TTB 2022: Panel discusses the decline in quality labor in the maritime sector and how to address it

Written by

Heather Ervin

Left to right: Stephen Polk, Captain Dave Mackey and Rick Schwab.

On March 30, the second day of Marine Log’s 2022 TTB Conference for the Tug, Tug & Barge Industry, three expert panelists will discuss ways the Tug, Tug & Barge industry can better help companies to recruit and retain quality candidates for their programs.

As many in the maritime industry have experienced, there has been a decline in the hiring of quality workers. What is the cause and how to fix it? This panel aims to discuss that and more.

The public will be invited to pose questions to the panelists immediately following the discussion.


  • Rick Schwab, Senior Director, Workforce Development and Education, Marine and Industrial Training Center, Delgado Community College
  • Stephen Polk, Director, SCI Maritime Education Center
  • Captain Dave Mackey, Chairman of the Department of Maritime Transportation (Tugs and Towing), Massachusetts Maritime Academy


  • What challenges have led to a decline in the maritime workforce in the United States;
  • What role do training providers and educators play in developing pathways for the sustainable maritime workforce needed for today’s marketplace;
  • If there are any methods or best practices we should explore to rebuild the workforce and how schools can collaborate with industry on these things; and more.

Consult the complete agenda or register for TTB 2022.


Schwab has been a leader in the development, implementation and management of high value corporate maritime training operations for over 26 years. He has been successful in capturing new business and building relationships with key decision makers, driving business value, reducing operating costs, implementing rapid response methodologies and improving results through to innovation, creativity and strategic organizational leadership.

He has demonstrated dynamism as a support leader with account acquisition, interpersonal skills and management talents that ensure customer growth and loyalty.

Schwab was named New Orleans Citi Business Top 20 Most Powerful Maritime Executives in 2020. He was also recognized as a 2021 Center of Excellence for National Maritime Workforce Training and Education, and he co- wrote the first state of Louisiana Incumbent Worker Grant.


Polk graduated in 1997 from Texas A&M University in Galveston. He has experience in towing ships, container ships, MODUs, product carriers and tankers. He is a veteran of the United States Navy, where he served 12 years and was honorably discharged as a lieutenant commander in 2009.

At SCI, he actively teaches and manages the training of river and marine navigators on vessels ranging from tugs to supertankers. He has been with SCI for 15 years and more recently has extensive experience in conducting feasibility studies. His previous experience on engineering projects includes: eight wharf projects, five bridge projects and five port studies.

Polk oversees SCI’s Center for Maritime Education centers in Houston, Texas, and Paducah, Kentucky.


Mackey is chairman of the Department of Maritime Transportation at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA), where he was a professor for more than 20 years. In this role, he works with leadership to ensure that MMA provides the best experiential learning experience for its cadets. In class, simulators and on board the T/S kennedyMackey emphasizes how to operate vessels safely and efficiently, with an approach based on the rules of the road and the principles of good seamanship philosophy.

Recognizing industry trends early on, Mackey was the founder of MMA’s state-of-the-art tug and towing program, offering students the opportunity to earn Mate of Towing Vessels citation on their credential. merchant navy. Before embarking on his teaching career, he sailed with various shipping companies. He holds several licenses including Master of Steam and Motor Vessels, Ocean All Gross Ton, Ocean Tug Master and First Class Pilot. Captain Mackey is also an expert witness/maritime consultant for high profile legal cases involving commercial and recreational vessel accidents.

VF 2022

American Waterways Operators (AWO) is partnering with Marine Log for the event scheduled for March 29-30 at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel in Mobile, Ala. TTB 2022 is the only event of its kind exclusively for the tug, tug and barge industry, where it brings together the blue and brown water sectors in a single location for two days of testimonials and education led by experts who will empower attendees to make better business decisions in the future.

The venue, located in Mobile Bay off the Spanish River, is not only close to museums, golf courses and the USS Alabama, it is also close to industry shipyards including Austal USA, Alabama Shipyard, Metal Shark Alabama, Port of Mobile, etc. There are many other shipyards, terminals and industry suppliers nearby.

In addition to two days of in-person discussions and dynamic Q&A sessions, the event will provide plenty of networking opportunities.

