NOAA seeking bids for two new survey vessels

(WASHINGTON) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is seeking proposals from U.S. shipbuilders for the design and construction of new ships for the agency. The new vessels will […]

(WASHINGTON) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is seeking proposals from U.S. shipbuilders for the design and construction of new ships for the agency. The new vessels will primarily support NOAA’s coastal, continental shelf and deep ocean data collection requirements.

The solicitation, which opens May 19 and closes on Aug. 16, is for a firm, fixed-price contract for two vessels, with options for NOAA to purchase two additional vessels of the same design. The successful bidder will be responsible for both designing and building the new ships.

“NOAA ships play a vital role in supporting safe navigation, commerce, marine resource management and ocean exploration,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad. “Adding new, American-built ships to the NOAA fleet will dramatically increase our ability to provide data essential for protecting lives and livelihoods and strengthening the new blue economy.”

Crewmembers aboard a NOAA ship use a crane to hoist a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) from the water in 2016. NOAA photo

To meet NOAA’s requirements, the new ships must have the capability to carry, deploy and recover multiple crewed and uncrewed vessels to support nautical charting and seafloor survey missions. They must also be able to accommodate 48 people, consisting of commissioned officers, professional civilian crewmembers, scientists and other personnel.

NOAA has set a goal of achieving net-zero emissions for its ship fleet by 2050. To support NOAA’s goal of reducing the agency’s carbon footprint, the new ships must incorporate the latest technologies, including high-efficiency, environmentally-friendly EPA Tier 4 diesel engines and emissions controls.

“These new ships will be equipped with state-of-the-art ocean data collection systems that will enable us to map, chart, study and explore the ocean with unprecedented detail,” said Rear Adm. Nancy Hann, director of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) and the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps.

NOAA anticipates awarding the contract for this acquisition in 2023 and taking delivery of the first two vessels by 2027. The agency has not yet assigned a home port for these new ships.

This acquisition represents the second phase of NOAA’s ship fleet recapitalization effort. Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors in Houma, La., is currently building two new oceanographic ships for NOAA, Oceanographer and Discoverer. Those vessels are expected to join the NOAA fleet in 2025 and 2026, respectively.

NOAA’s fleet of research and survey ships is operated, managed and maintained by OMAO. NOAA ships are crewed by NOAA Corps officers and civilian professional mariners. Each year, NOAA ships collect data critical for nautical charts, sustainable fishery management, marine mammal protection, storm surge modeling, climate research and exploration of the nation’s 4.3-million-square-mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

– National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

World War II merchant mariners receive Congressional Gold Medal

(WASHINGTON) — The American Merchant Marine Veterans (AMMV) on Wednesday commended the 10 veterans of the U.S. merchant marine awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their service during World War […]

(WASHINGTON) — The American Merchant Marine Veterans (AMMV) on Wednesday commended the 10 veterans of the U.S. merchant marine awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their service during World War II.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Congress. The veterans received the Congressional Gold Medal at the U.S. Capitol on behalf of the approximately 1,500 remaining merchant mariners of World War II.

“The bravery demonstrated by the U.S. merchant mariners to keep Allied forces supplied during World War II is second to none,” said Dru DiMattia, president of the American Merchant Marine Veterans. “In the face of targeted attacks by German submarines and U-boats, the unarmed merchant mariners met the moment with resilience and courage, and serve as an inspiration for all of American maritime.”

Congressional Gold Medal ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. American Maritime Partnership photo

In 2020, Congress unanimously passed the Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act thanks to the advocacy of Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. The bill was promptly signed into law though the official award was delayed due to the global pandemic.

About the World War II merchant mariners:

• There were 243,000 mariners that served in the war.
• 9,521 perished while serving – a higher proportion of those killed than any branch of the U.S. military.
• Roughly 4 percent of those who served were killed.
• Merchant mariners experienced some of the earliest action of the war due to German submarines attacking British merchant ships in the Atlantic, disrupting supply chains to America’s allies.
• These mariners were not provided veteran status until 1988.

102-year-old Charlie Mills of Pearland, Texas. American Maritime Partnership photo

The American Merchant Marine Veterans (AMMV) is a not-for-profit, pro-American organization established to gain recognition for what the American merchant marine has accomplished for the U.S. in war and peace. The group’s key purpose is to celebrate the accomplishments of the American-flagged merchant marine and to assist the veterans of the American merchant marine, and all veterans of the military of the United States, and their families, by providing counseling to veterans, and their widows and orphans, to assist them in legal, financial, and emotional matters resulting in connection with service to our country, and to provide information regarding benefits and services available to them.

