Brownwater News, October 2017

House,​ ​Senate approve$6.2​ ​billion​ ​for Army Corps'​ ​Civil Works

For​ ​the​ ​third​ ​year​ ​in​ ​a​ ​row,​ ​Congress​ ​has​ ​approved​ ​record​ ​funding​ ​for​ ​the Civil​ ​Works​ ​program​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Army​ ​Corps​ ​of​ ​Engineers.​ ​For fiscal​ ​year 2018,​ ​both​ ​the​ ​House​ ​and​ ​Senate​ ​funded​ ​the​ ​program​ ​at​ ​$6.2 billion,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​$1.16​ ​billion​ ​more​ ​than​ ​the Trump administration​ ​requested​ ​in its​ ​budget.

Operations​ ​and​ ​maintenance also​ ​has​ ​been​ ​increased​ ​for​ ​the​ ​fifth​ ​year in a row to​ ​$3.48​ ​billion​ ​in​ ​fiscal​ ​2018. The​ ​Senate’s​ ​O&M​ ​funding​ ​level​ ​was​ ​$3.52​ ​billion,​ ​surpassing​ ​the historic​ ​number​ ​in​ ​the​ ​House. The​ ​House​ ​also​ ​provided​ ​additional​ ​navigation​ ​funds​ ​for​ ​which​ ​the inland​ ​waterways​ ​are​ ​eligible​ ​to​ ​compete.​

The​ ​Senate​ ​passed​ ​its​ ​Energy​ ​&​ ​Water​ ​Development​ ​appropriations​ ​bill out​ ​of​ ​committee​ ​but​ ​was​ ​unable​ ​to​ ​bring​ ​the​ ​measure​ ​to​ ​the​ ​floor​ ​before the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​the​ ​fiscal​ ​year on Sept.​ ​30.​ ​The​ ​government​ ​is operating​ ​under​ ​a​ ​continuing​ ​resolution​ ​until​ ​Dec.​ ​8.​

The Waterways Council​ ​Inc.​ ​is​ ​confident​ ​that​ ​Congress​ ​will​ ​pass​ ​a​ ​long-term​ ​funding package​ ​after​ ​that​ ​date.

High​ ​water,​ ​lock​ ​delays​ ​slow​ ​Ohio River​ ​traffic

A​ ​combination​ ​of​ ​high​ ​water conditions​ ​and​ ​unscheduled​ ​lock​ ​delays​ ​significantly​ ​slowed Ohio River ​traffic ​as​ ​the​ ​peak​ ​of​ ​the​ ​harvest​ ​season​ ​approached.​ ​The​ ​resulting​ ​tow backups​ ​affected​ ​barge​ ​rates​ ​and​ ​agricultural​ ​markets.

According to the Waterways Council Inc., the river reopened Oct. 14 at Lock and Dam 52 after it had been closed for nearly a week due to rising river stages that exceeded the maximum locking stage of 20.7 feet. Precipitation from Hurricane Nate prompted the rising river levels and closure, but Lock and Dam 52 also was closed from Sept. 6-14 due to an unscheduled maintenance outage at the 89-year-old facility.

As of Oct. 16, there were 58 vessels with 658 barges waiting to transit Lock and Dam 52.  The backup was over roughly a 20-mile stretch of river. Other recent backups​ ​have​ ​occurred​ ​up​ ​and​ ​down​ ​the​ ​Ohio, including at locks​ ​at​ ​Smithland,​ ​Cannelton,​ ​Meldahl​ ​and​ ​Dashields.

The​ ​delays​ ​occurred​ ​just​ ​months​ ​after​ ​President​ ​Trump​ ​visited​ ​the​ ​Ohio River and​ ​said its​ ​system​ ​of​ ​locks​ ​and​ ​dams​ ​was​ ​“dilapidated”​ ​and​ ​in​ ​“bad shape.”​ ​Trump​ ​said in June that the​ ​system​ ​“continues​ ​to​ ​decay”​ ​while​ ​capital improvements​ ​have​ ​been​ ​“massively​ ​underfunded.​ ​There​ ​is​ ​an​ ​$8.7 billion​ ​maintenance​ ​backlog​ ​that​ ​is​ ​only​ ​getting​ ​bigger​ ​and​ ​getting worse.”

