BrownWater News January 2012

NIT League shows new interest in river transport

The National Industrial Transportation League has taken new steps to revitalize the organization's interest in commercial inland navigation and its impacts on moving freight.

The League's Ocean Transportation Committee pursued its members' interest in river transport at the first meeting Jan. 10 of the committee's new Domestic Waterways Subcommittee, which was revived after League members showed interest in addressing inland waterway issues.

In its Jan. 9 newsletter, Notice, the League said that among issues reported to be of interest to its members are the use of marine highways, funding for repairs and maintenance of locks and dams, and the use of inland waterways as a competitive alternative to surface transportation.

Peter Gatti, executive vice president of the League, indicated Jan. 11 that there will be a "revitalization" of the organization's attention to shipping via inland waterways as a result of the members' interest in river transport.


MarAd to award grants to small shipyards

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) has announced that it intends to award grants for small shipyards by March 18.

The period for submitting grant applications to MarAd started Nov. 18 and ended Jan. 17. The Small Shipyard Grant Program has almost $10 million available for capital and related improvements for qualified shipyard facilities. Grant funds may also be used for maritime training programs to foster technical skills and to improve shipyard productivity in communities whose economies are related to or dependent on the maritime industry.

For more information, contact the director of MarAd's Office of Shipyards and Marine Engineering at (202) 366-5737.


House, Senate pact averts shutdown, funds Corps in FY 2012

House and Senate appropriations conferees have reached agreement on a spending bill to fund the federal government through the remainder of this fiscal year.

Amy Larson, president of the National Waterways Conference, said the agreement averted a government shutdown that would have occurred with the expiration of a "Continuing Resolution" at the close of business Dec. 16.

The funding level for the civil works program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is $5 billion, $4 million more than the amount requested by President Obama.

The bill provides for the following allocations: investigations, $125 million; construction, $1.7 billion; Mississippi River and tributaries, $252 million; and operation and maintenance, $2.4 billion.

Among other things, the agreement prohibits the Corps from spending any money to revise the Principles and Guidelines applicable to water projects. The conferees also expressed concern that funding for the nation's aging infrastructure is insufficient to ensure continued competitiveness in the global economy. The bill also directed the Institute for Water Resources to report on how Congress should address the need for additional port and inland waterways modernization to accommodate post-Panamax vessels.


DOT has $511 million for TIGER III transport projects

Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced that 46 transportation projects in 33 states and Puerto Rico will receive a total of $511 million from the third round of DOT's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants program.

DOT received 848 project applications requesting a total of $14.3 billion, LaHood said. "The overwhelming demand for these grants clearly shows that communities across the country can't afford to wait any longer for Congress to put Americans to work building the transportation projects that are critical to our economic future," he added.

Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities, noted that $62 million of the $511 million in grants will go directly to America's port related infrastructure. Millions more will go to projects that indirectly aid the efficient movement of goods to and from America's seaports, Nagle said.


Seaway waives toll increase in 2012 navigation season

The Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. has announced that there would be no toll increase in 2012. Terence Bowles, president and CEO of the corporation, said the decision to extend the toll freeze was made "in an effort to maintain the momentum underlying the Seaway's market development initiatives."

"Given the economic situation, an extra year with no toll increase will assist our stakeholders in their efforts to develop new business and will serve to reinforce the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system's position as the gateway to North America's heartland," said Bruce Hodgson, director of market development for the corporation.


Coast Guard readies new rules for seagoing barges

The U.S. Coast Guard is revising regulations for the inspection and certification of seagoing barges to align with statutory language that exempts certain seagoing barges from inspection.

Explaining its revision, the Coast Guard said that in 1993, Congress exempted from inspection seagoing barges that are unmanned and not carrying hazardous material as cargo, or carrying a flammable or combustible liquid. In the same year, the Coast Guard stopped requiring the specified seagoing barges to be inspected to conform to the law. However, the Coast Guard did not amend its regulations to reflect the exemption. The purpose of the revision is to change the language concerning seagoing barges to reflect the exemption created by the 1993 law.

The revised regulations are scheduled to become effective April 12, unless the Coast Guard receives adverse comments by Feb. 13.

For more information, contact Lt. Douglas Tindall at (202) 372-1411.


Support grows for full use of Harbor Maintenance Fund

Eighty-one members of Congress have signed a letter asking two administration officials to recommend and support the full utilization of Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund receipts for the purpose for which they were collected.

They said in the letter dated Dec. 20 and addressed to Jacob J. Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and to Jo Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, that "the negative implications of underutilizing the funds are now becoming apparent."

"Year after year of insufficient maintenance dredging of coastal and inland ports has resulted in reduced depths at the majority of large port facilities and has all but ignored the dredging needs of moderately sized or smaller ports," the lawmakers said.


TWIC rules relaxed for ships with no security plans

The U.S. Coast Guard has available a policy letter that spells out how the Coast Guard is relaxing its Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) enforcement posture for mariners who serve aboard vessels that are not required to have a vessel security plan.

The letter also describes policy changes to allow those mariners to acquire and renew a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) without holding a valid TWIC.

The Coast Guard said the policy changes will help reduce the fees mariners pay to obtain or renew their MMC, as well as reduce the burden of having to make multiple trips to a TWIC enrollment center to apply for and collect a TWIC.

For more information, contact Luke Harden at (202) 372-1206.

By Professional Mariner Staff