Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/707823
57 Summer 2016 Proceedings www.uscg.mil/proceedings with larger vessels would simply refuse to transit to Bethel. Even with the buoys placed, one of Crowley's shallow-draft coastal sets will be used as a pilot boat to ensure a safe tran- sit. It will take three or four round trips to Bethel and about three weeks to resupply the tank farm that provides the heating fuel and unleaded gasoline the villages rely upon to survive through the winter. Operational and Navigational Challenges With time and geography in mind, it's easy to see the com- plexities of the logistics and coordination it takes to com- plete all deliveries to the villages ranging from Bristol Bay to Kaktovik (62 miles west of the Canadian border in the Arctic Ocean) in a 180-day period — all before the rivers freeze up and the weather becomes extreme and dangerous to the vessels and crews. But this is only part of the story — one piece of the puzzle. There are many other challenges mariners face in western Alaska to get deliveries done safely, efficiently, and without incident. Don't Go Where the Seagulls Walk The first major challenge is the lack of navigational charts, harbor charts, buoys, and soundings for a majority of the villages where we deliver. Crowley goes where most ves- sels have a "no go" zone marked on their charts (if they do, indeed, even have a chart) to get the fuel the last 100 feet to the beach. If we can't deliver it the last 100 feet, the village can't get the crucial resupply they require. The majority of the routes we use have been handed down from past operators. Current vessel officers (who boast an average of 17 years of experience operating in western Alaska) constantly update them as river channels change and the coast shifts and erodes. Additionally, Crowley's ves- sel crews regularly use a sounding skiff to lay out tempo- rary buoys and create GPS track lines on river crossings or coastal flats to identify where the water levels are low and to navigate difficult spots. Using a sounding skiff is also a good way to identify whether saved routes from the prior year have changed due to ice A Learning Organization Our success in Alaska has been attributed to the company's collective ability to learn from its challenges and successes, incorporate lessons into its management system, and continually improve. Some examples of the best practices we continue to build upon include: ✔ maintaining our American Waterways Operators responsible carrier program membership for manage- ment system guidance and external auditing; ✔ continual improvement of our vessel, cargo, and engi- neering manuals and processes; ✔ standardizing underway and simulated navigation assessments for deck officers; ✔ implementing corrective actions following near- misses, hazard recognition, and incidents; ✔ compiling village notes where port captains share route, hazard, and general village information; ✔ annual crew seminars providing regulator y and company training; ✔ annual testing and inspections for cargo hoses and equipment; ✔ participation in local and regional committees, such as the Cook Inlet harbor safety committee, Arctic Water way committees, and Bering Sea Alliance committees; ✔ maintaining open communication with the local and regional Coast Guard to discuss regional and opera- tional topics. Every fuel hose is hydro-tested and inspected annually to ensure hose integrity. Picture courtesy of Mr. Greg Gladieux of Alaska Rubber. "The challenges that we face out on the water are daily and endless. It is a problem- solver's dream job. We are constantly facing new challenges that require an extreme ability to adapt." — Kyle Erickson, mate in training