Posted by: towmasters | December 10, 2009

2009 Pacific Marine Expo Report & The New MTVA Board

Last month our members were out in force at Workboat’s Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle to continue working as much as possible on our primary missions: generally improving knowledge, professionalism and safety within our industry, ensuring realistic and adequate regulations for the same become the new norm, working with equipment designers and manufacturers to steadily improve the real-world usability and dependability of their products, and making sure our voice is heard by Congress and regulatory agencies like the USCG. We’re also forging new alliances internationally with our brethren in Europe, South America, Australia and elsewhere to eventually make towing a specialized skill set recognized by the IMO. Yeah, we’ve been pretty busy…..

Here is Capt. Jordan May’s report:

The Pacific Maritime Expo wrapped up last week and the MTVA booth was well worth our time again this year. We acquired 11 new captains, a couple of new sponsors, and have entered into a few new ventures. Our total membership is now around 185 tug captains. For ease of use, a Paypal link is now part of our online membership application. We will ad a check box for “renewal” soon.

One project moving forward is an MTVA Training Tractor Tug capable of accommodating 2 senior captains and 4 mates. We’ve started dialog with tug designer Jonathan Parrot of Jensen Maritime towards designing this tug, incorporating some of our captains ideas and concepts. This would be utilized for real ship work and training instead of relying on just a simulator. The idea has already received remarkable support from the industry and simply requires $7,000,000.00 in educational funding, which is not un-realistic with the current administration’s and congress’s push toward developing training and workforce programs for the marine industry.

The USCG Towing Vessel Inspection Conference did not lead to any real eye-popping revelations, in fact we might be even more confused than we were before the Expo. We were told, however, that they’re coming someday and that somebody is holding them close to their chest. We thought that somebody might be the Prevention Doctrine Branch Chief, Steve Danscuk, who presented the Towing Vessel Inspection Bridging Conference, however…..it wasn’t. Steve was very considerate of our issues, though, and is happy to help where possible. We did stress our main concern that work hours and manning levels are absolutely critical if a COI is coming to tugs. If proper logbooks, carefully checked by the Coast Guard on a semi-regular basis, are avoided as they have been in the past then there is no use in doing a tug inspection.

Over the past year we’ve covered nearly every controversial towing topic in detail on the Towmasters blog which is also accessible in the “Towing Forum” area of the main website. We’ve had a great year considering our small, grassroots beginning. Much thanks to all the MTVA Members who came to work the booth and see the show. We’re now preparing for the 2010 International Tug & Salvage Conference in Vancouver B.C. this May 17-21, where we will also have a booth. Any of our members who are off during that time are strongly encouraged to attend if at all possible.

Our first round of elections for MTVA Board Members took place at the show and the remaining votes will be gathered over the internet over the next 4 weeks. 10 members have been nominated for the board of directors. Their names and a short bio will be forwarded soon. The 7 elected board members will serve a 2-year term. They’ll review and consider the various issues we juggle and attempt to forward a consensus representative of the entire MTVA membership. For the most part, feedback and opinions so far have been universal 99% of the time. Regardless of geography, it appears that being stuck on a tug half the year produces many of the same challenges.

Best regards,

Capt. Jordan May

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