Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Divided House Committee Advances MarAd Budget

Washington, D.C.—A divided House Appropriations Committee advanced its final spending bill for fiscal year 2023 that provides $987 million for the Maritime Administration.

That includes $300 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program, an increase of $66 million above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level, $318 million for the Maritime Security Program and $60 million for the Tanker Security Program.

Advanced by a vote of 32 to 24, the bill includes $105.4 billion for the Department of Transportation, an increase of $2.4 billion above the current fiscal year.

That partisan vote signals the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development bill faces a difficult path.

Republicans, as they did when other spending bills were sent to the full house by the committee, voiced their opposition, pointing to what one described as dramatic funding increases that would expand the reach of the federal government and could add to recent high inflation.

They also predicted policy differences will ensure the bill never makes it to the president’s desk to become law.

Even as she heaped praise on her committee for sending all 12 annual spending bills to the full House, Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) directed its attention to a video screen displaying legendary actress Bette Davis and one of her more memorable movie lines: “Fasten your seatbelts. It is going to be a bumpy ride.”

DeLauro added: “And that’s what July is to be all about.”

CG Nominations Threat

A clearly frustrated Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) announced plans to hold up all Coast Guard nominations or promotions for the foreseeable future to pressure the service’s leadership to have a “heart to heart” about “serious bureaucratic failures” that impact his home state.

“I am just getting tired of them,” Sullivan told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

“We have been jerked around on Alaska for years.”

Making it clear it was just the latest failure of the Coast Guard, the senator cited the fate of more than $30 million in additional funding provided for infrastructure projects related to the home porting of fast response cutters in Alaska.

Sullivan said the Coast Guard now says it will not complete that project before those funds expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

“I was unaware of this,” the senator said, suggesting he would not have been as supportive of the historic nomination of Adm. Linda Fagan to become the first woman commandant of the Coast Guard had he known before her confirmation.

The Coast Guard declined to comment on Sullivan’s threat.

Austal Wins OPC Contract

The Coast Guard announced awarding a contract for Stage 2 of the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) acquisition with a fixed-price incentive (firm target) to Austal USA of Mobile, Ala., to produce up to 11 OPCs.

Valued at $208.26 million, the initial award supports detailed design and long lead-time material for the fifth OPC with options for production of up to 11 OPCs in total.

The contract has a potential value of up to $3.33 billion if all options are exercised, the Coast Guard stated.

“The offshore patrol cutter is absolutely vital to Coast Guard mission excellence as we recapitalize our legacy medium endurance cutters, some of which are more than 50 years old,” said Adm. Linda Fagan, Coast Guard commandant.

 “The OPCs are the ships our crews need to protect our national security, maritime safety and economic prosperity.”

Boating Fatalities

The Coast Guard reported a 14 percent drop in boating fatalities nationwide and a 17 percent decrease in non-fatal injuries in calendar year 2021.

In releasing its 2021 recreational boating statistics, the Coast Guard said alcohol continued to be the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2021, accounting for 86 deaths or 16 percent of total fatalities.

It said boating fatalities in 2021 totaled 658 compared to 767 in 2020, and the number of non-fatal injured victims fell from 3,191 in 2020 to 2,641 in 2021.

Figures for the total number of accidents showed a 16 percent decrease from 5,265 in 2020 to 4,439 in 2021.

In 2021, property damage totaled $67.5 million, an all-time high.

Capt. Troy Glendye, chief of the Coast Guard’s Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety, said most incidents occurred during benign weather conditions with calm waters, no or light wind and good visibility. 

Where the cause of death was known, 81 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned.

Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 83 percent were not wearing a life jacket. 

“A life jacket is one of the most important safety items on your boat,” Glendye said.

Marine Debris Foundation

A Senate committee advanced  S. 4321 to ensure the Marine Debris Foundation, a public-private partnership created by a 2020 law to augment federal programs, is working well.

“It is estimated that as much as 1.8 billion pieces of marine debris litter the shores of the continental United States,” injuring and killing marine and coastal wildlife, damaging habitat and hurting coastal communities that rely on fishing and a clean environment, said Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power recently announced the launch of Save Our Seas Initiative, a new flagship effort to combat ocean plastic pollution globally.

USAID said the initiative will include $62.5 million in initial funding and will launch 14 new country and regional programs in key countries and regions that represent 40 percent of total global mismanaged plastic waste. 

Duplicate COD Requests

The National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC) announced customers have 90 days to notify it if they did not receive a Certificate of Documentation (COD).

Requests for duplicate CODs must be accompanied by a signed statement from the owner with this proclamation: “No COD was received; address used at time of application has been verified and is still valid.”

If an agent is involved, the statement must be signed by both the agent and the owner, the NVDC stated, adding the agent cannot sign on behalf of the owner.

Requests that do not include a signed statement from the owner will be deleted without a response, the NVDC said.

Notifications received after the 90-day period will require customers to apply for a replacement via CG-1258 and pay a $50 application fee.

To allow a reasonable time for delivery, the NVDC advised customers not to consider a document lost and request a replacement until at least four weeks after issuance.

COD issue dates can be found by using the search page at cgmix.uscg.mil.