A new training program that will place U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets on inland towing vessels this summer is starting to take shape.
The American Waterways Operators says at least 10 companies have volunteered to host cadets onboard their vessels. AWO says that more companies are expected to step forward in the weeks ahead.
The cadet inland rivers training program was finalized by the Coast Guard and AWO in February.
The goal is to familiarize future USCG officers about inland vessel operations and commerce, an area of marine transportation that is not normally taught as part of the academy’s training of young officers.
The program comes at a time when new federal regulations are being developed to improve safety on towboats. Cadets will learn about tug, towboat and barge operations through shore-side and onboard training.
“We are expecting to have no shortage of AWO member volunteers,” said Jennifer Carpenter, AWO vice president for national advocacy.
Assignments will range from seven to 14 days and consist of a couple days of shore-side learning about company operations, followed by five-to-seven days underway, and a couple days observing fleeting operations, according to Capt. Scott Calhoun, an instructor at the academy who is helping to coordinate the program.
Fifteen cadets have been identified, and training will begin on May 7.
“The overall objectives will have cadets standing watch, observing deck and engineering duties, and participating in operations that give them a good feel for towing vessel operations,” Calhoun said.
This is a great opportunity for vessel operators to build solid relationships with the towing industry’s future inspectors and regulators. Inland companies interested in participating in the Coast Guard Academy Towing Vessel Rider Program can contact Brittany Meyern at the AWO.