– American Maritime Partnership

Scania engines power pair of new Alaska tour boats

(SAN ANTONIO, Texas) — Scania, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of engines for boats, trucks, buses and industrial applications, is powering the latest whale-watching vessels operated by Major Marine […]

(SAN ANTONIO, Texas) — Scania, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of engines for boats, trucks, buses and industrial applications, is powering the latest whale-watching vessels operated by Major Marine Tours in Seward, Alaska.

The 87-foot Spirit of Matushka, delivered in the spring of 2021, and its sister ship Skana, launched this month, were constructed by All American Marine of Bellingham, Wash. The vessels are powered by four DI16 082M 800-hp engines supplied by Cascade Engine Center and propelled by HamiltonJet 422 waterjets.

All American Marine photo

The custom-built catamarans are capable of a top speed of 32 knots with a full capacity of 150 passengers and full fuel, with a lighter load they can reach 36 knots. The identical ships are the fastest, most fuel-efficient vessels in the Major Marine Tours fleet.

The new catamarans were specially designed to give passengers the best viewing experience possible. The bow is built with stadium-style standing areas for optimum wildlife viewing, a first for Alaskan whale-watching vessels. Additionally, the third deck has unobstructed 360-degree views and is partially enclosed to block the wind. The vessels also have ample outside viewing space on the first level, which is also a fully wrap-around wheelchair-accessible deck.

The semi-displacement catamaran hulls for these vessels were developed by Teknicraft Design of Auckland, New Zealand. The design integrates the signature Teknicraft symmetrical and asymmetrical combined hull shape, bow wave piercer and innovative hydrofoil system.

“Knowing that fuel efficiency and speed were the primary driving factors behind the design and outfitting of the Spirit of Matushka and Skana, we knew that our engines would be the perfect solution,” said David Hughes, sales manager, marine products, Scania USA. “Our DI16 engines not only provided the performance and efficiency Major Marine required, but also were a quieter alternative, perfect for not disturbing the wildlife that passengers are coming to see.”

“All American Marine worked with us to refine our goals, build two proven vessels that met those goals, and then delivered,” said Colby Lawrence, Major Marine Tours vice president. “In fact, despite building two boats during the midst of a global pandemic, they delivered both boats on time and on budget. These new vessels with their Teknicraft design and the Scania engines give us the capacity, comfort, fuel economy and speed that are revolutionizing the fleet for Major Marine Tours.”

Built on a compacted graphite iron (CGI) engine block and employing a simple wastegate turbocharger, the quad Scania DI 16-liter engines deliver top-of-class performance without the need for additional turbos or superchargers. The resulting lighter weight, combined with Scania’s proprietary Engine Management System (EMS) and common rail extra high-pressure injection system (XPI), optimizes fuel delivery.

– Scania USA

Phillips named MarAd’s first female administrator

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Monday that retired Rear Adm. Ann Phillips has been confirmed and sworn in as the 20th administrator of the Maritime Administration […]

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Monday that retired Rear Adm. Ann Phillips has been confirmed and sworn in as the 20th administrator of the Maritime Administration (MarAd).

Nominated by President Biden on Oct. 21, Phillips was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 10. She is the first woman to lead MarAd as administrator.

“From her distinguished naval service to her leadership on coastal infrastructure, Rear Adm. Ann Phillips has championed America’s maritime sector throughout her career,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Her experience and expertise will be invaluable as we address supply chain bottlenecks, implement the maritime investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, ensure the safety and success of midshipmen at the Merchant Marine Academy, and combat climate change in the maritime sector. I thank Deputy Administrator Lucinda Lessley for her tremendous service guiding MarAd as acting administrator and look forward to all that she and Ann will accomplish together at the agency in the years ahead.”

Rear Adm. Ann Phillips, right, is shown with Capt. Rimants Strimaitis of the Latvian Naval Forces aboard USS Mount Whitney in Ventspils, Latvia, in 2013. Wikimedia Commons photo

As head of the Maritime Administration, Phillips will advise the secretary of transportation on commercial maritime matters, to include the movement of goods, supply chain, as well as the U.S. maritime industry, environment and compliance, ports and waterways infrastructure, and strategic sealift. She will engage public and private stakeholders in the maritime industry and oversee the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

Phillips will also oversee MarAd’s programs to improve and modernize the nation’s maritime network by administering the unprecedented investment in our ports and waterways made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including $2.25 billion to be awarded over the next five years through the Port Infrastructure Development Program and $25 million for the America’s Marine Highway Program.

