New Orleans Set to Host International Propeller Club Convention Next Month

The International Propeller Club will gather in New Orleans, La., October 15–17 for its 93rd annual convention and conference. The packed and timely agenda will follow the theme of “Sailing Into the Future.”

Hosted by the Propeller Club of the U.S. Port of New Orleans, the future-focused convention will bring together industry experts from around the world to look at future ports, future fuels, crewing in the future and infrastructure and navigation.

Frank Courtenay, convention chairman for this year’s International Propeller Club Convention and a New Orleans-area maritime attorney, said he’s excited to see a great convention and conference take shape and to have the opportunity to bring people to the host city of New Orleans.

“As the convention chairman of three conventions and having attended many conventions, I believe this convention, and more particularly the conference, is one of the more timely on the present issues facing the maritime industry,” Courtenay said. “The global issues to be discussed on international trade, on future vessels caused by fuels such as liquid natural gas, on vessel crews in navigating modern computer technologies, and on our ports and navigation caused by constant high water are extremely important.

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The convention and conference will be held at the Hyatt Centric French Quarter hotel, located steps from the Mississippi River.

Day One will feature International Propeller Club meetings and will conclude with an opening reception for the conference at Arnaud’s Restaurant. Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser and Port of New Orleans COO Bobby Landry, also a conference chair, will offer welcome remarks.

Day One of the conference will conclude with a meeting of port presidents, a session focused on career opportunities within the maritime industry, and a Mardi Gras-themed reception and dinner hosted at the Port of New Orleans. Transportation to and from the port will be provided.

October 17, Day Two of the conference, will open with a panel discussion focused on crewing challenges in the future. The panel will explore issues like whether there will be enough crew members 20 years from now, what skills will mariners need in the future, and what role will autonomy play.

Day Two will feature a future ports panel discussion, with topics to include global trade dynamics, the impact of the environment (including high water) on maritime commerce, the popularity of the cruise industry and the growing size of container vessels. Marc Hebert, a partner at Jones Walker, will moderate the panel, which will include representatives from the Panama Canal Authority, the Virginia Port Authority, the Northwest Seaport Alliance and the Port of New Orleans.

U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz will deliver the keynote address during lunch October 16.

The future focus will continue that afternoon with a panel of experts taking a closer look at IMO 2020 and the future of fuel. The rapidly approaching January 2020 sulfur cap on marine fuel is one of the factors driving the use of liquified natural gas (LNG) and other alternative sources of propulsion within the maritime industry. West Gulf Maritime’s Niels Aalund will moderate a panel, which will include Tony Odak, COO of J.W. Stone; Chad Verret, CEO of Q-LNG; Adi Aggarwal, program manager of global gas solutions for ABS; and Innospec’s Kevin Cote.

“Are our future mariners computer programmers in an air-conditioned room somewhere like drone pilots, or are they still mariners?” said Matt Hahne, vice president of USI Insurance Services and secretary/treasurer of the New Orleans Propeller Club. “There’s some really excited stuff they’re going to tackle on that panel.”

Tammy Lobaugh, chief change officer for Agua Azul Maritime Solutions, will moderate that panel.

Maritime Administrator Mark Buzby, a retired rear admiral with the U.S. Navy, will deliver the keynote address during lunch on day two of the conference.

The afternoon panel October 17 will focus on infrastructure and navigation, with a particular focus on the impact that longer and more frequent high-water events are having on maritime infrastructure and navigation. Big River Coalition Executive Director Sean Duffy will moderate the panel, which will feature New Orleans Engineer District Commander Col. Stephen Murphy; Capt. Michael Miller, president of the Associated Branch Pilots; Suzanne Van Cooten, hydrologist in charge at the National Weather Service Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center; and Steve Auernhamer, vice president and Gulf Coast area manager for Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. The panel will examine causes behind extended high-water events and ways port planners and waterway operators should respond.

In addition to the convention and conference events on site, there will be receptions each evening and a packed schedule for spouses and friends in attendance, including a tour of the New Orleans School of Cooking and Mardi Gras World.

Hahne said it’s exciting to combine New Orleans’ history and culture with its maritime industry and to share it with maritime leaders from around the world.

“It’s been great for us to bring international maritime folks to New Orleans and show them what we’ve done right, what we’ve learned from the fast and what we’re looking forward to in the future,” Hahne said. “It really gives us a chance to set New Orleans up as a center of expertise for looking into the future of the maritime industry.”

Registration for the International Propeller Club Convention and Conference is available online at Early registration runs through September 30. Accompanying guest, Women’s Propeller Club and student registration is also available online. Registration is open to Propeller Club members and non-members alike.