The members of the American Waterways Operators, the national tugboat, towboat and barge industry association, elected a new slate of leaders this week during the association’s Spring Board of Directors / Annual Membership Meeting. This year, COVID-19 precautions meant that the event was held virtually rather in Washington, D.C.
Arthur F. Mead, Vice President and Chief Counsel at Crowley Maritime Corporation, was elected Chairman; Del Wilkins, President of Illinois Marine Towing, Inc. was elected Vice Chairman; and Clark Todd, President & Chief Operating Officer of Blessey Marine Services, Inc. was elected Treasurer.
Mead succeeds outgoing Chairman Scott Merritt, former Chief Operating Officer with Foss Maritime Company, LLC.
Based in Jacksonville, Fla., Mead joined Crowley in 1996 as an associate corporate counsel. Prior to joining Crowley, Mead worked at the U.S. Department of Justice, Admiralty and Shipping Division, and held commercial marine transportation related positions at Stolt-Nielsen, Inc., and Maersk Line Limited. Mead also served as a U.S. Navy commander with the reserve component of Military Sealift Command. He has a bachelor’s degree in marine transportation from the State University of New York Maritime College, and a law degree from Golden Gate University.
AWO President & CEO Jennifer Carpenter welcomed and thanked the newly-constituted Board of Directors:
“My vision is of an AWO that is, and is experienced by our members as, your indispensable organization, crucial to enabling your companies and our industry to survive, adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing business and public policy environment,” she said. “COVID-19 is the latest challenge and is one for the history books, but it is not the only one, and it won’t be the last.”
Mead emphasized the resilience and adaptability of the tugboat, towboat and barge industry as it continues to serve the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic:
“The response to this crisis by AWO member companies, staff and our mariners has been nothing short of extraordinary,” he said. “While shelter in place and work from home orders proliferated from state-to-state, our mariners and our workers continued delivering millions of tons of needed raw materials, consumer goods and energy. But during COVID-19, our industry has shown the nation what we’ve always known to be the case: That our industry is resilient and adaptable.”
The industry’s workforce, Mead continued, has long been indispensable to the prosperity and security of the United States:
“Today, the mariners of the American tugboat, towboat and barge industry carry on, at risk of infection to themselves, the selfless effort to transport the nation’s cargo on the water during this pandemic. They are accustomed to serving their country in the regular course of their work, operating as part of the safest, greenest and most efficient form of freight transportation in the country. And they are proud contributors to the nation’s security…
“The quality of their character, their work ethic, their commitment and their capabilities were not just forged over the past two months – they have always been there.”
Mead concluded by highlighting the enduring priorities for the tugboat, towboat and barge industry beyond the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic:
“We’re going to need to be adaptable and collaborate to continue weathering the COVID-19 crisis, but perhaps more importantly, also to confront the other challenges we face in the future…
“The Jones Act is an important element of America’s defense maritime industrial base and should be maintained…Subchapter M transition is still happening. State activism and the need for uniformity in maritime regulations is a growing priority.
“We need to continue working with Waterways Council, Inc. to secure necessary funding for waterways infrastructure at a time when competition for federal funds among industries and sectors will be intense… AWO remains critical to all of this.”