“It’s an honor to work alongside the professionals who make up the MarAd team, and, to serve the American people, Secretary Buttigieg and the Biden-Harris administration,” said Phillips. “I understand the critical role that our commercial merchant marine plays in our national and economic security. In my nearly 31-year Navy career, I have witnessed many of the challenges facing our maritime sector and look forward to working with my colleagues to address them. This is an exciting time for MarAd as we work to expand and strengthen America’s waterborne transportation system and workforce.”

Phillips served most recently as special assistant to the governor for coastal adaptation and protection, Commonwealth of Virginia, developing Virginia’s first Coastal Resilience Master Plan. Prior to her appointment to the Office of the Governor, she served nearly 31 years on active duty and has extensive experience operating with multi-national maritime forces, including NATO and Partnership for Peace nations, and serving overseas in Guam and Lisbon, Portugal.

Her final flag command, Expeditionary Strike Group TWO, included 14 ships and 10 subordinate commands – all the Amphibious Expeditionary Forces on the East Coast of the United States. Earlier she served on the chief of naval operations’ staff as deputy director and then director of the Surface Warfare Division. Previous to those positions, she had the honor to commission and command USS Mustin (DDG 89), and to command Destroyer Squadron 28.

Phillips graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a masters in business administration, with distinction, from The College of William & Mary – Raymond A. Mason School of Business.

– U.S. Maritime Administration

Seafarers win right to mandatory internet access

(LONDON) — Seafarers’ groups have won the right to mandatory social connectivity for crews – including internet access – in updates to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC), but are […]

(LONDON) — Seafarers’ groups have won the right to mandatory social connectivity for crews – including internet access – in updates to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC), but are disappointed that shipowners and governments may seek to charge for it, according to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

The MLC is an international treaty designed to protect seafarers’ rights and has been ratified by more than 100 countries, which represent over 90 percent of the world fleet. One of its provisions is that governments, shipowners and seafarer representatives meet periodically to keep the convention under review and up to date. The latest Special Tripartite Committee (STC) meeting ended in Geneva on May 13 with agreement on a number of changes, including a commitment to better social connectivity for seafarers.

ITF photo

“We’ve learned a lot during the COVID period and that has been driving us to improve the MLC,” said Mark Dickinson, vice chairman of the ITF’s Seafarers’ Section. “Working for long periods at sea can be isolating. And a lack of contact with the outside world can have profound implications for seafarers’ well-being — which we saw the worst effects of during COVID.

“Being able to keep in touch with family and friends isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a basic human right,” he continued. “That’s why we fought so hard for seafarers to be given internet access and to have a mandatory provision in the MLC.”

Despite the fact that ships already have the technology to provide internet access, many shipowners dug their heels in over the change. They insisted that they should be able to limit access and be able to charge seafarers for internet connectivity.

The ITF lobbied to ensure that any charges levied on seafarers remain an exception, and if any charges are imposed that they are reasonable. Governments were also encouraged to increase internet access in ports and associated anchorages without cost to seafarers.

Repatriation rights remain archaic

The meeting failed to reach agreement on changes to the MLC’s terms on repatriation that were being demanded by the ITF. The group demanded that the breadth of shipowners’ responsibility to repatriate seafarers at the end of their contracts be extended to the point at which seafarers land at their home location

For most seafarers, the journey home is considerably longer than shipowners currently cover. Filipinos, for example, who live in Davao may find themselves dumped at Manila Airport 1,600 miles away from home. They then have a subsequent air journey of around 2.5 hours. In that final leg, the employer is no longer covering insurance, medical or other costs.

As the ITF has observed over the course of the pandemic, many seafarers have been detrimentally impacted by quarantine measures introduced in many countries, which has exacerbated the risk of disruptions and costs to seafarers to get to their actual residence.

“Shipowners outright rejected the proposal despite attempts at providing a compromise,” said Dickinson. “As seafarers’ representatives, we’re disappointed. We’re buoyed by the support of some governments, but still, it is the first time in the history of the STC that one group has rejected an amendment outright.”

