I recently talked with Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington for a wide-ranging interview about workboats, women in the maritime industry, and Coast Guard recruiting and training. On June 3, Stosz took over as superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.
During our discussion about workboats, Stosz spoke about her time as the first female skipper of an icebreaking tug in the Great Lakes in the 1990s. I asked how the curriculum at the Coast Guard Academy might be adapted to include instruction about the brownwater industry so that future Coast Guard officers graduate with a familiarity and understanding of an industry that they might one day regulate.
As the new academy superintendent, Stosz will oversee a review of the curriculum and is open to new partnerships. She said she is very interested in exploring a partnership with the tug and barge industry that could involve placing academy cadets on towing vessels as part of their academic and technical training. This could be for a period of a week or longer, and would supplement the summer training assignments that cadets perform on Coast Guard vessels.
If this idea can be developed into a solid joint Coast Guard-industry training program, it would be a groundbreaking opportunity for the tug and barge industry. Inland companies often complain that the Coast Guard is not well enough informed about their operating conditions and vessel operations, and this could help change that.
It’s up to the industry to contact the admiral and see what can be developed. The American Waterways Operators says it’s excited about the possibility. Let’s hope that the concept can become reality.
Look for coverage of my interview with Rear Adm. Stosz in the July and August issues of WorkBoat and on WorkBoat.com.
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