Yesterday, we wrapped up the March issue of WorkBoat, which should hit your mailboxes at the end of the month. In it, we tackle several subjects.
In the March cover story, technical editor Bruce Buls writes about Fremont Maritime Service’s India Tango fire training program in Seattle. Fremont specializes in hands-on, 1,400°F training at its vessel mock-up, the Fire Dragon. Unlike some other schools that use the same structures for shoreside firefighting training, the Fire Dragon gives mariners the feeling that they are on a boat facing the challenges that come with fighting onboard fires. That means low overheads, narrow passageways, vertical ladders and watertight doors. To give it the vessel feel, Fremont put together the Fire Dragon out of a World War II landing craft engine room, sub-chaser and tug wheelhouses, shipping containers and other fabricated metal.
In another story, as I wrote in my Feb. 5 blog, Dale DuPont writes about a problem that mariners have been sounding off about more and more — recreational traffic on the rivers. Close calls between commercial vessels and recreational boats are becoming more common and putting increased stress and strain on professional mariners. The growing anxiety among commercial operators concerns recreational boaters, which includes kayakers and jet skiers, who have never used the waterways before.
The Passenger Vessel Association has been very vocal on the issue and took its message last fall to the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB told PVA that it was interested in the issue and may take a closer look in the future. Inland barge operators are also worried. They say that recreational boaters don’t know the rules of the road, have no idea that a towboat wheelhouse crew may not be able to see them, and have no idea what channel markers mean. The solution is better-educated boaters, which may include licensing and training.
Finally, oil prices continue to be in the news and we continue to report on it. In the March issue we document the effect that low oil prices are having on the OSV and crewboat markets. Day rates, especially for crewboats and lower-specification shelf boats, are down, along with utilization. But there is some good news on the horizon. Some are predicting that an oil price rebound may come as soon as the second half of this year. Stay tuned.