IWUB Has Been Approved to Resume Operations
Washington, D.C.—Seven months after it was suspended by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the Inland Waterways Users Board (IWUB) has been approved to resume operations.
“The department’s boards and committees have been and will continue to be a valuable resource as we defend the nation, succeed through teamwork and take care of our people,” Department of Defense (DoD) spokesman John Kirby said, referring to the IWUB and others approved to resume operations.
“The secretary looks forward to working with many of these bodies personally and expects other department officials to do the same.”
Kirby said the zero-base review ordered by Austin to ensure the committee efforts remained focused on the most pressing strategic priorities and the National Defense Strategy has been completed.
The review of the IWUB was completed before its April 30 deadline.
Still, it was unclear exactly how quickly the IWUB could be back in business or whether any proposed changes came out of the zero-based review.
As a legislated advisory committee, the IWUB cannot be abolished without congressional action, and an effort to revamp it was not expected.
Supporters repeatedly have voiced their confidence in the IWUB and have pushed for its return to active status.
“As these boards get populated, we will again be transparent with you as members are brought back into the board work,” Kirby said.
Attention on Austin’s move, believed to be unprecedented, immediately focused on appointments made in the closing days of the Trump administration.
Top Congressional Democrats sounded confident about their plan to advance a so-called soft infrastructure proposal despite word from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) that he is not on board with its historic $3.5 trillion dollar price tag.
With the Senate’s 50-50 split, a vote against the proposal by Manchin or any other Democrat could kill it.
“We expect to have this done in a matter of weeks,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press event in East Hartford, Conn.
Hours earlier, Pelosi told reporters at the U.S. Capitol she does not know what the proposal’s eventual dollar figure will be.
“We are marking at $3.5 trillion,” she added. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also struck an optimistic note when promoting the proposal.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, when asked about reports that Manchin would support only a package of $1.5 trillion, described such reports as part of the negotiating process and the senator as a “very important partner to the president and the president’s agenda.”
Some believe the fate of the $3.5 trillion proposal remains linked to a separate trillion-dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes $17 billion for ports and waterways.
Interpreting ‘Waters Of The U.S.’
Following a recent federal judge’s ruling vacating the Trump-era Navigable Waters Protection Rule, two key agencies announced they will interpret “waters of the United States” consistent with the pre-2015 regulatory regime until further notice.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers added they will continue to review the ruling as they consider their next steps, including working expeditiously to move forward with the rulemakings announced on June 9.
The Coast Guard announced the availability of Change 2 to Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 02–18, Guidelines on Qualification for STCW Endorsements as Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch of Vessels of Less Than 500 GT.
“This NVIC provides guidance to mariners concerning regulations governing endorsements to Merchant Mariner Credentials for service on vessels of less than 500 Gross Tons (GT) (i.e., not limited to near-coastal waters),” the Coast Guard stated in the Federal Register.
“This change notice revises NVIC 02–18 to indicate that the Coast Guard will not enforce the three-month maximum allowable substitution for credible sea service in a rating capacity.”
Policies announced in Change 2 to NVIC 02–18 took effect August 26.
For additional information, contact James Cavo at 202-372-1205.
NAVSAC To Meet
The National Navigation Safety Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet September 21–22 in Portsmouth, Va., to discuss maritime collisions, Inland Rules of the Road, navigation regulations and equipment, routing measures, aids to navigation systems and other matters.
Open to the public, the meeting is set to begin at 8 a.m. on both days at the Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront hotel, 425 Water Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704.
Written comments should be submitted by September 15 to ensure they are received by members before the meeting.
For additional information, contact George Detweiler at 202-372-1566.
Marine Debris Committee
The Interagency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee (IMDCC) is scheduled to hold a virtual meeting September 29.
Open to the public, the meeting is set to begin at 10 a.m. ET on Google Meet.
An updated agenda and information on how to participate in the meeting will be posted on the IMDCC website at https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/IMDCC.
Those unable to participate online can call into the meeting by dialing 1-570-481-1237 and using PIN: 363 843 510#.
For additional information, contact Ya’el Seid-Green at 240-533-0399.
Vessel Deficiency Report
The Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance (CG-CVC) is to begin posting a “new user friendly” monthly data report of all deficiencies to foreign and domestic vessels on the CG-CVC website, stated Maritime Commons, a Coast Guard blog.
“Access to data such as common vessel deficiencies or marine casualty occurrences can inform vessel owners and operators of current trends on similar vessels,” the blog stated.
“Armed with this information, vessel owners and operators may proactively take action to identify potential deficiencies on board their vessel and improve safety.”
No “Security,” “Self-Reported,” or “Worklist Item” deficiencies will be reported, the blog added.