When a regulation applies to the entire industry equally, and serves to make operations better and safer, we have trouble understanding why some companies would fight that. Instead, we have embraced the coming change to the regulatory landscape. Since our culture is aligned with the proposed rules already, we consider this less of a change than some other operators might. We have a proud heritage and close working relationship with the U.S. Coast Guard—we are proud to become inspected vessels as a signal of our adherence to quality.
All Harbor Docking and Towing vessels adhere to voluntary safety management standards as certified by the AWO’s Responsible Carrier Program. Originally developed to raise performance and compliance standards for towing vessels moving high-consequence barge cargoes such as caustics, chemicals, and petroleum products, these stringent standards are applied to the highest performing tugboat and towboat operators in the United States. The standards involve training, certification, credentialing and operating standards designed to protect people, property, and the environment and nurture a commitment to continuous improvement through a system of intra-company feedback, internal audits, and external audits of the safety management system.
We could be pleased and satisfied with our record of accomplishment for minimal accidents and lost time injuries, but that is not in our nature.
One of our company’s strengths is the relationship of trust and respect between our tug crews and company management. Management engages with our crews informally throughout the week, monthly via correspondence and established communication sharing, quarterly through the use of safety and training packets as well as face-to-face Operator Meetings to share lessons learned, upcoming plans, and vital feedback on past decisions or pending requests. We conduct an annual review of our operations and management, which includes the participation and ownership of everyone involved—from the newest deckhand to the president.
We do not have shore-based port captains, instead a senior captain handles those responsibilities with 24×7 direct access to company management while underway. Where larger companies get bogged down in bureaucracy and multi-level management schemes, our tight communication and feedback loops ensure we respond nimbly and effectively in the face of internal and external change.