Below is the text of an e-mail sent out by Cdr. Erich Doll of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Traveling Inspectors. Cdr. Doll is an active merchant marine officer, who also holds an officer’s commission in the Coast Guard, and has been assigned the unenviable task of trying to communicate with and convince reluctant mariners into participating in the very system that most of us have little or no trust in. Although his experience doesn’t include towing vessels, during a phone conversation he came across to me as someone who understood where the Coast Guard went wrong in its dealings with working mariners and wants to see the agency improve dramatically in its performance of marine safety functions. I specifically stressed to him my belief that nothing will improve significantly unless mariners, especially those with extensive experience in small vessel operations, are brought in-house. The Coast Guard needs this to gain the much-needed institutional bilge-to-pilothouse operational knowledge of the towing and oilfield industries that it has lacked for decades. He agreed with me, and I believed that he was sincere, but I also had serious doubts that the Coast Guard was ready, willing and able to actually do it. I wondered aloud whether this was for real or just the usual smokescreen put out to make Congress think that the problem had been adequately addressed.
That question won’t be answered for some time. But the Coast Guard, for its part, is now looking to hire experienced mariners to serve as marine inspectors and investigators, and that certainly is a big step in the right direction. From the perspective of towing vessel safety, I believe that perhaps in no other area is the Coast Guard weakest in than accident investigations involving towing vessels. It’s very difficult to investigate something which you know next to nothing about. Several mariners who have been involved in incidents that were investigated expressed to me their frustration at the sometimes insanely stupid questions that were repeatedly asked of them by C.G. investigators who were ignorant of towing operations and basic tug and towboat barge-handling. The reports generated by these investigations may be used to draft regulatory changes to improve safety, so it’s very important that they be reality-based. There are a fair number of former Coast Guardsmen, including myself, who have gone to work in the towing industry in one capacity or another. This would be an historic first to have it be the other way around.
So here’s the chance for recently-retired or nearly ready-to-retire mariners from the towing and offshore sectors of the merchant marine to use their hard-earned experience to further a very worthy goal, and earn a paycheck to boot. Anyone who knows of anyone who might have been laid off recently, is looking to come out of retirement, or retire off the boats a little early and enter a new phase of their career, should pass this around to them ASAP. The deadline for these vacancy announcements is July 5th,2009, just 10 days away.
For those of you who are interested, but have doubts or questions, please give Cdr. Doll a call or e-mail him. His contact info is at the bottom of the page.
Editor’s Note: all text in bold print and/or underlined was done to emphasize what I feel are the most important points in Cdr. Doll’s e-mail.
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen;
There has been sufficient criticism of the Coast Guard and the marine safety program over the last few years; however here is a chance to make a difference and change it for the better and inculcate a new partnership between industry and the Coast Guard. This is one of the ways forward. The application process seems daunting and civil service hiring is perhaps oriented and weighted for employees in the system, but there is only one way to change the mind set and that is to apply and make a difference. I have communicated with Mr. Richard Block, Captain Regan, Captain Jordan May, and Captain Joel Milton in the past on industry issues and I invite you to post the “Marine Inspector RECRUITING AD.pdf” everything else in this e-mail and respond.
We are sending you this background executive summary and attached files to possibly post on your website and or disseminate to your membership. If there is even a remote chance that a Retired, Actively sailing mariner, or industry connected shoreside individual is hired at one of these centers, that would be an improvement to the training of future Coast Guard Marine Inspectors and Investigators. The Vacancy Announcements will last till 2400 05 July 2009.
The Coast Guard announces a hiring initiative to recruit 14 experienced maritime industry professionals over the next 3 months, specifically those mariners that have worked in seagoing shipboard or shore-side positions. This initiative is part of an ambitious multi-year resource plan that will improve the service’s ability to meet the growing workload demands from the marine industry.
This initiative is a critical component of the Coast Guard’s five-year plan, the Marine Safety Performance Plan, to field highly trained professionals, who provide the best and most efficient service to stakeholders, and who constantly work to strengthen and improve our partnerships. This overall plan is designed to improve upon the service’s marine safety program with the ultimate goal of a program that will be considerate and responsive to mariners and the maritime community. The plan has six areas of focus that include adding more than 14 marine inspectors and investigators, creating five additional “Centers of Expertise” for a total of seven centers, to train marine safety officers and effect programmatic improvements designed to enhance competency, consistency, and capacity within the Marine Safety program. The Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Performance Plan can be viewed at www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg54/mspp.asp .
“As a maritime nation, we rely upon our maritime transportation system and its professional mariners for the safety, security, and prosperity of all Americans,” said Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. “The Coast Guard provides centuries of marine safety experience and expertise to the maritime community to help ensure our citizens remain safe, our ports are secure and our waters are protected.”
Applicants must have U.S. citizenship; good physical competence, hearing and sight; understanding of the laws and regulations relating to vessel, port, and pollution prevention; knowledge of classification society rules, standards of industry and professional engineering societies; and expertise in marine engineering, welding, testing, and safety.
Those individuals interested in becoming a Guardian by putting their unique maritime skills to work protecting America’s coastlines and ports should go to the following Internet site: http://www.usajobs.gov/ ; Key words: Maritime, Coast Guard, Marine Inspector.
NCOE Marine Inspector Vacancies
The Coast Guard is pleased to announce the posting of the latest set of civilian Vacancy Announcements for the five new National Centers of Expertise (NCOEs). The NCOE civilian employees (GS-12s and GS-13s) will be marine inspectors/ investigators whose duties include training student inspectors, coordinating/conducting relevant courses and seminars, and advising policy-makers, regulation developers or operational program managers on trends, best practices, leading indicators, problematic issues or other functional area concerns.
The five centers hiring are: Towing Vessel Center, Paducah, KY, Liquefied Gas Carrier Center, Port Arthur, TX, Outer Continental Shelf Center, Morgan City, LA, Vintage Vessel Center, Duluth, MN, and the Investigations Center, New Orleans, LA.
The employees are expected to have significant experience in the functional areas and significant understanding of the maritime industry by virtue of memberships in commercial occupational and technical arenas and possess either licenses, advanced degrees/ certificates or experience either through work in the commercial sector, the broad experience in CG marine inspections/ investigations, or a combination of both.
Those interested in finding out more and how to apply for these positions should go to the following Internet site: http://www.usajobs.gov/ , Key words: Maritime, Coast Guard, Marine Inspector.
CDR Erich Doll Marine Safety Projects Office of Traveling Inspectors CG-546 & 543 Rm. 1116 2100 2ND ST SW 7581 Washington DC 20593-7581 Tel: 202.372.1247 Cell: 502.821.8396