Jensen Naval Architects

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Environmental Groups Sue Port of Seattle

By Mark Edward Nero

On March 2, a coalition of environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the Port of Seattle and its board of commissioners to challenge the port’s approval last month of a lease that opens a container terminal to an Arctic drilling fleet.

On Feb. 11, the port revealed that on Feb. 9 it had signed a two-year lease with Foss Maritime that gives Foss the right to short-term moorage and vessel operations along 50 acres at the port’s 156-acre Terminal 5, which is currently undergoing renovation.

The lawsuit charges that the lease will change the use of Terminal 5 by converting it into a homeport for Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet. Earthjustice filed the challenge in King County Superior Court on behalf of Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the Sierra Club, the Washington Environmental Council and the Seattle Audubon Society.

The lawsuit says, “The lease would allow Shell’s drill ships to be housed at the port, including the Noble Discoverer which was the subject of eight felony convictions and over $12 million in fines and community service last December, including for discharging oil-contaminated water in violation of water pollution laws.”

The environmental groups allege that the port has violated its long-range plans and its shoreline permit, which designate Terminal 5 as a cargo terminal, not a homeport, and say that the port needed to conduct a public review of the environmental and community impacts of making the change.

“By making a secret deal to house Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet in Seattle, the port shut out the public and subverted laws that are designed to foster an informed public assessment of controversial proposals like this one,” Earthjustice Managing Attorney Patti Goldman said.

In a Feb. 11 letter to stakeholders, Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick said the lease is for short-term moorage and vessel operations along 50 acres at the port’s 156-acre Terminal 5, which is currently undergoing renovation, and that the deal would represent no change of use from the activities of the previous tenant.

The environmental groups disagree.

“Protecting the health of our waterways begins with transparency in significant decisions made by our public officials,” Chris Wilke, executive director of Puget Soundkeeper Alliance said. “Unfortunately the port missed this mark by a huge margin while ignoring its own stated goals of sustainability. The Commission’s failure to inform the public about this back room deal amounts to a breach of trust.”

Under the lease, Foss is to pay $550,000 a month, or $13.17 million, over the full two years. The lease, which includes two one-year extension options, is part of a push by the port to find an interim use for the land and keep revenue coming in.

Cargo operations at the terminal were relocated in July 2014 as part of a modernization program under which stronger piers, deeper berths and other improvements are to be constructed. The terminal’s expected to reopen in 2018.

Maritime Commission Okays LA, LB Ports’ Pact

By Mark Edward Nero

On Feb. 26, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles received approval from the Federal Maritime Commission to cooperate on finding new ways to prevent congestion and cargo delays, improve the transportation network and enhance air quality.

The FMC’s decision now allows the ports to pursue joint projects that they say will strengthen the ports’ ability to remove bottlenecks and move cargo faster and more efficiently.

The newly expanded agreement specifies that the two ports can exchange information on “projects” and “programs” in addition to rates, charges, operating costs, practices and regulations related to marine terminal, trucking, rail and vessel operations.

“With this discussion agreement, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles can now focus on working together to improve the speed of cargo flow throughout the supply chain,” Port of Long Beach Chief Executive Jon Slangerup said in a prepared statement. “The ports are in a perfect position – and indeed have an obligation – to bring all industry stakeholders together to identify and implement continuous improvements.”

The harbor commissions that oversee the adjoining ports asked the FMC in December to expand existing working agreements in an effort to find long-term solutions to the congestion that had slowed the movement of cargo shipped through Long Beach and Los Angeles in recent months.

Although major ports around the globe have grappled with the same problems, the difficulties have been magnified at LA-Long Beach, which is the busiest harbor complex in North America and handles nearly 40 percent of US cargo. A tentative contract agreement reached Feb. 20 by longshore labor and management has helped however, and the ports are working through the backlog of containers.

