The U.S. Coast Guard has announced that they are accepting applications for the Navigation Safety Advisory Council (NAVSAC) through June 19th.
“We will consider applications for six positions that expire or become vacant in November 2009. Applications will be considered from persons representing, insofar as practical, the following groups: Four persons from among recognized experts and leaders in organizations having an active interest in the Rules of the Road and vessel and port safety; and two persons from among professional mariners, recreational boaters and the recreational boating industry.”
According to the notice in the Federal Register the definition of professional mariners includes “actively working or retired mariners experienced in applying the Inland and/or International Rules as masters or licensed deck officers of vessels operating on international waters or the inland waters of the United States, and federal or state licensed pilots.” Members serve 3-year terms and “all members serve at their own expense and receive no salary but receive reimbursement for travel expenses and per diem expenses from the Federal Government.” This indicates, in no uncertain terms, that mariner participation is welcome and encouraged.
The reimbursement policy of NAVSAC contrasts starkly with that of the Towing Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC), which still does not officially reimburse mariners who want to apply for a position and participate but cannot afford to do so, although it has always had the option to do so. Since both NAVSAC and MERPAC (Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee) have made it a long-standing practice to reimburse travel expenses for their members, we at the MTVA have logically concluded that the deliberate non-reimbursement policy of TSAC was aimed specifically at discouraging mariners from participating by whatever means possible. Strong criticism has been directed at them because of this and last year they quietly began unofficially reimbursing the two actively-working mariners currently serving on TSAC. One of them, Capt. Joe Dady, is the president of the National Mariners Association and has recently been selected for a second term as a representative for maritime labor. In this capacity he represents the interests of ALL mariners in the towing industry, whether they be members of a labor union or not. The other is Capt. Edie Queen of Savannah Towing, who started her first term last fall. But this unofficial reimbursement policy is unsatisfactory because it can be rescinded at any time. We will not be satisfied until the Coast Guard officially and permanently ends the non-reimbursement policy and also takes meaningful steps to both encourage greater mariner participation (in keeping with the TSAC Charter) and, just as importantly, actually takes the recommendations of mariners seriously. Until then, TSAC is just Congressionally-required window dressing.
In the meantime we strongly encourage anyone who is interested in serving on NAVSAC to apply for these positions, whether you are an MTVA member or not. It is clear from reading the 2008 NAVSAC Members list that they want input from mariners and serving on this committee will be time well spent. Click here to read the notice in the Federal Register and the instructions for applying, which are in the Addresses section. The NAVSAC Charter explains everything you need to know about what NAVSAC does, how and why.