Twice a year, local Houston maritime stakeholders and various federal agency personnel come together to offer a two-day course on inland maritime and brownwater operations. Towing, barge, shipping captains, Coast Guard representatives and the Houston Pilots participate in an interactive seminar colloquially known as “Brownwater University” to improve communication between waterway operators and industry.
“We organized this course through the Lone Star Harbor Safety Committee,” said Tom Marian, General Counsel for Buffalo Marine Service, Inc. “The intent is to create a collegial environment where personnel from the inland marine industry and the U.S. Coast Guard can convey to one another their respective business drivers and regulatory goals. Both industry and the U.S. Coast Guard share many common goals.”
“Brownwater University underscores that maritime companies are highly motivated to operate safely and in an environmentally-responsible fashion while Coast Guard personnel desire to ensure maritime commerce is safe and secure,” Marian added. “Ultimately, by understanding each other’s roles, we can prevent further collisions and causalities from happening, making the channel a safer and more efficient maritime highway.”
Lieutenant Commander Navin Griffin of the U.S. Coast Guard, Chris Frabotta with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Jim Stark of the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association provided a waterways overview, while there was an additional panel on stakeholder partnerships that included the American Waterway Operators Association. Other presentation topics included equipment, ship and barge dynamics, the federal vessel inspection program and the business of towing.
Attendees each receive a certificate presented by Captain of the Port Peter Martin, as well as technical simulator training.