Ken HockeKen Hocke
Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has also written for other publications, including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.

Blog Activity

Oil and gas and credits and debits

Being so dependent on the oil and gas industry is a roller coaster ride. My father was a bookkeeper who, with credentials from Tulane “night school,” eventually headed up the accounting department at CIT in the 1970s. When CIT moved its accounting operations from New Orleans to Oklahoma City, the company sent him, at 54, to San Francisco where he was to help put all of CIT’s accounting programs on computer. On the way there, he and my mother stopped the first night in San Antonio....

Seattle ferry delivers comfortable ride

Getting up early to ride the new commuter ferry in Seattle was worth it. As I prepare for tomorrow's opening day of the International WorkBoat Show, my mind keeps returning to the Pacific Marine Expo, held earlier this month in Seattle. While I was at PME, I hitched a ride on King County’s 105'x33' aluminum catamaran ferry Sally Fox. The Sally Fox. Ken Hocke photo. The boat, built by All American Marine, Bellingham, Wash., was the first Subchapter K-inspected passenger vessel built and...

Workforce matters

Whether you're looking for a job or looking for mariners, this career fair is for you. The workboat industry is a tough place in which to do business. Yes, it can be rewarding — financially and in other ways — but factors such as weather, government regulations and market fluctuations can torpedo even the most prudent of business owners. And then there are those who work for you. Whether times are good or bad, maritime workers are a constant source of concern. Do you have enough of...

Jones Act isn’t going anywhere

I can’t think of a time when more private companies and governments have tried to blame the Jones Act for their own poor decision-making. I admit I’m not an expert on the Jones Act. I don’t even play one on TV. But I’ve covered the maritime industry for more than two decades and have at least a pedestrian’s understanding of the law. To wit: vessels operating between two or more U.S. ports must use boats/ships that are owned, built and crewed by U.S. citizens. Is it a good law? I think...

How to stop an oil spill

Raise the stakes for oil companies that want to drill anywhere in the U.S. A couple of weeks ago Royal Dutch Shell received permission to begin drilling for oil in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. Over the past several months, environmental groups and just plain old citizens, particularly in the Seattle area, have been going bonkers over Shell’s plan to drill for oil in the Arctic after the debacle involving the drilling barge Kulluk in 2012. When the anti-drilling crowd found out that the Obama...

Marine industry stepped up following Katrina

While tens of thousands rushed to get away from Hurricane Katrina's devastation, the marine industry ran toward it. Saturday marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall across the Louisiana/Mississippi border. I know many of you are suffering from Katrina fatigue. I don’t blame you. But I think it’s important to remind people of just how valuable the marine industry was to the people of Louisiana and Mississippi following the catastrophe — that’s what it was — a...

Maritime mission to Mars

Barge will help send men to Mars.   NASA has plans to send a robotic science rover to Mars in 2020, with humans to follow about 15 years later. Yet the mission literally couldn’t get off the ground without Conrad Shipyard’s Amelia, La., facility. That’s where NASA’s 310' barge Pegasus has recently finished being refurbished. NASA's Pegasus.The barge, which carried NASA’s space shuttle flights’ external tanks and other hardware, will now carry the core stage of the agency’s Space...

Get with the program

Time is running out to register for the WorkBoat Strategic Leadership Program. Registration for the second year of the WorkBoat Strategic Leadership Program will come to a close on Sept. 1. I encourage you to get onboard before it's too late. Heading into its second year, the program, a joint effort between WorkBoat and Louisiana State University's Executive Education department, is focused on giving mid-level managers the tools necessary to move up in their respective...

Personnel remains No. 1 concern

When the oil and gas industry in the Gulf cycles back around, will there be enough employees to handle the work?  The offshore oil and gas industry has taken a big hit since the price of oil went south months ago. Offshore service vessel companies are stacking vessels like cordwood. Some shipyards in the Gulf are suffering too. Some are still working on newbuild orders, but their repair business has gone to hell. Then there are yards that are closed because the revenue stream has...

Oil patch desperation

Things have deteriorated in the oil patch to the point where people are asking me what I think.   The drop in the price of a barrel of oil is making some in the oil and gas industry a little lightheaded. I just came back from vacation — staycation in this case — and over the past two weeks, I received several calls from friends in the industry asking me what I’ve heard about the price of oil going forward. I told them what I have heard, and I gave them...