Washington Waves
Washington Waves

AWO Engages With Congress, CG On Harassment Reporting Requirements

Washington, D.C.—The American Waterways Operators (AWO) is engaging Congress on clarifying legislative intent on new reporting requirements for sexual harassment and assault, according to Board Chairman Clark Todd.

In a message to members, Todd said AWO also is engaged with the Coast Guard at the highest levels on implementing the law “in a practicable way.”

“Like all of you, my company is committed to fostering a safe and inclusive workplace free from harassment of any kind, both at our offices and on our vessels,” wrote Todd, who also is president and CEO of Blessey Marine Services Inc.

Todd said he shares concerns others have about a recent Coast Guard Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB).

“I am also taking my voice to Capitol Hill by holding personal phone calls and hosting meetings with members of Congress to discuss my concerns,” he said.

Dated February 9, MSIB 1-23 covered recent changes in the law, such as requiring owners, masters or managing operators to report complaints or incidents of harassment, sexual harassment or sexual assault that violate company policy to the Coast Guard.

According to Todd, AWO members’ concerns deal with the feasibility of those new reporting requirements.

Crane Cybersecurity

Republican leaders of a key House committee demanded answers from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on cybersecurity threats posed by Chinese-manufactured cranes operating at U.S. ports.

“We are particularly concerned about technology employed by Chinese-manufactured cranes operating in U.S. ports, which significantly increases the cybersecurity risk to business operations systems and terminal industrial control systems,” they stated in a letter to Mayorkas.

“If an adversary exploits the operational technology (OT) system of these cranes, port operations could completely shut down, suspending all commercial activity, which would also disrupt our nation’s military and commercial supply chains.”

Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, signed the letter along with Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Chairman Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.), Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security Chairman Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) and Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Accountability Chairman Dan Bishop (R-N.C.).

They also asked Mayorkas to schedule a briefing on maritime port security with a focus on the vulnerabilities ZPMC’s cranes in U.S. ports may pose.

“The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) reminds everyone, as we already have previously, that there have been no known security breaches due to foreign-manufactured cranes,” AAPA Vice President of Government Relations and General Counsel Cary Davis said.

“The maritime industry, working with authorities and experts in government, maintains rigorous safeguards for the secure and efficient movement of goods through our seaports.”

Debt Limit Impasse

President Joe Biden and House Republicans remain at an impasse on raising the debt limit.

As Congress prepared to leave for a two-week recess, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Republicans would move ahead with their own ideas on spending cuts and a debt limit increase if talks with the president are not held.

“The conference is very close,” McCarthy said at a press conference called to mark House passage of an energy bill.

“If the president doesn’t act, we will.”

His comment came just days after he sent a letter to Biden insisting on a follow-up meeting to one the two men held nearly two months ago.

“Mr. President, simply put: you are on the clock,” McCarthy stated.

In his letter, the speaker included several proposals to achieve savings such as cuts in non-defense spending and reclaiming unspent COVID-19 funds.

So far, the speaker’s ultimatums have failed to move the White House away from its stance that Congress should raise the debt ceiling without linking that action to talks on spending cuts.

“There is no negotiation that we will be having on that particular issue because it is something that Congress needs to deal with,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

“We’re waiting for House congressional members to put forth a budget.”

Both houses of Congress are scheduled to return April 17.

Vessel Response Plan

The Coast Guard is seeking input from the public on the Maritime Oil-spill Response Plan Advisory Group recommendations for changes to the Vessel Response Plan program and policies.

Provided in response to an audit from the Government Accountability Office, the Coast Guard stated, the recommendations will support the mission in marine\environmental protection from oil spills.

Due June 28, comments may be submitted at www.regulations.gov with USCG-2022-0702. Anonymous comments are accepted.

For additional information, contact Lt. Cmdr. Adriana Gaenzle at 202-372-1226 or Adriana.J.Gaenzle@uscg.mil.

Passenger Vessel Egress

Operators of certain covered small passenger vessels will be required to log the occurrence of passenger emergency egress drills and to post passenger safety bills in overnight accommodation spaces under a request approved for the Coast Guard.

Approved by the Office of Management and Budget, the rule establishes April 24 as the effective date.

To view documents including the interim rule published on December 27, 2021, search for docket number USCG-2021-0306 at www.regulations.gov.

For additional information, contact Lt. Carmine Faul at 202-475-1357 or carmine.a.faul@uscg.mil.