Good morning and I thank all of you here today for attending this very important training seminar addressing the serious safety issues relating to passenger vessels operating on sole State waters (perhaps better known by the Coast Guard as non-navigable waters of the United States). Indeed this is the first training seminar at the Academy that has been jointly sponsored by our good friends from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and the United States Coast Guard. I am particularly pleased to introduce Past President Charlie Sledd representing NASBLA, as he has been very supportive of this initiative and I am pleased to welcome Captain Michael Karr of the United States Coast Guard for supporting and providing the talent and expertise from the CG to assist us in this training endeavor. I also am happy to recognize Member Kitty Higgins (introduce any other Board members who may attend) who is with us this morning because she has a great interest in this topic. Finally, my personal thanks to all the States who have taken the time to attend and special thanks to the 8 States who will share information about their regulatory programs addressing small passenger vessels, we look forward to the information that they will provide to us.
This training seminar was prompted by the tragedy of the capsizing of the ETHAN ALLEN on Lake George. But this is not the first significant casualty investigated by the Safety Board involving a State commercial passenger vessel. Rob Henry from our Office of Marine Safety will provide an opening presentation on some of our most serious passenger vessel accident investigations, several of which occurred on non-navigable waters. The Coast Guard has brought their very talented staff to provide to you how they certify and inspect small passenger vessels under Coast Guard jurisdiction. I thank Lieutenant Commander Kristin Williams for shepherding this effort for the Coast Guard. And the States tomorrow will address their specific certification and inspection programs addressing vessels under their jurisdiction. Of course, what we have determined through survey is not all States have programs that address commercial passenger vessel safety issues. The intent of this training seminar is to provide to you the most current information on certification, technical and inspection programs; and together address these and other issues and see if we can find some common direction that States should proceed to improve safety. I would add parenthetically, that I was the Board Member on-scene for the ETHAN ALLEN investigation and I hope we never are involved in another State commercial passenger vessel loss on sole State waters.
Finally, before I pass the floor to Captain Karr for welcoming remarks, I would like to recognize Bill Gossard who worked very closely with NASBLA and Charlie Sledd to bring all of you to this important training seminar. Captain Karr.