Propeller Club convention eyes the future

L to R: Federal Maritime Commissioner Doyle, Adm. Zukunft, International Propeller Club President Ricardo Schiappacassee. L to R: Federal Maritime Commissioner Doyle, Adm. Zukunft, International Propeller Club President Ricardo Schiappacassee.

OCTOBER 27, 2017 — Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft, Maritime Administrator Mark Buzby, and Federal Maritime Commissioner William Doyle were each keynote speakers at the 91st Annual International Propeller Convention held at the Radisson Resort at the Port, Cape Canaveral, FL, October 18-20, 2017 and hosted by the Propeller of Club of Port Canaveral. 

The theme of the convention was "Modernizing Ports for the Future" and industry panel discussion topics included cyber security, LNG as a ship fuel, navigation channel deepening and widening projects, landside port infrastructure, and port security.

The convention opening night dinner featured Florida Governor Rick Scott as the guest speaker and was held at the Space Shuttle Atlantis Pavilion, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. 

Governor Scott Scott highlighted the investments his administration has made in Florida ports to the tune of $1.2 billion since 2011.  Much of this spending was related to expanding ports and waterways to handle the larger ships now serving world trade. 


Admiral Zukunft commented that he was a good fit as a speaker for the convention given that his name in German means "future".  His remarks covered not only the modernization of ports but also the modernization ongoing and much needed for the U.S. Coast Guard.  He pointed out the age of much of the Coast Guard's fleet and stated that more has to be done to replace old assets.  He noted aggressive spending on fleet modernization, especially for ice breakers, by both Russia and China.

Maritime Administrator Buzby echoed concerns of an aging fleet and made the case for beginning replacement of Ready Reserve Force vessels to include state maritime academy training ships, three of which were recently activated for hurricane emergency response missions.

The panel discussion on LNG as a ship fuel was led by Commissioner Doyle and consisted of industry leaders in operating ships with LNG for fuel including Peter Keller, Executive VP of Tote, Inc., Chad Verret, Executive VP, Harvey Gulf International, and Matt Jackson, VP Crowley LNG.  Tote operates the world's first LNG-powered containerships between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico. 

Port Canaveral CEO John Murray stated that the port was gearing up to be able to bunker the cruise ships of the future which are being built to run on LNG.  Cybersecurity was a theme touched on throughout the conference in keynote speaker remarks and in panel discussions. The industry became acutely aware of vulnerabilities in the wake of the hacking of A.P. Moller Maersk last June.

Waterside and landside infrastructure panelists included Barry Holliday, Executive Director, Dredging Contractors of America, Kurt Nagle, President & CEO, American Association of Port Authorities, Doug Wheeler, President & CEO of the Florida Ports Council and Lauren Brand, MARAD Associate Administrator for Ports & Waterways. The speakers all noted the importance of industry and ports working together to ensure that the maritime sector is adequately funded in the new $1 trillion infrastructure bill currently being contemplated in Washington D.C. Port Security was discussed by panelists Gaetano Cordone, Area Port Director, Customs and Border Protection and Capt. Ryan Manning, USCG, Chief, Office of Ports and Facilities Compliance. Cordone touched on the manpower challenge being faced by CBP as he and other areas are being required to send personnel to the southwest border.

Convention attendees came from across the U.S. and Europe, with students from Propeller Club chapters in colleges and maritime academies also among the convention participants.

The International Propeller Club of the United States is a business network dedicated to the promotion of the maritime industry, commerce and global trade.  Chapters are located in most major U.S. coastal and inland ports and in many international ports. 

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