It’s a bluebird day on the Salish Sea: watch as the K-Sea tug Pacific Eagle (off the ConocoPhilips refinery at Ferndale, WA) flops around / rounds up / turns on (pick ‘yer term) their unmanned barge and picks it up alongside / on the hip…..to the sweet, soothing sounds of Nazareth. The crew has the drill down cold and they make it look deceptively easy, especially to the eyes of the unknowing, such as the U.S. Coast Guard, which never even bothered to put this bread-and-butter towing maneuver on the TOAR (what’s up with that?). Or the mariners from other industry sectors who want a towing endorsement rubber-stamped onto their “credential” without really putting in the time to learn (a.k.a. the 30-Day Wonders), and the companies champing at the bit to hire them because of a mostly self-induced mariner shortage. And how about our trusty Sea Year Cadet? It’s a fact that academy graduates are somehow managing to emerge from school with towing endorsements and we all know that there’s no way they could possibly have done anything more than go through the motions of our flawed system. There seems to be far more concern with “getting the paper” than earning the paper. On top of all that, the modern trend towards the ATB for petroleum transportation definitely has caused this to become a traditional skill set in decline. Hair of the Dog anyone?
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