A group of European Union governments also sought an amendment to ensure a clearer commitment to the de facto maximum period of service of 11 months that seafarers can serve at sea before shipowners are obliged to get them home. Shipowners, and some governments, insisted on flexibility and requiring seafarers 12 months sea time to qualify, especially for trainees. The ITF refused to concede, citing fatigue and safety concerns.

“It is hard to believe that in 2022 we have to argue that 12 months service is too long,” said ITF Secretary-General Stephen Cotton. “And this doesn’t even account for the fact that crewing levels have halved, and the reality that shore leave is now more restricted than ever. Shipowners say it is a freedom of choice for seafarers, but they have all the power, so it actually amounts to forced labor.”

The STC did agree a number of significant changes to the MLC, including:

• Personal protective equipment must be made available in sizes that suit seafarers on board, including for women.
• Improved access to free drinking water, quality provisions and balanced diets were agreed as part of food and catering rules.
• Clarification on responsibilities for governments to provide information to seafarers on mandatory systems of protection that must be put in place by recruitment and placement agencies.

The STC also adopted several resolutions that will guide the future work of the committee. These included further work on the eradication of sexual harassment at sea, the sustainability of the financial security provisions provided by P&I clubs and insurers, and the ability of seafarers to enforce seafarers’ employment agreements against shipowners.

In his closing remarks, Dickinson said he was disappointed that since the MLC entered into force, it appears that shipowners’ focus was on agreeing technical changes, rather than resolutions that support the continuous improvement of seafarers’ conditions.

“They have lost sight of the original tripartite vision of the MLC to enhance the minimum standards for seafarers. Unless this changes path, it will have profound consequences on the future of the shipping industry,” he said.

Cotton called on the industry to continue to collectively tackle challenges that face the industry and seize on opportunities to make shipping a decent, safe and career for seafarers, especially for attracting women into the industry.

“Through COVID, ITF and ICS (the International Chamber of Shipping) worked so well together … so it would be an incredible shame if we didn’t continue to work together in that spirit. Decent work for seafarers must be at the heart of this,” he said.

– International Transport Workers’ Federation

Spring brings mixed bag for Great Lakes shipping

(OTTAWA, Ontario) — U.S. Great Lakes ports reported mixed results for the start of the spring shipping season, with gains and losses heavily tied to global trading conditions and Lake […]

(OTTAWA, Ontario) — U.S. Great Lakes ports reported mixed results for the start of the spring shipping season, with gains and losses heavily tied to global trading conditions and Lake Superior icebreaking resources. U.S. grain exports, steel imports, road salt and containerized goods were strong performers.

“Inadequate icebreaking resources in Lake Superior had a major impact on cargo shipments out of the Port of Duluth-Superior, which underlines how much we need new and improved capacity for the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking fleet,” said Bruce Burrows, president and CEO of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “On a more positive note, grain exports from U.S. ports were in strong demand along with shipments of salt, steel and containers. We expect that the demand for different cargo segments will continue to be impacted by fluctuating prices and trade flows related to global supply chain issues and the Russia/Ukraine conflict.”

The bulk carrier Resko was the first oceangoing ship to call on the Port of Duluth Superior in 2022. Duluth-Seaway Port Authority photo

Overall cargo shipments (from March 22 to April 30) via the St. Lawrence Seaway totaled 3.5 million metric tons, down by 18 percent compared to the same period in 2021. Iron ore volumes were down 23 percent. Year-to-date U.S. grain shipments via the Seaway totaled 176,000 metric tons, up 175 percent compared to 2021. Road salt shipments were also up 21 percent, as Canadian mines delivered to cities throughout the bi-national region.

The Port of Toledo was off to a good start in 2022. Through April, 78 vessels have already called upon the port and tonnage is up nearly 11 percent over the same period in 2021. Grain, salt, coal and liquid bulk are all outpacing 2021 totals. “While it is early in the season, there are signs that 2022 will be successful,” said Joseph Cappel, vice president of business development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “Grain and fertilizer are expected to be big movers in 2022 as trade patterns and pricing continue to fluctuate based on various global happenings. If our staple commodities like coal, iron ore and other dry bulk commodities remain consistent, we will have a strong year.”

