In a ceremony held on June 20, 2013, Capt. Mike Getchell received the “2012 Robert J. “Bobby” Coppedge Maritime Person of the Year” award from the Propeller Club of the United States Port of Jacksonville. Capt. Getchell serves as the Chair of the Jacksonville Marine Transportation Exchange’s Harbor Safety Committee. In this role, he has made significant and long-lasting contributions to improve the maritime industry of Jacksonville.
In 2012, Capt. Getchell secured a $2.8 million Port Security Grant for installation of a Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS®) in the port of Jacksonville. Working with the Bar Pilots and other key stakeholders, Capt. Getchell designed a system consisting of 23 sensors that will be strategically placed along the river to capture and disseminate real-time environmental observations, forecasts and other geospatial information. This system is a decision support tool that will improve the safety and efficiency of maritime commerce and coastal resource management. Installation of this system is critical in our port due to the navigational challenges at Mile Point and the number of ships whose arrival or departure times are restricted by the tide. In addition, sensors will be installed that will be capable of monitoring the amount of salt water upriver as our harbor is deepened.
As the Harbor Safety Committee Chair, Capt. Getchell routinely coordinated and facilitated ad-hoc meetings of maritime stakeholders to address navigational challenges in the port. At the request of the U.S. Coast Guard, he conducted an informal risk assessment on a new wood pellet facility proposed in the West Channel. Bringing the owner of the facility together with key stakeholders including; tug operators, docking masters, and the Bar Pilots, Capt. Getchell identified navigational issues that would be created by the facility if built to initial design specifications and developed a thorough list of mitigation measures. His efforts will allow the facility’s engineering firm to incorporate the mitigating measures into their design. This effort will minimize the navigational impacts on vessels navigating further up the West Channel.
Capt. Getchell is actively involved in several key committees with the goal of insuring the Jacksonville maritime community is represented. He attends every meeting of the Jacksonville Waterway’s Commission and was instrumental in the development and implementation of a Manatee Protection Program which has significantly reduced the number of animals injured or killed by large vessel strikes. Capt. Getchell is also the maritime representative on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Southeast Implementation Team. This is a team of marine biologists, government officials and other key stakeholders established to assist NOAA Fisheries in the implementation of the Recovery Plan for the North Atlantic Right Whale. In this capacity, Capt. Getchell is an advocate for the maritime community ensuring NOAA understands the economic impacts of the right whale speed rule and other measures proposed to assist in right whale recovery.
Capt. Getchell is a true advocate for the maritime industry of Jacksonville ensuring our needs are heard and addressed. With his unmatched “Can Do, Get it Done Attitude” he has established strong relationships with local, state and federal governmental agencies and the maritime stakeholders. On numerous occasions Capt Getchell has brought these individuals together to advocate on the port’s behalf ensuring our voice is heard. His contributions and dedication have reflected most favorably on the professionalism of the entire maritime industry and have significantly raised the safety and value of our port.