NAMMA Conference 2023 – Seattle, WA – Aug 1-3
For our 2023 conference, we were honoured to receive remarks from Admiral Steven D. Poulin, Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. Meeting on the campus of the University of Washington, it was the first time in more than a decade that NAMMA has gathered on the West Coast. Projected to the audience of 95 maritime ministers at the opening of the second day, Admiral Poulin commented on the theme of being “Ready for the Future of Seafarers’ Welfare”.
Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. As the Vice Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, it is an honor to address you to express our appreciation for your commitment to supporting mariners around the world.
Mariners are the lifeblood of global trade, connecting nations and driving economies. They navigate treacherous waters and endure long periods away from loved ones to ensure goods reach their destinations safely. Their dedication and sacrifice often go unnoticed by the public, but not by organizations like yours, who stand as beacons of support in their time of need.
The United States Coast Guard shares your passion for mariner welfare, safety, and prosperity. We have the enduring responsibility to safeguard the U.S. Maritime Transportation System, which contributes $5.4 trillion to the U.S. economy every year. The pandemic and related supply chain challenges placed this system in the spotlight, as America realized just how much we depend on both the global and domestic shipping industries.
And those industries depend on mariners.
I appreciate this conference’s focus on readiness. The U.S. Coast Guard understands that readiness includes more than just operational capabilities. It includes the support services that enable the workforce to perform their duties effectively and safely.
These include access to healthcare, suitable housing, and essential mental health services. Through your work to provide mariners with the comprehensive care and support they need, you are bolstering their readiness and contributing to the flow of the global supply chain.
The services you provide are not just about being ready – but also about being safe. Physical and mental wellbeing are essential for Mariners to safely operate the vessels vital to the Nation’s economic and national security.
Everyone has the right to work in an environment free from fear and harassment. Sexual misconduct, which includes incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment, has no place in the maritime industry. The U.S. Coast Guard’s senior leadership has given clear direction to our marine safety professionals and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service to attack this issue head-on.
Eradicating sexual misconduct requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. We rely on industry leadership, seafarers’ unions, trade associations, non-profits, and individuals at the deck-plate level of every vessel to take a clear and definitive stand against sexual misconduct.
Moving forward, we must work to stop incidents before they happen. The U.S. Coast Guard is leading work at the International Maritime Organization to develop training on personal safety and social responsibility that will address bullying, harassment and prevention of sexual misconduct in the maritime sector.
We are committed to working with industry to prevent these incidents, respond to every allegation, and eliminate toxic behavior from the workplace. Those who bully, harass, or assault their shipmates do more than threaten the safety and wellbeing of our mariners; they threaten the entire Marine Transportation System.
While we work together to ensure every mariner has a safe place to work, the maritime operating environment continues to change in profound ways. New technologies and industries are emerging, creating new opportunities and challenges for mariners.
We all must adapt to a changing landscape that includes an increase in automation, integration of artificial intelligence into maritime operations, and the emergence of new maritime industries like offshore wind and space launch and recovery. While these advancements bring efficiency and innovation, they also require us to equip mariners with the skills and knowledge necessary to operate in this new era.
We must work collaboratively to ensure mariners are prepared to navigate the complexity of this evolving maritime environment. By embracing emerging technologies, investing in training programs, and building partnerships with new industries operating in the maritime domain, we can enhance mariner safety and prosperity.
Your dedication, compassion, and tireless efforts have made a profound impact on the lives of mariners worldwide. By recognizing and addressing the holistic needs of mariners, together, we can ensure their readiness, welfare, and prosperity. Thank you and may our shared commitment to mariner readiness lead us to even greater heights.