of the largest maritime casualties in the last 20 years, including the Staten Island Ferry allision with a maintenance pier in New York, the blow out and eventual loss of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the sinking of the El Faro during Hurricane Joaquin, and the collision between the Navy Destroyer USS John S. McCain and the tanker ALNIC MC in the Singapore Strait. These casualties have resulted in the catastrophic loss of life…

18 Feb 2020

The Federal Government’s 2020 Inland Impact

© William J. Chizek / Adobe Stock

It is often difficult to push through the federal government morass to focus on the issues that actually matter to the inland operator. While 2020 inevitably will be a contentious year in American politics, it is critical to stay focused on the items that will have direct impact on the U.S. maritime industry. From a potential new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill to potential Jones Act challenges, 2020 will be an important year for inland operators to stay politically engaged.Work on WRDAJanuary marked the beginning of Congress’ work in earnest toward introducing a new WRDA bill.

12 Feb 2020

WCI's Toohey Announces Retirement

Michael Toohey (Photo: WCI)

Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) President and CEO Michael J. Toohey has revealed plans to retire, the group announced to its Board of Directors and members at its meeting in Washington, DC on Wednesday.“Having turned 71 this month, I believe it is time to focus on my faith, family, my golf handicap and my other interests,” Toohey said. “I remain committed to WCI’s continued achievement now and in the future once a successor is named.”WCI’s Executive Committee will select an executive search firm to begin the process to seek a successor.

11 Feb 2020

WCI Applauds Corps’ FY20 Work Plan

(Photo: Lee Roberts / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) offered praise for Congress, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ for the Corps’ Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) work plan that lays out allocations for funds provided in the FY20 Energy & Water Development Appropriations bill toward the Corps’ civil works mission. The work plan was released late yesterday.Critical to the nation’s agricultural shippers and American family farmers, the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) (Upper Mississippi River – Illinois Waterway System: IL…

11 Feb 2020

Trump's FY21 Budget Request 'Inadequate' -WCI

© Warren Price / Adobe Stock

President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget request released on Monday is "astonishingly inadequate" says industry advocate Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI).The FY21 budget provides $0 for construction of ongoing priority navigation projects cost-shared through the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF); cuts funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works Mission by 22% ($5.967 billion, a $1.7 billion decrease from the FY20 enacted level); and proposes $1.8 million in new user fees on commercial waterways operators.Last fiscal year (FY20)…

04 Feb 2020

Vessel Safety: US House Subcommittee Seeks Faster Implementation

The diving boat Conception burns off the coast of Santa Cruz island on September 2, 2019. (Photo released by the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office)

In November the U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee held a hearing on “Commercial and Passenger Vessel Safety: Challenges and Opportunities.” Testimony covered a range of issues, from recent tragedies such as the Conception dive-boat disaster to antiquated maritime laws.Hearing witness list:Rear Admiral Richard V. Timme, Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, United States Coast GuardThe Honorable Richard Balzano…

30 Jan 2020

An Ever-vigilant Focus on Passenger Vessel Safety

© Eugene Kalenkovich / Adobe Stock

When I came into office as the Passenger Vessel Association’s President for 2019 last January, I announced two strategic goals for our industry: to enhance safety and foster the professional growth of our next generation of leaders. I am proud to announce we have undertaken major initiatives and made progress on each. These goals match my lifelong professional commitment to safety as well as aligning with PVA’s true north: a responsibility to be ever vigilant and proactive in addressing safety.I have been a longtime member of PVA and served in its leadership for years.

23 Jan 2020

Safely Navigating the Winds of Change

(Photo: Massachusetts Maritime Academy)

The first-in-the-nation offshore wind training facility will be located at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.In late October, with much fanfare, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Stephen Pike, CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and many others joined officials from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) to launch the first-in-the-nation offshore wind crew transfer training facility. The group of state and college representatives also officially christened a new training vessel.

15 Jan 2020

The Good, the Bad and the Undeniably Ugly

© SunnyS / Adobe Stock

The end of 2019 promises to be a busy, and potentially discordant, legislative and regulatory period for the United States maritime industry as both Congress and the Executive Branch look to take decisive action, with both positive and negative potential impacts depending on your perspective. With appropriation and authorization bills still pending, and various open regulatory actions, there are significant opportunities for maritime stakeholders to influence policy outcomes.Funding Fights Continue in CongressOn October 31…

30 Dec 2019

The Top 10 Workboat Stories for 2019

Credit: St. Louis Regional Freightway

Choosing the year’s ‘top stories’ is always a difficult task. Many compelling story threads played out, each dramatically impacting the North American waterfront, and in particular, the workboat sector – each in their own unique way.The Infrastructure Battle ContinuesThe EXECUTIVE SUMMARY H.R. 2396, the “Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act”, will ensure that the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is used for its intended purpose – maintaining Federally-authorized harbors. The legislation would allow the U.S.

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