The Port of Cleveland has experienced a very strong start to the 2022 season in its general cargo operation. April tonnage more than doubled its total tonnage from April 2021. “Our container numbers have also increased dramatically due to the addition of Doornekamp’s Peyton Lynn C. to the Spliethoff service last September,” said David Gutheil, chief commercial oOfficer at the Port of Cleveland. “Export customers are now jumping on board due to shortages of containers and vessel space at coastal ports. We are very close to completing the first phase of a very large infrastructure project which will improve the efficiency of the movement of general cargo throughout the port. This project will be completed in its entirety late first quarter of 2023.”

Hampered by Great Lakes icebreaking challenges and a slower-than-normal start for the American lake freighter fleet, total tonnage through the Port of Duluth-Superior reached only 2.43 million short tons in April 2022. Combined with an icy March in which only three ships called on the port, overall tonnage through April 30 trailed last year’s pace and the five-season average by 38 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

Iron ore, the port’s top cargo by tonnage, neared 1.6 million short tons through April. This represented a 42 percent dip from the 2021 pace and a 34 percent drop compared to the five-season average. Each of the port’s major cargo categories finished April behind the 2021 pace with the exception of grain and salt.

Outbound grain shipments comprised of wheat and beet pulp pellets totaled 148,620 short tons through April, nearly doubling the 2021 pace and exceeding the five-season average by 24 percent. Almost two-thirds of the Duluth-Superior grain float sailed through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System as export commerce.

Inbound salt deliveries to Duluth-Superior topped 81,000 short tons in April, more than doubling the April 2021 total and the five-season average.

“Winter lingered a bit too long this year, which made March and most of April a tough slog for Coast Guard icebreakers and the freighters that depend on them for support to power through those conditions,” said Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “We started to see an uptick in vessel traffic later in the month, as the ice situation improved, but it’s still hard to predict the tenor of 2022. Unusual factors continue to affect the world of cargo transportation, including ongoing global supply chain delays and the situation in Ukraine. That instability keeps everyone guessing, but there’s still reason for optimism that it’ll be a good season in the Port of Duluth-Superior.”

– Chamber of Marine Commerce

Edison Chouest to build plug-in SOV for Empire Wind

(BROOKLYN, N.Y.) — Empire Offshore Wind, a joint venture between Equinor and BP, has awarded a long-term service operations vessel charter agreement to U.S. marine transportation provider Edison Chouest Offshore […]

(BROOKLYN, N.Y.) — Empire Offshore Wind, a joint venture between Equinor and BP, has awarded a long-term service operations vessel charter agreement to U.S. marine transportation provider Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO).

The plug-in hybrid service operations vessel (SOV) will be the first in the U.S. offshore wind sector capable of sailing partly on battery power.

The vessel will accommodate up to 60 wind turbine technicians and will be utilized for the safe and efficient operations and maintenance of the Empire Wind 1 and Empire Wind 2 offshore wind farms. The charter agreement has a fixed period of 10 years, with commencement in the mid-2020s.

Empire Wind rendering

The U.S.-flagged vessel will be Jones Act compliant and have its home port at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) in New York. The SOV will be constructed with components from ECO’s extensive supplier base across 34 U.S. states.

The supplier estimates that this will generate over 250 high-skilled U.S. jobs during vessel construction. Edison Chouest Offshore is also dedicating considerable effort and resources to recruiting and training vessel crew from the New York region. ECO will operate the vessel from its New York office.

The plug-in hybrid vessel will be the first in the U.S. capable of sailing on battery power for portions of the route. The SOV will sail into the port of SBMT on battery power, recharge the battery using shore power and sail out of New York Harbor. The hybrid vessel is certified to EPA Tier 4 emissions standards, reaching the highest standard for marine applications.

“Equinor and BP’s agreement with Edison Chouest will generate ripple effects throughout the supply chain, creating jobs in numerous states across the country,” said Teddy Muhlfelder, vice president, Empire Wind and Beacon Wind, Equinor.

“With the first-of-its-kind, plug-in hybrid service operations vessel, Empire Wind will reduce potential emissions from our operations in the New York City area. This is another critical step forward in the development of the offshore wind industry, while helping achieve critical state and federal climate goals,” said Muhlfelder.

“Edison Chouest Offshore will provide a state-of-the-art vessel fit for Empire Wind,” said Mette H. Ottoy, chief procurement officer, Equinor.

“We selected Edison Chouest in part for its extensive experience and expertise as a shipbuilder and we look forward to a collaboration beginning with construction and continuing through operations for the next decade or more. This is an important step in our efforts to develop a domestic supply chain in the U.S. for offshore wind,” said Ottoy.

