With most quarantined at home, we share with you the operations at New Orleans Port. Canal Barge takes coal barges down river. Tug David Anderson down bound as well. LPG Hellas Apollo heading up river to load liquefied petroleum gas. Operations are still rolling, and we are blessed with valued workers on the frontlines.
Congressman Charles Boustany, Jr., MD met with maritime industry and labor representatives during the second annual Maritime Industry Congressional Sail-In on May 4, 2011 in Washington, D.C. With Rep. Boustany here are American Maritime Officers member Capt. Robert Lansden (third from left) and President of CEO of Pacific-Gulf Marine Todd Johnson (left). Also in the picture are Sarah Branch, director of government relations for the Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) and OMSA President and CEO Jim Adams.
In a statement released after the meeting with maritime representatives during the Maritime Industry Congressional Sail-In May 4, Rep. Boustany commended his colleagues, the 91 members of the House of Representatives who have co-sponsored the Realize America’s Maritime Promise (RAMP) Act (H.R. 104). The legislation would require Congress to each year appropriate funds deposited in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) for their intended purpose: maintenance dredging of U.S. ports and navigational channels.
Annually, the HMTF – funded by the Harbor Maintenance Tax, which is assessed on imported and domestic cargo – accrues more than $1 billion, but only approximately half of those funds are used for maintenance dredging. This has created an enormous surplus, while the nation’s ports and waterways continue to degrade. The Great Lakes navigation system, in particular, has suffered from a lack of maintenance dredging in recent years.
“Louisiana is a global leader in trade, and proper maintenance of our ports is critical for our exports to grow,” Rep. Boustany said.
The RAMP Act was referred to the House Committee on Rules and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA).
American Maritime Officers member Capt. Robert Lansden has more reconstruction experience than most.
Aboard the USNS Pollux in 2005, Capt. Lansden with permission from the Navy used his ship’s resources to provide lifesaving assistance to the people and community of his native New Orleans, La., in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Serving on active duty in the Navy and attached to an Army civil affairs brigade, Capt. Lansden applied that experience to reconstruction work in Iraq. Louisiana-based WVUE Fox 8 recently reported on his accomplishments both in the military and as a merchant mariner.
When Katrina hit New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, the Pollux was docked there for engine repairs. With several hundred thousand gallons of diesel fuel and water onboard, the Pollux was ready to help the people of New Orleans. Using the ship’s resources, the officers and crew of the Pollux provided a variety of critical services and supplies to the devastated community, including kidney dialysis for patients from West Jefferson Medical Center onboard the ship.
“No question about it, the actions of Captain Lansden and the officers and crew of the Pollux saved the lives of those patients,” said Dr. Charles Thomas, a surgeon at the hospital.
Almost five years later, Capt. Lansden employed the experience gained during Katrina to aid in reconstruction of another port city – Basra, Iraq. On active duty, he served as director of the U.S. Army’s Civil Military Operations Center, which rebuilds roads, schools and public buildings in some of Iraq’s most dangerous areas. He also served in Iraq as Civil Military Operations chief of the Multi-National Force Southeast in southern Iraq to develop the region’s maritime transportation system, reviving five ports and a major bridge. He was decorated with the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq.
A video interview with Capt. Lansden and Dr. Thomas is available on the WVUE Fox 8 Web site.
U.S Navy Captain Robert Lansden recently dropped in on a kindergarten class in Basra, Iraq.
“I want to thank them for being such beautiful children,” he told a translator.
The children may not realize it, but Lansden played a vital role in the rebuilding of their classrooms. Watch the Fox 8 News Report Below:
For Lansden, a naval reservist, it’s been an unlikely journey that began on August 29th, 2005. The day Katrina hit his hometown of New Orleans, Lansden was captain of the U.S.N.S. Pollux, a merchant marine ship docked on the riverfront for repairs.
“I knew the city,” he recalled. “I was from there. I knew the high ground from the low ground.”
The Pollux happened to be marooned in New Orleans as Katrina roared ashore, undergoing repairs. Its engines were out, but it was loaded with several hundred thousand gallons of diesel fuel and fresh water. In a city that could not function, the Pollux was an island of modern convenience.
“I saw my own city destroyed,” Lansden remembers, “and I worked really hard to help bring that city back up.”
Only miles from the Pollux, the situation at West Jefferson Medical Center was in sharp contrast. For days, the hospital staff and patients suffered with no electricity and no running water.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Robert Lansden showed up at the hospital, offering help.
“I was blessed to have that ability and to have ridden through the storm, to already be there,” he says.
