Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Corps Hopes To Restore Baltimore Navigation By End Of Month

Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the end of April as an “ambitious” tentative timeline for the restoration for safe navigation in and out of the Port of Baltimore following the March 26 collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Described as a limited-access channel 280 feet wide and 35 feet deep, the Corps said the channel would support one-way traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore for barge container service and some roll on/roll off vessels that move automobiles and farm equipment to and from the port.

Engineers are aiming to reopen the permanent, 700-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep federal navigation channel by the end of May, restoring port access to normal capacity, the Corps stated.

“Thanks to the exhaustive work of the Unified Command during the last two weeks, including underwater surveys and detailed structural analysis of the wreckage, we’ve developed a better understanding of the immense and complex work that lies ahead,” Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, commanding general of the Corps, said on April 4.

“A fully opened federal channel remains our primary goal, and we will carry out this work with care and precision, with safety as our chief priority.”

Cybersecurity Rulemaking

The National Maritime Security Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet virtually May 10 on a new task to provide comment on the Coast Guard’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Cybersecurity in the Marine Transportation System.

Open to the public, the meeting is to begin at 1 p.m. (EDT).

To ensure your comments are received before the meeting, they should be submitted by May 9, preferably via www.regulations.gov under docket number USCG-2024-0232.

Preregistration is required, and a limited number of virtual lines will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

For additional information and to preregister and obtain information on participating and request special accommodation, contact Ryan Owens at 202-302-6565 or ryan.f.owens@uscg.mil as soon as possible.

Marine Cybersecurity

Responding to multiple requests from the maritime industry, the Coast Guard announced a 30-day extension of the public comment period on a proposed rule to add maritime security regulations on cybersecurity requirements for U.S.-flagged vessels, facilities on the Outer Continental Shelf and U.S. facilities under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002.

Comments now must be received by May 22.

They may be submitted under docket number USCG–2022–0802 via www.regulations.gov.

For additional information, contact Cmdr. Brandon Link at 202-372-1107or MTSCyberRule@uscg.mil.

NVDC Credit Card Processing

The National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC) announced that, as of April 2, it has lost the ability to process credit card payments submitted via email (.pdf), USPS, FedEx and UPS.

“Currently there are customer submissions dated as far back as March 22, 2024, in the queue for processing,” the NVDC stated. “Once we can begin processing credit cards again, they will be done in FIFO (first in, first out) order.”

NVDC added: Please do not re-file or send in duplicate entries, as all submissions will be processed once the credit card processing system is back online.

According to the announcement, credit card payments made through eStorefront or directly through pay.gov are working as expected.

“The IT team is working on the issue and apologizes for any inconvenience to NVDC customers,” the agency said.

Container Automation

U.S. container ports reported mixed effects from adopting automation technology to varying degrees, according the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

On one hand, GAO reported that port stakeholders agreed the technologies can improve worker safety by separating humans from machines and reduce emissions by improving efficiency.

On the other, the agency was told of mixed effects on the workforce, security and performance.

For example, a few terminal operators said automated equipment could stack containers more densely than conventional equipment, increasing capacity. Others said the equipment moved containers more slowly than conventional equipment, reducing performance.

A few stakeholders said automation can reduce jobs while others said automation can create more comfortable work environments and new, higher-skilled positions.

Officials from U.S. ports and terminal operators consider factors such as labor, costs, priorities and operations when deciding whether to automate, GAO said.

The relative importance of these factors varies based on the unique circumstances of each port and terminal, the agency added.

Clean Water Permitting

The House narrowly passed legislation backers said would reduce regulatory burdens for the approval of energy and infrastructure projects but continue to support clean water for the nation.

Sent to the Senate with a vote of 213 to 205, H.R. 7023 drew strong opposition from the White House.

Sponsored by Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.), the Creating Confidence in Clean Water Permitting Act consists of five bills introduced previously as standalone measures.

It includes provisions to streamline the Nationwide Permit (NWP) process and maintain certainty for entities involved in energy production, transportation infrastructure and other commercial activities.

Other provisions deal with the Environmental Protection Agency procedures, including one that prevents that agency from vetoing a Clean Water Act Section 404 dredge and fill permit before a permit application has been filed or after a permit has been issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In its Statement of Administration Policy (SAP), the Biden administration said the legislation would weaken the Clean Water Act, remove protections for waterways and undermine bipartisan efforts to improve the efficiency of the infrastructure permitting process.