About Empire Wind

Empire Wind is located 15 to 30 miles southeast of Long Island and spans 80,000 acres, with water depths of between approximately 75 and 135 feet. The lease was acquired in 2017. The project’s two phases, Empire Wind 1 and 2, have a total installed capacity of more than 2 gigawatts (816 plus 1,260 megawatts). The project will be a major contributor to meeting New York State’s ambitious clean energy and climate goals. When completed, Empire Wind 1 and 2 will power more than 1 million New York homes.

– Empire Wind

Icebreaker gap causes more delays on Great Lakes

(CLEVELAND) – The ice season is over on the Great Lakes but the impacts of insufficient U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking linger, according to the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force. With […]

(CLEVELAND) – The ice season is over on the Great Lakes but the impacts of insufficient U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking linger, according to the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force. With a defined shipping season of 10 months due to the closure of the navigational locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., which connect Lake Superior and the iron ore mines to the steel mills in the southern lakes, delays to the maritime supply chain have tremendous impacts.

During this year’s ice season, the U.S.-flag Great Lakes shipping industry lost the equivalent of a month due to delays in ice-covered waters. More than 1.6 million tons of cargo carrying capacity was delayed for 679.5 hours, or 28 days, due to ice conditions on Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and in Green Bay, and a lack of Coast Guard icebreakers to meet the needs of commerce.

Bulk carriers ply Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay in March. Great Lakes Maritime Task Force photo

“It amazes me that a cargo container stuck in Chesapeake Bay or in the Suez Canal gets worldwide attention, and that happens on the Great Lakes every year,” said Jim Weakley, president of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force. “The loss of one day of shipping is tremendous, but a month is devastating. Imagine if highways in the Northern states didn’t have enough snowplows to keep traffic moving during frequent winter storms and sat on the road for a month. … It is unacceptable.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ice conditions this past winter were “average” to “slightly below average” during the bulk of the icebreaking period. Several ships, including some Canadian-flag lakers, faced perilous journeys through ice-choked waters that nearly forced a vessel aground in the Straits of Mackinac and shutdown waterways. At one point, several vessels were stuck in eastern Lake Superior for more than three days.

With an aging fleet of six 40-year-old small icebreaking tugs and only one heavy icebreaker, the Coast Guard couldn’t keep up. Multiple vessels were shoved near the edge of the navigational channels as ice floes over a foot thick shifted, which lasted until mid-April. At the beginning of the ice season, the Coast Guard lost five icebreakers to engineering casualties just when they were needed most.

“The Coast Guard needs more icebreakers on the Fourth Sea Coast,” said John D. Baker of the International Longshoremen’s Association and vice president of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force. “We have 237,000 jobs depending on a reliable Great Lakes navigation system. In addition, our sailors deserve to feel safe navigating our waterways regardless of the time of year.”

While progress fixing the icebreaking issue has been slow, it is moving forward thanks to key Great Lakes senators and congressional representatives. Over the past year, both the current commandant of the Coast Guard and the nominee to replace him testified before the Senate Commerce Committee acknowledging the need for another heavy Great Lakes icebreaker.

In addition, the Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act has passed the House in the Coast Guard Authorization Bill, which authorizes full funding for the new icebreaker, mandates transparent and accurate performance measures, and commissions a study by the Government Accountability Office to examine the impacts and needs for additional Coast Guard icebreakers on the Great Lakes.

About Great Lakes Maritime Task Force

The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, with 74 members, is the largest coalition to speak for the Great Lakes navigation system. Advocating for domestic and international shipping, its members represent labor and management from U.S.-flag vessel operators, shipboard and longshore unions, port authorities, cargo shippers, terminal operators, shipyards, and other Great Lakes interests. The Great Lakes commercial maritime industry supports more than 147,000 American jobs in eight Great Lakes states and generates more than $25 billion in economic activity.

– Great Lakes Maritime Task Force

Alaska operator adds another All American tour boat

(BELLINGHAM, Wash.) — All American Marine (AAM) has delivered Skana, a 150-passenger hydrofoil-assisted catamaran for Major Marine Tours. This is the second vessel delivered to Major Marine Tours by All […]

(BELLINGHAM, Wash.) — All American Marine (AAM) has delivered Skana, a 150-passenger hydrofoil-assisted catamaran for Major Marine Tours. This is the second vessel delivered to Major Marine Tours by All American Marine in two years, and a sister ship to Spirit of Matushka, delivered in spring of 2021.

