If there is one thing I have learned in 40 years as a licensed mariner, it is that being a lifelong learner is extremely important in our profession.  

Changes in technology, vessel designs, navigation tools, and operating systems are just a few of the things that mariners must stay up to date on to operate safely.  

But what about the external factors that influence our ability to be safe? For example, how do we learn to interact smoothly with the Coast Guard or efficiently prepare for a Coast Guard inspection or drydock? These skills require more than just reading the regulations. They require a willingness to cultivate strong relationships, foster understanding, and develop trust with the Coast Guard. This means getting out of the pilothouse and spending time interacting with Coast Guard personnel in your area of operation. With Covid behind us, the importance of meeting in person cannot be overstated.

The Coast Guard is now holding “Industry Days.” Generally one-day meetings, they involve marine operators and Coast Guard personnel who discuss important industry topics. These meetings are learning-rich environments that allow you to ask questions, make comments, and most importantly build relationships and understanding.

Over the years, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate as a passenger vessel operator and representative of the Passenger Vessel Association in numerous Coast Guard marine inspector training courses and quality partnership interfaces with senior leadership at Coast Guard headquarters. These sessions allowed me to talk about our industry, our challenges, and our commitment to safety.  

Frequently, I am asked questions and have given open and honest answers. While marine inspector training classes are now being taught online, there will be chances for industry representatives to participate in Coast Guard journeyman marine inspector courses and in chief of inspection courses.  

There are many other ways in which you can take part in industry-related discussions. Consider joining your local Harbor Safety Committee or Area Maritime Security Committee. Whatever path you choose, I encourage you to get involved, contribute, learn, and grow professionally.

Capt. Dave Anderson has been involved in the passenger vessel industry for 45 years and is currently the general manager/director of operations for Fire Island Ferries Inc., where he oversees the maintenance and operations for 27 vessels.