Tuesday, May 24, 2016

NASSCO Delivers 2nd APT Tanker

By Mark Edward Nero

On May 19, San Diego-based General Dynamics NASSCO commemorated the delivery of ECO Class tanker Magnolia State to longtime customer American Petroleum Tankers, making it the fifth ship NASSCO shipbuilders have delivered in the past eight months.

It was a week earlier, on May 12, that the Magnolia State returned to the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard following a week of successful tests and trials at sea.

The Magnolia State is the second of a five-tanker contract between NASSCO and APT, which calls for the design and construction of five 50,000 deadweight ton, LNG conversion-ready product carriers with a 330,000 barrel cargo capacity.

The 610-foot-long tankers are equipped with a new “ECO” design, which provides a 33 percent fuel efficiency improvement compared to product tankers built only a few years ago.

The ships were designed by DSEC, a subsidiary of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering of South Korea. The design incorporates improved fuel efficiency concepts through several features, and will also have dual-fuel-capable auxiliary engines and the ability to accommodate future installation of an LNG fuel-gas system.

The construction and operation of the new ECO Class tankers are aligned with the Jones Act, requiring that ships carrying cargo between US ports be built in US shipyards. The Magnolia State, along with others in the ECO Class, are the first in the Jones Act fleet to obtain a PMA-Plus notation from the American Bureau of Shipping, representing compliance with one of the highest standards of human factors in engineering design.

The PMA-Plus notation is created to facilitate safe access to vessel structure and spaces in ways that are rooted in the fundamentals of human ergonomics.

Bulk Carrier Loses Propulsion in SF Bay

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Coast Guard on May 20 helped assist a bulk carrier vessel after the ship experienced a loss of propulsion at 10:20 a.m., about five miles offshore from Daly City, California.

The Singapore-flagged bulk carrier Ultra Lascar lost propulsion while operating offshore inbound for the San Francisco Bay. For a time, the vessel was anchored about three miles offshore from Daly City where it awaited the arrival of two assist tugs, which then met a third tug prior to proceeding to an anchorage in San Francisco Bay.

With the Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Parks Service, and several state and local response agencies monitoring the situation, the carrier was eventually able to make its way from San Francisco to the nearby Port of Stockton on the afternoon of May 22, and was still moored there as of May 23.

The vessel was carrying a cargo of salt, bound for delivery to the Port of Stockton, plus about 161,000 gallons of fuel oil onboard, which is used as fuel for the engine.

The Ultra Lascar, which was built in 2015, has an overall length of 79 meters (259 feet), a beam of 30 meters (98 feet), and a gross tonnage of 22,600.

The cause of the power loss is under investigation.

Comment Period Opens for Seattle Terminal Project

By Mark Edward Nero

The 30-day public comment period opened May 23 for the Northwest Seaport Alliance’s proposed modifications to marine cargo facilities at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5.

The proposed modifications include berth deepening, dock strengthening and power upgrades to handle larger cranes.

“The Northwest Seaport Alliance needs to make Terminal 5 ‘big ship ready’ to remain competitive in today’s global economy,” Alliance co-chair and Port of Tacoma Commission President Connie Bacon said. The Northwest Seaport Alliance is a marine cargo operating partnership of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma governed jointly by the commissions of the two ports.

The Port of Seattle, as lead agency under the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA), is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement on the project.

The environmental review will evaluate potential impacts to earth, air, water, plants, animals, energy and natural resources, environmental health, noise, aesthetics – including light and glare, historic and cultural resources, transportation and public services.

“Modernizing Terminal 5 will allow us to keep good paying middle class jobs in our region,” NWSA co-chair and Port of Seattle Commission President John Creighton said. “We encourage the public to weigh in over the next 30 days with their comments about the proposed improvements.” Public comments on the Draft EIS are being accepted from May 23 to June 21. For tips on commenting, visit the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Citizen’s Guide to SEPA Review and Commenting at: The Draft EIS is available online at three locations:;; and

For more information on the proposed improvements and to comment online, visit Comments can also be emailed to

MarAd Looking to Expedite Mariner Certifications

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Maritime Administration says it’s working with the Coast Guard to certify sea service veterans as credentialed merchant mariners in an attempt to address a personnel shortfall that Maritime Administrator Paul Jaenichen has called a top priority.

This “military to mariner” program is a Coast Guard certification program that takes Coast Guard, Navy and Military Sealift Command veterans with watch-standing experience and helps pave the way for a merchant mariner career. Given their extensive training and at-sea experience, veterans should get credit for the standards and certifications in watchkeeping which the Coast Guard tests you to in order to be able to get your credential,” Jaenichen said May 16 at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space Exposition 2016.

“We’re moving in a direction where we could combine the training that you get in the military so that once you are out as a veteran, if you decide not to stay, you have an opportunity to get a merchant mariner credential and be able to help us on the mariner side,” he said.

