Touted as the largest maritime tradeshow in the United States, the International WorkBoat Show -- hosted in New Orleans, La., Nov. 30 to Friday, Dec. 2 -- held more than a 1,000 exhibiting customers showcasing new products and many opportunities for industry members to learn new trends and network face-to-face.
More than 13,000 visitors from around the world flocked to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to discuss pressing issues affecting the maritime industry. This record attendance had many asking, is there a sustained growth happening in the industry?
"We've noticed both domestic and international interests picking up again in the industry, which is a good barometer for the success of the event," said Bob Callahan, the show's director. "… and, if there are boat orders, all the suppliers selling product to the boat builders are busy, too. Orders are written, and contacts are being made at the International WorkBoat Show. The show is where it all happens."
David T. Matsuda, head of the U.S. Maritime Administration, appointed by President Obama July 28, 2009, delivered the Shipyard Day Keynote presentation, which noted trends, issues, what the industry should expect in 2012 and what they can learn from 2011.
On Wednesday, WorkBoat Magazine awarded AEP River Operations the 2011 WorkBoat Environmental Award for incorporating environmentally sustainable practices into their operations.
"We are constantly trying to stay ahead of the game in coal operations. And to be given this award, shows that we as a company are doing the right thing. This is a huge accomplishment for us," Joe Bradley, AEP, said.
WorkBoat Magazine also recognized the 10 significant new boats of the year at a special awards ceremony. Presented awards to the builders, designers and owners of the 10 vessels that made a splash in the industry are:
In addition to the trade show, informative speakers and panelists hosted educational seminars. Much buzz was geared towards post-Macondo and oil recovery efforts in the seminar "Environmental Regulatory Review and Challenges Facing the U.S. Shipping Industry." A panelist discussed how environmental regulatory review and challenges are affecting the U.S. Shipping industry. The session reviewed regulations, such as Air Emissions, U.S. Vessel General Permit, and Ballast Water Regulations that may go into effect in 2012 and 2013.
Ginger Garte, Environmental Business Development Manager at Lloyd's Register, said, "all of these regulations are driven to prevent harm to our health and the marine environment, but many are land-based systems that do not apply to the marine environment and may not reduce the impact on the environment -- the reason many are curious about what will occur next."
Coupled with the above regulations is the Coast Guard's new towing vessel inspection rule, seven years in the making, dissected in the seminar "Updates on Proposed Rules for Towing Vessel Inspections and Bridging Program." The proposed rule, which will cover 5,208 vessels operated by more than 1,000 companies, is the first-ever inspection scheme. For the past two months, the Coast Guard has held four public hearings about its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to establish baseline regulations for inspected towing vessels. If approved, the new inspection regime will likely occur as a phase-in process. One speaker said that new vessels or those already participating in voluntary inspection programs are likely to receive Certificates of Inspection.
Offshore wind farm markets were another hot topic.
"The commercial marine industry is at the fore-front of a significant boom," said Peter Duclos, President, Director of Business Development, Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, in the seminar "A New Market for Owners, Shipyards and Operators: Vessels in Offshore Wind Farming."
"I believe offshore wind energy production is the next big thing in the marine industry," said Charlie Nordstrom, a naval architect at The Glosten Associates, Seattle. For three years, Nordstrom has been working full-time on offshore wind projects. "The work boat industry will play a key role in offshore wind farming."
Panelist conferred that new vessels are needed to build and maintain new offshore wind farms, specifically Cape Wind (the leading offshore wind farm), to be located in Horseshoe Shoal, Nantucket Sound. Peter Duclos, president of Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Somerset, Mass., said that offshore wind farms will be considered U.S. ports and will require Jones Act vessels to build and service them.
While the conference came to a close, many could agree that the oil and gas industry is moving forward. The three-day conference held an optimistic tone as many organizers and attendees discussed drilling resuming in the Gulf of Mexico.
"We're seeing more and more permitting, and in the same way, Bollinger has seen more and more opportunities," said Robert Socha, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Bollinger Shipyards of Lockport. "The industry is slowing coming around in the United States."
For more show details, visit the International WorkBoat Show's website. Next year's show will be held Dec. 5 to 7, 2012 in New Orleans.
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