Washington State Launches Maritime Advisory Council


By The Maritime Executive 12-12-2017 08:31:50

At a meeting at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle on Tuesday, 20 maritime executives, government leaders and community representatives gathered to launch Washington's new Maritime Innovation Advisory Council, a coalition that will promote the sustainable development of the state's $38 billion maritime industry. 

As its inaugural project, the council will conduct a one-year development strategy study in cooperation with DNV GL. The new study – "Washington Maritime Blue" – is funded by a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to Washington's Department of Commerce. The award is matched by an in-kind contribution from the Port of Seattle, which is providing space for the Washington Maritime Innovation Center, and from the University of Washington Applied Physics Lab, which is providing staff time.

The formation of the new council makes Washington the latest port region to pursue a coordinated maritime development strategy, like Vancouver, Hamburg, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and many others. In addition to business development, though, the study will look for ways to ensure that Washington is home to the most sustainable maritime industry by 2050, in line with Governor Jay Inslee’s goal of deep de-carbonization.

“Across the globe, maritime clusters are shaping developments that will set the future direction for a sustainable industry. The movement to de-carbonization and clean technology innovation is upon us, environmentally friendly fuels and electric propulsion are a reality, and digitalization is transforming the way we operate,” said DNV GL group chief development officer David Walker in a keynote address. “Rather than view technology and innovation as simply tools to address the challenges we face in the maritime industry, we must instead work together to embrace the opportunities they offer for a sustainable and prosperous society.”

The group's advisory council is co-chaired by Frank Foti, CEO of Northwest shipbuilding powerhouse Vigor Industrial; Dennis McLerran, the former administrator of EPA Region 10; and Rep. Gael Tarleton of the Washington State Legislature.  Other notable council members include John Wolfe, CEO of the Northwest Seaport Alliance, the cooperative joint venture of the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma; Commissioner Fred Felleman of the Port of Seattle; Vince O'Halloran of the AFL-CIO's Maritime Trades; John Dwyer, chief of the inspection division of Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound; and Paul Stevens, managing director and SVP of Saltchuk Resources, the parent company of Foss, AmNav, Young Brothers and TOTE.   

“Our industry works every single day to serve customers in a highly competitive environment, and it is not always easy to take the long view in such circumstances," said Vigor CEO Frank Foti. "A successful strategy for a sustainable maritime industry will include identifying courageous and committed long-term investment that will allow the maritime industry to lead in a way that honors our precious environment, accelerates innovation and creates great opportunities for skilled workers.”

Left to right: Vigor CEO Frank Foti; Gov. Jay Inslee; state Rep. Gael Tarleton; and Dennis McLerran, former EPA Region 10 administrator (Governor’s Office)