Last year, after a two-year Covid-induced pause, the International WorkBoat Show returned to New Orleans. This year, the 42nd edition of the show, which opens Wednesday, Nov. 30, promises to be even stronger. More exhibitors are signed up and a bump in attendance is expected.
Last year, most of the talk at the show revolved around the pandemic and how it has affected workboat businesses. While Covid is still around, businesses are more positive this year. We anticipate that there will be more scuttlebutt about contracts and other business deals.
The improved business climate is most evident in the passenger vessel industry, the workboat sector that many would argue was hit hardest by the pandemic.
Passenger vessels rebounded, with operators reporting improved numbers. Dan Yates of Portland Spirit said the company had not only a solid year in 2022 but “the most successful income year in our 28 years.”
In our annual top news stories of the year report (pick up a copy of WorkBoat's December issue at the show), the passenger vessel rebound was one of the positive stories. Another was that things are finally looking up for the U.S. offshore oil and gas sector as it moves to capitalize on an increase in energy prices.
Headwinds persist, however, namely a shortage of suitable vessels and, more notably, the crews to man them. In fact, labor problems continue to plague most workboat sectors.
Another big news story this year was the milestone reached by the towing industry in July when Subchapter M, the long-awaited federal towing vessel inspection program, ended its four-year phase-in period with about 5,000 U.S.-flag towing vessels certified as compliant with new safety rules.
Among other top stories in 2022 were the increased interest in offshore wind, zero emissions, and autonomous technology. And of course, Adm. Linda Fagan was sworn in as the 27th commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard on June 1. Adm. Fagan became the first woman, and first mother, to lead any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Have a great WorkBoat Show. I hope to see you there.