Chemical Transportation Committee

The Coast Guard is accepting applications to fill six vacancies on the National Chemical Transportation Safety Advisory Committee, which advises the secretary of Homeland Security on matters relating to the safe and secure marine transportation of hazardous materials.

Applications must reach the Coast Guard by June 3 and should be submitted via email with subject line ‘‘NCTSAC Vacancy Application’’ to Ethan.T.Beard@uscg.mil.

In this solicitation, consideration will be given to applicants representing entities dealing with chemical manufacturing, marine handling or transportation of chemicals, marine safety or security and marine environmental protection.

For additional information, contact Lt. Ethan Beard at 571-607-8905 or Ethan.T.Beard@uscg.mil.

ANS Task Force

The Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Task Force is scheduled to meet May 8-9 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on preventing the introduction and dispersal of aquatic invasive species.

Set to begin at 8 a.m. Eastern on both days, the meetings will take place at the Gideon Putnam Room, Saratoga Spa State Park, 19 Roosevelt Drive, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.

Virtual participation also will be available via teleconference and the internet.

Registration is required by May 3 to submit special accommodation requests and receive the web address and telephone number for virtual participation.

For additional information, contact Susan Pasko at 571-623-0608, or Susan_Pasko@fws.gov.

NVIC 01-24 Published

The Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy (CG-5P) published Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 01-24, which consolidates policy on national endorsements and STCW endorsements into a single document and cancels NVIC 04-14.

“Existing policy is largely unchanged by the new NVIC, with one very notable exception. The Coast Guard will no longer require practical demonstrations for the rowing of a lifeboat,” the document stated.

“The requirement to show knowledge of rowing through examination has not changed.”

Training providers with approved courses for Lifeboatman and/or Proficiency in Survival Craft who wish to remove practical exercises involving the rowing of a lifeboat may do so immediately, the document stated.

This NVIC is available at www.dco.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/NVIC/.

Seaway Fees

The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (GLS) announced it is revising its regulations to reflect fees and charges levied by the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) of Canada.

The GLS and the SLSMC jointly publish and administer the St. Lawrence Seaway Tariff of Tolls in their respective jurisdictions.

With the rule effective March 22, the docket, documents and comments can be accessed at www.regulations.gov or in person at the Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, Washington, DC 20590–001.

Boating Safety Committee

The National Boating Safety Advisory Committee is scheduled to conduct in-person and virtual meetings April 23–25 in Austin, Texas, to discuss matters relating to national boating safety.

Open to the public, the meetings are set to begin at 8 a.m. CDT at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Building, 4200 Smith School Rd., Austin, Texas 78744.

Meetings of the full committee are scheduled April 23 and April 25, and the Boats and Associated Equipment, Prevention Through People and Recreational Boating Safety Strategic Planning subcommittees are scheduled on April 24.

Preregistration is required to attend virtually, and a limited number of virtual lines will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

To ensure comments are received by members before the meetings, they should be submitted by April 16, preferably via www.regulations.gov, identified by USCG–2010–0164.

For additional information, including accommodations for a disability and an alternate method for submitting comments, contact Thomas Guess at 206-815-0221 or NBSAC@uscg.mil by 1 p.m. April 16.

CBP Vessel Debarment

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced a final rule that adds procedures regarding the Department of Homeland Security’s authority to debar from entering U.S. ports vessels owned or chartered by an entity found to be in violation of certain laws and regulations relating to the performance of longshore work by nonimmigrant crew members.

Effective May 6, the new procedures govern how CBP provides notice to a vessel owner or operator of a debarment and how the owner or operator may request mitigation.

“The new procedures will ensure that the vessel debarment process is consistent, fair, and transparent,” CBP stated.

For additional information, contact Lisa Santana Fox at 202-344-2730 or Lisa.K.SanatanaFox@cbp.dhs.gov.

IMO Safety Committee

The Department of State is scheduled to conduct a public meeting May 7 in-person and via teleconference to prepare for the 108th session of the International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee to be held in the United Kingdom May 15-24.

Set to begin at 9 a.m., the in-person meeting is to be held at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Information on the teleconference line, which can handle 500 participants, will be provided to those who RSVP.

To RSVP for both the in-person and teleconference session, contact Lt. Emily Rowan no later than April 23 at Emily.K.Rowan@uscg.mil, 202-372-1376 or 2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE, Stop 7509, Washington, DC 20593–7509.