Improving service to mariners, industry and the public

Chicago’s 2017 Industry Day event highlighting industry leaders

Story by Lt. John Ramos

As the primary federal agency for developing marine safety, security, and environmental protection standards, the Coast Guard’s prevention role is largely regulatory, and our efforts begin in the field with the establishment of close working relationships with industry and maritime stakeholders for improved safety and security of ports around the nation. To kick off the 2017 operational season, Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Chicago, in coordination with the International Shipmaster’s Association, hosted the annual Chicago Maritime Industry Day. Over 220 professional maritime personnel and industry leaders that regularly operate on the southern tip of Lake Michigan and the Illinois River system attended the event.

barge grounding presentation

The main goal of Coast Guard participation during Industry Day events is to highlight the vital relationship the Coast Guard has with industry. Industry Day events are also important arenas to disseminate new regulatory information and highlight important trending topics. This year’s feature topics included: cyber security; weather trends; national maritime center licensing; illegal charter operations; “Subchapter M” towing regulations; TWIC reader final rule guidance; and updates from local maritime committees.

These targeted discussions at Industry Day allow the Coast Guard to explain regulatory initiatives and national policy directives that compel compliance with federal regulations. In addition, local industry has the opportunity to provide questions and comments so the Coast Guard can refocus their resources if necessary. By working with industry leaders, the Coast Guard finds that participating in events such as Industry Days reduces confusion and mitigates the potential for harmful impacts to the marine environment.

During the Industry Day, Capt. Amy Cocanour, the Sector Lake Michigan commander and Cmdr. Zeita Merchant,  the commanding officer at MSU Chicago presented Mr. Michael Borgstrom with a public service commendation for his work as president of the Chicago Harbor Safety Committee from 2014 to 2017 and co-chair of the Southern Tip of Lake Michigan’s Area Maritime Security Committee. As a longstanding leader of the committee, Mr. Borgstrom leveraged this role to educate commercial and recreational users of the severely congested Chicago River and facilitated the collaboration of over 50 diverse port stakeholders in the waters surrounding Chicago. His vast knowledge and experience with the local waterways, vessel operators, and numerous public and private agencies have ensured a unity-of-effort that has been critical to providing effective control measures across all segments of the maritime transportation system. TWIC presentation

“As the marine industry and commerce continues to increase and grow in complexity, it is imperative that the Coast Guard establish and nurture strong and enduring partnerships with industry stakeholders,” said Cmdr. Merchant. “Our efforts to host an annual gathering of local partners from every sector of the maritime community and formally recognize our industry leaders show our commitment and dedication to the maritime community.”

MSU Chicago is responsible for executing the Coast Guard’s port safety and security, marine environmental protection and commercial vessel safety missions under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security. These missions serve as the underpinnings of stewardship to ensure a safe, secure, and environmentally sound maritime domain that continues to promote recreation and the free flow of commerce on southern tip of Lake Michigan, as well as the Chicago area waterway system and the Illinois River watershed.

MSU Chicago serves an active network of domestic and international maritime interests covering the Lake Michigan shorelines of Illinois and Indiana, as well as 186 miles of the Illinois River system segmented by seven locks and over 250 bridges. MSU Chicago’s area of responsibility includes a fleet of 166 vessels and 118 regulated waterfront facilities.

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