Seattle Port Undergoes Organizational Realignment

By Mark Edward Nero

On Feb. 24, Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick presented to his port commission a series of organizational changes that he said are part of the initial phase of a series of measures to help aid the port’s growth strategy.

“During my first five months on the job I’ve recognized that we have many opportunities to grow our already significant impact on the region’s economy, to increase revenue, and to boost our operational excellence and effectiveness,” Fick said.

The announced realignment aims to grow operations and increase jobs throughout the region and state by promoting economic development, Fick said, as well as advancing the port’s Century Agenda, a 25-year strategy for building a sustainable regional economy through targeted business initiatives and partnerships with public and private sectors.

Organizational changes include the creation of an Office for Strategic Initiatives to provide a launch pad for good ideas and process improvements; a new Economic Development office that will encompass a number of existing functions such as Real Estate, Office of Social Responsibility, Tourism Development; and a new small business ‘incubator’ to become a primary economic growth driver for the port.

Also, a new Maritime Division will include all remaining water-borne businesses – cruise, fishing, and recreational boating. There will be an increased number of executive staff reporting directly to the CEO, including Labor Relations. Seattle’s Airport Division will remain structured as-is.

“By flattening the organization, it will give me a more focused opportunity to make a direct impact on the organization, such as Labor Relations and Economic Development,” Fick said. “This is just the first phase of a reorganization that will continue for a couple of years as we grow the business.”

POLB Hires Two New Managers

By Mark Edward Nero

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners last week appointed port industry veterans Michael Christensen and Glenn Farren to newly created management positions to enhance cargo flow and service at the port.

Christensen, who most recently was Deputy Executive Director at the Port of Los Angeles, was appointed Long Beach’s Senior Executive for Supply Chain Optimization, reporting directly to Chief Executive Jon Slangerup.

Farren, who was General Manager for Hapag-Lloyd America, will be Long Beach’s Director of Tenant Services and Operations, a new position created to emphasize the importance of relations with port tenants.

With the Port of Long Beach, Christensen will be responsible for working collaboratively with industry stakeholders to find new ways to increase communication and cooperation among the links of the supply chain. At the Port of LA, he had been the No. 2-ranked executive since 2006. 
Previously, he was Vice President for the Parsons Transportation Group in Irvine, and before that he was Vice President and Managing Principal for Nolte and Associates in Walnut Creek. He started his new job Mon., March 2.

Farren has more than 20 years of experience in managing marine terminals. At Hapag-Lloyd, he was General Manager for Southern California Operations. Previously, he worked for shipping companies Maersk, Sea-Land and APL. He begins his new job this month, and will report to Long Beach’s Managing Director of Commercial Operations/Chief Commercial Officer, Dr. Noel Hacegaba.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Port Metro Vancouver Breaks Annual Cargo Record

By Mark Edward Nero

Port Metro Vancouver, Canada’s largest seaport, had record-breaking cargo volumes in 2014, marking the second straight year it broke its own annual volume record, according to 

Port terminals saw 2.9 million TEUs during calendar year 2014, compared to 2.8 million in 2013 and 2.7 million in 2012.

Annual bulk volumes increased by 5.3 percent over 2013, according to the port, with substantial increases in grain exports, plus strong international demand spurring an 18-percent jump in exports of wheat and 31-percent increase for canola. Also, bulk coal volumes remained strong as volumes increased in several emerging markets from more traditional markets. Bulk potash reached a new record of 7.5 million tons, a 14-percent rise from the previous year.

Additionally, container volumes continued to grow, with a 3.1-percent increase over 2013, despite reduced volumes in the month of March due to a container trucking dispute.

The port’s terminals handled 140 million tons of cargo in 2014, up three percent from 2013. Import cargo rose 4.1 percent to 29 million tons, and exports rose 3.3 percent to 111 million tons.
Robin Silvester, the port’s president and chief executive officer said in a statement that the record year for cargo volumes illustrates “the demands created by a growing Canadian economy and increasing international desire for Canadian trade.”

