Propeller Club names Jim McLaughlin as Robert J. “Bobby” Coppedge Maritime Person of the Year

The Propeller Club of the United States – Port of Jacksonville has selected Jim McLaughlin as its Robert J. “Bobby” Coppedge Maritime Person of the Year for 2016/2017. The club announced the award at its recent Maritime Day event. Jim’s leadership as both Executive Director of the Jacksonville Marine Transportation Exchange (JMTX) and Executive Director of Jacksonville Spillage Control, as well as his tireless service to the maritime community, has made impactful, positive and lasting contributions to Jacksonville’s port.

JMTX brings industry stakeholders together and provides a stable coordinating structure for port-wide planning, coordination and infrastructure recommendations. JMTX serves as an information clearinghouse for port critical information, provides a forum for harbor issues and serves as an advocate to local, regional and national agencies. In addition, JMTX has played a major role in coordinating security issues including assessments, intelligence sharing and compliance with security requirements.

When Hurricane Matthew threatened Northeast Florida in Fall 2016, JMTX kept port stakeholders informed, disseminating MSIBs from US Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville via the JMTX email list. Jim worked throughout the incident to keep the port community informed of the storm’s impacts to port business.

Under his leadership, JMTX secured funding and launched a new information system called PORTS, short for Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS). This system provides real-time information on water levels, currents, meteorological conditions, and under-bridge clearance, giving users critical information when traveling through the river.

From 2010 to 2015, Jim served as NOAA’s Northern Atlantic Right Whale Industry Liaison for its Southeast Implementation Team (SEIT). With as a few as 400 Right Whales remaining, NOAA Fisheries is dedicated to the conservation and recovery of the species. With the roll-out of NOAA’s speed rule, Jim served as the conduit to vessel operators and ship crews here in the Southeast, providing valuable recovery effort information to mariners and crew feedback to NOAA. During Jim’s tenure, compliance to the 10 knot speed rule and use of mandatory shipping lanes reached 90 percent.

With the advent of LNG as a marine fuel in Jacksonville’s port, Jim recognized a glaring need for the training of emergency responders to any possible LNG incident. He spearheaded an effort and partnered with the Fire Academy at the Florida State College of Jacksonville to build a program and facility to provide that essential training here in the Port, as well as to the many Fire Departments throughout the Southeast.

The Jacksonville Spillage Control is an oil spill cooperative, formed in 1973 to respond to incidents in Jacksonville’s harbor. Recently Jim has spearheaded efforts to modernize the equipment of the JSC, so the co-op can respond can clean spills comprehensively and efficiently.

Jim has also served on the Board of the Propeller Club, where he contributes his operational insight to help the club find solutions to challenging issues. In addition, in his role as Treasurer during 2016/2017, Jim examined club operations, drafted a forward-looking budget for the club’s new fiscal year 2017-2018, and worked with our Executive Secretary to ensure the club’s sound fiscal standing, now and in the years ahead.

Jim is a 21-year-veteran of the United States Coast Guard, retiring in 2010 as Commander. He graduated from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 1987, and has served all over the globe, including Africa, Europe, Australia, and the Middle East.

The Propeller Club of Jacksonville is honored to award Jim McLaughlin as its Robert J. “Bobby” Coppedge Maritime Person of the Year for 2016/2017.