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Captain Mark D. Taylor of the Sabine Pilots receives the U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Merit for service on the SETWAC board. (Jan 2015)



Capt. Taylor receives award from Capt. Ogrydziak

The Commandant of the United States Coast Guard takes great pleasure in presenting the Coast Guard Certificate of Merit to Captain Mark D. Taylor, President of the Sabine Pilot’s Association, for service as voting board member of the Southeast Texas Waterway Advisory Council (SETWAC), and Chairman of the SETWAC Navigation Sub-Committee from January 2013 to January 2015.


During the term of his service, Captain Taylor provided strong leadership and expert guidance as the SETWAC port partners and facilities along the Sabine-Neches waterway planned for the “Energy Renaissance” - a dynamic and unprecedented $36 billion of new facility build-outs and facility expansion along the Sabine-Neches Waterway.  In addition to the new facilities that were planned, facilities that were traditionally focused on import of raw materials suddenly contemplated exports; and both the Sabine Pilots Association and the SETWAC navigation Sub-Committee provided an invaluable and unique venue for discussion, debate and planning to help coordinate competing port entities.


As Chairman of the SETWAC Navigation Sub-Committee, Captain Taylor personally organized and led the industry portion of the federally mandated Waterway Suitability Assessments (WSA’s) for both the proposed Invista Chemical LPG facility and the proposed Enterprise Energy Partners LPG facilities in Orange County.  He also organized and presided over WSA’s for the Sunoco LPG project and the proposed Martin Midstream Partners LPG project on the Jefferson County side of the river.  All four of these projects, representing a total of over $2 billion in planned investment, fostered successful debate and discussion to ensure the safety and security of other waterway traffic, other critical port infrastructure, and the general public.  All four projects resulted in Letters of Recommendation for the projects from the U. S. Coast Guard Port Arthur Captain of the Port.


Captain Taylor also organized or participated in other successful SETWAC initiatives during his tenure on the Navigation Sub-Committee and the SETWAC managing board.  These projects included completion of the Sabine West Jetties radar reflector marking project; the implementation of the VTS review committee to analyze five years of vessel casualties;  participation in the Anchorages and Turning Basins committee to address authorities and organization of the critical vessel staging and holding areas along the waterway;  establishing protocols and planning an appropriate response to deal with the eventual arrival of the first ship coming from one of the Ebola affected countries; and the forward-looking coordination and support for the planned and approved $1 billion Sabine-Neches Deepening and Widening Project.  Captain Mark Taylor’s professionalism, practical approach to problem solving, spirit of teamwork, and wise council were critical to keeping SETWAC at the forefront of the planning process, and for helping the organization accomplish its goals.


The SETWAC organization, the Sabine-Neches Maritime community, and the U. S. Coast Guard thanks Captain Mark Taylor for his service. 




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SETWAC - the Water Caretakers

From Port Arthur News - E-Edition, 21


April 2012

By Janet Cline



image of R. Reese

How do you run a huge waterway? Who decides how the shipping operations work, coordinates the role of industrial plants and refineries, how to maintain safety and security? How do you keep everything running smoothly?


In Jefferson and Orange counties the various entities which make up the local waterways system communicate and make decisions in quarterly meetings of the Southeast Texas Waterways Advisory Council, known as SETWAC, which will hold its next regular meeting April 26.


“We bring together representatives of the different users of the waterways – the plants, the shipping businesses, the ship operators, the ports, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers,” said Randall Reese, general manager of the Sabine Neches Navigation District and current chairman of SETWAC.

Reese has been in the Sabine Neches Navigation District seven years and served 36 years in construction before that. “I know the value of the waterways to the area. We like to keep it viable.”

SETWAC, started in the late 1980’s, serves to advise all of the representatives of everything that is going on in the waterways, Reese said. Port of Port Arthur has a voting member, as do the ports of Orange, Sabine Pass and Beaumont. The four local refineries have a single voting representative, as do the pipeline terminals, the shipyards, and shipping agents. Coast Guard representatives and other public entities are non-voting members of the organization.

One vital project members received updates on at their most recent meeting is a dredging and widening project that would cost $1.1 billion over the next 12 years. Legislation allowing the project has already received approval from the Office of Budget and Management, Reese said, and is now in the hands of Congress. The current law was passed in 1962.

“There’s a slim chance it will pass (Congress) in 2012,” Reese said, but 2013 is more likely. With the opening of the new Panama Canal, the dredging project becomes more essential to the Port Arthur waterways being able to handle future shipping requirements for larger ships in a competitive fashion.

Mike Measells, director of Vessel Traffic Service for the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard, said one of SETWAC’S roles is also to advise Coast Guard Captain of the Port, Capt. Joe Paitl, of any changes and update him on what is happening in the waterways.

Capt. Paitl is the highest ranking Coast Guard officer in the area stretching from High Island west of Port Arthur to the Mermentau River in Louisiana. The Coast Guard started SETWAC, but is careful not to run it, Measells said.

“We inform all users when dredging is taking place,” Reese said, “when new currents are expected, when a new structure is to be built. It’s an issues forum. All involved are drawn together.” For example, it was a SETWAC committee that brought forth the idea for PORTS, the Physical Oceanographic Real-time System, and for a port vision system that links the refineries with the ports. “When someone thinks one meter station needs to be moved, who would they go to?” Reese said. They go to SETWAC and present their ideas and reasons to the council.

“SETWAC is kind of a waterways chamber of commerce,” Measells said. “It’s a collaborative effort.” SETWAC open meeting tackle broad topics, while more private issues are done by committees.

Safety is one of the biggest issues SETWAC deals with. An accident can plug up the waterway and damage the reputation of the ports it serves. “We need a good record for safety,” Reese said.

Law enforcement personnel are members of SETWAC, along with customs and border protection and Jefferson County Emergency Management, Measells said.
“And the Sheriff’s Department is now a constant presence on the waterways,” Reese said.