OSMS and YOU: Waterways Operations and Management

This blog post is the 19th in a series of posts highlighting the various specialties and sub-specialties offered by the recently launched Officer Specialty Management System. Stay tuned as we share key information about each specialty/sub-specialty in the coming weeks!



Written by Lt. Cmdr. James Bigbie 

Our nation’s waterways are a critical component of the Marine Transportation System or MTS. The MTS is a highly integrated system that includes over 1,000 harbor channels and 25,000 miles of commercially navigable channels. It connects over 152,000 miles of railroad, 45,000 miles of interstate highway, and 460,000 miles of pipeline through nearly 2,000 terminals operated at over 360 deep and shallow draft ports.

Coast Guard Waterways Management or WWM is a complex endeavor essential to the nation’s MTS. Coast Guard waterways managers support access to navigable waterways for mariners, facilitate effective and efficient movement of commerce, and promote a safe, secure and environmentally sound MTS as a component of the national transportation network. This is accomplished through program components such as, but not limited to: management of waterway infrastructure; facilitation and management of vessel movements; communication of waterway and environmental conditions; and execution of a host of port management activities and authorities.

Coast Guard Sector WWM assignments are broadening tours for top performing officers, afloat and ashore. The ideal candidates are: Prevention officers qualified as Marine Inspectors; and cuttermen with Aids to Navigation, Ice Operations, or other Prevention Program experience. An assignment in WWM will offer a challenging, yet rewarding, tour during which you can expect to interact with senior representatives from Port Authorities, shipping companies, vessel operators, pilot associations, shore-side facility operators, and other government agencies, as well as recreational waterway users; all with a common goal of maintaining a healthy MTS.

OAP13, Waterways Operations and Management, is the subspecialty code available to officers who have served in Sector or Marine Safety Unit WWM division, and demonstrated competency in Coast Guard waterways management functions. To qualify for the OAP13, officers must complete a minimum of two years in a Sector or MSU waterways management-coded billet and earn the WWM qualification.

To learn more about Coast Guard WWM, please refer to the Waterways Management COMDINST 16001.1.

Additional information on OAP13 is available on the OPM3 OSMS website or by contacting the Coast Guard headquarters Office of Waterways and Ocean Policy (CG-WWM) at 202-372-1530.


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