As the marine sector recovers from COVID-19 and manages the challenges of finding and retaining a quality workforce, the tug, tug and barge industry is expected to experience continued growth and innovation in a new regulatory landscape and at the cutting edge of technological advances. The collaboration between Marine Log and the AWO allows both organizations to share resources and industry knowledge to support the APC industry at this critical juncture.

As always, the program will emphasize lessons learned from hard-won and real-life experience. In addition, the program will explore new ways to achieve economic and environmental goals through technological advancements, the search for new opportunities for the offshore APC market, and the latest trends in vessel design.


TTB 2022 guests will have the unique opportunity to visit Austal USA, one of the nation’s leading military defense shipyards, specializing in the design, construction and support of military and commercial vessels.

Space will be limited to 80 guests, who will board two buses at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel and travel to the Austal USA Shipyard in Mobile for a guided tour. Each bus will start in a separate area of ​​the shipyard – Main Campus (bus 1) and West Campus (bus 2).

Bus 1 will tour the exterior of the Mod Factory, where guests will circle the perimeter of the final assembly bays to see where the future USNS is located. Cody (EPF 14), USS Augusta (LCS 34), and the Kingsville (LCS 36) are being erected.

Guests will also tour the Austal USA ship finishing yard, where the future USS Canberra (LCS 30) and USS Santa Barbara (LCS 32) are moored for sea trials and delivery.

Bus 2 participants will begin at the Austal USA Ship Repair Facility, where Facility Manager Harley Combs will demonstrate Austal USA’s enhancements to the facility and explain what repair capabilities are available to clients.

Buses will swap places so that all tour participants can see both Austal USA campuses.

Austal USA’s primary shipbuilding facility in Mobile is a 165-acre campus on the east bank of the Mobile River that includes four final assembly bays, a 700,000 square foot module fabrication facility, two offices, an administrative building housing the Navy Support Program. staff and a drive-thru warehouse. Austal has also constructed a ship finishing yard which serves as the final location for its vessels prior to acceptance trials, delivery and departure.

In 2020, Austal USA purchased 15 acres of waterfront property on the west side of the Mobile River and established a vessel service and maintenance facility. The Austal USA West campus includes a 20,000 ton Panamax-class floating dry dock and 100,000 square feet of covered repair facilities.

Austal USA entered the steel shipbuilding market in 2021, innovating the company’s steel fabrication line, positioning the company to start steel production in April 2022. The addition of steel fabrication of 117,000 square feet will house the latest state of the art computerized and robotic steel processing equipment that has been specified to meet all current and future demands of the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard.

  • Currently, the growing list of event sponsors includes Sea Machines, ABB and Navtek (platinum); Austal USA, Bergan Marine Systems and Hiller Systems (gold);
  • Crowley Maritime, American Ship Repair, Motor-Services Hugo Stamp Inc., Elkon, Karl Senner, Elliott Bay Design Group, MTU—A Rolls-Royce Solution, Schottel, Christie & Grey, Altra Industrial Motion, Industrial Service Solutions, SSI, Steerprop , Great Lakes Power, Altra Industrial Motion, Marine and Industrial Rigging and Testing Solutions, Offshore Inland Marine & Oilfield Services Inc., Electronic Marine Systems, Acuity International, Ships Machinery International and Moxie Media (money); and
  • Metal Shark Boats, Bristol Harbor Group, TowWorks, Louisiana CAT / Thompson Marine, JonRie, Panolin, MOPS, Phoenix, Tnemec, KVH, United Safety & Survivability Corporation, Conrad Shipyard, RA Mitchell, Coastal Marine Equipment Inc., Separator Spares & Equipment , RIX Industries, Vulkan Couplings, DMT Marine Equipment, Docktech, Hockema Group Inc., Delgado Community College and On Site Alignment (bronze).
  • American Equity Underwriters (AEU) will sponsor the diner cocktail at the close of day 1. W&O Supply sponsors lunch. Laborde/Mitsubishi sponsors lanyards.

Registration for the event is open. For any questions about sponsorships, please contact David Harkey at [email protected]

Categories: Coastal, inland
Key words: barge, Center for Maritime Education, Dave Mackey, Delgado Community College, maritime training, maritime education, maritime training, maritime workforce, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Rick Schwab, Seamen’s Church Institute, Stephen Polk, tugboat, TTB, TTB 2022 , tugs

Michael A. Bynum