Crowley

Friday, June 24, 2016

Shippers, Engineers Convicted in Pollution Case

By Mark Edward Nero

Two companies that own and operate a Greek shipping vessel and two engineers from the ship were convicted June 20 in US District Court in Seattle of 12 felony counts related to their dumping of oily waste at sea.

Ship operator Angelakos Hellas S.A., ship owner Gallia Graeca Shipping, chief engineer Konstantinos Chrysovergis and second engineer Tryfon Angelou were found guilty of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, the falsification of records in a federal investigation and engaging in a scheme to defraud the United States.

The jury deliberated for three days following an eight-day jury trial.

According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, a pollution-control device known as an oil water separator was inoperable on the cargo ship Gallia Graeca during its voyage from China to Seattle last October. On Oct. 16, 26 and 27, 2015, the defendants bypassed safeguards that prevent the discharge of oily water and discharged about 5,000 gallons of oily bilge water overboard, according to the US Coast Guard, and the defendants concealed the incidents by making false statements to inspectors to Coast Guard inspectors, and making false statements and omissions in the ship’s oil record book.

When Coast Guard inspectors asked the engineers to operate the oil water separator during the inspection, the engineers did so in such a way that the equipment appeared to be working properly even though it was not. However, when Coast Guard inspectors examined the oil water separator they found its filters were clogged with oil and found oil residue in the overboard discharge piping.

Records indicated the oil water separator had not been serviced for months.

According to the official oil record book presented to the Coast Guard, bilge water had not been discharged during the voyage to Seattle, but the Coast Guard investigation discovered evidence that oily water had been discharged into the sea three times during the voyage from China.

Prosecutors argued that the engineers tried to hide the pollution from the Coast Guard to keep the Gallia Graeca on schedule and avoid having the ship detained in Seattle, and that shipping company executives had been in contact with the engineers about how they should present the logbook for the Coast Guard inspection.

Falsification of records in a federal investigation is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships is punishable by up to six years imprisonment.

Scheming to defraud the United States is punishable by up to five years in prison, and each count of conviction is also punishable by a $500,000 fine against each corporation and $250,000 against each individual defendant.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 16.

Seattle Port Okays Economic Development Program

By Mark Edward Nero

During its June 14 meeting, the Port of Seattle Commission approved the creation of an economic development partnership program that is making about $962,000 available to 38 regional cities funding to advance local economic development.

The development fund is expected to help the port advance regional economic growth through focused partnerships, and will be made to cities to pursue programs and projects that stimulate business development, job creation and community revitalization. Each participating city may in turn contract with local nonprofits such as chambers of commerce and visitors’ bureaus to carry out specific initiatives.

The match grants, ranging from $5,000 to $65,000, are for eligible projects based on population and require cities to match 50 percent of the port’s money.

“The Port of Seattle Commission is committed to driving economic development across all communities in King County,” Port Commission President John Creighton said in a statement.
Annual grant funding would be provided on a $1 per capita formula with a maximum of $65,000 while ensuring each city receives at least $5,000.

“The Port of Seattle is looking to step up and fill a critical gap where other funding sources aren’t available,” Port Commissioner Stephanie Bowman said in a statement. “This program can support such initiatives as business recruitment, small business development, tourism, property development, and industry retention and expansion.”

Three workshops are scheduled to help cities further understand the use of the funds, best practices and ways to maximize its uses.

The first workshop is scheduled for 2 to 4 pm June 28 at Port of Seattle Headquarters, Pier 69, 2711 Alaskan Way, Seattle. The second is set for 2 to 4 pm July 6 at Kent City Hall, 400 West Gowe St., Kent. The final workshop is scheduled for 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

July 13 in Bellevue, with a location still to be determined.

More information on the economic development program is available on the port’s website at http://www.portseattle.org/ABOUT/COMMISSION/MEETINGS/2016/2016_06_14_RM_6a.pdf

Monthly Puget Sound Cargo Volumes Dip

By Mark Edward Nero

The Northwest Seaport Alliance – the collaborative entity that the ports of Seattle and Tacoma are known as – says that its container volumes began to “normalize” in May following unusual trade patterns during labor contract negotiations in first quarter of last year.

Total Seaport Alliance container volumes for the month fell seven percent compared to May 2015, and the year-to-date volume lag is about two percent. The ports moved 280,784 TEUs last month, as opposed to 302,907 units during the same month last year.

Every category recorded by the Seaport Alliance measured down last month at the two ports compared to 2015, including international imports, international exports and domestic container shipments.

Despite the overall decline however, full containerized exports continue to recover, growing 12 percent year to date to 382,295 TEUs. Also, full imports are flat year to date at 520,215 TEUs.
Imports, according to the Alliance, have been muted in part due to retailers working through excess inventory. Domestic volumes remain sluggish, the Alliance says, due to the weakened Alaska economy.

While auto imports are flat, breakbulk cargo continues to struggle data shows. It’s down 36 percent, with the Alliance stating the cause as the strong dollar and slowing economic growth in China.

The Alliance’s complete container numbers for May 2016 can be seen here: 

POLA Debuts Harbor Freeway Connector Improvements

By Mark Edward Nero

On June 20, officials from the Port of Los Angeles and the California Dept. of Transportation (Caltrans) marked the official grand opening of the newly configured I110 (Harbor Freeway) access ramps in Wilmington.

The completed construction project – which also includes key roadway modifications – is expected to significantly improve traffic flow and ease-of-merging on and off the freeway, and reduce congestion at a key, multi-point intersection near port terminals.

The completed improvements include reconfiguration of a northbound off-ramp; modification of a northbound on-ramp; realignment of Harry Bridges Boulevard and John S. Gibson Boulevard; and combining two existing intersections into one.

