Join us on December 1-2, 2021 at the Tampa Marriott Water Street Hotel for Navtech 2021

Speaker Biographies

CAPT Paul Amos

Columbia River Pilots


Paul was born and raised in Denton, Texas.  In 1974 he permanently relocated to the Pacific Northwest where he was employed continuously in the tug and barge industry for 16 years.  From 1980 to 1990 he worked as captain on towing vessels on the Columbia/Willamette/Snake River system.  He has a wide range of experience on various types of towing vessels but the majority of those years were spent on grain barge tows between Portland, OR and Lewiston, ID.

For the last 31 years, beginning in 1990, Paul has been a Columbia River Pilot.  As a member of the Columbia River Pilots (COLRIP) he served two years as Treasurer and was Vice President in 1999.  He was re-elected as Vice President in 2006.  Shortly afterwards he became President and has served continuously in that position since then.   He was also deeply involved in developing COLRIP’s AIS-based navigation system and continues to work on improvements to that system.  He is a past President of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, a past Chairman of the Lower Columbia Region Harbor Safety Committee and has served on a variety of industry related boards and committees.

Paul is married to a sailor, Della, one of the first women to graduate from Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy.  He has 3 adult children and lives in Vancouver, WA.

Jorge Arroyo



Jorge Arroyo has served in the U.S. Coast Guard for over 35 years. Previously, as a commissioned officer involved in recreational boating safety, search and rescue, vessel traffic management, polar icebreaking, ship and shore-side operations; and, for over 20 years as a program & management analyst at the Office of Navigation Systems at USCG Headquarters, and their subject matter expert on shipboard navigation systems.  He is a U.S. advisor-delegate at the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue Sub-committee, and Vice-chair of the eNavigation Committee of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA). He has participated in the development numerous industry consensus navigation equipment standards, guidelines, and recommendations published by IMO, IALA, the International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC) and Radio Technical Committee for Maritime Services (RTCM), including all those related to Automatic Identification Systems (AIS).  He obtained a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois, a Juris Doctor from DePaul University School of Law, and has navigated the seven oceans and made landfall on every continent.

CAPT Alain Arseneault

Canadian Maritime Pilots, Assn.


Captain Alain Arseneault is an active St.Lawrence river pilot. He is a graduate of Rimouski’s Maritime Institute in Canada. After being issued a Master Mariner certificate in 1998, he obtained his first command the following year on a product tanker. His career then evolved on the management side for a while as he held senior management positions with a Canadian shipping company. It is during that period that Captain Arseneault pursued postgraduate studies, being awarded an MBA. He then entered the apprentice program on the St.Lawrence River and finally was issued a pilot license in 2005. After gaining 10 years experience and an unlimited Class A pilot license on the river, he held various management positions within the Central St. Lawrence Pilot Corporation where he acted as President from 2017 to 2021.


Fascinated by innovation and new technologies, Captain Arseneault participated in several technical maritime committees within his group and ultimately lead the technical committee of his National Association (Canadian Maritime Pilots Association) in addition to being elected national Vice-President for the Laurentian in 2017. He participated among others, to the introduction of the latest generation of pilot portable units (PPU) and rate-of-turn generator (ROTG) for his group of pilots. Capt. Arseneault now serves as President of the Canadian national center of expertise on maritime pilotage, and he is actively involved in several technology innovation forums as a participant and speaker.


CAPT Brett Baker

Brett is originally from Hampton Rhoads Virginia, he graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 2010. After graduation Brett went to work in the Deepwater drilling industry serving from 3rd Mate to Chief Officer Senior DPO aboard various drill ships and semi-submersibles. In late 2016 he started studying for the Florida Harbor Pilots Exam, during this studying time he left the drilling industry.  Brett sailed as Chief Mate aboard a US flag container vessel on the East Coast USA to Europe run from 2017-2019. In 2019 Brett accepted his appointment to start training as a Deputy Pilot in Tampa Bay. He will be finishing up his training in spring of 2022 to become a State Pilot.


