Great Lakes win only 2 percent of Corps’ stimulus dollars

Great Lakes win only 2 percent of Corps’ stimulus dollars

The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force says the Great Lakes came up “way short†when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers distributed the $4.6 billion Congress gave it for job creation and infrastructure improvements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“The Corps allocated only 2 percent of its stimulus dollars to the Great Lakes, leaving navigation and environmental projects in America’s heartland high and dry,†the task force said April 29. “The eight Great Lakes states received $94 million for Lakes projects out of the $4.6 billion Congress gave the Corps, this despite the fact that cargo movement can top 200 million tons a year and supports hundreds of thousands of family-sustaining jobs.â€

Donald Cree, president of the task force, said the amount allocated by the Corps for the Great Lakes “isn’t even enough to end the dredging crisis that is strangling the system. The Corps’ estimates removing the backlog of sediment — 17 million cubic yards — will cost more than $200 million.â€

James H.I. Weakley, first vice president of the task force and president of the Lake Carriers’ Association, said that the Corps decision “defies logic.â€

“The Great Lakes basin is home to 80 percent of the nation’s steelmaking capacity, 70 percent of its auto plants, and 55 percent of all heavy manufacturing, yet we get 2 percent of the Corps’ stimulus dollars,†Weakley said. 

Cree, who also complained that the proposed second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., did not receive any federal stimulus dollars, said Congress authorized the lock in 2007 and approved millions of dollars for construction, including $17 million recently in the fiscal year 2009 appropriations bill. However, Cree said, the Corps “has been less supportive. The shovel-ready project could have created thousands of good-paying jobs almost overnight.â€

No more inspections for permanently moored craft

The Coast Guard has notified the maritime industry that it will no longer inspect permanently moored craft or issue certificates of inspection to such craft unless the craft demonstrates that it is a vessel capable of being used as a means of water transportation.

The Coast Guard said the action is being taken in response to a recent Supreme Court decision implying that a “permanently moored vessel†is an oxymoron, since such a craft is neither used nor practically capable of being used as water transportation, and therefore cannot be considered a vessel.

For more information, contact Lt. Cmdr. David Webb of the Coast Guard’s Office of Vessel Activities at (202) 372-1216.

First consolidated Merchant Mariner Credential

The Coast Guard issued its first consolidated Merchant Mariner Credential to Jessica Dennis, a regulatory compliance officer for Hornbeck Offshore, at the recent meeting of the Towing Safety Advisory Committee at Dania Beach, Fla.

Dennis is a graduate of Texas Maritime Academy and holds domestic office endorsements, such as second mate of steam motor vessels, able seaman, wiper and stewards department.

The MMC consolidated the credentials issued to merchant mariners into a single credential and streamlined the application process by removing the requirement that all mariners appear at one of the 17 Regional Exam Centers, so long as they have already enrolled for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential.

Under previous regulations, the Coast Guard issued up to four credentials per mariner, including a Merchant Mariner’s Document, Merchant Mariner’s License, Certificate of Registry and an International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers Endorsement.

House authorizes $153 million for new icebreaker

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved, on a voice vote, a bill authorizing the allocation of $153 million for the design, acquisition and construction of a combined buoy tender-icebreaker to replace icebreaking capacity on the Great Lakes.

The bill (H.R. 1747), introduced by Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is entitled the Great Lakes Icebreaker Replacement Act. It was noted in the bill that five of the Coast Guard’s Great Lakes icebreakers are nearing the end of their useful lives, and that two other Coast Guard icebreaking assets have experienced difficulty in heavy ice conditions. In the spring of 2008, the bill says, U.S.-flag vessels operating on the Lakes suffered more than $1.3 million in damages to their hulls because the Coast Guard did not have enough assets available to keep Great Lakes shipping lanes open.

Corps dedicates second McAlpine lock

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a dedication ceremony last month for the second chamber at McAlpine Locks and Dam in Louisville, Ky.

The McAlpine facility now sports twin 1,200-foot locks to speed up navigation traffic and to act as backups in the event one chamber has to be taken out of service.

Among the dignitaries on hand was Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp, commanding general of the Corps, who said that the new $430 million chamber is “one of the greatest treasures†of the Corps system of 257 locks. But there is much yet to be done, he added, noting that the cost of bringing U.S. waterways locks and dams to modern standards is said to be in the range of $3.2 trillion.

USCG seeks applicants for three advisory groups

The U.S. Coast Guard has invited interested parties to apply for membership on three advisory groups — the Navigation Safety Advisory Council, the Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee and the National Boating Safety Advisory Council.

The navigation council provides advice and makes recommendations to the Homeland Security secretary on a wide range of issues related to the prevention of collisions, rammings and groundings. This includes Inland and International Rules of the Road, navigation regulations and equipment, routing measures, marine information, diving safety and aids to navigation systems.

Application forms, which may be obtained from Commandant (CG-54121), U.S. Coast Guard, 2100 Second St., SW., Washington, D.C. 20593-0001, should reach the Coast Guard by June 19. The Coast Guard will be considering applications for six positions that will expire or become vacant in November.

For more information, contact Mike Sollosi or John Bobb at (202) 372-1532.

Application forms for the personnel committee should reach the Coast Guard by July 15. Those for the boating council should reach the Coast Guard by July 23.

The Coast Guard said it would consider applications for seven boating safety positions that will expire or become vacant in December. The Coast Guard personnel committee has seven positions that will expire or become vacant Jan. 31, 2010.

For more information on the boating council vacancies, contact Jeff Ludwig at (202) 372-1062. Questions on the personnel committee should be directed to Mark Gould at (202) 372-1409.

Magnolia Marine, Blessey Marine boast new towboats

Magnolia Marine Transport Co. (MMT), of Jackson, Miss., recently put into service the fifth new towboat in a series of six built by Nichols Boat Company, Greenville, Miss. The new 110-foot, 3,000-hp towboat Stan Humphreys was named after MMT’s senior vice president.

MMT President Lee Lampton described Humphreys as “a remarkable man†who is “always thinking of new ways to help our customers.†

Lampton said Humphreys’ foresight and ability helped make MMT “the leader in the black-oil transportation market.â€

Blessey Marine Services, of Harahan, La., christened its new 87-foot towboat Alton St. Amant last March. Built by Sneed Shipbuilding, of Channelview, Texas, the boat is powered by twin diesel engines generating about 2,000 hp. The modern towboat features a software program to transmit daily log information directly from the wheelhouse to Blessey’s shoreside office without faxing or e-mailing.

About the Author:

Carlo Salzano has been in journalism since graduating from La Salle University in 1948 as a chemistry major. That’s right, chemistry. He began his career as a copy boy at the Philadelphia Inquirer, before moving on to United Press International in Philadelphia, Charleston, West Virgina, Baltimore and Washington. After 14 years, Carlo joined Traffic World magazine and stayed on for 23 years, before retiring as editor in 1990. A majority of Carlo’s time at Traffic World was spent covering the maritime community and he continued on in the maritime field while freelancing throughout his “retirement.” He is married and has three children and eight grandchildren.

By Professional Mariner Staff