Bruce Harland, Vice President-Commercial Services of Crowley Maritime Corporation, testified on behalf of Crowley and the American Waterways Operators (AWO) before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee at a field hearing held in Kodiak, Alaska. The hearing, which was held at the request of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK-R) and led by Subcommittee chairwoman Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), focused on the need for a robust U.S. Coast Guard presence in Alaska as the nation pursues expanding navigation opportunities in the Arctic region.
“In spite of extreme weather events, unpredictable ice conditions, draft limitations and the area’s sheer remote location, AWO member companies have worked for many years within these limitations as well as in close coordination with the Coast Guard and State of Alaska to develop a safe, efficient and cost effective system that provides transportation and fuel delivery services to villages and business in the region,” Mr. Harland stated.
Mr. Harland’s testimony urged the Subcommittee and U.S. Coast Guard to consider several points critical to continued safe navigation:
• Accurate charting and hydrographic information;
• Greater use of electronic charting and other aids;
• Increased AIS coverage to help identify vessels;
• A vessel traffic system for Unimak Pass and Bering Straits;
• More accurate regional weather and tide information;
• Improved Coast Guard incident response and search and rescue capabilities;
• Greater ice breaking capabilities; and
• Establishment of a Deepwater Arctic Port.
“The industry has developed innovative tools and procedures to adapt to the unique conditions that navigation in the Arctic region poses. We are confident that these tools, combined with the experience and professionalism of our mariners, will continue to meet the region’s needs,” Mr. Harland continued. “We greatly appreciate the Subcommittee’s consideration of what is necessary for safe operation and expansion moving forward.”