Matson receives second Benkert Award for environmental excellence from Coast Guard
- By WorkBoat
Matson Navigation Co. Inc. has been honored with the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2012 Rear Adm. William M. Benkert Marine Environmental Award for Excellence.
The Benkert Award was created to recognize outstanding achievements in marine environmental protection that go beyond mere compliance with industrial and regulatory standards. Matson first received this biennial award in 2006.
“For our industry partners, the Rear Adm. William Benkert Award provides the ideal venue to strive for and recognize environmental excellence,” says Capt. Eric Christensen, chief of the office for commercial vessel compliance, in a company press release. “The commandant’s guiding principle of strengthening our partnerships is a valuable tenet to honor industry’s efforts in continual pollution prevention, safety management and environmental stewardship.”
“As a company that has a long history of serving some of the most pristine environments in the world — including Hawaii, Guam and California — Matson has quite naturally evolved into a carrier focused on setting a high bar when it comes to environmental stewardship,” adds Matt Cox, Matson’s president. “For example, Matson is the only carrier in the world to have a zero discharge policy — this means that nothing is discharged into the ocean, with the exception of food scraps. Our philosophical approach to environmental and most other regulatory issues is to meet or exceed federal, state and local legislative and regulatory requirements. We also believe that where existing laws and regulations do not provide adequate controls to ensure the protection of the environment, we establish and adhere to our own more stringent standards.”
Besides the prestige associated with the Benkert Award, Matson says, the award application process offers a venue for the creative exchange of ideas and innovations, and heightens awareness, underscoring the innovation required to achieve environmental excellence.
“When we were first honored with the Benkert Award in 2006, Matson and SSA Terminals had just signed a new ‘green port’ lease agreement with the Port of Long Beach, which involved a commitment to reduce air emissions in port by shutting off our vessel diesel generators and plugging into the local electrical grid, a process called cold ironing,” says Ron Forest, Matson’s senior vice president, operations. “This technology set a new standard for terminal leases in Long Beach. Because the concept of using a dockside electrical infrastructure to power ships while in port was new, the project involved innovative engineering work. By the end of this year, all of Matson’s motor ships that call Long Beach will plug in — making our terminal facility a 100 percent cold ironing operation, far ahead of the regulations set by the California Air Resources Board.”
“Matson also has learned through experience about the power of partnerships in developing new processes and technologies that advance marine environmental protection,” said Paul Londynsky, vice president, safety, quality and environmental affairs. “We have a longstanding and successful relationship with the California State Lands Commission in addressing issues related to invasive species and ballast water management. We have also partnered with the U.S. Coast Guard in testing a ballast water treatment system on one of our vessels. The success of that project led to Matson having one of the first ships to receive approval for the testing under the Coast Guard’s Shipboard Technology Evaluation Program.”
Cox commended Matson’s SQE and vessel operations departments for this distinguished achievement, and also credited the efforts of Matson personnel throughout the organization.
“Our success in achieving a leadership role in marine environmental initiatives can be directly attributed to Matson’s ‘green’ culture,” Cox says. “All Matson employees, both offshore and shoreside, are part of our environmental management system. Our own internal surveys of employees have shown a high awareness of Matson’s green programs and environmental objectives, and the support our personnel demonstrate for these initiatives is remarkable. This honor is a source of pride for all of us at Matson.”