This expedited credentialing process would be a boon for MarAd, which says it would be barely able to meet Defense Department surge needs today and may not be able to meet those needs in the near future.

“I would say that the sealift fleet is at a tipping point. The United States’ presence in the maritime domain is currently at the lowest level in our history,” Jaenichen said, noting there are only 79 US-flagged ships participating in international trade – a 25 percent drop from just three years ago.

The decline of the US fleet meant a loss of jobs – 2,300 jobs out of a 12,000-job industry, Jaenichen said.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Westwood Shipping Departs Portland Terminal

By Mark Edward Nero

Westwood Shipping Lines, which had been the sole carrier calling at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 6 over the past 10 months, announced in a letter to its customers this week that the company will no longer call on the terminal after May 21.

In its letter, Westwood Shipping, which had been calling on the terminal once a month, said the arrangement was no longer economically viable. Each call to Portland took about 150 containers of hay, grass seed, dried fruits, other mixed agricultural goods and paperboard for export to Japan.

Puyallup, Washington-based Westwood had called Terminal 6 with container service since July 2010. The port already had lost 95 percent of its container service in March 2015 after shippers Hanjin and Hapag-Lloyd pulled out due to a lingering labor dispute that had played a part of decreased productivity.

The carriers had complained it was taking too long to load and unload ships because of a three-year dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Terminal 6 operator ICTSI Oregon.

Westwood suspended service in April of last year, but returned with monthly export calls last July.

“While we are disappointed with this news, we also understand the underlying economics of the carrier industry are at play like over-capacity and exceptionally low rates. We are hopeful that Westwood will return to T-6 when market dynamics improve,” the port said in a May 18 statement, adding that it intended to focus on recruitment of new carrier service and assist shippers with access to markets.

Bulk, breakbulk and auto operations at terminals 2, 4, 5 and 6 are not impacted by Westwood Shipping’s departure, according to the port.

APM, ZPMC Sign Crane Extension Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

APM Terminals said May 13 that it has signed a contract for the enlargement of 10 STS cranes, including the raising of the overall height, and extension of the crane boom, to accommodate Ultra-Large Container Ships (ULCS) of up to 20,000-TEU capacity.

The contract was signed at a ceremony held at the APM Terminals Pier 400 facility at the Port of Los Angeles by representatives of APM Terminals and Shanghai-based ZPMC, which has been selected to perform the crane modifications on the terminal’s existing Noell STS cranes.

After the modifications designed by the original crane manufacturer, Terex-Noell, the 10 STS cranes are expected to become the tallest in the US Another feature of the upgraded cranes will be the installation of light-emitting diode (LED) illumination, which is expected to improve visibility and accuracy of the cranes’ associated Optical Character Recognition (OCR) programs, as well as reduce energy use by 60 percent compared with the previous conventional lighting system.

The contract signing came less than five months after the successful handling of the 18,000-TEU CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin at Pier 400 last December. It was the first call of a vessel of that size to any North American port.

When the Benjamin Franklin arrived at Los Angeles in the last week of December 2015, containers were stacked seven levels-high on-deck, reducing the effective vessel capacity to 15,000 TEUs during that call. While docked at APM Terminals Pier 400 between the morning of Dec. 26 and the evening of Dec. 29, about 1,500 longshore workers spent 56 hours loading and unloading 11,229 containers while employing a record nine STS cranes on the vessel at the same time.

The previous record for the largest vessel to call at the terminal prior to the Benjamin Franklin was the 15,000-TEU Maersk Edmondo, which had arrived only four days prior.

There are currently 37 ULCS of 18,000 TEU or more capacity in service in the global fleet, with another 72 vessels of between 18,000 and 21,000 TEU capacity on order.

Oakland Truckers’ App Goes Live

By Mark Edward Nero

A new mobile phone app developed for the Port of Oakland to aid harbor truckers is now live.

The DrayQ application is available at Apple and Google app stores at no charge, the port said May 18. The app tells drivers how long they’ll wait to enter marine terminal gates and how long transactions are taking. “There’s no more guesswork for truckers picking up or delivering cargo in Oakland,” port Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “Now they can plan their days with real-time information.”

DrayQ will display how long it takes to enter terminal gates, the port said, as well as calculate how long drivers must wait to complete transactions. The times will appear on mobile phone screens much like freeway drive-time signboards.

The new technology could fundamentally change seaport operations in two ways, one being that for the first time, truckers and dispatchers will have a precise measure of how long a terminal transaction takes. If it’s too long, drivers can plan around slow periods.

Secondly, cargo owners and terminal operators will now have accurate data to determine if containerized shipments are being efficiently processed. If they’re not, the data can help pinpoint where operational changes are needed.

DrayQ was developed for the port by Virginia-based contractor Leidos. It relies on Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi technology to measure truckers’ progress through the port. The app anonymously tracks every truck in the port whose driver carries a cell phone. Leidos officials, who were at marine terminals introducing harbor truckers to the app this week, said their goal is to have 3,000 drivers download it by June.