This podcast episode features a roundtable discussion with Elisabeth Charmley (EC), Naval Architect for one of the world's largest ship managers; Johnny Eliasson (JE), Hull and Coatings Engineer at Chevron Shipping; and Buddy Reams (BR), Captain USCG (retired), Chief Technical/Maritime Officer of the Association for Materials Protection and Performance (AMPP).
All three are members of TEG532x, which is a Technical Exchange Group (TEG) that remains very active in areas related to ship hull fouling, antifouling methods, aquatic invasive species, and other biofouling related interests of the commercial shipping community.
Topics discussed on the podcast include the origins of the open group and motivations to join; success stories from the group over its three-plus years; efforts to synchronize the TEG’s work with other shipping trade organizations; and the ongoing development and structure of AMPP's technical program. Here’s a transcript of select portions of that conversation, with the complete episode available for listening below.
Ben DuBose (BD): As I understand it, this particular TEG was open to any stakeholder, whether they were a member of then-NACE or not. What was the importance of having that dynamic?
JE: The importance of that was that we did not want NACE to become a silo, where only members could talk. We wanted this group to be open to everybody so that we break down the silo. If we listen to each other, especially if we listen to those that do not agree with you, we learn. If we don’t listen, we don’t learn. And the more we learn, the better product, eventually, we can generate. I think it is essential not to force people to be NACE members.
I’m glad that many [members] have joined afterward, which I’m very pleased. But that was not a requirement for joining the group. Like I said, breaking the silos, make us listen to each other is the prime objective, not to come to a consensus. We might never agree. But that’s fine as long as we understand each other and understand how the other people think and what their main concerns are. We can consider.
EC: I think the importance of our work group being open to many stakeholders other than just NACE members is that, if you want to innovate, you need to source from the broader industry at large, and even sourcing solutions from outside the industry. If we keep asking the same people different questions, we will continually come up with similar answers or the same results.
I think what was really great about opening this group to everybody was that we ended up with so many more opinions, so many more ideas. You might get members who are supportive of joining AMPP, their employer paying the membership or themselves paying the membership. But when you open it to people who just have a general interest in this topic and knowledge, you get a lot more diversity of response. It really helps to innovate and advance and move things forward. I think that was really important for us as a group as a whole.
BD: As far as this still being an active group, now that we’re transitioning to AMPP, what’s made this a success, and what continues to make it a success?
EC: I think it’s been the collaboration between all the stakeholders involved in the process. Coming from a shipowner perspective, usually we’re talking with the paint manufacturers and we’re asking them, “Why didn’t your paint perform? Or why aren’t you performing more cleanings? What’s happening with this on our ship?” Coming together as part of this group enabled us to put down that typical business relationship and say, “Let’s try and solve a common problem together.” For me, that’s been really important and a key part of what’s made this a success.
I think what’s also made this great is to focus on and address areas that were really important. I’ve been involved in the subgroup or the task group that’s writing the standard for underwater hull surface maintenance and repair — let me correct that. I’ve been involved with the group that is doing the dry dock standard for hull surface maintenance and repair. That’s been a really innovative standard because nothing exists right now when people go into dry dock. They usually have their own standard they may bring in and say to the shipyard, “Here’s what we want done.” Or they’re just subject to whatever the shipyard does. I want those who are in dry dock to have a baseline to say to the shipyard, “Here’s a general standard. Here’s a bare minimum of work that we would like done on our vessel.” It becomes a consistent, transparent standard that’s available to everybody to use.
Hopefully, this will result in a huge amount of fuel savings for the ships operating around the world. I think that’s really important in terms of what Johnny referred to, and what we’re all aware of, is these IMO standards and our govts and non-NGOs putting forward regulations that — either they’re voluntary or compulsory — where we need to start hitting emissions targets. They’re coming upon us very quickly. 2030 was the first date for a lot of those targets, with 2020 being our sulfur cap date. But 2030 is coming quickly, and we need to hit that solution very fast and start rolling out things to solve that problem. This could be a very low-hanging fruit to address that.
JE: In addition to what Elisabeth said, I think the whole process of us not being forced to deliver or agree upon anything brought down the dissention centered around all the silos. It opened up a little bit more for discussion. Because we don’t have to agree. The only obligation we have is to listen to each other. I think that’s the main benefit of this group.
BD: As far as what’s happening moving forward, tell us a little bit more about how you need to synchronize the technical work that you're doing at now-AMPP, this particular group, with the similar but, I know, sometimes a little bit broader work that’s being focused on by some of the other trade groups in shipping.
How do you synchronize what this AMPP committee — although, again, I know the membership is broader — how do you synchronize the work that you're doing with some of the broader initiatives in the industry?
JE: I can take that. I think during the discussions, we identified gaps — in standardization, for instance. Probably in the future in white papers on various issues. Groups are spun off to take on those tasks within the NACE organization. I think it’s a good way of finding gaps and then addressing them.
BR: Ben, I’d like to give a brief comment on that. From a perspective of being a former regulator, I always thought that in industry solution was always going to be best. To me, one of the huge values, and one of the things I’m the most proud of, is the fact that the work that not only the TEG group is putting together, but the work, as Johnny and Elisabeth said, the spin-off work that is done is actually being developed in harmony with some other trade groups, so that it becomes a solution that works for the industry across the board. It’s harmonized rather than something that’s kind of — it becomes compulsory after waiting for an issue. That’s one of the things I think is a huge value.
BD: Is there anything that — and I suppose this goes for any of the three of you all — is there any specific initiative that you can point to that’s particularly worked? Something that’s simultaneously been a fit for what you're doing within this particular technical exchange group and then as far as the broader work from trade associations in shipping as a whole? Are there some specific success stories that you can point to?
JE: I can pick that up. BIMCO started to develop a hull cleaning standard. In the typical way that an organization does, sitting in one silo and talking between themselves. Through the TEG 532x, in which the leader of the BIMCO Group was listening into, it opened up for conversations between us. Buddy was deeply involved with this.
As we spun off, a standard developed — it was actually two of them — the one that Elisabeth was referring to, the most recent standard, and to the diver template, standardized. The most huge interaction between BIMCO and joint reviewing of the documents between members of both working groups, I think this is the template. This is how things should be done. I think everybody benefited from it.
Source: AMPP, www.ampp.org.