The​ ​administration​ ​announced​ ​at​ ​the​ ​time​ ​that​ ​it​ ​would​ ​undertake​ ​a​ ​$1 trillion initiative​ ​to​ ​repair​ ​America’s​ ​infrastructure.

Two House lawmakers​ ​file​ ​new​ ​anti-Jones​ ​Act​ ​proposal

U.S. Rep.​ ​Gary​ ​Palmer​, R-Ala.,​ ​announced on Oct.​ ​10​ ​that​ ​he​ ​and​ ​Rep.​ ​Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., have ​introduced​ ​a​ ​bill​ ​to lift Jones Act restrictions on shipping​ ​from​ ​the United States​ ​to Puerto​ ​Rico​ ​for​ ​five​ ​years. According​ ​to​ ​Palmer,​ ​a​ ​2010​ ​study​ ​at​ ​the University​ ​of​ ​Puerto​ ​Rico​ ​concluded​ ​that the island​ ​loses​ ​$537​ ​million a​ ​year​ ​due​ ​to​ ​the​ ​law.

“The​ ​Congress​ ​has​ ​the​ ​responsibility​ ​to​ ​act​ ​when​ ​enacted​ ​laws​ ​prove​ ​to be​ ​burdensome,”​ ​Palmer​ ​said.​ ​“This​ ​is​ ​especially​ ​true​ ​in​ ​humanitarian crises.​ ​Our​ ​bill​ ​(H.R.​ ​3966,​ ​the​ ​Puerto​ ​Rico​ ​Humanitarian​ ​Relief​ ​Act) provides​ ​Puerto​ ​Ricans​ ​with​ ​extended​ ​relief​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Jones​ ​Act​ ​to​ ​help them​ ​put​ ​their​ ​lives​ ​back​ ​together​ ​as​ ​they​ ​rebuild​ ​their​ ​homes,​ ​their communities​ ​and​ ​their​ ​infrastructure.​ ​The​ ​cost​ ​of​ ​goods​ ​in​ ​Puerto​ ​Rico​ ​is already​ ​substantially​ ​higher​ ​due​ t​o​ ​Jones​ ​Act-related​ ​shipping​ ​costs,​ ​and, especially​ ​in​ ​a​ ​humanitarian​ ​crisis,​ ​every​ ​penny​ ​counts.”

The​ ​act​ ​requires that ​goods​ ​shipped​ ​to​ ​Puerto​ ​Rico​ ​from​ ​a​ ​U.S.​ ​port​ ​be carried on vessels that are​ ​U.S.​ ​owned,​ ​crewed,​ ​built​ ​and​ ​flagged. Velazquez​ ​said​ ​that​ ​with​ ​Puerto​ ​Rico​ ​having​ ​a​ ​long​ ​and​ ​difficult​ ​road ahead,​ ​the​ ​Jones​ ​Act​ ​“will​ ​serve​ ​only​ ​to​ ​impede​ ​its​ ​physical​ ​and economic​ ​recovery.”

On Sept. 27, the American Maritime Partnership backed the capability of the U.S.-flagged fleet and refuted criticism of the Jones Act in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

“As our industry has done in past natural disasters, including most recently Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we are actively working with the administration, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), MarAd (the Maritime Administration) and relief organizations to deploy quickly and deliver essential goods like food, fuel, first aid supplies and building materials," said Thomas Allegretti, chairman of the American Maritime Partnership. "Approximately 9,500 containers of goods were moved by domestic maritime companies to help its residents recover. A steady stream of additional supplies keeps arriving in Puerto Rico on American vessels and on international ships from around the world. The problem now is distributing supplies from Puerto Rico’s ports inland by surface transportation."