Lansden got permission from his navy bosses to share his supplies: diesel, water, even the ship itself. Dialysis machines and close to a dozen dialysis patients were actually loaded up from West Jeff and driven to the Pollux.
After the Katrina experience, Lansden volunteered for duty in another country in need of rebuilding. Today, he is director of CMOC, the U.S. Army’s Civil Military Operations Center, which rebuilds roads, schools and public buildings in some of the most dangerous areas of Iraq.
Vice President Joe Biden (then-vice president elect) meets with Capt. Robert Lansden, U.S. Navy, and Diego Abdellaoui, special advisor to the U.S. Embassy, in Basra, Iraq, in January. Lansden, a member of American Maritime Officers now serving on active duty in the Navy, is directing revitalization work as Civil Military Operations chief of the Multi-National Force Southeast in southern Iraq to develop the region’s maritime transportation system. Five ports are being revived, as well as a major bridge, with funding under the stewardship of Capt. Landsen’s office.
Capt. Robert Lansden is flanked by former California Gov. Pete Wilson (left) and Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State, after Gen. Powell presented Capt. Lansden with the Silver Service Medallion for his “exemplary leadership” as master of the USNS Pollux during the Hurricane Katrina relief effort in New Orleans in 2005. Capt. Lansden was chosen to represent all U.S. merchant mariners who responded to the crisis. The Army, The Navy and the “first responder” police and firefighters were also represented by one individual from each service at the award ceremony at the World War II Museum in New Orleans.
The mariners who worked aboard five Military Sealift Command vessels – the
USNS Algol, USNS Altair, USNS Bellatrix, USNS Pollux and USNS Pililaau – during the relief and recovery efforts on the U.S. Gulf Coast following Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita received the U.S. Merchant Marine Medal June 14, 2006 for
The medals were presented aboard the USNS Brittin in Violet, La., during a
Military Sealift Command ceremony coordinated by American Overseas Marine
Corp. (AMSEA). Attending the ceremony for MSC were Rear Adm. Hugo Blackwood, vice commander, and John Henry.
“The service rendered by these vessels speaks volumes about the capability and commitment of the merchant mariners working aboard them and the companies, such as
AMSEA, that manage these ships, and about the ability of the MSC fleet to deliver in the times of our nation’s greatest need,” said Capt. Bob Groom, Master of the Brittin, who was
emcee at the ceremony.
The Pollux was undergoing engine repairs Aug. 28 when Hurricane Katrina hit. The ship weathered the storm with the rest of New Orleans. MSC gave Captain Robert Lansden,
Master of the Pollux, authorization to make the ship’s resources available to the local relief effort. The Pollux became the source of fuel for the generators of area hospitals, pumping stations, water treatment plants, firefighting and military camps. With assistance from West Jefferson Medical Center, an emergency dialysis unit was set up in the ship’s laundry room. The ship’s engineers also helped the Audubon Zoo with potable water and assisted the aquarium and the local morgue with pumping, refrigeration, and mechanical systems. With its own air-conditioning, running water, and working toilets, the Pollux was a haven in 100-degree heat for emergency workers and families.
“When all command and control was gone, we had to do what was right,” Capt. Lansden said. That theme prevailed in his remarks during the ceremony, and Capt. Lansden singled out several of his officers and crewmembers for their selfless dedication to helping those in need in the aftermath of the storm and flooding. In all, the Pollux fed 14,000 people and pumped 1.7 million gallons of fuel over 56 days, Capt. Lansden said. “The buses that evacuated this city ran on Military Sealift Command fuel and I’ve got to thank you for letting us give it away.”
As soon as the river was reopened after Katrina, Capt. Paul Breslin, Master of the Altair, brought the ship in to refuel the Pollux so that pumping operations could be sustained. The
Algol and Bellatrix provided housing and transport for emergency services workers on the Gulf Coast and, on their own time, the crew of the Bellatrix saved and cared for orphaned pets in the New Orleans area. The Pililaau provided housing, transportation and support for marines and paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne, who served in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi as part of Task Force Katrina, assisting disaster response agencies and victims of the hurricanes.
Referring to the credo of the U.S. Merchant Marine, “In Peace And War,” Capt. Lansden said that, in war, merchant mariners will risk their lives to deliver the cargo because they know the people on the other end depend upon it. In peace, he said, these ships are a tremendous vehicle for helping people in a natural disaster. During the hurricane relief efforts, all five ships were operated by AMSEA and manned in all licensed positions by American Maritime Officers and in all unlicensed positions by the Seafarers International Union.
SOURCE: American Maritime Officer – July 2006 (Front Page)