SAFETY at SEA- Facing the Many Changes in Shipping Today

National Maritime Day Seminar and AMVER Awards

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In recognition of National Maritime Day, NAMEPA held its annual Safety at Sea seminar on May 22nd at the National Press Club in Washington, DC featuring industry luminaries who gave their perspective on critical issues in safety today.

To view the seminar on Maritime TV, CLICK HERE.

Jon Waldron of Blank Rome led the seminar with an overview of the impact the Trump Administration on the maritime community.  What is overarching is change.  In terms of the budget, it is expected that the maritime industry will fare well, with DOT and MARAD grants continuing.  There is also a proliferation of Executive Orders favoring the oil and gas industry, and actions being taken to reduce regulations (2 for 1).  The Coast Guard Authorization bill is expected to pass in the near term, poising it for enactment.  Kathy Metcalf of the Chamber of Shipping of America spoke to “What keeps shipowners awake at night” citing that the care and safety of people, along with safe and responsible operations—the ISM on steroids. “Good ship operators are good, because they are good at what they do.”  A focus on compliance plus is important; people make mistakes, which will bring a company below compliance.  It is important to have additional space to allow for that.  The sea change of regulatory programs has come about in the last 20 years.  Industry is now expected to hold to higher standards—SOLAS, MARPOL, Ballast Water Convention, national regulations and regional regulations plus others.

Speakers at the NMD Safety at Sea seminar (l to r): Jon Waldron, Kathy Metcalf, Joe Hughes, Marsh Drege, and James Spear

Speakers at the NMD Safety at Sea seminar (l to r): Jon Waldron, Kathy Metcalf, Joe Hughes, Marsh Drege, and James Spear

NAMEPA Chairman and American Club CEO Joe Hughes spoke to safety being a requirement, not a luxury and the central interest that all insurers have in the safety of the insured, identifying the various types of insurance.  He particularly underscored that it is important that things are done in a thorough and effective way.  Most of the conditions for safety include compliance with safety and environmental regulations.  The delegates then heard from a merchant marine second mate, James Spear, who outlined the challenges facing mariners today and stated that while operational safety has improved in the past century, mariners still face challenges today, mostly in managing risk.  “Safety management is our social license to operate and needs to be a core value on board ships- technical, data management, and operational”.  The Reverend Marsh Drege, President of the North American Maritime Ministry Association (NAMMA), highlighted the ongoing challenges especially in light of loneliness in times of emotional distress.  Efforts by port ministry members improve morale and welfare of mariners, leading to building community on board, and improving their attention to safety.

Jim Elliott, Vice President of the American Salvage Association reminded the audience that salvors are the first responders and problem solvers in a maritime casualty acting as special forces for the maritime industry.  They are working on quality partnerships, effective communications, and the newly implemented Marine Safety and Firefighting capabilities.  CDR Allen Birch of MITAGS spoke to today’s training and safety standards, emphasizing the investment in time and equipment being expended today to ensure that mariners have the tools they need to exceed safety and environmental standards and infuse the need to build strong habits so competency is second nature.  Cynthia Hudson, CEO of HudsonAnalytix spoke to the management of cyber risk by outlining the new risk paradigm- managing risk isn’t just involving IT professionals, but a corporate-wide challenge and investment.  Human level and safety, risk assessment, and property evaluation are elements of a corporate plan.  RADM Linda Fagan reminded the delegates of what priorities are being set for the Coast Guard; a recognition of the importance of the maritime sector economically, national security, and jobs.  Three primary stressors today:  desire to increase the size of the sector, growing demand to reduce the impact of operations, and the increasing complexity of implementing change.

The seminar was followed by an AMVER Awards reception where over 790 ships and 150 companies were celebrated for their voluntary contribution to respond to a crisis at sea.  CLICK HERE for pictures from the AMVER Awards.