Union​ ​leader​ ​faults​ ​Senate bill to repeal ​​Jones​ ​Act

Larry​ ​Willis,​ ​president​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Transportation​ ​Trades​ ​Department, AFL-CIO,​ ​criticized proposed​ ​legislation in the Senate ​that​ ​would​ ​repeal​ ​the​ ​Jones Act​ ​as​ ​it​ ​relates​ ​to​ ​Puerto​ ​Rico,​ ​stressing​ ​that​ ​“there​ ​has​ ​never​ ​been​ ​a need​ ​to​ ​repeal​ ​this​ ​law,​ ​and​ ​there​ ​is​ ​not​ ​one​ ​now.”

Claims​ ​that​ ​the​ ​Jones​ ​Act​ ​is​ ​hindering hurricane relief​ ​efforts​ ​in​ ​Puerto​ ​Rico​ ​are “simply​ ​false,”​ ​Willis​ ​said.​ ​The​ ​legislation​ ​(S.​ ​1894)​ ​was​ ​introduced​ ​by​ ​Sen.​ ​John​ ​McCain, R-Ariz.

Willis​ ​said​ ​damaged​ ​infrastructure​ ​on​ ​the​ ​island​ ​has​ ​prevented supplies​ ​from​ ​reaching​ ​those​ ​in​ ​need.​ ​Capacity​ ​of​ ​U.S.​ ​vessels​ ​“is​ ​not the​ ​problem,​ ​and​ ​repealing​ ​the​ ​Jones​ ​Act​ ​cannot​ ​fix​ ​roads​ ​and​ ​bridges that​ ​have​ ​been​ ​flooded​ ​or​ ​power​ ​grids​ ​that​ ​are​ ​offline,”​ ​he said.

The​ ​economic​ ​problems​ ​facing​ ​Puerto​ ​Rico are​ ​caused​ ​by​ ​Congress’​ ​failure​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​real​ ​fiscal​ ​relief​ ​and​ ​an economic​ ​stimulus​ ​package​ ​the​ ​territory​ ​needs,​ Willis said. He said​ ​his​ ​department​ ​“would​ ​not​ ​oppose​ ​waivers that​ ​are​ ​needed​ ​in​ ​emergency​ ​situations​ ​when​ ​U.S.​ ​vessels​ ​are​ ​not available.”

Inland Waterways Users​ ​Board​ ​to meet​ ​Nov.​ ​3

The U.S. Army​ ​Corps​ ​of​ ​Engineers​ ​has​ ​announced​ ​that​ ​the​ ​next​ ​meeting​ ​of the​ ​Inland​ ​Waterways​ ​Users​ ​Board​ ​will​ ​be​ ​held​ ​Nov.​ ​3​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Vicksburg Convention​ ​Center​ ​in​ ​Vicksburg,​ ​Miss. At​ ​the​ ​meeting,​ ​the​ ​board​ ​will​ ​receive​ ​briefings​ ​and​ ​presentations regarding​ ​investments,​ ​projects​ ​and the status​ ​of​ ​the​ ​inland​ ​waterways system.​ ​

The​ ​agenda​ ​will​ ​include​ ​the​ ​status​ ​of​ ​fiscal​ ​year​ ​2018​ ​funding, the​ ​status​ ​of​ ​the​ ​FY​ ​2019​ ​budget​ ​for​ ​the​ ​navigation​ ​program,​ ​and​ ​the status​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Inland​ ​Waterways​ ​Trust​ ​Fund. For​ ​more​ ​information,​ ​contact​ ​Mark​ ​R.​ ​Pointon​ ​at​ ​(703)​ ​428-6438.

Reviewers sought for merchant​ ​mariner​ ​exam​ ​questions

The U.S. Coast​ ​Guard​ ​has​ ​invited​ ​interested​ ​parties​ ​to​ ​serve​ ​on​ ​a​ ​working group​ ​to​ ​review​ ​questions​ ​for​ ​the​ ​merchant​ ​mariner​ ​examination. The deadline​ ​for​ ​submitting​ ​cover​ ​letters​ ​and​ ​resumes​ ​is​ ​Nov.​ ​10.

