From your breakfast cereal to the clothes on your back, most of the products you buy reach you via an extensive network of ships, ports, and land-based carriers referred to as the Marine Transportation System (MTS). It consists of some 25,000 miles of navigable waterway, 3,700 marine terminals, 174,000 miles of railway, and 45,000 miles of interstate highway.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 67% of the consumer goods purchased by Americans move along this system. In just 20 years, the 2 billion tons of domestic and international freight now handled annually is expected to more than double, fueling concerns about congested waterways and mariner safety, channel depth, ship pollution, and other issues.
On Thursday, May 24, at 7:00 p.m., at the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies in Lewes, James Corbett, assistant professor of marine policy, will present “Marine Transportation in the 21st Century: Navigating the Way Ahead.” The presentation is part of the Ocean Currents Lecture Series, held monthly at the Lewes campus through September.
“The U.S. Marine Transportation System is a complex network of waterways and ports where connections between ships, trains, and trucks move the cargo that people want,” says Corbett, who joined the college’s Marine Policy Program last year. “This system faces critical policy decisions that require an understanding of science, technology, economics, and the environment to help set future priorities.”
Under Corbett’s leadership, the College of Marine Studies recently launched a new research initiative focusing on the maritime industry’s policy challenges, including ship modernization, port development, and trade growth. A major area of emphasis will be on air emissions, ship technology, and policies to improve the energy and environmental performance of ship transportation.
“Ship air pollution has been one of the least understood environmental issues, globally and locally,” Corbett notes. “We’re working to assess and understand the environmental impacts of ship emissions, as well as offer realistic solutions for reducing this pollution.”
Corbett’s research has contributed to international efforts to develop a more sustainable marine transportation system. For example, in a recent study of the Puerto Rico trade, he determined that ships could reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and other pollutants by 80 –95% per vessel if their steam turbine engines were converted to cleaner fuels. His research has been cited in policies developed by the International Maritime Organization and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Corbett earned his doctorate in engineering and public policy, and master’s degrees in both mechanical engineering and engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering technology from the California Maritime Academy and sailed as a Merchant Marine Officer in the U.S. fleet.
The lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Room 104, Cannon Laboratory, at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus, 700 Pilottown Road, Lewes. The hour-long talk will be followed by light refreshments.
While the lecture is free and open to the public, seating is limited and reservations are required. To reserve your seat, please contact the college at (302) 645-4279.