Safety Zone

At the 11th Annual Towing Safety Seminar held in Portsmouth, Va., April 16, Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads and the Virginia Maritime Association hosted dozens of tugboaters from several companies for a morning of presentations on topics such as line safety, EPIRB operations and licensing. Some of the presentations were held on tugs that were present at the event. The seminar is the largest annual event of its kind in the U.S.

“These sessions provide us with an opportunity to disseminate information directly to the mariners,” said William “Red” Gilbert, chief of the Vessel Safety Branch at Sector Hampton Roads. “The give and take between industry and the Coast Guard is what makes this a special day.”

In the afternoon, the crews headed outside for hands-on training and the reason many had come – the annual Tugboatmen’s Challenge, where tug crews compete against each other in a skills test.

“We are here to win this year,” pronounced Ty Uzzie of McAllister Towing . “We lost to K-Sea last year by just a fraction.”

The challenge between the tug crews included a line handling competition, survival suit donning races, firefighting, hitting a SDLq man overboard SDRq with a life ring, and a written test. Over the years it has become a competitive event, with the prize of flying the winner’s burgee for the year.

In the end, team McAllister once again settled for second, losing out this year to Moran Towing .

“We brought guys off of three different boats today, hoping that they, in turn, will share what they learned here,” said J.C. Dann, president of Dann Marine Towing . “This is really a valuable experience for the guys on the boats.” – K. Bergren-Smith

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