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Comments from the Executive Director

Third Quarter 2017

The Third Quarter of the 2017 Navigation Season in our Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway System continued to be brisk. USGLSA agents have provided ship call services at levels which have not been as numerous as since 2006. Some subjects to discuss:

Cruise Ships - Among factors contributing to the notable ship call numbers is another Season of encouraging performance in the cruise ship category which, while still not a major element, continues to show promise. Contributing to that performance seems to be more and better quality vessels, a diversity from other Summer cruise destinations in other less stable places in the world, spectacular scenery and appealing ports of call. In addition, appreciation to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for its support and cooperation in carrying out their very important duties regarding the safe and secure arrival and departure of vessels and passengers. A key hurdle still existing to continuing growth is that U.S. Lakes maritime ports do not generally have adequate facilities available for CBP to process large numbers of passengers. However, CBP continues to work with stakeholders to try to identify innovative means to efficiently conduct necessary clearances and services. Innovative alternatives such as mobile units for Officers are being considered, but bottom line, financing for improved facilities and adequate personnel at the ports are key elements to be addressed. USGLSA supports initiatives in this business sector.

Pilotage - It seems no Quarterly Comments would be complete without a report on pilotage.

• In September, a USCG Great Lakes Pilotage Advisory Committee (GLPAC) Meeting was scheduled for late in the month. The time selected was in part due to a mandate for such Committees to hold at least one meeting per the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017. Unfortunately, two of the three industry seats on the Committee of 7 were still vacant after many months of delay. The inaction was attributed, in part, to delays in vetting candidates through Homeland Security following federal elections. However, as a result of this vacancy situation, the industry group claimed the Meeting should not be held. It is well established that Committees such as GLPAC are designed to possess balanced pilot/industry representation which at the time was clearly not the case. Finally, the two replacements were hastily announced only a few days prior to the Meeting and not surprisingly, one could not attend on the short notice. The other appointee named was a person who had well known union ties with the pilots which created serious conflict of interest issues. The result is that the sole industry member, for reasons provided to the GLPAC, chose not to attend in such circumstances and the Meeting was held with the expected unbalanced attendance. This event illustrates serious process and organizational flaws with GLPAC and its credibility at the moment which must be resolved.

• A little after the end of the third Quarter but reported here, on October 3, the USCG Final Rule for 2017 Pilotage Rates became effective. This action had been delayed by USCG during the Comment Period on the initial Proposed Rule Making in order to reconsider a USCG/Pilot endorsed methodology of calculating pilots’ revenue requirements for the year based on “weighting” or adjusting on the basis of ship size. While the final Rule in part adopted a position supported by industry including USGLSA, rates again increased even after the adjustment.

• Periodic use of tug assists in and out of selective ports continues even during ideal weather and port traffic conditions. Vessel Owners continue to file standard USCG Complaint Forms concerning this practice, but no action from USCG other than acknowledgment of receipt. Pilot leadership has claimed safety reasons due to inexperienced pilots although our best information is that all involved pilots have at least one year experience prior to this Season which is almost over, so almost 2 years on the job.

New Leadership at USCG District 9 Headquarters - In official ceremonies in Cleveland, on August 2, RADM Joanna M. Nunan relieved RADM June Ryan as USCG District 9 Commander. Recently, USGLSA President Larry Del Regno and I met with Admiral Nunan who is well engaged in her new duties and appears to possess all the qualities of strong and effective leadership and management skills which should serve her well in this new position. USGLSA looks forward to working with RADM Nunan and the entire team at D-9. We wish them all the best.

Doc Mahoney of World Shipping, Inc. Retires

Again a little into the Fourth Quarter, but why wait? On October 12, industry representatives, personal friends and family, attended a retirement celebration for Dennis “Doc” Mahoney, Vice President of Operations for Cleveland’s World Shipping, Inc. All who know Doc know him as a man widely respected for his broad knowledge of our industry, common sense and wisdom, and an unparalleled dedication to the Great Lakes/Seaway, as well as a devout and loving family man. Too bad that some of the “Roast” remarks after dinner tarnished that lofty image a little, but all in fun. Thanks from all of us, Doc, for your friendship and service to our industry, which will not be forgotten, and smooth sailin’ in the well-deserved retirement years. But, oh yes, hope you won’t mind if one or more of us with a hard question someday don’t pick up the phone and say “Hey, Doc. Help!”

Questions and comments are always welcome.


Stuart H. Theis, Executive Director
United States Great Lakes Shipping Association
Cleveland, Ohio
440/357-9104 (Phone)
440/357-9105 (Fax)
Exec.Director@usglsa.org (e-mail)
www.usglsa.org (web)

Reference Links

Stuart Theis

Mr. Theis, who has served as Executive Director since April 2007, is an attorney and businessman with prior associations at Cleveland, Ohio based M. A. Hanna Company and Oglebay Norton Company. At Hanna, he held a variety of legal/operational positions including Corporate Vice President with responsibilities for Hanna's Great Lakes/St Lawrence Seaway and Ocean Marine vessel and dock operations in the U. S. and Canada. While at Oglebay Norton, Mr. Theis served as President of the Company's Great Lakes fleet and dock operations. Mr. Theis is a member of the American Bureau of Shipping and has recently served as a member on two U. S. Coast Guard Advisory Committees, the Great Lakes Pilotage Advisory Committee and the National Maritime Security Advisory Committee.