US groups agree to implement LNG crew training standards

The US Maritime Administration, seafaring unions, and seafaring academies agreed June 5 to implement training standards for LNG tanker crews.

Nick Snow
Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON, DC, June 6 -- The US Maritime Administration (USMA), seafaring unions, and seafaring academies agreed June 5 to implement training standards for LNG tanker crews.

"The mariners who meet these standards will be the best in the world. They're the ones companies will want to hire," USMA administrator Sean T. Connaughton said.

The US once led LNG maritime training worldwide, but that leadership has lapsed, Connaughton said. US standardized training from the Merchant Marine Academy and other academies will help regain that leadership, he said.

The memorandum of understanding will be submitted to the US Coast Guard's advisory committee on merchant marine issues. Maritime academies and labor-based training facilities plan to adopt the standards.

USMA will encourage more US mariners to join LNG tanker crews.

The new US standards also will be submitted to the International Maritime Organization in London for proposed implementation worldwide, Connaughton said.

"We've come up with a curriculum above and beyond what's being offered internationally," Connaughton said.

Moving forward
Some maritime academies, including the Texas A&M Maritime Academy in Galveston, Tex., already were working to improving LNG mariner training programs when the standards group was assembled.

Chester Urban, a deck department adjunct instructor in LNG programs at the RTM STAR (Simulation, Training, Assessment & Research) Center in Dania Beach, Fla., said certified US mariners will be able to work on modifications to qualify themselves for LNG tanker duty. "There will be different levels. It will be up to the individual," Urban explained.

Connaughton said two carriers active in LNG maritime transportation, Teekay Shipping Corp. and Excelerate Energy LLC, agreed to ultimately staff at least 25% of their LNG crews with US mariners. Others will be announced shortly, he indicated.

Contact Nick Snow at nsnow@cox.net.

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