International classification society American Bureau of Shipping announced Tuesday that James A. Watson, Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), will join ABS as President and Chief Operating Officer of the Americas Division beginning September 2, 2013. In this role, Watson will have operational responsibility for activity in North, South and Central America and the Caribbean.
Watson will take over from Robert Gilman, who will move to the ABS Group (ABSG) of Companies as Senior Vice President and Head of Technical Inspection Services within the ABS affiliated company, ABSG Consulting. In this role, Gilman will lead a strategic global service line focused on technical inspection services for the offshore and energy industries.
As Director of BSEE, Watson has been responsible for promoting safety, protecting the environment and conserving resources through the regulatory oversight and enforcement of offshore operations on the US Outer Continental Shelf.
Before becoming BSEE Director, Watson served as the US Coast Guard’s Director of Prevention Policy for Marine Safety, Security and Stewardship, where his responsibilities included commercial vessel safety and security, ports and cargo safety and security and maritime investigations. He was designated as the Federal On-Scene Coordinator for the government-wide response to the Macondo oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in June 2010.
“The Coast Guard, BSEE and ABS have similar missions of promoting safety and protecting the environment; so Jim’s background makes him uniquely qualified for this position working alongside both the marine and offshore industries,” said ABS Chairman and CEO Christopher J. Wiernicki in announcing the new appointment. “Jim’s understanding of the critical safety issues the offshore sector is facing today will enable ABS to enhance the level of service we are able to provide to government and industry.”
Watson graduated in 1978 from the US Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelors of Science degree in Marine Engineering and holds Master of Science degrees from the University of Michigan in Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture in addition to a Master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
Watson will be based at the Division’s headquarters in Houston, Texas.