The 2013 shipping season kicked off in March when
the tug/barge Prentiss Brown/St. Mary’s Conquest left
Milwaukee and sailed to Charlevoix, Mich., carrying
9,200 tons of cement. The St. Lawrence Seaway
opened its locks on March 22 allowing ocean-going
vessels to enter the Great Lakes.
Nekvasil said the shipping industry and Coast
Guard do not always agree on every issue, but they
work closely together because they share the common
goal of keeping the waterways safe and open.
“This is a very critical waterway in terms of cargo
movement for Americans,” he said.
During the course of the season, more than 1,600
American mariners will crew the lakers that travel
through the Great Lakes. The Coast Guard estimates that
more than $500 billion worth of goods are on those ships.
The Coast Guard said there are around 45 vessels that
operate exclusively on the Great Lakes, with a large
number of other commercial vessels that use them as
well, though it did not have a specific number.
Lt. Cmdr. David Webb, of the Ninth District’s
Inspections and Investigation branch, said the district
has a memorandum of understanding with commercial
shippers and the LCA on procedures and protocols for
traveling on the lakes.
“We like to feel we have a good relationship with
the commercial shipping industry,” he said.
Collaboration between the shipping industry and
Coast Guard is something the service said it has been
working to continue.
“This relationship is critical because without it you
are, basically, regulating in a vacuum, and not understanding what the impacts, either safety or security,
will be on the industry and, therefore, you cannot
make an informed decision,” said Ryan Owens, chief
of area maritime security at Coast Guard headquarters
Owens said a key issue moving forward for industry
and the Coast Guard is coming to grips with the cyber
“To date, it is not been fully explored in the maritime industry, and that’s something the Coast Guard is
getting actively involved with,” he said.
The Coast Guard has taken, and plans to take, a
number of steps to understand and help combat the
threat on the maritime side. The service is in the
process of standing up a cyber command in
Washington and is actively engaged in developing a
national cyber policy as it pertains to critical infrastructure.
Owens said that 2014 is the year for the mandatory
five-year review of the Coast Guard’s Area Transportation
Security Plan and for the first time, the plan will incorporate a cyber portion in its security section. ■
PORT OF DULUTH/SUPERIOR
The Great Lakes Fleet self-unloading vessel John G. Munson discharges coal at the Graymont, Wis., terminal on Lake Superior
in May 2011. The main products being transported through the five Great Lakes every year are iron ore, limestone and coal.