Brownwater News February 2021

Coast Guard confirms mask mandate for towing industry
In a Feb. 8 post on its Maritime Commons website, the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed that a recent order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires that operators of all commercial vessels — including towing vessels — must implement mask-wearing protocols on board due to COVID-19.

The Coast Guard said it had received many questions about the mask mandate and that it was continuing to work with the CDC to address “unique challenges” posed by shipboard operations and living conditions during the pandemic.

“In general, mask wear will be required unless (it) would pose risks to personal/workplace safety or prevent compliance with personal protective equipment by regulation (e.g., a respirator used during confined-space entry examinations),” the Coast Guard said.

The American Waterways Operators (AWO) stated on Feb. 11 that it has provided the Coast Guard with input based on conversations with members and “is committed to ensuring that the order is practicably implemented and reasonably enforced.”

The Coast Guard post directs vessel owners and operators to a CDC webpage if they have questions or need further clarification on the mask mandate.

Army Corps’ work plan continues funding for new Soo Lock
The fiscal 2021 work plan for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contains funding to continue and complete key Great Lakes maritime projects, chief among them the construction of a new lock at Sault St. Marie, Mich.

The plan released in mid-January includes $169.7 million for the expansion of the Soo Locks on the St. Marys River, which industry stakeholders consider critical to the flow of commerce at the only passage between Lake Superior and the lower lakes. A second Poe-sized lock, measuring 1,200 feet by 110 feet, is being constructed to provide redundancy for the original, which opened in 1969.

The plan also includes the following amounts for navigation maintenance projects on the lakes:

• Minnesota — Duluth/Superior, $5.4 million (dredging)

• Wisconsin — Green Bay Harbor, $3 million (dredging); Sturgeon Bay Harbor, $1.5 million (breakwater repair)

• Illinois — Calumet Harbor, $6.2 million (dredging, breakwater repair); Chicago Lock, $24 million (repair); Waukegan Harbor, $3.3 million (dredging, breakwater repair)

• Indiana — Burns Harbor, $4.4 million (dredging); Indiana Harbor, $7.5 million (dredging)
• Michigan — Lake St. Clair channels, $2.3 million (dredging); Detroit River, $7.5 million (dredging); Grand Haven Harbor, $1.7 million (dredging); Holland Harbor, $1.6 million (dredging); Rouge River, $1.1 million (dredging); Saginaw River, $3.7 million (dredging); St. Marys River, $63.8 million (Soo Locks maintenance)

• Ohio — Ashtabula Harbor, $2.2 million (dredging, breakwater repair); Cleveland Harbor, $23.9 million (dredging, breakwater repair); Fairport Harbor, $1.4 million (dredging); Huron Harbor, $1.3 million (dredging); Lorain Harbor, $1.7 million (dredging); Sandusky Harbor, $1 million (dredging); Toledo Harbor, $5.7 million (dredging)
• Pennsylvania — Erie Harbor, $1.6 million (dredging)
• New York — Black Rock Channel, $6.5 million (lock maintenance); Buffalo Harbor, $14.7 million (breakwater repairs); Rochester Harbor, $1.3 million (dredging).

The American Great Lakes Ports Association reported that the Corps’ work plan did not include funding for a resiliency study to assess how to protect coastal infrastructure and natural resources in the region.

“In light of damage caused to ports by both high water and severe storm activity, AGLPA will redouble its efforts to work with legislators and allied organizations during 2021 to get this study underway,” the group said.

Southern Towing expands fleet, reach with Devall acquisition
Southern Towing Company (STC), one of the largest transporters of liquid fertilizer along the inland waterways of the United States, has expanded into specialty chemical products with the acquisition Louisiana-based Devall Towing.

STC, based in Memphis, Tenn., operates 27 towboats and 72 barges as an affiliate of CC Industries (CCI). The deal with Devall, announced in early February, expands STC’s fleet by 36 towboats and 125 liquid tank barges. Terms were not announced.

“The acquisition significantly enhances Southern Towing’s Gulf Coast capabilities,” CEO Ed Grimm said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to growing our transportation capabilities while continuing to provide superior service to the customers we are privileged to serve.”

Devall, founded in 1952, will continue to operate under the family name as a new division of STC. Members of Devall’s management team will continue in their current roles.

“The Devall family and team are excited to partner with both Southern Towing and CCI,” said  Kenny Devall, chief operating officer for the company. “We believe that the cross-selling opportunities with Southern Towing are extremely compelling, and that CCI’s extensive experience and resources position Devall for future growth.”

Coast Guard Foundation names Allegretti board chairman
Thomas Allegretti, known in the towing industry for his 35-year tenure with the American Waterways Operators (AWO), has been elected chairman of the board of the Coast Guard Foundation.

The nonprofit organization based in Stonington, Conn., announced the appointment in early January. Its mission is to strengthen the Coast Guard community by supporting the service’s members and families. The foundation’s board, governed by 82 volunteers from across the country, oversees the activities of the group.

Allegretti served as president and chief executive officer of the AWO for 26 years. He also has held positions with other industry groups including the American Maritime Partnership and the National Waterways Foundation.

“I feel truly fortunate to be able to support a noble cause in which I deeply believe, by serving as chairman of the Coast Guard Foundation,” Allegretti said in a prepared statement. “I’m honored to accept this role because of the important work the foundation does and the significant positive impacts it has on Coast Guard men and women and their families.”

Allegretti has a bachelor of arts degree in history and political science, graduating with honors from the College of New Jersey. He also completed graduate coursework in international studies at American University in Washington, D.C.

“I’m grateful to Will Jenkins for his many years of extraordinary leadership as chair of the Coast Guard Foundation,” Allegretti said. “His visionary leadership has increased and fortified our support to the men and women of the United States Coast Guard and put us in an excellent position to create a future where all members and their families have the support they need to be prepared for service, build resilience and excel throughout their lives.”

For more information about the foundation, click here.

Waterways Council Inc. appoints government relations director
The Waterways Council Inc. (WCI) has named Dustin Davidson, a Capitol Hill legislative staffer, as the group’s director of government relations.

Davidson most recently served as professional staff member for the House of Representatives’ Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. At the same time, he served as legislative assistant to Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., focusing on energy, environment, agriculture and trade issues.

Davidson helped to pass an energy revenue-sharing bill out of the House Committee on Natural Resources, in addition to multiple pieces of legislation that recognized recreational fishing in federal law and improved conservation and ecosystem practices in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic. He also played a role in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018 and 2020.

Davidson served as legislative correspondent in 2016 for former Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and as a staff assistant in 2015 on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

A 2015 graduate of Tulane University, Davidson earned a bachelor of arts degree in English with a minor in U.S. public policy.

“Dustin is a great addition to WCI and brings a fresh Capitol Hill perspective to our advocacy issues that will benefit our membership,” said WCI President and CEO Tracy Zea. “We are thrilled to welcome him to our staff, and we know he will help us to further achieve success to modernize the nation’s inland waterways transportation system.”

Davidson can be contacted at (202) 602-2788 (office), (202) 258-0039 (cell) or at

By Professional Mariner Staff