Brett is married to Sydney Baker and has 3 kids; Beckett (4 years old), Saylor (2 years old), Briggs (5 months old).



George Burkley

Executive Director, Maritime Pilot’s Institute


Mr. George Burkley serves as the Executive Director of the Maritime Pilot’s Institute in Covington, Louisiana and is a Partner in LOCUS LLC.  MPI specializes in training, research and technical projects for maritime pilots.  The institute operates both electronic simulation and physical modelling training and research facilities.  George is a 1989 graduate of the California Maritime Academy and completed his master’s work at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.  He served as an aviator in the US Navy and sailed for Hawaiian Tug and Barge and Masters, Mates and Pilots as a ship’s officer. 

Bill Cairns

Technology Director, American Pilots Association


Bill Cairns is the Technology Director of the American Pilots’ Association, where he is responsible for all technical matters related to pilotage.  He is the current chair of ISO TC8 SC1 on Marine Safety.  Prior to his move to APA in 2014, he was Senior Technology Advisor in the Office of Navigation Systems at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters and previously served in the offices of Communications and Maritime Domain Awareness.  Still an active participant in all IALA technical committees, he served as the e-Navigation Committee Chairman from its creation in 2006 through 2014.  Serving on U.S. or ISO delegations to the IMO Maritime Safety Committee and NAV, COMSAR, and now NCSR Sub-Committees, he has led several IMO Correspondence and Working Groups including Pilot Transfer Arrangements, Navigation Bridge Visibility, and LRIT.  He retired following 20 years on active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard, serving as a Commissioned Officer in a wide variety of engineering jobs, including shipboard chief engineer.  He holds an MSEE from Naval Postgraduate School, a BS in Mathematics from USCGA, and is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation.  He served Presidents Carter and Reagan as a White House Social Aide from 1979-1981 and is a life member of the Society of White House Military Aides.

Kris Comegys, LTJG



Kris serves as the Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) Director in the Waterways Management Division for Sector St. Petersburg. Located in the Port of Tampa Bay, the VTS’ primary responsibilities include coordinating safe, efficient vessel movements and the prevention of maritime accidents in the greater Tampa Bay area.

Kris graduated from Towson University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. In 2009, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and later became a Marine Science Technician. During his first two tours in New Orleans, LA and Maui, HI, respectively, his primary roles were Maritime Safety and Security compliance for vessels, shore side facilities, and pollution response.

After successfully completing Officer Candidate School in New London, CT in 2018, Kris reported to Marine Safety Unit Houma, LA where he spent several years conducting vessel inspections on U.S. flagged Offshore Supply Vessels, Small Passenger Vessels and Tank Barges and ensuring compliance with US and International laws and regulations.

Kris is happily married to his wife Ashley, they have two children, Byler age 4 and Rex is 1 year old.  

Kevin Hasson

Kevin Hasson graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marine Transportation, an unlimited third mate’s license, and a commission as Ensign in the US Naval Reserve.


Following graduation Mr. Hasson sailed aboard US merchant vessels largely in support of the United States war effort to combat terrorism and its allies. 


In 2008 Mr. Hasson returned to the campus of USMMA to work at the Global Maritime and Transportation School as a program manager for the nautical science division.  During his time back at the Academy he worked with the Tugboat Crew Advancement Program (CAP), NOAA Corps, Special Warfare Combatant Craft, Staten Island Ferry, the FDNY Marine Division and the NYPD Counter Terrorism Unit.  Specializing in the training areas of simulation, ECDIS and Bridge Resource Management.  In February of 2011 Mr. Hasson left the Global Maritime and Transportation School and accepted a position at the Academy as an assistant professor and master of the Training Vessel Kings Pointer.  As captain of the T/V Kings Pointer and M/V Liberty Star Captain Hasson spearheaded the reclassification and conversion of the training vessel and the successful completion of the first USCG COI.  In 2014 Mr. Hasson was promoted to associate professor and named Sea Project Coordinator for Marine Transportation.  He specializes in instructing all Integrated navigation courses at the Academy, which focus on solo watchstanding and navigation skills while utilizing both electronic and traditional means.  Also instructing in the capstone course of bridge resource management.  In 2020 Mr. Hasson was named Assistant Department Head for Maritime Transportation and promoted to full professor.  Outside of the classroom at the Academy he serves as a faculty advisor and volunteer assistant baseball coach and mentors many Academy Midshipman.