The news wasn’t all good, however: auto volumes at Metro Vancouver declined in 2014 largely due to a shift in vehicle production from Asia to North America. Breakbulk volumes also fell slightly due to a decrease in log exports. Cruise passenger numbers remained strong, however; Port Metro Vancouver saw 812,095 passengers throughout the 2014 season, virtually the same number as the year before.

Port Metro Vancouver, which handles 19 percent of the value of Canada’s total trade in goods, is the third-largest North American port, after those in Los Angeles and Long Beach. By comparison, the Port of Los Angeles saw 8.3 million TEUs last year, and the Port of Long Beach 6.8 million, more than double Metro Vancouver’s 2.9 million TEUs.

LA Port Monthly Container Volumes Drop

By Mark Edward Nero

Container volumes at the Port of Los Angeles dropped a whopping 22.7 percent this past January compared to the same month last year, according to newly-released data. January 2015 cargo volumes totaled 529,427 20-foot equivalent units, compared to 685,549 TEUs in January 2014.

The port has blamed the decrease on a number of factors, including terminal congestion, protracted contract negotiations and other supply chain issues that have affected US West Coast ports for months.

Imports dropped 28 percent, from 360,036 TEUs in January 2014 to 259,206 TEUs in January 2015, according to the data, while exports declined 23 percent, from 161,938 TEUs in January 2014 to 124,365 TEUs in January 2015.

Combined, total loaded imports and exports fell 26.5 percent, from 521,975 TEUs in January 2014 to 383,571 TEUs in January 2015. Factoring in empties, which fell 10.8 percent, the overall January 2015 volume of 529,427 TEUs represented a 22.7 percent decline.

Earlier this month, the adjoining Port of Long Beach revealed that its monthly cargo volumes were down a total of 18.8 percent last month compared to January 2014, something it also partially blamed on labor unrest, an issue that was settled last week with a new five-year contract between the International Longshore Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association.

“The (cargo) numbers aren’t a surprise to us, and last week’s announcement of a tentative labor agreement between the (ILWU and PMA) is a major step forward in terms of getting our cargo volumes back on track,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a Feb. 26 statement. “We’re working with our stakeholders to develop short-term solutions that resolve our present cargo backlog, in addition to longer-term solutions that focus on achieving higher levels of operational efficiency –especially in terms of servicing the larger ships deployed through carrier alliances.”

Current and historical data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles are available at

Victoria Shipyards Names New VP/GM

By Mark Edward Nero

Joe O’Rourke has joined Victoria Shipyards as its new vice president and general manager, the company said Feb. 19. O’Rourke is replacing long-serving vice president and general manager Malcolm Barker, who’s retiring this spring after more than 21 years with the company.

O’Rourke has nearly 30 years of experience in positions of leadership and senior management throughout North America. He joins Seaspan after most recently serving as a senior vice president with Vigor Industrial in Oregon.

In his new role, he’ll be responsible for the company’s operation, as well as building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with customers and suppliers throughout the shipbuilding and ship repair industry, according to the company.

“Joe’s diverse experience and track record of proven leadership across diverse sectors of the North American marine transportation industry will be an asset,” Seaspan Shipyards President Brian Carter said. British Columbia-based Victoria Shipyards is a Seaspan company.

The retiring Barker, who began his shipbuilding career at the age of 16, has been in the marine industry for about 40 years, including the last 21 years with Victoria Shipyards.

“Malcolm has been instrumental in successfully building Victoria Shipyards to the thriving organization it is today and words cannot express the sincere gratitude we have for his leadership and accomplishments,” Carter said. “Throughout Malcolm’s tenure, Victoria Shipyards has grown steadily and earned a reputation for its quality work in new construction, major ship upgrades and ship repair.”

O’Rourke and Barker are expected work closely in the coming weeks to ensure a thorough and seamless leadership transition process, according to Seaspan.