Afloat or ashore…now what?

After years of going to sea on tugs or ships, passing exams, taking the required classes, and jumping through all the “bureaucratic hoops” the time finally comes – the Coast Guard mails you your chief engineer or captain license.  After the celebration’s over, you ask yourself, “Now what?” Some continue sailing. Others decide since they have been at sea, maybe…
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Mariners should care

Recognizing the need to protect wildlife from the threat of extinction and to encourage their recovery, the U.S. Congress wisely passed The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) in 1972 and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973.  Both laws took effect after being signed and approved by President Richard Nixon. While the ESA deals with wildlife at sea and ashore,…
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Whither the Maritime Security Program

After a number of foreign flag ships refused to supply our military during the first Gulf War, putting our troops at risk, President Clinton established the Maritime Security Program (MSP) in 1996. It provided funding to the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) to pay shipping companies a yearly “retainer” of $5 million per vessel.  The 47 U.S.-flag ships originally enrolled in…
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A Mariner’s Treasure Chest

For hundreds of years a seaman’s sea chest, was part of life for merchant mariners. Often made of intricately carved or painted wood, it was stored in the crew’s quarters and held the individual’s personal property. Besides containing bedding, clothing, and items of entertainment such as books, playing cards, or musical instruments, sea chests were also filled with keepsakes from…
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The IMO needs to step-up

Recently, I was looking at my latest copy of the Seafarers Log, the official publication of the Seafarers International Union.  On the cover there is a picture of the crew of the tanker OSG Nikiski after they had successfully saved the lives of two people whose boat had lost power and steering over 200 miles from shore in the middle…
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Still a killer after all these years

If you like rock n’ roll music, you may remember the Rolling Stones album “Goat’s Head Soup” or if you are into classic disaster movies, you may recall “The Towering Inferno.” Or, if maritime history is your thing, the obscure saga of the cargo ship SS Alpha.  The golden thread connecting all of these seemingly unrelated things is that all…
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A horrible, unnecessary way to die

A horrible, unnecessary way to die. Maritime pilots are essential for the movement of commercial vessels in and out of ports worldwide, and every man and woman I have worked with serving in that capacity was a solid professional mariner.  Being a pilot has always been a dangerous undertaking, especially when embarking or disembarking a moving ship. In the last…
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Time to step up

The nation’s maritime academies have served as the bedrocks of deck and engine officer training for many years.  The list is comprised of the federal U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at King’s Point, N.Y., as well as six state academies: State University of New York Maritime College at Fort Schuyler, N.Y.; Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City, Mich.; Maine…
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A Big Mistake

Federal regulation and control over merchant mariner licensing has a long history. It began over 171 years ago with the enactment of the Steamboat Act of 1852, which established the Steamboat Inspection Service and required merchant marine officers on steam powered vessels carrying passengers to be licensed by them.  In 1936, the Steamboat Inspection Service was renamed The Bureau of…
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Jones Act must be applied to offshore wind projects

Jones Act must be applied to offshore wind projects

Renewable energy is coming into its own as an alternative to traditional sources of electricity that rely on oil and other fossil fuels. One of the fastest growing alternatives is wind power, for good reason.  Without the costs and pollution associated with the oil industry, these turbines on land and water create electricity any time the wind blows. In fact,…
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