In 2006 Mr. Hasson was honorably discharge from the US Naval reserve following successful completion of his obligation.  In 2011 he regained his commission within the MMIRRG/SSO community.  In 2020 Mr. Hasson completed an MBA. from Syracuse University with a dual specialization in Supply Chain Management and Data Analytics.  Mr. Hasson is a member of the American Council of Master Mariners and has assisted with testimonies in cases involving injuries at sea.

Matt Haward

Matt Haward – Sales and Marketing Representative with Allison Equipment Group.

Allison Equipment Group are the authorized distributor for Navicom Dynamics Portable Pilot Units in North America. We provide our customers with complete support from the initial proposal through delivery, customs/logistics and aftersales support from our offices in Houston.


Navicom Dynamics products and solutions include a range of state-of-the-art semi-independent and independent Portable Pilot Units and fully customised berthing aid systems with the option of being loaded with navigation software (ECS) and charts (ENCs). Navicom’s products are used every day by marine, harbour & offshore pilots, mooring masters, harbour masters, terminal operators and port authorities in over 40 countries globally, for over a decade now. Our Portable Pilot Unit systems significantly boost work efficiency, enhance safety and facilitate accurate decision making for our clients worldwide.

Brian Hobbs

Gibbs & Cox




Brian lead’s both the Information Technology and Information Security teams at Gibbs & Cox where he provides executive leadership and oversight of the full spectrum of corporate information technology infrastructure, security, services, people, and processes.


Brian has 20+ years of innovative, mission-focused Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Program leadership. He is a certified Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), CISSP, Military Cyber Professional, and demonstrated Security Operations Leader with exceptional history working strategically in the military, whole of government, and cyber industry.


Gibbs & Cox, Inc. is a global leader in maritime engineering and design, with nearly 7,000 vessels designed to our standards since 1929. Gibbs & Cox supports military and commercial clients in the U.S. and internationally with all phases of marine design, construction, and lifecycle management. Independent and privately held, Gibbs & Cox is headquartered in Arlington, VA, with offices in New Orleans, LA; Newport News, VA; New York City, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Washington, DC; Chesapeake, VA and Canberra, ACT, Australia.

CAPT Mark Homeyer

Director of Marine Operations for Crowley Petroleum Services based in Seattle, WA.  My overall responsibilities include the day-to-day vessel operations on the West Coast including ATBs and Tankers engaged in CP Jones Act and TAPS trade.  I also oversee technical management of Crowley Petroleum Services ATB fleet of 19 units throughout the US.  I am a Master Mariner and have been a USCG licensed officer for 36 years.  A graduate of California Maritime Academy where I received a BS in Marine Transportation and Seattle University where I received an Executive MBA.   I am drawn to strong leadership and teamwork whether in industrial settings or climbing in the mountains of the Western US.  Accomplishing objectives which require planning, ingenuity, and physical teamwork bring me great satisfaction. To put this together with a culture of high reliability that promotes learning and the safety and protection of people in their work is the most rewarding part of my career. Professional mariners effectively managing complex systems create safety.

Peter Hyams

Peter Hyams is a full-time staff member at the Simulation, Training, Assessment and Research (STAR) Center in Dania Beach, Florida as instructor and course developer. The STAR Center is the primary training facility for the 3000+ men and women of the American Maritime Officers Union, and also works to meet contracted company and the maritime industry research, assessment and training needs.  Peter is afforded the opportunity to continuously interact with actively sailing mariners, frequently observe and train on underway vessels and analyze training needs bringing a unique and relevant perspective to all STAR Center maritime trainings and assessments.