Skana will also operate out of Seward, Alaska, and will carry passengers on tours visiting Kenai Fjords National Park. This 87-by-32-foot Teknicraft aluminum catamaran is certified to U.S. Coast Guard Subchapter T.

The quad HamiltonJet waterjet vessel will add to Major Marine Tours’ fleet of glacier and wildlife cruise vessels in and around Kenai Fjords National Park. After the
commissioning of the first vessel, the company quickly realized the need for a second, identical vessel to keep up with its growing business and market demand.

All American Marine photo

The semi-displacement catamaran hull for this vessel was developed by Nic de Waal of Teknicraft Design in Auckland, New Zealand. The design integrates the signature Teknicraft symmetrical and asymmetrical combined hull shape, bow wave piercer, and innovative dynamic hydrofoil system. This advanced hull shape was custom designed using digital modeling and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis.

The hull design is complemented by Teknicraft’s signature integration of a wave piercer that is positioned between the catamaran sponsons to break up wave action and ensure reduced drag while enhancing passenger comfort. The vessel’s design offers a smooth ride and comfort as the hull provides a cushioned effect when encountering waves.

The vessel includes HamiltonJet AVX controls which boast features such as the use of an intuitive Mouseboat controller. For the operator, one of the most valuable features on this vessel is the excellent fuel economy. With an increased fuel capacity of 1,900 gallons, this vessel was upgraded to include a dynamic aluminum hydrofoil, enhancing its speed and efficiency. The propulsion package includes four HamiltonJet HM422 waterjets powered by four Scania DI16 082 engines rated at 788 hp at 2,100 rpm.

“All American Marine worked with us to refine our goals, build a second, proven vessel that met those goals, and then delivered. In fact, despite building two boats during the midst of a global pandemic, they delivered both boats on time and on budget. This new vessel with its capacity, comfort, and speed is revolutionizing the fleet for Major Marine Tours,” said Colby Lawrence, Major Marine Tours vice president. “Our customers truly enjoy the spacious and accessible deck spaces when viewing whales and glaciers, particularly the stadium bow viewing area.”

There two enclosed passenger cabins that include tables at every seat. All of the exterior seats are underneath canopies, including the open-air third deck. Interior amenities include Beurteaux seats and electrical outlets with USB plugs at every table. The entire main deck, including the bow, has wheelchair access, and the main deck cabin includes wheelchair-designated seating locations.

– All American Marine

Coast Guard commissions 48th fast response cutter

(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) — The U.S. Coast Guard commissioned the 48th Sentinel-class fast response cutter (FRC), Pablo Valent (WPC 1148), into service at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg on Wednesday. […]

(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) — The U.S. Coast Guard commissioned the 48th Sentinel-class fast response cutter (FRC), Pablo Valent (WPC 1148), into service at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson, commanding officer of the Coast Guard 7th District, presided over the ceremony. Cecilia Guillot, Valent’s great-niece, is the ship’s sponsor.

The cutter’s namesake Pablo Valent was originally from Corpus Christi, Texas, and joined the United States Life-Saving Service in 1912. In September 1919, Valent helped rescue the crew of the hurricane-damaged schooner Cape Horn off the coast of Texas. For his heroic efforts, Valent received the Silver Lifesaving Medal and the Grand Cross of the American Cross of Honor Society. Valent was one of the first Hispanic Americans to receive these honors.

Crewmembers of the Coast Guard cutter Pablo Valent man the ship during the commissioning ceremony Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Fla. U.S. Coast Guard photo

Valent, built by Bollinger Shipyards, is the 48th FRC and is the first to be home-ported in St. Petersburg with missions including search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, coastal security, and living marine resources. There are 12 other FRCs in Florida, which operate throughout the Caribbean Sea.

Each cutter is designed for a crew of 24, has a range of 2,500 miles and is equipped for patrols up to five days. The FRCs are part of the Coast Guard’s overall fleet modernization initiative.

FRCs feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment as well as over-the-horizon response boat deployment capability and improved habitability for the crew. The ships can reach speeds of 28 knots and are equipped to coordinate operations with partner agencies and long-range Coast Guard assets such as the Coast Guard’s national security cutters.

– U.S. Coast Guard