The Top 10 Maritime Stories for 2018
Choosing the ‘top stories of 2018’ was, this year, a difficult task. Many compelling story threads played out, dramatically impacting the North American waterfront, and in particular, the workboat sector – each in their own unique way. Read on to find out how and why.Autonomous Vessels: Ready or Not, Here They ComeFuturistic, remote-controlled autonomous marine vehicles aren’t coming. They are here. As the pace of change quickens, autonomous vessels are already providing service and value on the water.
Olmsted: Online & Open
After more than 30 years of frustratingly slow progress, cost overruns and more than a few mistakes, Olmsted is finally poised for success. That’s something to celebrate.It is official: The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) wants Olmsted operational by October. After more than 30 years, the ribbon cutting to officially open the Olmsted Locks and Dam took place on August 30. The very old (1929) upstream locks and dams – Nos. 52 and 53, which Olmsted is replacing – will be dismantled by December 2020. Before that happens, Olmsted’s performance will be tested and confirmed.
Staying Afloat with Strong Workboat Insurance
When it comes to insuring your assets, changing markets and risk variables demand better understanding of the underwriting process, as well as a long-term, stable relationship with an insurer who – like you – is in for the long run.U.S. inventor Thomas Edison once said, “There is no substitute for hard work.” Nobody knows this better than the men and women who operate diverse and industrious workboat fleets.Ferrying commuters, towing dry and liquid bulk, and assisting larger ocean…
An Unlikely and Remarkable Safety Journey
Late last year, the Transportation Research Board released a major study that was undertaken “in response to the rapid development of domestic sources of energy and questions about the safest ways to move these products.” The Study Committee examined the operational responses of the three primary modes impacted by the fracking revolution – rail, pipeline and maritime. A primary observation of this work was that that the “Marine Transportation System Offers a Model for Robust Safety…
Inland Drydocks: Location, Location, Location
A recent dry dock rehab project in Chicago provides new options and money saving opportunities for inland and Great Lakes stakeholders alike.From software to steel plating, Indiana-based TPG Marine Enterprises provides a range of services in the Great Lakes and inland waterways markets. River based tug and barge services are based in Jeffersonville and Mt. Vernon, IN, on the Ohio River, as well as on Kentucky’s Green River. The company also owns TPG Chicago Dry Dock, located on the Calumet River.
Tech File: Material Handler Boosts Paducah’s Productivity
Located at the confluence of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, the Ohio River and the Cumberland River and just upstream from the Mississippi, the City of Paducah is an important hub in the inland waterways network. In 2015, newly appointed Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority Executive Director Bill Miller’s first priority was to upgrade the port’s infrastructure.“Our 20 year old lattice boom crane was past its useful service life,” he said, adding, “So the Board for the Riverport Authority authorized a bid spec to replace it with the best available equipment.” Today…
Sunken Barge Located in the Ohio River
A runaway barge that went missing after sinking near Cairo, Illinois has been located near mile marker 964 on the Ohio River on Thursday.The barge carrying pig iron is one of six that broke free from a towing vessel near mile marker 964 on Wednesday. The other five barges were quickly located and secured.The U.S. Coast Guard said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Tennessee Valley Towing working to devise a plan to salvage the sunken barge.The Olmsted Lock and Dam, which was closed due to the missing barge, was reopened Thursday. There are no waterway closures due to the incident.
Runaway Barge Sinks in the Ohio River
Divers are working to pinpoint the location of a runaway barge that sank in the Ohio River near Cairo, Illinois, on Wednesday.The U.S. Coast Guard said the missing barge is one of six to have broken free from a towing vessel near mile marker 964. The other five barges have been located and secured.Divers are scheduled to search using side scan sonar.The sunken barge is carrying a cargo of pig iron.The Army Corps of Engineers has closed the Olmsted Lock and Dam until the lost barge is located.The Coast Guard is broadcasting a safety message to notify mariners of the situation.
Jeffboat Announces Plant Closure
Jeffboat announced this morning the pending closure of its shipyard operations in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Following recent Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) notices of November 1, 2017 and February 1, 2018 announcing layoffs, Jeffboat president and CEO Mark Knoy said they will finish construction of barges around the first of May. Following the closure, Jeffboat will be reviewing the best alternative uses for the 65 acres of riverfront property currently occupied by the shipyard.
Op/Ed: Disconnect from River to Washington
Just before the anticipation of good things to come on Valentine’s Day, on February 12, the inland waterways transportation industry was left feeling disappointed and puzzled after the release of the long-awaited Trump Administration infrastructure principles, and then the release of President Trump’s FY 2019 budget request. During the Presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump said he would undertake a $1 trillion infrastructure initiative that would focus on a wide array of projects, from sewer systems to bridges to Veterans Hospitals to rural broadband expansion.
Flooding Cripples Grain Barge Shipments in U.S. Midwest
Grain barge shipping came to a near standstill in parts of the U.S. Midwest on Thursday as recent heavy rain and melting snow swelled rivers, halted barge loading and sidelined the towboats that haul farm belt crops to Gulf Coast export terminals. The flooded waterways sent cash premiums for corn barges delivered to Gulf Coast terminals soaring. Rates hit peaks on Thursday that have not been seen in 18 months, as exporters scrambled to secure enough grain to top off vessels bound for overseas markets, traders said.
Ports of Indiana: Building on Success
The Ports of Indiana is a statewide port authority, established in 1963, which operates three ports: two on the Ohio River, one on Lake Michigan. Port officials refer to the three as “America’s Premier Inland Port System.” They cite location, location, location, providing access via two critical freight arteries – the Great Lakes and the Inland Waterway System and proximity to the world’s most productive industrial and agricultural regions. The Ports is the only statewide port authority in the Midwest.