Peter is a California Maritime Academy graduate, with a dedication and passion for teaching, navigation and electronics.  He led STAR Center’s electronic navigation programs including Radar, ARPA and ECDIS courses through STCW 95 and 2010 implementation.  He has recently developed and is facilitating STAR Center’s new Electronic Navigation and Watchkeeping Refresher Training Program.  Peter is actively involved in all STAR Center maritime assessment programs.

Graduating from Florida International University with a Master of Science in Human Resource Development and Adult Education he is also the lead Train the Trainer (Instructor, Supervisor, Assessor Qualification Course) and Simulator Train the Trainer instructor and is a certified ISO 9001 Lead Auditor. 


Jonathan Kjaerulff


Director of Business Development

Jon obtained his first license (as a Danish yacht master) at the age of 17, and subsequently attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. After graduating in 1983, he sailed in positions from deckhand to Master aboard ships and workboats all over the world. After running a support vessel during the Exxon Valdez cleanup effort in Prince William Sound, Jon came ashore and founded Fremont Maritime Services in Seattle, Washington. Over the next 27 years, Jon established a reputation as a pioneer in the field of maritime safety, survival and firefighting training. His company was one of the very first organizations in the U.S. to obtain Coast Guard approval for STCW Basic Safety Courses, and from 2003 to 2015 Fremont Maritime was the only private company utilized by the U.S. Navy to provide marine firefighting training to its military sailors. Over the years Jon and his team worked with tens of thousands of inland and offshore mariners, providing training not only at Fremont’s school in Seattle, but at customer locations in Alaska, Oregon, California, Florida, Europe, Australia and the Caribbean. When MITAGS established the Pacific Maritime Institute in Seattle, Jon worked to forge a strong working relationship between the two schools.


In 2017, Fremont Maritime was purchased by MITAGS, and Jon came aboard as a marine safety training and business development specialist. At the beginning of 2021, he took over as Director of Business Development.

CAPT. Carolyn J. Kurtz

Tampa Bay Pilots

Originally from Queens, New York, Carolyn graduated from the US Merchant Marine Academy in 1986 and went to sea on US flag vessels for several years, receiving her unlimited Masters license in 1993. In 1995 she was accepted into the Tampa Bay Pilots training program, becoming the first woman to do so. She has served as co-manager and training coordinator of TBPA, Secretary of the Florida Harbor Pilots Association, and Chair of NAVSAC. She has been the Chair of the Florida Board of Pilot Commissioners since 2016 and has recently been elected Chair of the newly reorganized National Navigation Safety Advisory Council. She has also been a guest instructor at MITAGS and MPI, and is an active mentor with the Women Offshore Foundation.


Carolyn is married to Dave Fath, a 1986 Maine Maritime grad and Lake Charles Pilot. When not piloting ships, they can often be seen somewhere on Tampa Bay on their 32′ Legacy trawler, On One.

Eero Lehtovaara

ABB BL Marine and Ports

Eero Lehtovaara occupies a unique position within ABB Marine & Ports as the internal and external focal point for the relationship between maritime technology and regulation, with a remit to advance mutual understanding between stakeholders in both areas.


Eero reports into ABB Marine & Ports Division and, as a Master Mariner and previous Head of Marine Design House, takes a special interest in ship management and operating technology, including energy efficiency, bridge operations, navigation and autonomous ships.


Externally, Eero is ABB’s representative to an array of EU and global maritime agencies and NGOs. He is ABB delegate to: Sea Europe as a board member; the IMO Green Voyage 2050 Global Industry Alliance; and others. He currently chairs One Sea, the industry alliance on autonomous shipping. However on of the main priorities stays with a number of classification societies committees like ABS, DNV and Lloyds Register.


In 2021 The European maritime sector elected Eero to the Chairman of the Board to Waterborne Technology Platform.


