Here’s some positive news for MTVA members and towing industry mariners in general: the Master of Towing Vessels Association will have two delegates attending the TUGNOLOGY ’09 conference in Amsterdam on May 19th and 20th. So what the hell is a TUGNOLOGY conference and why does it matter, you ask? TUGNOLOGY is a “2-day, no-frills” conference focused solely on tugs, organized by International Tug & Salvage Magazine, held every other year in different port cities around the world. Its primary purpose is to gather all the different industry players (designers, naval architects, builders, equipment manufacturers, operating companies, regulatory agencies, training institutions, etc.) together in one place so that they can network, exchange ideas, and get “fully up-to-speed with the latest technological developments.” In short, to make the industry better.
The inaugural conference was held in Southampton, England in 2007 and was a major success. The organizers recognized, however, that it was missing one key ingredient: us. The great variety of delegates from all over the world were able to give a wide range of input on all manner of subjects. But there were no active tug seafarers (key word: active) from North America around to give the crucial insights and recommendations that only come from working with the equipment day and night, in all conditions, year after year, in the largest market for tugs in the world. This has been a chronic problem throughout the industry here, and the industry has suffered for it. It’s been long overdue for someone in a position to do something about it to realize that improvements within our industry will always be compromised if working mariners aren’t fully involved in the process. We at the MTVA, of course, are very pleased and gratified that the conference organizers saw fit to take our young organization seriously and chose us as the delegates representing the working seaman.
So we’ll have a pair of our tractor tug jockeys from the West Coast in Amsterdam next week to crash the party and inject some salty realism from across the pond into the mix. Captains Jordan May and Michael Link, both employees of Harley Marine subsidiary Starlight Marine Services, work in the San Francisco Bay Area and will be doing the honors for us. They bring a vast wealth of practical experience and knowledge with them and are greatly looking forward to meeting and interacting with the other delegates.
The MTVA has come a long way from its origin as a small, under-funded, grass-roots organization of frustrated and disaffected tug mariners who had become royally fed up with the status quo of virtually no meaningful mariner participation in our industry and wanted to do something about it to, well, a small, underfunded, grass-roots …..nevermind. Anyway, things are finally starting to look a little better with this event coming up! On the one hand it would be nice to be big and well-funded enough not to have to depend on the largess of others to participate in events like TUGNOLOGY ’09. On the other hand, it’s very gratifying to find out that others think highly enough of us to help us out and make our participation possible. Even with a seriously bent world economy, numerous individuals and companies stepped up to the plate and provided financial and logistical resources that we simply don’t have. Ron Burchett, of Burchett Marine in British Columbia, was the man of the hour who got the ball rolling and pointed us in the right direction. We’re very grateful for the helping hand he extended to us. The naval architecture and engineering firm of Robert Allen Ltd. in Vancouver, B.C. was instrumental in getting us recognized as a legitimate organization in the eyes of ITS publisher and conference organizer ABR Company Ltd., thereby making it possible to attend, and then donated a delegate ticket. ABR then comped us the second ticket. Samson Rope and Markey Machinery provided the airline tickets and JonRie InterTech covered the accomodation costs. Many thanks to them all. Captains May and Link will do their best to make it worth all the effort.
We’ll be posting a synopsis of the conference later this month, along with many of the interesting papers that are being presented there. Stay tuned…..