Members of​ ​the​ ​working​ ​group​ ​must​ ​include​ ​Coast​ ​Guard-approved training​ ​providers,​ ​credentialed​ ​deck​ ​and​ ​engineering​ ​officers,​ ​and​ ​a member​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Merchant​ ​Marine​ ​Personnel​ ​Advisory​ ​Committee. For​ ​more​ ​information,​ ​email​ ​Cathleen​ ​Mauro​ ​at

Cernak takes over as​ ​AAPA​ ​chairman

Steve​ ​Cernak,​ ​chief​ ​executive​ ​and​ ​director​ ​of​ ​Florida’s​ ​Port​ ​Everglades, began​ ​his​ ​one-year​ ​term​ on ​Oct. ​4​ ​as​ ​the​ ​2017-18​ ​chairman​ ​of​ ​the American​ ​Association​ ​of​ ​Port​ ​Authorities.​ ​

​Cernak succeeds​​ Mark ​​McAndrews,​​ director ​​of ​​the​ P​ort​​ of​​ Pascagoula​​ (Miss.), who​ ​had​ ​been​ ​chairman​ ​since​ ​October​ ​2016.​ ​All of AAPA's​ ​2017-18 officers​ ​and​ ​directors​ ​were​ ​inducted​ ​at​ ​the​ ​association's​ ​106th annual​ ​convention​ ​in​ ​Long​ ​Beach,​ ​Calif.

Army Corps extends interbasin​ ​study​ ​comment​ ​period

At​ ​the​ ​request​ ​of​ ​stakeholders,​ the​ ​Army​ ​Corps​ ​of​ ​Engineers​ ​has​ ​extended​ ​​the​ ​comment period​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Great​ ​Lakes​ ​and​ ​Mississippi​ ​River​ ​Interbasin​ ​Study (GLMRIS) by​ ​45​ ​days, ​from​ ​Oct.​ ​2​ ​to​ ​Nov. 16.

​The​ ​goal​ ​of​ ​the​ ​study​ ​is​ ​to​ ​prevent​ ​the​ ​upstream​ ​transfer​ ​of​ ​aquatic nuisance​ ​species​ ​while​ ​minimizing​ ​impacts​ ​to​ ​waterway​ ​users. For​ ​more​ ​information,​ ​contact​ ​Andrew​ ​Leichty​ ​at​ ​(309)​ ​794-5399.

Merchant​ ​marine​ ​personnel​ ​panel​ ​to​ ​meet​ ​Oct.​ ​26

The working groups of the Merchant​ ​Marine​ ​Personnel​ ​Advisory​ ​Committee​ are​ ​scheduled​ ​to​ ​meet​ ​Oct.​ ​26​ ​and​ ​the​ ​full​ ​committee​ ​is​ ​set​ ​to meet​ ​Oct.​ ​27​ ​at​ ​the​ ​National​ ​Maritime​ ​Center​ ​in​ ​Martinsburg,​ ​W.Va.

Among​ ​the​ ​issues​ ​on​ ​their​ ​agendas​ ​are​ ​Standards​ ​of​ ​Training,​ ​Certification and​ ​Watchkeeping (STCW) ​for​ ​seafarers,​ ​the​ ​size​ ​of​ ​the​ ​pool​ ​of​ ​U.S.​ ​mariners necessary​ ​to​ ​support​ ​the​ ​U.S.​-flag​ ​fleet​ ​in​ ​times​ ​of​ ​national​ ​emergency, and​ ​the​ ​current​ ​requirement​ ​for​ ​a​ ​U.S.​ ​merchant​ ​mariner​ ​to​ ​read​ ​and write​ ​using​ ​English. For​ ​more​ ​information,​ ​contact​ ​Davis​ ​Breyer​ ​at​ ​(202)​ ​372-1445.

By Professional Mariner Staff