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"Salvage: Nothing is Standard"

January 14 - January 16, 2014
Hilton Clearwater Beach, FL

The 27th C-PORT Conference and Membership Meeting was held on January 12-January 14, 2014 at the Hilton Clearwater Beach, FL.  It began Sunday, January 12, with the annual USCG-C-PORT Partnership Meeting.  Joining C-PORT from USCG was CAPT Peter Martin, Chief, Office of Search and Rescue and Mr. Jeff Wheeler, Deputy Chief, Office of Boat Forces.  After brief introductions, the group discussed strategies for working more closely with local public agencies, accident investigation reports that were released regarding some marine assistance industry operators and CAPT Martin provided the latest lives saved statistics, with 79% of those in distress saved.  It is difficult to ascertain if the remaining 21% could have been saved or if their situation was not manageable. He stressed the importance of sharing information.  The Coast Guard does not receive direct information from state and local agencies regarding search and rescue, nor do they receive the marine assistance industry information.  C-PORT agreed to try to retrieve the information for his office from our members. 
Mr. Wheeler reminded the board of the importance of standards of operation.  While our industry may meet a higher standard than that being discussed, there is no certification that our industry has that can be compared equally.  Many local public agencies are training to the standard and receiving recognition.  He commented that FEMA had no typing for boats and people for marine activities until now.  Their matrix is being revised and meeting the national standard will, most likely, be required to be part of the pool of responders.  He urges C-PORT to assist our members to do the same. The group also discussed communications with USCG boat crews and stations, in particular the use of cell phones.  C-PORT will pursue a meeting with the Office of Shore Forces, who was not able to attend the partnership meeting due to budget constraints, to ask their assistance with this situation.

The day continued with the C-PORT Insurance Program Meeting.  Representing Starkweather & Shepley were Larry Keefe and Linda Wagner.  Deb Marulli, Managing Director, Ocean Marine, Travelers Insurance Company also was present.  Ms. Marulli confirmed Travelers commitment to the C-PORT program.  Ms. Wagner and Mr. Keefe presented the association members performance announcing approximately 100 C-PORT members are insured in the program.  Keefe announced that in addition to the Travelers policy, other options may be available to C-PORT members who find the Travelers policy does not meet their needs for whatever reason. The board thanked Starkweather & Shepley for working to meet the unique needs of the membership and also thanked Travelers for their continued support of our program.
The C-PORT Board of Directors spent the remainder of the afternoon in a closed door session analyzing the many issues and tasks at hand.  Tina Cardone, Executive Director, briefed the board on outstanding issues and brought new items for discussion to the table. The board continued with constructive dialog until the meeting was adjourned at 4:00 PM. The details and results of this meeting are broadcast to the C-PORT membership for their information and comment.

Sunday concluded with our traditional Welcome Reception on the Flamingo Deck beachside.  It was chilly and conference attendees gathered around patio heaters and sat around fire pits enjoying the exchange of information, visiting with old friends and making new ones.
General sessions began on Monday morning with breakout sessions on Monday afternoon.  The C-PORT Membership Meeting took place on Tuesday morning with members voicing their action agenda items for the upcoming year.  Members were celebrated at the C-PORT Awards Luncheon and at the C-PORT Awards Banquet and Gala.  This was the highest attended conference in recent memory.  To all who participated, a sincere thank you!