Brownwater News December 2020

AWO, coalition urge vaccine access for essential transportation workers
The American Waterways Operators (AWO) has joined 10 other transportation groups to urge Congress to ensure access to the COVID-19 vaccine for the nation’s essential transportation workers.

In a Dec. 9 letter to the leadership of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, the coalition calls for the workers to be included in Phase 1B of vaccine allocation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has prioritized health-care workers and residents of long-term care facilities in Phase 1A of the rollout.

“Ensuring vaccine availability for freight, rail, port and waterway, and energy workers is a key protective intervention to help keep our critical supply chains operating, reinforce the resilience of our transportation networks, and mitigate the risk of economic downturns and their effects at the local, regional and national levels,” the letter states.

Co-signers with the AWO include the American Association of Port Authorities; American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association; Association of American Railroads; American Trucking Associations; Inland Rivers, Ports & Terminals; Interstate Natural Gas Association of America; National Association of Waterfront Employers; National Maritime Safety Association; National Tank Truck Carriers, and the Truckload Carriers Association.

Army Corps ends navigation season on Upper Mississippi
The shipping season on the Upper Mississippi River officially ended on Nov. 30 as the towboat The Colonel pushed a pair of empty barges through Lock 2 at Hastings, Minn.

The 2020 navigation season was marked by fewer problems than 2019, when historic flooding resulted in lock closures for months along most of the upper river. St. Louis Harbor was closed to barge traffic three times in the late spring and early summer of 2019.

With the end of the 2020 season comes repair work. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began winter renovation and maintenance at Lock and Dam 4 in Alma, Wis., on Dec. 7. The facility will be closed to traffic until the project is completed in mid-March.

The Corps closed Lower St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam and Lock and Dam 1, both in Minneapolis, for the navigation season on Nov. 7.

AWO video thanks mariners for helping US navigate pandemic
Frontline health-care workers have received tremendous praise during the COVID-19 pandemic, and deservedly so. But another group of essential workers — the nation’s commercial mariners — is now being recognized as well.

In early December, the American Waterways Operators (AWO) released a video thanking members of the U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry for their vital role in keeping goods moving as the nation struggled to adapt to new social and economic realities.

“Throughout 2020, commercial mariners, part of the essential critical infrastructure workforce, have risen to the challenges of operating through the pandemic, severe weather and more while continuing to deliver the cargo that keeps America’s economy moving,” the AWO said.

The short video, “2020: Year of the Mariner,” can be viewed by clicking here.


Bollinger delivers flood gate to protect Bayou Teche
Bollinger Shipyards has delivered a flood gate to Bayou Teche, La., to reduce the risk of flooding during hurricanes and heavy rain. The structure — 84 feet long, 40 feet wide and 19 feet high —will protect 13,500 people and 6,500 properties.

The steel flood gate for the St. Mary Parish Levee District is designed to provide protection for a 25-year rain event and a 10-foot storm surge. It is located where the Charenton Canal meets Bayou Teche.

“After what has been a particularly tough 2020 storm season for south Louisiana, it’s important to get projects like this completed before next season so folks can have peace of mind,” said Ben Bordelon, president and CEO of Bollinger Shipyards, upon delivery of the gate in mid-November.

The Bayou Teche flood control structure is the first of two Bollinger projects for the St. Mary Parish Levee District and the fifth overall built by the shipyard.


Coast Guard issues update on COIs for TSMS vessels
The U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance has updated its guidance on issuing certificates of inspection (COIs) under Subchapter M’s towing safety management system (TSMS) option.

The revised circular provides work instruction to officers in charge, marine inspection (OCMIs) on the application and implementation process. It also clarifies how to credit dry-dock and internal structural exams, and when to endorse and amend COIs for TSMS vessels.

To access the new guidance, click here.

By Professional Mariner Staff