The Last Word: Captain Sean Brady, US COAST GUARD

UNDERWATER Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Captain Sean Brady, United States Coast Guard Chief, Office of Operating and Environmental Standards.

1. What your responsibilities are at your current job? How did you first become involved with the US Coast Guard?

I’ve been serving on active duty in the Coast Guard for about 28 years, initially attending the Academy at age 17. Growing up in New York and spending a lot of time on or around the water, whether for work or recreation, I always had a strong appreciation for the role of the Coast Guard, and the work we do with the maritime industry. Ultimately, I welcomed the opportunity to serve my country at the same time. I’ve had a number of different jobs throughout my career, as is the nature of the Service, and am currently assigned as the Chief of the Office of Operating and Environmental Standards at Coast Guard Headquarters. Our office is responsible for administering domestic and international standards for the commercial maritime industry. Along will other offices under the Commandant’s Standards Directorate, we draft many of the regulations effecting commercial vessel and facility operations in the United States and outer continental shelf.

2. How have you been involved with ADCI?

Throughout multiple field tours and my previous work as a salvage engineer for the Coast Guard, I have had a lot of experience working with ADCI member companies, and have developed an appreciation for the leadership ADCI provides to the maritime sector. In my current role, I work extensively with Mr. Newsum on regulatory issues affecting the industry, and the Coast Guard has benefited greatly from the technical expertise and broad experience provided by ADCI.

3. What has been the most rewarding part of your career in the underwater industry?

I suppose my career and current role is somewhat atypical for these interviews. As a Federal regulator, the Coast Guard strives to facilitate safe and regulatory compliant commerce, although I very rarely get out to the field these days. Growing up as a recreational diver and having a friend of mine work in the commercial offshore sector, I’ve always had a strong appreciation for the underwater industry. As an engineer for the Coast Guard, I recognize how difficult and extremely valuable the work is that these professionals do. I find my current job rewarding for number of reasons, but more so, it is the Coast Guard’s responsibility to recognize and foster organizational efforts like those made by ADCI and their member companies to facilitate a culture of safety among the industry. Whether saturation diving on the OCS or in zero visibility on the inland river system, the hazards faced in every day operations are very real.

4. What types of issues are most prevalent in the industry now? How would you like to see ADCI approach these?

From a regulatory perspective, our standards have been developed to address safety concerns from traditional operations and practices. As technology develops and changes the way we do business, the Coast Guard will look toward operators and organizations like ADCI to help anticipate the best ways to mitigate new safety risks. In the Coast Guard’s interactions with ADCI, we are able to maintain a lot of our policy relevance by routinely discussing trends in the industry and data collected on various operational aspects. This cooperative effort also helps us to anticipate future needs and concerns, instead of being reactive to often latent demands.

5. Where will the industry be in 5 years?

The demand for domestic energy continues to grow, and environmental concerns are becoming more prevalent. Over the next 5 years, trends in infrastructure development will increasingly look to the maritime environment for opportunities. Maintenance of our nation’s aging offshore infrastructure will be competing for resources with new green energy projects, making capable and efficient underwater work in greater demand. As the industry adapts, the Coast Guard will continue to work with our partner agencies and all stakeholders to address the needs of operators, the public, and the environment.