“One of the port’s main priorities continues to be improvements in our infrastructure, and that includes roadways around the port,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said. “Reducing congestion and improving traffic flow is a win-win for business, as well as residents and commuters who regularly travel this route through Wilmington.”

Funding for the $51 million project included about $31 million from the Port of Los Angeles and the remainder from partnering agencies, including $6.65 million from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; $8.3 million from a trade corridors improvement fund; and $5.9 million in federal funds.

The Wilmington work completion comes on the heels of the $46 million connector improvement project in San Pedro recently completed by the Port of Los Angeles in collaboration with Caltrans.
The project involved the widening of the SR-47 (Seaside Freeway) connector to I-110 with an additional lane and modifying the freeway ramps at John S. Gibson Boulevard.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

USCG Announces New Towing Vessel Regulations

By Mark Edward Nero

New regulations that establish requirements for the design, construction, operation and onboard equipment of towing vessels were released by the US Coast Guard on June 20.

With certain exceptions, the regulations apply to US-flag towing vessels 26 feet or more in length and those less than 26 feet moving barges carrying oil or hazardous material in bulk.

The rule lays out new compliance options as well as new equipment, construction and operational requirements for towing vessels.

The rule, which includes provisions covering specific electrical and machinery requirements for new and existing towing vessels, the use and approval of third-party organizations and procedures for obtaining inspection certificates, becomes effective July 20.

However, some regulations are being phased-in over time, and existing towing vessels will have an additional two years before having to comply with most of the requirements.

Vessel operators will have the choice of two inspection regimes. Under the Towing Safety Management System (TSMS) option, routine inspections of towing vessels will primarily be performed by third-party organizations (TPOs), including certain classification societies, and this rule creates a framework for oversight and audits of such TPOs by the Coast Guard.

The TSMS will provide those operators with the flexibility to tailor their safety management system to their own needs, while still ensuring an overall level of safety acceptable to the Coast Guard.

Alternatively, under the Coast Guard inspection option, routine inspections would be conducted by the Coast Guard, providing an option for those operators who choose not to develop and implement their own TSMS.

The new rule is expected to affect about 5,500 US flag towing vessels engaged in pushing, pulling, or hauling alongside, as well as the nearly 1,100 companies that own or operate them.
The complete final rule can be read on the Federal Register website: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/06/20/2016-12857/inspection-of-towing-vessels

Foss Maritime Names New President

By Mark Edward Nero

Seattle-based Foss Maritime Co. announced June 17 that Chief Operating Officer John Parrott will take over the role of company president, assuming responsibility for day-to-day operations as of Aug. 1.

Parrott came to Foss as COO in January 2016 from sister company TOTE Maritime. He takes the helm of the company with over 28 years of maritime experience, both at sea and ashore.

“Foss is an incredibly dynamic company,” Parrott said. “We are building on more than 125 years of safe, innovative service, and we have an exciting road ahead.”

Current President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Stevens is expected to remain CEO of Foss through 2016 and then move to Foss parent company Saltchuk to serve as Senior Vice President and Managing Director.

“I’m happy to turn over the company to someone that not only has an extensive maritime background, but has also earned the respect of our owner group at Saltchuk through his contributions at TOTE Maritime,” Stevens said.

In his new role at Saltchuk, Stevens will support various strategic initiatives currently underway and will help support Saltchuk’s growth activities, the company said.

“Paul has led Foss through an incredible period of growth and has served as a capable leader within our company for more than 13 years,” Saltchuk President Tim Engle said. “We are grateful that we will continue to have Paul’s leadership and expertise serving the entire Saltchuk family of companies.”

Tidewater Transport Christens Towboats

By Mark Edward Nero

The newest inland river towboats in Tidewater Transportation and Terminals’ fleet, Granite Point and Ryan Point, were christened during a June 11 ceremony at Vancouver Landing in Vancouver, Washington.

Tidewater retained the services of CT Marine, Naval Architects and Marine Engineers of Edgecomb, Maine three years ago, to design a towboat that could maneuver barges through the swift-moving currents, high winds and eight navigation locks along the Columbia Snake River System.

Once the plans were developed, Tidewater contracted with Vigor’s Portland shipyard to construct the series of vessels.

“This celebration is the culmination of three years of research, design and hard work,” Schwartz said. “We began the Point Class project with a visionary belief that we could create a vessel that efficiently serves our customers along the river, is environmentally-friendly, and is outfitted with crew endurance in mind. I believe we accomplished our goal.”

The first vessel in the series of three, Crown Point, was christened in June, 2015 and has been in operation for more than a year. The Granite Point recently began journeying upriver, and the Ryan Point is expected follow in early July.

All three vessels are built to the same specifications - 104 feet in length by 38 feet, with a depth at full load of 11 feet, and a hexagonal wheelhouse with floor-to-ceiling windows on all six sides.

The steering system utilizes four main steering and four flanking rudders, coupled with two Caterpillar 3516C Tier 3 engines.

Tidewater also employed Noise Control Engineers of Billerica, Mass. to develop a sound and vibration control package for the vessel. By incorporating Christie & Grey vibration control mounts and comprehensive acoustic insulation, noise levels register at less than 60 decibels during vessel operation – equivalent to an air conditioner.

“The crews that operate these boats say that there is no tug that they have ever operated that gives the operability that these boats have,” Tidewater CEO Bob Curcio said during the christening ceremony. “It’s one hell of a proud day for all the Tidewater folks.”

“These boats will be on the river after all of us are likely gone from this earth,” Vigor Executive Vice President of Fabrication Corey Yraguen said. “That is an astounding thought – that they will be creating jobs and will be a part of the economic engine of our community for a very long time.”