Currently Eero also chairs the recently established CIMAC Digitalization Strategy Group


An Associate Fellow of the Nautical Institute and a graduate of the IMD Business School of Lausanne ABB Senior Leadership Development Program, Eero is also ABB Marine & Ports spokesman responsible for promoting public understanding of scientific developments in marine technology.


White papers recently published:

R. David Lewald

David Lewald is a navigation systems and aids to navigation specialist for the U.S. Coast Guard.  He served for 30 years on active duty in the USCG with 25 of those years spent afloat aboard numerous cutters in all positions including command.  He has been a USCG civilian employee since his retirement in 2014.  David’s responsibilities include advisory and consultative services to USCG programs and managers on a broad range of navigation matters that involve legacy and future state technology. He serves as an advisor and subject matter expert to the Director of Marine Transportation Systems on digital and electronic navigation matters and systems, including electronic chart systems (ECDIS\ECS), automatic identification system (AIS), integrated navigation systems (INS), integrated bridge systems (IBS), navigation sensors (e.g. Radar, GPS, etc.), and electronic aids to navigation.  David serves as a navigation systems technical expert to standards development organizations such as International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA)(Vice Chair of the IALA-ARM Committee), Committee on the Marine Transportation System (CMTS), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA), and Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services (RTCM).  


Mark E. Luther

University of South Florida College of Marine Science

Mark E. Luther received his doctoral degree in Physical Oceanography from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1982.  Dr. Luther is an Associate Professor and director of the Center for Maritime and Port Studies in the University of South Florida College of Marine Science.

He has worked with NOAA/NOS and others in real-time ocean observing systems and precision navigation services since 1991 and has served as Director of Operations for the Tampa Bay Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System since 1995 ( He was involved in planning and implementation of the US Integrated Ocean Observing System from its inception (

He works closely with the Tampa Port Authority, the Tampa Bay Pilots, US Coast Guard, and other maritime interests on environmental issues affecting and affected by maritime transportation operations and infrastructure.  He is an avid boater with both power and sail boats and holds a US Coast Guard Captain’s License.  He has been sailing the waters of Tampa Bay and west Florida since 1983.

Darrell McCauley

Bowditch Navigation

Darrell McCauley is the President of Bowditch Navigation. He has over 20 years of software and electronics experience. Prior to Bowditch, Dr. McCauley worked at Raven Industries for 12 years, directing design efforts in aerospace, agriculture, and marine navigation. 


Dr. McCauley resides in Austin, Texas. He enjoys time reading classic literature, psychology, and whatever his kids are reading.


He has degrees from Texas A&M and Purdue, research experience with the National Science Foundation and Cornell University, and an Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation from MIT. He is registered as a professional engineer.


Captain Sean P. Meagher

Worth Avenue Yachts/ MY Latitude

Born and raised on the waters of Cape Cod, Sean is accredited with being the youngest captain ever at Hyline Cruises. He has expertise in yacht management, charter and sales. Sean captained the only private yacht ever to circumnavigate Svalbard, punching within 500 miles of the North Pole, and he was the captain that led M/Y LATITUDE through the Northwest Passage twice in both directions in consecutive years.


When not exploring the far corners of the earth he was the lead designer on a megayacht refit and delivery captain for Oceanco’s massive 109m BRAVO EUGENIA. Captain Sean also has a passion for preserving the place he has called home for so many years. He is heavily involved in Ocean Voyages quest for a plastic free ocean along with many other conservation projects.


Sean holds a masters unlimited license in sail and power. 

Tommy Mikkelsen

Managing Director of Trelleborg Marine Systems Denmark

Mr. Tommy Mikkelsen is the Managing Director of Trelleborg’s marine and infrastructure operations in  Denmark, and a committed technology enthusiast who has been dedicating himself to developing modern piloting systems over the last decades. Mr. Mikkelsen has a software engineering background and has been working in the marine industry over 25 years. Mr. Mikkelsen has created and developed SafePilot Piloting System, the market leaders of the world’s portable pilot systems. 