Trump’s Infrastructure Proposals Disappoint -WCI
Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) reacted to the Trump Administration infrastructure principles released today, expressing disappointment that the proposal moves toward eliminating the role of the Federal government to construct, operate and maintain the nation’s waterways by transferring that responsibility to nonfederal public or private entities. The President’s FY2019 budget request and the infrastructure initiative also propose to modernize the waterways transportation system…
Riverboat Touring: Status Quo or Ready to Grow?
If you want to book a plush river cruise vacation in America’s heartland – say on the Mississippi or Ohio Rivers – you can do it. The American Queen Steamboat Company’s website offers as many as 13 river cruises in 2018. Certainly, the ‘bourbon cruise,’ aboard the lavish American Duchess sounds like fun. Or, maybe next year you can sign up for the nine-day ‘Derby Cruise.’ And, next year means 2019 because the 2018 cruise is sold out. Maybe the most fun is that passengers themselves…
Recovery Continues after Ohio River Barge Breakaways
A unified command consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and industry partners continues to remove barges involved in the breakaways on the Ohio River near Pittsburgh, Pa., and Moundsville, W.Va., Tuesday. Five barges have been successfully cleared from above the dam at Emsworth including two that were blocking salvage crews' access to a barge lodged against Gate 8. Industry partners are continuing salvaging operations near Moundsville and have successfully removed one barge from the channel at mile marker 104.7.
62 Barges Break Free on Ohio River
More than five dozen barges have reportedly broken free due to ice and high water at two separate locations on the Ohio River. So far 59 of the 62 breakaway barges have been recovered, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, who said it is working alongside the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and industry partners in response to the incidents near Pittsburgh, Pa., and Moundsville, W.Va. By Monday, 34 of the reported 35 breakaway barges from fleeting areas at mile maker 94 near Moundsville have been recovered and secured, while 25 of the 27 breakaway barges from Jack’s Run Fleeting area at mile marker 4 near Pittsburgh have been accounted for, and security video has shown seven of the barges went over Emsworth Lock & Dam.
AIS, AtoN, MTS – and you
USACE and USCG collaborate to make inland waterways safer. The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), supported by Alion Science and Technology (Alion), has put forth considerable effort during the last two years to further extend the capabilities of the existing Automatic Identification System (AIS) network to improve the safety and efficiency of navigation along the inland rivers. The USACE works with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and other agencies and stakeholders to operate and maintain the nation’s Marine Transportation System (MTS).
Op/Ed: Real World Infrastructure Needs
Over the last few months, the inland waterways system has been particularly stressed by both emergency and Mother Nature-inflicted outages at key locks and dams. Lock and Dam (L&D) 52 on the Ohio River was closed September 6-14 when the dam’s low-lift wooden wickets could not be raised to hold a stable pool for navigation, halting shipping on the river. Given the river’s conditions, the wicket gates had to be raised individually, by hand, to impound water to create the pool. While raising the wickets, the U.S.
Ohio River Towboat Captain Navigates a Changing America
In the 29 years that towboat captain Joe Gray has worked flotillas of barges up and down the Ohio River, he has witnessed the decline at the heart of industrial America in what is known as the country's Rust Belt. Gray, 46, spends up to eight months a year doing 28-day stints on the barges carrying coal, corn and gravel between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cairo, Illinois. Some 600 million tons of goods still flow each year along 25,000 miles of U.S. waterways. But he has seen a growing number of coal-fired power plants being dismantled…
Federal Waterways Infrastructure Outlook
On Capitol Hill, October 1 was the first day of 2018, at least for the federal government’s fiscal year. In theory, on 10/1, the federal budget is supposed to be finalized with appropriations – i.e., spending – established for the next year. In practice, of course, it rarely works that way. Budget deliberations frequently last through December. And even on New Year’s Eve, Congress may be forced to vote on a Continuing Resolution to keep the government operating. The 2018 budget is of particular interest and it’s particularly important.
TPG Founders Acquire 100% Ownership
Indiana based maritime logistics company TPG Marine Enterprises, LLC said it has purchased 100 percent ownership of its primary operating company TPG Mt. Vernon Marine, LLC, which provides harbor services on the lower Ohio River under the names of Mt. Vernon Barge Service, Green River Barge Service and MVBS Jeffersonville, LLC. It also owns TPG Chicago Dry Dock, LLC, located on the Calumet River. Prior to the purchase at the end of September, TPG Marine Enterprises held majority ownership of TPG Mt.
What’s the Cost of Unscheduled Lock Outages?
Unscheduled lock closures burden the shipper supply chain by more than $1 billion annually, according to estimates from two Tennessee universities. A study, “The Impacts of Unscheduled Lock Outages”, released today by the National Waterways Foundation (NWF) and the Maritime Administration (MARAD), looks at the economic impacts of unscheduled lock outages and highlights economic benefits associated with reliable inland waterways navigation. The Center for Transportation Research…
New Fireboat Delivered in Pittsburgh
Lake Assault Boats said it has delivered a 34-foot fireboat to the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire in Pittsburgh, Penn. The vessel is the department’s first new dedicated fireboat since 1974. The new fireboat, named after Pittsburgh’s first female mayor, Sophie Masloff, who passed away in 2014, was dedicated on October 27. In a formal ceremony, the former mayor’s eldest granddaughter broke a bottle of champagne on the boat’s gunnel as it was launched into the Ohio River. The Lake Assault deep V-hull fireboat respond to emergencies and help manage fires on the waterways…