Brownwater News, November 2016

MarAd designates funding for container-on-barge operations

Six national Marine Highway projects, including four inland container-on-barge operations, have received $4.85 million in grants from the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd).

The goal of the Marine Highway Program is to expand the use of U.S. waterways to relieve highway congestion, reduce air pollution and generate other public benefits by increasing the efficiency of the surface transportation system.

“It is essential that we invest in integrated, multi-modal transportation systems that support the efficient movement of freight and people throughout this country,” said Maritime Administrator Paul "Chip" Jaenichen. “Our nation’s extensive network of waterways and domestic seaports provide an opportunity to help stimulate economic growth while reducing congestion on our national freight transportation system.” 

An award of $1.75 million will support a container shuttle service between Memphis, Tenn., and the ports of Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Empty containers that would otherwise move by truck or rail are collected in Memphis and barged to Baton Rouge to meet the demand for chemical industry exports. The loaded containers then head downriver to New Orleans, where they are transferred onto ships. The operation, which MarAd said would begin with five barges per week, could potentially eliminate 12,500 truck trips each year.

In Illinois, America’s Central Port in Granite City received $713,000 for 18-month container-on-barge demonstration project. The shuttle operation will allow agricultural customers moving containerized exports between southern and northern Illinois to access the Union Pacific and BNSF rail ramps. The service will operate on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers between Channahon and Granite City.

An award of $476,748 will support the 64 Express, an existing container-on-barge service that operates along the James River between Hampton Roads and Richmond, Va. The grant will expand the service to include moving refrigerated and frozen products on the barge. The 64 Express is already removing more than 15,000 truck trips per year from congested regional highways, according to MarAd.

The St. Louis Port Authority and three partners — Inland Rivers Ports & Terminals Inc., the Mississippi Rivers Cities & Towns Initiative, and the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association — were awarded $96,000 to support the development of containerized shipping along the Mississippi River between Chicago, Ill.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and New Orleans.

Other Marine Highway grants went to an existing container and trailer-on-barge service in New York Harbor ($1.63 million) and a Potomac River commuter ferry project ($173,361).

ABS earns auditor status for AWO's Responsible Carrier Program

The American Waterways Operators has granted approval to the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) to carry out audits of the group’s Responsible Carrier Program (RCP), which could soon play a big role in compliance with the U.S. Coast Guard’s new Subchapter M inspection requirements.

Under provisions of Subchapter M, towing vessel owners and operators can choose to opt for annual Coast Guard inspections or adopt a towing safety management system (TSMS). AWO has submitted the RCP for Coast Guard acceptance as a TSMS and anticipates final approval this year.

"This agreement with ABS expands the pool of well-qualified, well-trained third-party auditors who can conduct RCP/TSMS audits," AWO President and CEO Tom Allegretti said in a news release. "This is consistent with AWO's long-standing goal of facilitating member compliance with Subchapter M and raising standards of safety and environmental stewardship throughout the tugboat, towboat and barge industry."

"As we meet with towing vessel owners, we hear repeated requests for help in identifying compliance options that best fit their fleet needs," said James Watson, president of ABS' Americas Division. "Achieving RCP approval expands ABS' offering and increases the portfolio of services we can offer towing vessel owners and operators on inland waterways, coasts and harbors."

CSA honors 65 vessel operators for environmental excellence

The Chamber of Shipping of America (CSA) has honored 65 shipping and towing companies — and the mariners and shoreside personnel who support them — for environmental excellence.

Among the companies receiving Environmental Achievement Awards at the Nov. 2 ceremony in Washington were American Commercial Barge Line, AEP River Operations, Crescent Towing, E.N. Bisso, Golding Barge Line and Ingram Barge Co.

The awards covered 1,760 ships owned by the companies, which have achieved a total of 14,308 years of environmental excellence. The average period of operating without an incident for vessels that received awards is 8.1 years. Two hundred and eighty-three of the vessels recognized have logged 16 or more years of environmental excellence.

“These awards celebrate the dedication to environmental excellence of our seafarers and the company personnel shoreside who operate our vessels to the highest standards,” said Kathy J. Metcalf, president of the CSA. “In today’s world, it seems our industry only gets front-page news when spills or other environmental problems occur. It is encouraging to see how many vessels go for years achieving environmental excellence. It should be clear to the American public that we in the maritime industry take our stewardship of the marine environment very seriously.”

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Joseph Servidio participated in the award ceremony and congratulated the recipients and the industry for their environmental performance.

To be eligible for the award, a vessel must have at least a two-year period of the following:

  • No reportable spills (a report of a “potential spill” is not disqualifying).
  • No U.S. Coast Guard citations for violations of MARPOL.
  • No port state citations for violations of MARPOL.
  • No violations of state or local pollution regulations.

The awards are open to all owners and operators of vessels that ply the oceans or inland waterways. For participation guidance, visit the CSA’s website, For a list of vessels that received the 2016 awards, click here.

Safety alert warns of Samsung Note 7 phones overheating

The Coast Guard has issued a safety alert to remind vessel owners, operators and crewmembers of overheating problems associated with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone. The notice includes phones recently replaced.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), as of September there had been at least 92 reports of the phones' lithium-ion batteries overheating, including 26 reports of customer burns and 55 reports of property damage. During normal use and charging, the devices have overheated and ruptured.

In the safety alert, the Coast Guard strongly recommends immediately powering down and ending the use of all Galaxy Note 7 phones that haven't been updated. If a person has not replaced their phone and must bring it on a vessel, the Coast Guard recommends turning off the phone; disconnecting it from any charging equipment; disabling all applications that could inadvertently activate the phone, such as the alarm clock; protecting the power switch to prevent it from being turned on; keeping the device accessible; and not stowing it in an inaccessible space such as a baggage storage area.

By Professional Mariner Staff