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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The maritime industry must do more to address climate change

The maritime industry must do more to address climate change

My wife and I were recently enjoying our coffee and her homemade apple muffins on a cold fall morning when she commented on the unusual weather we’ve had in the Pacific Northwest.  Looking over at our neighbor out chain-sawing a dozen or so trees that fell across our driveway in the windstorm the night before, I agreed. Then she brought…
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‘Tis the season to improve processing times for medical cards

‘Tis the season to improve processing times for medical cards

Every American mariner must have a current medical certificate to be eligible to sail. Without it, we cannot obtain a merchant mariner credential and employers can’t legally hire us.   This rule, stipulated in accordance with U.S. Coast Guard Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 04-08, contains the procedures for doctors and nurses conducting the medical examinations. Those vary depending…
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Seeing the world on, and through, local transportation

Seeing the world on, and through, local transportation

One of the great things about being a merchant mariner is that it’s possible to travel and see the world. Being able to experience other cultures, enjoy the foods and music of far-off lands, or connect with friends and family thousands of miles from home makes our profession very special.  Unfortunately, I have seen mariners who never get beyond the…
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‘Blow the Man Down’: A salty take on maritime music

‘Blow the Man Down’: A salty take on maritime music

  As someone who grew up listening to Supertramp, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, it was a different experience coming up for breakfast one autumn morning to the sounds of “As I was a walking down Paradise Street, way, hey, blow the man down” reverberating through the kitchen.  There was my dad, who sailed for years as an able…
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Working the holidays can pay — in more ways than one

We had just cleared the Panama Canal’s Miraflores Locks westbound on the Pacific side. I was the second mate on a tug pulling a loaded 450-foot petroleum barge from Lake Charles, La., and Beaumont, Texas, to Long Beach, Calif. It had just turned midnight, the start of Christmas Day.  Jerry, the able seaman on my watch, came up to the…
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Jones Act provisions should extend to US territories

Jones Act provisions should extend to US territories

For more than 100 years, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, commonly known as the Jones Act after U.S. Sen. Wesley Jones of Washington state, has been a legal bedrock of the United States maritime industry. Adopted by a congressional vote, the purpose of the Jones Act was to establish and protect a vibrant American maritime industry in times of…
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U.S. merchant mariners served valiantly during wartime

U.S. merchant mariners served valiantly during wartime

My father-in-law served in the merchant marine during World War II, sailing as an assistant purser on a supply ship. I asked him once about his most frightening experience of the war.  He replied grimly, “Our ship was part of a convoy of 20 merchant ships, and we had two Navy ships escorting us. One night in the North Atlantic…
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No kitten: Time again to welcome cats aboard merchant ships

No kitten: Time again to welcome cats aboard merchant ships

was hired as the extra mate during a voyage from the fishing grounds in Alaska down to Seattle. After a long day filled with flights and shuttles, I finally got on board late in the evening. After checking in with the captain, who I had sailed with before and knew well, I went down for a nap before assuming watch…
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Think twice before sailing on a foreign-flagged ship

Think twice before sailing on a foreign-flagged ship

I had been mentoring Shaun, a student from the California Maritime Academy, who was now set to graduate. Excited and ready to go, he was looking forward to entering the industry, making money and paying off his student loan. A few days after graduation, his third mate license in hand, he texted me with news of his first job. He…
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