Brownwater News June 2021

AWO elects Illinois Marine Towing’s Del Wilkins as chairman
Membership of the American Waterways Operators (AWO) has selected Del Wilkins as its new chairman.

Wilkins, the president of Illinois Marine Towing, was among a slate of new leaders elected to lead the national association focused on the tugboat, towboat and barge industries. AWO members elected Clark Todd, president and CEO of Blessey Marine Services, as vice chairman while Brian Hughes, the vice president of operations sales for Hughes Bros., was chosen as treasurer.

“It’s often said that AWO punches above its weight,” said Wilkins, the first Black AWO chairman. “… And that’s true, we pack an effective punch. … But just because you punch above your weight, doesn’t mean you’ll automatically bring home the title.”

“So how do we deliver the knockout?” he continued. “We do it by bringing all of our resources to bear, making ourselves that much more formidable inside the ring.”

The election of new leaders took place at the association’s spring meeting of its board of directors, which also functions as an annual membership meeting. AWO president Jennifer Carpenter presented a hopeful vision for the upcoming year, including the resumption of normal life with the ebbing of the covid-19 pandemic.

Port Houston records sharp gain in container volume

Port Houston recorded a sharp rise in container volumes during the month of May, leading to the best ever performance for that month, port officials announced.

Container cargo jumped by 30 percent to 288,127 TEUs for May 2021, compared to 222,250 TEUs during the same month a year earlier, according to a news release. Overall, the port is up by 8 percent for the year, with 1.32 million TEUs moving through container ports on the Houston Ship Channel.

The strong May and rising figures for 2021 follow a record breaking 2020 in which more than 3 million TEUs passed through Houston-area terminals. Steel, vehicles, lumber, plywood and other commodities also increased, port officials said.


Coast Guard boosts enforcement on Lake of the Ozarks
Coast Guard officials from Sector Upper Mississippi River terminated the voyages of four vessels on Lake of the Ozarks over the past weekend.

Enforcement action was taken against the vessels Tiki 1, Tiki 2, Fullhouse 1 and Fullhouse 2, the Coast Guard said in a news release, following reports of illegal charters on the lake. All four were illegally running passenger-for-hire operations without proper inspections or credentialed mariners in charge, the service said.

“Passengers on board any chartered vessel are encouraged to be alert for deceptive practices and should ask the vessel operator to produce a valid Coast Guard issued Merchant Mariner’s Credential suitable for the boat’s service,” Capt. Mick Scott, Coast Guard Captain of the Port, St. Louis, said in the release.

“Credentialed seafarers have met federal requirements and inspected vessels have satisfied high safety standards,” he continued. “Paying passengers are taking an undue safety risk by riding on a vessel that has not been inspected as required by federal law. They also add to that risk when there is not a credentialed mariner in charge.”

Operators found to be running illegal charters can face serious criminal and civil penalties, with potential federal fines rising to more than $50,000.

Cruise operator building 2 more ‘modern riverboats’
American Cruise Lines (ACL) has announced plans to build two more ships in 2022 at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Md.

The order will bring the total number of “modern riverboats” to six in the series introduced in 2018. The new ships will be sisters to the 175-passenger American Melody. That vessel is slated to begin operations on the Mississippi River in August, the company said in a news release.

“American’s two newbuilds are welcome news for the industry here at home. They closely follow the two riverboats we are introducing this year and demonstrate our ongoing commitment to growth and leading the U.S. small ship market,” Charles B. Robertson, president and CEO of ACL, said in a statement.

The company, based in Guilford, Conn., operates 15 vessels. Its fleet has doubled since 2017 and now includes five small cruise ships, four classic paddlewheelers, and six modern riverboats.

Repairs started on Memphis bridge over Mississippi River
Repairs have begun on the Memphis highway bridge over the Mississippi River that closed last month after inspectors found a crack near the bridge’s center span.

The Coast Guard closed the river for nearly two days starting May 12 between mile markers 736 and 737 after the crack was discovered on a key load-bearing beam. All told, 62 towboats with more than 1,000 barges were blocked during the closure.

Arkansas transportation officials said inspectors are scouring other sections of the bridge in search of similar problems. Meanwhile, contractors working to repair the span are making progress, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Local media reported the bridge likely will remain closed into next month.

The bridge carries Interstate 40 over the Mississippi River. The route is a critical corridor for moving goods across the United States. Its closure also has caused major traffic backups in the region.

By Professional Mariner Staff