Historical Labor Memorandum Signed to Employ U.S. Officers on Expanding International LNG Tanker Fleet

By MarEx 2012-12-19 11:25:00

30 April 2008: The U.S. Maritime Administration today announced that Shell Ship Management Limited (Shell) and the American Maritime Officers (AMO) have signed a pioneering Memorandum of Understanding through which qualified AMO officers, deck and engine, will begin to be recruited to work aboard international liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers that are managed by Shell. The signing ceremony was hosted by the Maritime Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation building in Washington, D.C.

Richard Mellor, General Manager of Shell Ship Management Limited, on behalf of Shell, and AMO National President Tom Bethel signed the historic MOU. The MOU will provide opportunities for American officers to work aboard international LNG carriers and pursue careers through Shell's international and domestic energy development ventures. Shell is commencing an onboarding and familiarization process with American senior officers and beginning to develop a program for the employment of junior officers, who may obtain employment and career opportunities with the company.

"This crewing MOU represents sound public policy – increased safety, security, and improved transportation efficiencies – and opens up vital employment opportunities for U.S. officers in the LNG industry," said Administrator Connaughton. "It's encouraging that Shell acknowledges that the U.S. seafarer can play an integral role in the company's growth program."

The world LNG tanker fleet is experiencing rapid growth and the availability of experienced LNG officers is critical. Owners and operators need to be proactive to ensure sufficient numbers of LNG officers are available. At present, there are no U.S.-flagged LNG vessels operating in the world, with the last U.S.-flag LNG vessels leaving the United States registry in 1999.

An U.S. LNG crewing initiative has been a priority of the Maritime Administration since Connaughton took office almost two years ago. The Maritime Administration has been actively working to achieve public-private partnerships that will ultimately offer both training and job growth opportunities in this expanding energy sector. These include:

• The development of universal LNG tanker training standards that have been adopted by the state maritime academies, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and labor-based training facilities;

• Expanding cadet berths on internationally registered vessels in order to increase educational opportunities for American officers-in-training;

• Obtaining commitments from Deepwater Port licensees to employ American mariners in accordance with Congressional enactments; and

• Woodside Natural Gas signed an agreement with the Maritime Administration to utilize U.S.-flag vessels in the operation of the company's proposed "OceanWay" deepwater port LNG receiving facility off the coast of California. The commitment made by Woodside Natural Gas calls for Woodside to register two new LNG re-gasification vessels under the U.S. flag and to employ American officers and crews in the operation of those ships.

"The Maritime Administration will continue to seek similar opportunities with energy companies serving the international and domestic maritime markets," Connaughton went on to say.

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