Previous Speaking Experience: 

Royal Institute of Navigation – Interactive Pilotage

IHMA (International Harbour Master Association) Conference 2014 – Increased Safety During Port Operations

British Ports Association Conference 2014 – New Developments in Pilotage 

IMPA (International Maritime Pilote Association) Conference 2014 Panama City – Interactive Pilotage

IOT Lund 2016

Ross W. Norsworthy

President/CEO of REC, Inc

Ross is a graduate of the University of South Florida in Tampa, where he earned a BSEE and completed graduate studies in RF and Microwave Systems Engineering in 1968. He has worked in both the avionics and marine electronics fields for Sperry, Raytheon/E-Systems, Bendix, King Radio and L-3 Communications. In 1986, he formed Ross Engineering Company, now known as REC, Inc.


In 2002, he sold the manufacturing rights for the ROSS marine electronics product line to L-3 Communications, where he served as Director of CNI Technologies and completed the development and Type Approval of the AIS products.


Ross currently serves the US Coast Guard, since 2004, as a subject matter expert in marine radiocommunications and navigation systems. 


He continues his service, since 1994, as a US representative to ITU, IEC, IALA, IMO and RTCM. Ross has been a major contributor to the development of the standards for marine radiocommunications and navigation, including Digital Selective Calling (DSC), AIS, GNSS and VDES.   


Ross is a member of the RTCM Board of Directors, Chairman of RTCM Special Committees 123 and 131, and expert technical advisor to the new RTCM SC137 committee on maritime electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).

Captain Simon Pelletier

Simon Pelletier started his career in 1982 and rapidly achieved the rank of master before qualifying for his license as a marine pilot on the St. Lawrence River in 1996.


         A champion of both his profession and marine safety, Captain Pelletier has played a leadership role in the Corporation of Lower St. Lawrence Pilots, which he served as President from 2004 to 2007, and in the Canadian Marine Pilots’ Association (CMPA), of which he became President in 2009.


Captain Pelletier also has a keen interest in international affairs affecting marine pilotage. First elected as Vice-president of the International Maritime Pilots Association (IMPA) in 2008, Capt. Pelletier was elected IMPA President in 2014 for a four year term and reelected in April 2018 for another four year term. As President, he is responsible for ensuring that pilots from six continents speak with one voice on global issues affecting pilotage and for ensuring that they play a constructive role in discussions with their partners in the international maritime sector and, in particular, with the International Maritime Organization.

Julia Powell

Chief of the Office of Coast Survey Navigation Services Division

Julia Powell is the Chief of the Office of Coast Survey Navigation Services Division.  NSD provides a focal point for customer requests on charting issues, short-term (fast response) hydrographic surveys, and Nautical Publications, such as Coast Pilot. The division coordinates and represents OCS at constituent events such as harbor safety meetings, waterways management meetings, cooperative workshops, conferences, and trade shows, as well as standing up NOAA’s Precision Marine Navigation Program.  Julia graduated with a degree in Geological Sciences from Cornell University and has a Masters in Information Systems from the University of Maryland.


She is chair of the IHO’s S-100 working group that is working on the framework standard that underpins the next generation navigation products, such as underkeel clearance management, high-resolution bathymetry and other integrated products.

CAPT Matthew A Thompson


As Sector Commander, Captain Thompson serves as Captain of the Port, Officer in Charge of Marine Inspection, Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator, Federal On-Scene Coordinator and Federal Maritime Security Coordinator while directing Coast Guard operations along the West Coast of Florida and throughout the Tampa Bay region. Sector St. Petersburg is comprised of 2,700 Active Duty, Reserve, Civilian, and Auxiliary personnel, as well as 12 multi-mission units, including five boat stations, six cutters, and an Aids to Navigation Team.

