Our upcoming June “Yearbook” issue looks back at the last 12 months, the highlights and trends across the workboat sectors that we normally concentrate on — shipyards, inland waterways, tugs, offshore, and passenger vessels.

Two questions immediately come to mind — what’s wrong with survey vessels or dredges or crew transfer vessels and don’t publications usually wait until the end of the year to do a 12-month perspective?

The answer to the first question is nothing, but we must draw the line somewhere. The answer to the second question is that we do a Top 10 Stories of the Year in the December issue, and there just isn’t enough room for the Yearbook in the same issue. 

For outsiders, the workboat industry may appear to be fiscally conservative and slow to change. Yet underway at Intracoastal Iron Works is a 100'x40' hydrogen-powered towboat, Hydrogen One, which will use something called a methanol reformer that converts methanol passing through it to hydrogen that then goes into fuel cells, which generate electricity; Master Boat Builders delivered the eWolf, the first all-electric, ship assist harbor tug in the U.S.; and Metal Shark introduced the 30' unmanned surface vessel, Prowler, that combines multiple technologies designed to meet current and near future warfighting requirements of the U.S. military and its allies.

That’s some pretty cutting-edge stuff.

The inland waterways have been catching fire now that the pandemic’s attack on the supply chain has lessened. But those in that industry are still facing costs for complying with the federal towing vessel safety regulations (Subchapter M), environmental rules requiring reductions in carbon emissions, and incident reporting requirements and installation of surveillance equipment on boats under a new law to curb sexual misconduct in the maritime industry. And don’t forget about lock delays.

And talk about a group let off the chain since the general public came out of hiding, the passenger vessel operators have seen business boom, not just in the past 12 months but also going back two years.

Additionally, in April, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $316 million to support and modernize passenger ferry service in communities across the country. The Electric or Low Emitting Ferry Program provides federal support to transit agencies to buy ferries that reduce emissions by using alternative fuels or on-board energy storage systems. For fiscal year 2024, $49 million is available.



Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.

Small Featured Spot