NAMEPA’s Annual Conference Guides Students and Industry Toward 2050 – Conference Headliners RADM Michael Alfultis and CAPT Dan Cost Embrace Transformative Industry Change

WESTON, CT – November 16, 2023: The North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) held its 16th Annual Conference and Awards Dinner, “Maritime’s Pathway to 2050,” at SUNY Maritime College on Thursday, November 2, 2023. Bringing together key members of the maritime industry, primary focal points of the conference included a keynote address by RADM Michael Alfultis, PhD., President of SUNY Maritime College, a presentation on the Regulatory Roadmap by CAPT Dan Cost, P.E. Chief with the Office of Design and Engineering Standards of the United States Coast Guard (USCG), and how industry members can meet the UN’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 80 goals by 2050, along with workforce development.

The conference featured attendees from industry as well as students from the Philadelphia Charter School, New York Harbor High and Middle Schools, and SUNY Maritime College cadets. Prior to the conference, SUNY Maritime hosted tours of its new training vessel, Empire State VII, the country’s first National Security Multi-Mission Vessel recently delivered from Philly Shipyards.

RADM Alfultis provided the opening keynote address on “Educating the Future Maritime Workforce in a Sea of Constant Disrupters and Change,” addressing expected maritime industry trends and disruptors which included digitalization, data analytics, environmental regulations, AI, and automation. He also brought up the need for increased institutional agility in recruitment and education, which in the maritime industry looks like: classes with virtual reality, non-traditional paths to the maritime industry, and SUNY’s Offshore Energy Center of Excellence. “Our students need a change. First, our institutions must have processes in place that, through meaningful partnerships with the industries we serve, allow us to decide to quickly design and deliver relevant programs,” said Alfultis. “We have been familiar for decades with the term ‘Just-In-Time’ logistics. We must adapt the same concept to our institutions and offer ‘Just-In-Time’ training and education.”

Captain Cost presented the USCG’s view of “The Regulatory Roadmap,” by discussing the Prevention Concept of Operations, elaborating on framework for safety, security, and stewardship that the USCG strives to uphold. He also covered Decarbonization, Digitalization and Autonomous Operations, the Mariner Workforce​, and the Regulatory Approach​. Looking forward, Cost says, “our knowledge systems have to change.”

The remainder of the proceedings included panel discussions on “Ships and Fuels of the Future” and the “Future Mariner Workshop,” along with the “Leadership Roundtable,” which featured and celebrated select recipients of NAMEPA’s 2023 Marine Environment Protection (MEP) Award winners. Among them were Rick Sasso, Chairman of MSC Cruises (USA), Priscilla Figueroa, Principal at New York Harbor Middle School, and Brian Murray, Fleet Port Captain of TOTE Services.

The event concluded with the Awards Dinner, where NAMEPA recognized the achievements of industry leaders, companies, organizations, and government agencies in their efforts to Save Our Seas.

View the full recording of the NAMEPA Conference and Awards Dinner here!


The North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) is a marine industry-led organization of environmental stewards preserving the marine environment by promoting sustainable marine industry best practices and educating seafarers, students and the public about the need and strategies for protecting global ocean, lake and river resources. Visit us at: www.namepa.net

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