Shipmate of the Week – Patricia Adams

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March is Women’s History Month . In honor of the many contributions women have made to the history of our service, we bring you the stories of the female leaders of the Coast Guard. Today, we are featuring one of our civilian leaders who is tackling a complex maritime safety and environmental protection issue.

Fire aboard Violetta
The new regulations Ms. Adams spearheaded will aid responses in cases such as the one above, where a fire broke out aboard a 578-foot vessel in the Houston ship channel. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Patrick Montgomery.

Written by Mr. Timothy Brown, Vessel Response Plan Program

How do you implement a detailed new regulation that fundamentally changes the way two very traditional industries do business? What if the new regulations impact ship owners and operators spread all over the globe?

Coast Guard civilian Patricia Adams was faced with answering these and many more questions to ensure the successful implementation of the Salvage and Marine Firefighting Regulation.

Ms. Patricia Murphy
Ms. Adams has been involved with oil spill response and planning in the private sector since the passage of the original Oil Pollution Act of 1990. She has used this experience with commercial shipping and spill response communities as she reached out to industry stakeholders. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Compelled to make a difference in an industry she cares about, Adams worked extensively for the past two years as member of the Vessel Activities Vessel Response Plan Program to ensure the Salvage and Marine Firefighting Regulations became a realization. These new regulations, stemming from the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, ensures that the owners and operators of tank ships and barges carrying petroleum products contract in advance with commercial salvage companies, emergency towing vessels and specially trained marine firefighters as part of their required vessel response plan.

A seemingly simple idea, this new requirement is a significant change from the traditional practice for the industry, where a salvage resource is engaged only after an accident takes place. These salvage and marine firefighting regulations ensure there is availability of response resources in the event of a casualty and fosters the development of additional response resources in the United States.

Adams, involved with oil spill response and planning in the private sector since the passage of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, her decades of experience in the commercial shipping and spill response communities paid dividends as she reached out to industry stakeholders. Adams worked extensively with vessel owners and operators, individual salvage companies, captains of the port and the American Salvage Association industry trade group to help prepare for the implementation of this industry changing regulation.

There were over 7,500 individual tanks ships and barges that were affected by this regulation change, and it was through her leadership and collaboration with the maritime industry that led to every tank vessel calling on the U.S. to meet compliance by the February implementation date.

Firefighters fight barge fire
There were over 7500 individual tanks ships and barges, like the one above, that were affected by the new regulation changes. Petty Officer 1st Class Frank Dunn.

“This is a giant step forward for Coast Guard incident response since the regulations require readily available salvage and marine firefighting resources that can prevent the escalation of potential oil spills to catastrophic worst case discharge scenarios,” said Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, the director of Prevention Policy. “Due to Ms. Adams’ efforts the overall implementation of the regulation was extremely impressive and smooth.”

Do you know a Shipmate that has done something great for the service, the missions or the public? Please submit your nominations using the “Submit Ideas” link on the right.

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