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Maritime Safety is About Staying Engaged at Sea

Austin Duckworth, A/B Tankerman from Alaska, Honored As Crowley Petroleum Services Safety Champion of the Year

Every team member at Crowley understands that our safety record is essentially our license to operate and our team is committed to safely and reliably transporting petroleum. In recognition of his outstanding safety-focused high performance – epitomizing our core value of safety – Able-Bodied/Tankerman Austin Duckworth was named Crowley’s petroleum services group (CPS) Safety Champion for 2020.

Earning the monthly Safety Champion Award on the articulated tug-barges (ATB) Gulf Reliance/650-2 and Aveogan/Oliver Leavitt in both May and June. This is the highest individual award for mariners within the CPS Safety Recognition Program. Vice President Boren Chambers, a captain, commended Duckworth for “embodying what the recognition program was created to promote: leading by example and protecting each other to deliver quality service to our customers by ensuring maritime safety.”

In this Q&A, Duckworth discussed his career path and what made him the Safety Champion for 2020.

Austin Duckwoth – A/B Tankerman, Crowley petroleum services

I grew up in Ketchikan, Alaska, and attended Ketchikan High School, where I learned the basics as the school’s certified deckhand on the Jack Cotant training vessel. During the summers, I gained maritime experience working on hand trollers, power trollers and charter boats. At age 16, I began working at Clover Bay Lodge, a family-owned maritime business, like Crowley. This time helped shape my knowledge of the marine world, and I stayed there for six years. Owners Ryan and Angela Morin inspired me to pursue a maritime industry career. Ryan was my boss, my captain, and an incredible mentor… he showed me how to become a better man and shipmate. He taught me that hard work, dedication and motivation are what is needed to excel to keep moving forward in the industry.

After completing the apprentice program through the Seafarers International Union at Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship in Piney Point, Maryland, I worked as a seaman contracted with the Military Sealift Command in 2016, where I worked my way up to AB limited. After three years of traveling the world and seeing places I never dreamed of, I decided to make my way onto oil tankers. I heard about ATBs and how they had smaller crews but needed hard-working and motivated mariners. So, in 2019, I applied to a new job in Alaska and was hired on a Crowley ATB; I haven’t looked back ever since. I’m currently pursuing my next goal of becoming credentialed as an Unlimited Master.

Safety is important to me because while doing operations, it’s not only me who is at risk if something were to go wrong; the whole crew is at risk, too. Knowing that only the mate and I are awake during certain critical operations, we work together to make sure we’re keeping everyone as safe as possible. We stay vigilant and aware of our surroundings to identify potentially hazardous situations before they have the chance to become an incident.

As an A/B tankerman, I enjoy assisting in running entire cargo operations, knowing that you have thousands of barrels constantly moving under your feet. Taking products from hundreds of miles away and discharging them to other locations in need of these valuable resources. Just knowing that we are distributing fuel all around Alaska and that it’s being put to use in maritime, aviation, military bases and the civilian world through our safety focus and hard work is enough. I’m proud to be a part of this industry where what we do keeps things going for people in Alaska.

Following procedures as safely as possible ensures that we do not jeopardize cargo, the vessel or any side of our customers’ operations. By engaging and committing to safety, we can be punctual in keeping our deliveries without incidents.

It comes down to staying engaged, whether it relates to maritime safety or any scenario. It’s about managing the information at hand. I use my knowledge as a mariner and immediately address any discrepancies I see instead of being complacent. Speaking up and taking action are the best for keeping safety in top shape. If I see something that needs to be fixed, I either take care of it, speak up or ask for support to address it.

I do what needs to be done by knowing my job and what is necessary to complete any tasks at hand and sometimes taking on additional duties to help others out. Being named 2020’s Safety Champion means that my attention to detail and constant communication with the rest of the crew during critical times isn’t going unnoticed.

Stay focused, be attentive and pay attention to details. If something doesn’t seem right, but you’re not quite sure, speak up and ask someone.

Crowley is a privately held family- and employee-owned company providing worldwide logistics, government, marine and energy solutions since 1892. We have over 6,000 high-performing team members in 35 countries and island territories, who are diverse, encouraged, and deliver on their commitments. We are Crowley, People Who Know.