Plimsolls go to PortVision vessel tracking, Samson R&D and Kings Point teacher

The 2011 winners of Professional Mariner's Plimsoll Awards for Outstanding Service are Capt. George R. Sandberg, the director of Nautical Science Simulation at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy; and the research and development team at Samson, the Washington-based maker of synthetic lines. The winner of the Plimsoll Award for Innovation is PortVision, a Houston company that has developed an AIS database of current and historical vessel tracking information.

Capt. George R. Sandberg, the director of Nautical Science Simulation at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, who won the individual award. (Brian Gauvin photo)

The awards were presented on March 22 at the Connecticut Maritime Association's Shipping 2011 conference in Stamford, Conn. The awards go to individuals and organizations that embody the spirit of Samuel Plimsoll, the crusading member of Parliament in Britain in the late 19th century who successfully pushed for reforms to make the shipping industry safer for mariners.

Sandberg, who is retiring this year after a teaching career at Kings Point that spanned almost 25 years, also spent about 18 years at sea as an officer aboard merchant vessels, including five years as master of chemical carriers. At Kings Point, he served for 11 years as head of the Department of Marine Transportation and five years as director of Nautical Science Simulation.

His work with simulator instruction was particularly notable. He published many papers and delivered many presentations on the subject. His work in this area is recognized internationally and has served to shape instruction standards in the United States and internationally.

"Through bridge watch simulation, instruction and evaluation grading techniques… Capt. Sandberg has notably changed technology, policy and procedures which will prevent future accidents at sea," wrote Capt. Robert Meurn, professor emeritus at Kings Point, in his nomination of Sandberg for the award.

Dean Rosenberg, the chief executive of PortVision, which won the award for innovation. (Brian Gauvin photo)

Samson was honored for its research and development (R&D) efforts, which have significantly enhanced the maritime industry's ability to operate efficiently and safely. Under the leadership of Dr. Rafael Chou, Samson's vice president of development, Samson has brought the scientific method to bear on the design, use and maintenance of synthetic lines. Using materials science and quantitative methods, Samson has set exacting performance standards for its products and taken the guesswork out of operations safety.

For example, by working closely with customers through visits to vessels and testing of lines, Samson's R&D staff helps them assess the wear their specific operations impose on their lines. By close examination of such things as the condition of bitts and staples on vessels and laboratory testing of lines, Samson can advise its customers on retirement schedules for lines based on real-world measurements of performance and wear.

Samson is using science to help its customers make good decisions affecting efficiency and safety.

PortVision won its Plimsoll for its web-based service that allows customers to track vessel movements at ports around the world. Accepting the award at the Shipping 2011 conference was the company's chief executive, Dean Rosenberg.

Dr. Rafael Chou, vice president of development for Samson, whose research and development group won the award fr outstanding service by an organization. (Brian Gauvin photo)

Using AIS information on ship movements, PortVision has created a unique database that allows customers to track vessels in real time or to get historical data. Some applications have economic implications, such as verifying the position of a vessel for determining demurrage charges. Others have safety implications, such as determining the direction, speed and location of vessels involved in collisions or groundings.

PortVision has brought to the industry a new degree of transparency that gives operators and regulators alike access to objective and comprehensive data on which to base solid decisions to enhance operational efficiency and safety.

By Professional Mariner Staff