Previously, Captain Thompson was assigned to the Coast Guard Personnel Service Center, Officer Personnel Management Division (opm-1) as Chief of Boards, Panels, Promotions, and Separations Branch. There he directed and oversaw all active duty officer promotion boards and advanced education panels, and effected all officer promotions, retirements and separations for the nearly 8,500 member commissioned and warrant officer corps.

Captain Thompson’s operational assignments include Response Department Head at Coast Guard Sector San Francisco, five afloat tours as an officer and enlisted Quartermaster, and as Command Center Senior Controller at Sector San Juan, Puerto Rico. His afloat assignments include Commanding Officer of USCGC SAPELO, Executive Officer of USCGC NUNIVAK, Operations Officer of USCGC ACACIA and crewmember onboard USCGCs ATTU and OCRACOKE as an enlisted member.

He also served in staff assignments as Chief of External Affairs at the Coast Guard Eleventh District, where he oversaw and coordinated the congressional, governmental and international engagement programs, as well as on the Coast Guard Pacific Area staff as the program manager for the Maritime Law Enforcement (MLE) and Ports Waterways and Coastal Security (PWCS) missions.

Captain Thompson holds a Bachelor of Science from Excelsior College in Management, and a Joint Professional Military Education certification through the U.S. Air Force, Air Command and Staff College. He is a permanent Cutterman and holds the Advanced Boat Forces Insignia. His personal awards include three Meritorious Service Medals, four Commendation Medals, and three Achievement Medals.

He is married to Lynesh Thompson, of San Juan Puerto Rico, and they have three children.

Captain Michael Trent, USN (Ret.)

  • Managing Director, MARITECH USA
  • Board Member, RTCM

Captain Trent serves on the Board of Directors for RTCM and focuses on maritime operations, control systems and communication systems related to autonomous shipping, e-navigation, port and waterway management, and search and rescue. He is the Managing Director for MARITECH USA that provides technical, program management and consulting services for commercial and government clients in the maritime industry.


Prior to founding MARITECH USA, Captain Trent worked for Lockheed Martin and led the development of international and US domestic programs including VTS systems, AIS applications, SAR systems and maritime security systems. In particular, he led the development of Lockheed Martin’s VTS and maritime surveillance systems now installed in 22 countries including the US’ Port and Waterway Safety System (PAWSS).


Captain Trent is a graduate of the US Naval Academy and The Naval Postgraduate School earning a B.S. in Oceanography and M.S. in Systems Engineering. He served 22 years as a Surface Warfare Officer including 2 command tours and NATO assignments in the US, UK and Germany.




Captain Jorge Viso

President, American Pilots Associaton

Captain Jorge Viso was elected President of the American Pilots’ Association (APA) in 2016.  Prior to being elected APA President, Captain Viso served in numerous other leadership positions, including Vice President of the APA’s South Atlantic States; President of the Florida State Pilots’ Association; and Chairman of the Tampa Bay Pilots’ Association.

After completing an enlistment in the U.S. Coast Guard (1978-81), where he served aboard two cutters and advanced to Quartermaster Second Class, Captain Viso earned an appointment to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at King’s Point.  He graduated from King’s Point in 1985 with a Degree in Marine Transportation and Nautical Science.  He served as a pilot in the ports

of Tampa Bay, Florida from 1990 through 2016.  Prior to becoming a State-license pilot, Captain Viso served aboard harbor tugs, before sailing deep sea on chemical, product and crude oil tankers.  In addition to his Florida State pilot license, he holds U.S. Coast Guard credentials as Master of Steam and Motor Vessels (Limited Tonnage) and Chief Mate of Steam and Motor Vessels (Unlimited Tonnage).  He also holds a federal First Class Pilot Endorsement for the waters of Tampa Bay and its tributaries.

Captain Viso also served as Chairman of the APA’s Navigation and Technology Committee (NAVTECH) from 2002 until taking office as APA President. 

