Brownwater News March 2021

AWO offers assistance for mariner vaccinations
The American Waterways Operators (AWO) is making a letter available to its members to assist eligible mariners and other essential industry employees when they visit COVID-19 vaccination centers across the country. The letter verifies that the employees meet Phase I eligibility guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Although each state has developed its own process for allocating and distributing vaccines, this letter may help ensure the prompt vaccination of eligible industry personnel,” the AWO said.

The industry group also has created a one-page primer to help state policymakers and vaccine providers define and identify maritime workers for vaccination. To download the letter, view the primer and access more COVID-19 vaccine information, click here.


Studies examine enhancing in-water detection for rescues
Two new studies released by the U.S. Coast Guard aim to increase awareness that distress signals used in combination — electronic and visual — may yield more reliable results than any one signal when locating and rescuing people in the water.

Results of the studies, which were conducted by the Coast Guard’s Research and Development Center in New London, Conn., have not yet affected current regulations for any equipment or vessel. While the studies did not support incorporation of any new distress signals for use by mariners, the Coast Guard said it is always looking at new technologies for search and rescue situations.

The enhanced person in the water (ePIW) study highlighted the “persistent challenge” to find a person floating in open water, waiting for rescue. Ideas for enhancing basic life jackets to improve detection were crowd-sourced and then filtered to a few for development of a prototype. The research supported developing new technology that could be brought to market in the future.

The second study compared several accepted daytime distress signals — including smoke, distress flags and 500-candela flares — with an electronic visual distress signal currently accepted as meeting the recreational vessel carriage requirement for a nighttime distress signal.

The reports are available by clicking here


GICA names Coast Guard veteran as new president
The Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association (GICA) has announced a change at the helm, with Paul Dittman of New Orleans-based Turn Services slated to take over as president from Jim Stark at the group’s annual seminar in August.

Dittman, currently vice president of compliance, security and safety at Turn Services, has an extensive U.S. Coast Guard background. GICA cited his service in the 8th District in a variety of staff and command positions, working closely with the inland towing industry in St. Louis, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Port Arthur, Texas. His areas of expertise include waterways management, marine inspections, casualty and personal action investigations, pollution response and port security.

During his last assignment, Dittman was the senior captain responsible for overseeing all aids to navigation (ATON) and Coast Guard waterways management activities on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and Western Rivers system.

“We are thrilled to announce the selection of Paul Dittman as our prospective president,” said Mary McCarthy, chairwoman of GICA’s board of directors. “Paul has worked closely with GICA for many years. His experience in the Coast Guard and towboat industry has prepared him very well for leading our association. Simply put, he knows our issues and membership.”

Dittman is a graduate of Massachusetts Maritime Academy, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in marine transportation management and an unlimited tonnage third mate’s license. He also holds a master of arts degree in national security strategy from the U.S. Naval War College.

Stark, who has served with GICA since July 2010, plans to retire after stepping down as president.


AWO joins Green Marine to advance environmental stewardship
The American Waterways Operators has joined Quebec-based Green Marine, the largest voluntary environmental certification program for North America’s maritime industry. As a member, the AWO will work to advance environmental stewardship in the U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry.

“This partnership will provide AWO more tools and resources to share with our members and help them excel in a world of evolving environmental expectations,” AWO President and CEO Jennifer Carpenter said in a prepared statement.

Although the AWO is a new member of Green Marine, the groups have been collaborating for years. Dr. Eleanor Kirtley, Green Marine’s senior program manager, has been serving on AWO’s Environmental Stewardship Working Group since its inception. The working group is developing solutions for the tugboat, towboat and barge industry in key environmental areas such as air and water quality, waste management, energy efficiency and corporate responsibility.

“We are very pleased to formalize an existing collaboration between AWO and Green Marine on defining environmental best practices,” said Green Marine Executive Director David Bolduc. “Welcoming AWO as our 35th association member is another step in a growing collaboration between our two organizations.”

Brian Bailey, AWO’s director for safety and environmental stewardship, is a member of the committee organizing Green Marine’s annual flagship event, GreenTech, a conference focused on maritime transportation and its greater sustainability through greener technologies, innovation and best practices. Bailey also moderated GreenTech 2020’s session on reducing and measuring greenhouse gas emissions.


DHS offers resources to protect infrastructure from GPS spoofing
The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate has released resources to protect against Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) spoofing, or deceiving a GPS device through false signals.

Accurate positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) is necessary in many critical infrastructure sectors. Precision timing is particularly important and is primarily provided through GPS. However, GPS’ space-based signals are low power and unencrypted, making them susceptible to both intentional and unintentional disruption.

The PNT Integrity Library and Epsilon Algorithm Suite advance the design of PNT systems and increase the resilience of critical infrastructure to prevent related disruptions.

“The increasing reliance on GPS for military, civil and commercial applications makes the system vulnerable,” according to Space Policy Directive-7, which was signed by President Trump on Jan. 15. “GPS users must plan for potential signal loss and take reasonable steps to verify or authenticate the integrity of the received GPS data and ranging signal, especially in applications where even small degradations can result in loss of life.”

The PNT library and algorithm suite provide users with a method to verify the integrity of the GPS data. “We are excited to release these resources to the PNT community to improve resiliency against potential GPS signal loss,” said Brannan Villee, PNT program manager for the Science and Technology Directorate.

The library and algorithm suite are available to the public free of charge. For more information, click here.

By Professional Mariner Staff