In Depth: Suez LNG and MARAD Announce Initiative to Put U.S. Mariners on LNG Vessels

In a joint press conference call today attended by LNGLawBlog, Suez LNG NA LLC (“Suez”) and the U.S. Maritime Administration (“MARAD”) announced a first-of-its-kind initiative to employ U.S.-licensed mariners and to train U.S. mariner cadets on Suez’s fleet of LNG vessels. Joseph McKechnie, Senior Vice President of Suez Shipping, highlighted his company’s “longstanding commitment to using U.S. mariners” and said that Suez will begin working with MARAD immediately to “expand training opportunities” and “promote a new level of opportunity for professional mariners” in the United States. MARAD Administrator Sean Connaughton said that the effort “starts the pipeline again” to involve Americans in the maritime segment of the LNG industry.

The Deepwater Port Act amendments signed into law on July 11, 2006 by President Bush were the catalyst for the initiative. According to Connaughton, the amendments “required the Department of Transportation to reach out to and work with applicants for deepwater port licenses to try to find opportunities for Americans in the LNG trade.”  Connaughton said that the new plan “fulfills the statutory intent” of the amendments and he commended Suez for “aggressive[ly]” working with MARAD to launch it.

Officials from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (“USMMA”) and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (“MMA”) also spoke during the conference call. Captain Richard Egan of USMMA explained that the Academy “need[s] to generate over 80,000 hours of sea time for [its] students each year,” so the initiative is a “welcome addition to [the Academy’s] training program.” A faculty member at MMA, Thomas Bussi, called the initiative “a win-win situation for all constituencies.”

Suez’s press release can be found here.

Please contact Steven Sparling for more information.

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