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Fall 2021 Newsletter


Fall 2021

Like many other Alaska organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered the activities of the Cook Inlet Harbor Safety Committee, but at a recent annual meeting the Managing Board made plans to revitalize the Harbor Safety Committee and continue the work of promoting marine safety in Cook Inlet.

At the Managing Board meeting the following officers were elected: President Senator Peter Micciche, Vice-President Captain Ron Ward, Secretary/Treasurer Mike Munger. Captain Mark Nielson remains as the member at large on the Board. However, Steve Ribuffo declined the re-appointment as Chairman of the Harbor Safety Committee citing workload commitments at the Port of Alaska. Mr. Ribuffo has served as founding Chairman of the Committee for the past four years and guided the establishment of the Committee, workgroups, and Harbor Safety Plan. The Managing Board expresses their highest gratitude for the work and accomplishments that Mr. Ribuffo has done for our organization. Mr. Ribuffo will remain as the representative of the Port of Alaska on the Committee. The Board selected Captain Paul Mehler as the new Chairman of the Committee and Captain Mehler has since accepted the position and as Chairman will also sit on the Managing Board of Directors.

The Managing Board of Directors re-affirmed the mission and purpose of the Harbor Safety Committee, which is:

The mission of the Cook Inlet HSC is to enhance marine safety and environmental stewardship through collaboration of the maritime community and other stakeholders.

The purpose of the Cook Inlet HSC is to provide a forum for identifying, assessing, planning, communicating, and implementing operational and environmental practices beyond statutory and regulatory requirements that promote safe, efficient and environmentally sound maritime operations in the Cook Inlet.

Maritime safety, accident prevention, and waterways management will be the primary focus of the Cook Inlet HSC. Planning and response to oil spills and hazardous substances is the domain of the Cook Inlet Subarea Committee, but the nexus of prevention and response planning will be considered by the Cook Inlet HSC.

The Cook Inlet HSC will accomplish its mission by developing Standards of Care and best practices for maritime operations in the Cook Inlet waterway. The HSC may act as an education and resource network for the dissemination of information to waterway users. The HSC may provide recommendations to regulatory bodies on maritime safety issues and seek actions to enhance maritime safety.

The HSC will serve as a subject matter expert for Cook Inlet and be the facilitator for bringing together all relevant maritime stakeholders to identify and resolve, when possible, waterway management issues through the adoption of best practices and Standards of Care.

They recognize the importance of this mission and are committed to engaging the entire maritime community in Cook Inlet to collaborate in matters related to marine safety.

The normal process for working issues within the organization is to use the workgroup process utilizing subject matter experts (within and/or from outside the HSC) to address issues identified by the Committee and to present recommendations for the Committee to consider at its regular meetings. The Committee has the following four standing workgroups:

  • Navigation - Chair Captain Pete Garay

  • Harbor Safety Plan - Chair Steve (Vinnie) Catalano

  • Marine Firefighting - Chair Chief Bryan Crisp

  • Salvage - Chair Todd Duke

Each of these workgroups has a number of issues that have been identified for development. Captain Mehler will be convening a meeting of the Workgroup Chairs to review and prioritize their tasking and develop a schedule for workgroup meeting through the fall. Once the workgroups have had the opportunity to develop recommendations on their priority issues, a meeting of the full Committee will be called to consider these recommendations. Realistically the full Committee will probably not meet until early 2022 in order to allow time for the workgroup process to mature. Anyone interested in serving on one of the workgroups should contact the chairman of the group.

The Managing Board would like to hold future Committee meetings in-person, because they believe that in-person meetings promote better collaboration, but the form of future meeting will depend on the state of the pandemic.

In other news, Sara Nichols who has served as Committee Coordinator for the past three years had resigned her role. Sara did an outstanding job and she will be missed. Emily Haynes has taken on the role and we are happy to have her onboard. Look forward to hearing from Emily on a regular basis.

Finally, the Cook Inlet Harbor Safety Plan will be offered for public review during the month of November to take input from anyone with an interest. The results of this review will be considered by the Harbor Safety Plan Workgroup in developing recommendations for changes at the upcoming Committee meeting.

The Managing Board appreciates the support of our volunteer members and the contribution of the funders of the Harbor Safety Committee and looks forward to working together to address marine safety issues as the organization moves forward in 2021 and beyond.


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