The American Pilots’ Association is the national trade association of professional ship pilots.  Its membership is composed of more than 50 groups of State-licensed pilots, comprising over 99% of all State pilots in the country.  All three groups of United States registered pilots in the Great Lakes are also APA members.  There are approximately 1,200 individual pilots in the APA member pilot groups.  The APA was established in 1884 to protect and improve the state pilotage system, to maintain the highest possible professional standards for licensed pilots in the United States, and to promote navigation safety.

Captain Mark R. Vlaun

United States Coast Guard

Captain Mark R. Vlaun is Commander, Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville, Florida. He serves as Captain of the Port, Officer in Charge of Marine Inspection, Federal Maritime Security Coordinator and Federal On-Scene Coordinator for the Ports of Jacksonville, Canaveral and St. Mary’s/Fernandina, Georgia. He is a designated Cutterman, Judge Advocate and Diving Officer.

At sea, Captain Vlaun served as Commanding Officer of USCGC FIR (WLB 213) patrolling the waters of the Pacific Northwest, including the hazardous river bars along the Washington and Oregon coasts. Captain Vlaun previously served as Executive Officer in CGC MAPLE and CGC WOODRUSH, as Diving Officer in CGC POLAR SEA and as Operations Officer in CGC RED OAK. While in POLAR SEA he led a dive team conducting operations in both Polar Regions.

Ashore, Captain Vlaun recently served as Deputy Commander, Coast Guard Sector Miami. He has previously served in a variety of legal assignments to include: Staff Judge Advocate for the Seventh Coast Guard District and Senior Legal Advisor to Homeland Security Task Force Southeast in Miami, Florida; Chief, Maritime Law at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Staff Attorney, Office of Maritime and International Law at Coast Guard Headquarters; Deputy Chief, Office of Environmental Law; and, Trial Counsel/Prosecutor, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. Captain Vlaun has served in two special assignments: Special Assistant and Speechwriter to the 25th Commandant, Admiral Paul Zukunft; and, as Military Aide to Rear Admiral Paul Blayney, Commander 13th District, Seattle, Washington.

Captain Vlaun is a 1994 graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy. He holds a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law, where he was elected to the Woolsack Honor Society, served as Managing Editor of the Environmental Law Review and won the Montgomery/MacRae Award. In 2012, he graduated from resident senior service school at Marine Corps War College, earning a Masters in Strategic Studies with distinction. He is a graduate of U.S. Navy Dive School, Naval Justice School and Air Command and Staff College, distance program. In 2018, he was recognized by the American Bar Association with the Outstanding Military Service Career Judge Advocate Award.

Captain Vlaun is married to Kristen Keely Vlaun, an adjunct professor at George Mason University, with whom he has two children, Brooke and Anderson.

Paul Welling

Wartsila Voyage Solutions

Paul’s experience in the maritime industry spans more than 40 years. He graduated from Maritime Institute, “De Ruyter“, in Flushing, The Netherlands in 1978 and acquired his unlimited master’s license in 1986 after gaining the required sea-time. A sea-going career of 11 years on the passenger ships of Holland America Line was followed by 15 years as area sales manager at Radio Holland USA, during which time he was involved in the implementation of various new navigation and communication technologies on board ships. Paul joined Transas in 2005 and was appointed sales director. The development of on-board, shore-based and simulation solutions however has always retained his interest and the recent acquisition of Transas Marine by the Wärtsilӓ Group has proven to only amplify this through Wӓrstilӓ’s Smart Marine initiatives and the drive towards digitalization of the entire marine industry.

Darren Wright

National Weather Service

Darren Wright is the National Marine Services Program Manager of NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS).  Darren has been with NOAA since 1984 and worked in operational oceanography for over 33 years before moving to the NWS over four years ago.  He is now responsible improving coastal, offshore and high seas forecast products and services. In this role he engages routinely with the marine community.

Prior to working at NWS, Darren worked for NOAA’s National Ocean Service as their Maritime Services Program Manager where he oversaw the Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS®), current survey, hydrodynamic modeling and meteorological programs.  Under Darren’s leadership the PORTS® program more than doubled.