Monday, August 31, 2015

Maritime Hydrogen Fuel Project Launched in Honolulu

By Mark Edward Nero

Sandia National Laboratories on Aug. 28 began leading a maritime hydrogen fuel cell project at the Port of Honolulu facility of Young Brothers Ltd. to test a hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered generator as an alternative to conventional diesel generators.

Following the six-month test of the fuel cell unit, the project team will analyze the project’s successes and challenges, including the operating and cost parameters needed to make a business case at other ports.

“The long-range goal is to develop a commercial-ready technology that can be widely used at other ports,” said Joe Pratt, Sandia’s project lead. “The project team sees a strong market need and desire for a fuel cell solution, not only at maritime ports but also for users who aren’t connected to a grid.”

Planning for the Maritime Hydrogen Fuel Cell project began in late 2012 with a study that determined that hydrogen fuel cells could replace diesel generators in providing auxiliary power on board and to ships at berth.

“At the point of use, hydrogen fuel cells produce nothing but water – zero pollutant emissions and no greenhouse gases,” Pratt said. “This technology could enable major commercial ports and marine vessels to lessen their environmental impacts.”

An analysis by Sandia and DOE showed that due to fluctuating loads in maritime auxiliary power applications, a hydrogen fuel cell, which only supplies power when it’s needed, is more energy efficient than a diesel engine.

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office and the US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration are funding the six-month deployment of the hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered generator, which is comprised of four 30-kilowatt fuel cells, a hydrogen storage system and power-conversion equipment packaged in a 20-foot shipping container.

The generator has enough energy to power 10 refrigerated containers for 20 continuous hours of operation.

The unit is already providing power to refrigerated containers on shore and soon will begin powering the same refrigerated containers on Young Brothers’ barges that distribute goods to Hawaii’s other islands. Young Brothers is a Foss Maritime subsidiary.

NASSCO Launches Gas-Powered Containership

By Mark Edward Nero

On Aug. 29, General Dynamics NASSCO launched the second in a series of natural gas powered containerships during christening and launch ceremony at the company’s San Diego shipyard.
The ship, the Perla del Caribe, was built for transportation and logistics company Totem Ocean Trailer Express.

The new Marlin Class ships, constructed by NASSCO shipbuilders and measuring the same length as two-and-a-half football fields, are being built to carry cargo exports between US-owned ports.

The ships are expected to reduce particulate matter by 98 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by 72 percent, the equivalent of removing more than 15,700 cars from the road, making them among the cleanest cargo-carrying containerships in the world.

As part of the ceremony, the ship’s sponsor, Emma Engle, a third-generation shareholder of TOTE’s parent company, Saltchuk, christened the ship with a traditional champagne bottle break over the ship’s hull. Alcinda Buirds, a 32-year NASSCO employee, pulled the trigger to release the ship into the San Diego Bay.

As part of a two-ship contract signed in December 2012 with TOTE, the 764-foot long Marlin class containerships will be among the largest dry cargo ships of their kind in the world powered by LNG and are expected to dramatically decrease emissions while increasing fuel efficiency when compared to conventionally-powered ships.

Upon delivery of the first vessel in late-2015, the Jones Act-qualified ships will operate between Jacksonville, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

NASSCO is the only major shipyard on the US West Coast conducting design, new construction and repair of commercial and US Navy ships.

In the past decade, NASSCO has delivered eleven commercial ships and has orders for ten more. During this same decade, NASSCO has delivered 17 ships to the US Navy.

Research Vessel Completes Acceptance Trials

By Mark Edward Nero

The first-of-class auxiliary general oceanographic research (AGOR) vessel R/V Neil Armstrong, constructed at the Anacortes, Washington shipyard Dakota Creek Industries, has successfully completed acceptance trials, the US Navy reported Aug. 27.

The R/V Neil Armstrong is a modern mono-hull research vessel capable of integrated, interdisciplinary, general-purpose oceanographic research in coastal and deep ocean areas.

The Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) found the ship to be “well-built and inspection-ready” after the trials evaluated the ship’s major systems and equipment, including demonstrations of the ship’s main propulsion system, dynamic positioning system, navigation, cranes and winches and communication systems.

Acceptance trials represent the cumulative efforts following a series of in-port and underway inspections conducted jointly by builder Dakota Creek Industries and government agencies throughout the construction, test and trials process. The trials are the last significant shipbuilding milestone before delivery of the ship to the Navy, which is expected to occur this fall.

Neil Armstrong Class AGOR vessels are 238 feet long and incorporate the latest technologies, including high-efficiency diesel engines, emissions controls for stack gasses and new information technology tools both for monitoring shipboard systems and for communicating.

These ships are expected to provide scientists with the tools and capabilities to support ongoing research including in the western Pacific and other regions across a variety of missions.

The R/V Neil Armstrong will be operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution under a charter party agreement with Office of Naval Research. It will have a crew of 20, with accommodations for 24 scientists.

Logistics Roundtable Event Set for Sept. 3

By Mark Edward Nero

Luncheon tickets are available for the “Leadership in Logistics Roundtable” event scheduled for Thurs., Sept. 3 in Seal Beach. California.

The event, sponsored by the California Trucking Association, features a roundtable discussion on critical issues facing the movement of goods, supply chains and other logistical matters with US Rep. Alan Lowenthal and Federal Maritime Commission Chair Mario Cordero, a former president of the Port of Long Beach Harbor Commission.

Also during the event, the first ever Josh Owen Memorial “Leadership in Logistics” award will be given to Fran Inman, a member of the California Transportation Commission.

The scheduled featured speaker is former Major League Baseball pitcher Jim Abbott, who will present a discussion on leadership values. Lunch-only tickets are $75 and tables are still available for purchase.

The event is being held at the Old Ranch Country Club, 3901 Lampson Ave., Seal Beach.
To purchase tickets or for more information, email California Trucking Association executive Alex Cherin at

Friday, August 28, 2015

Survey: Many Mariners Dread Port Calls

By Mark Edward Nero

Seafarers sometimes dread port calls because of the increase in workload caused by audits and inspections when a ship is in dock, according to a new survey by Crewtoo, an online social network for seafarers.

The quarterly Crewtoo Seafarers Happiness Index report is designed to monitor and benchmark seafarer satisfaction levels via 10 key questions. The results of the second quarterly report were revealed Aug. 26. They show a seafarer satisfaction level of 6.44 on a scale of one to 10, up 0.02 from the inaugural survey published in May.

According to the latest survey results, the increase in workload at port also caused a drop in satisfaction levels toward shore leave, as the amount of work often eats into the time available for relaxation.

“I am happy at sea but when our vessel enters port, it is a very hard time,” one respondent stated.
Increased stress during port visits and either reduced or non-existent shore leave gives seafarers very few opportunities to relax and unwind away from their vessels.

However, the latest quarterly Crewtoo Seafarers Happiness Index also shows several areas where satisfaction improved versus the first report.

For example, there was an improvement in crew satisfaction with salary levels and an improvement in their feelings about the standard of food available onboard. The availability of exercising onboard was also viewed more positively, as was the satisfaction derived from crew interaction and team building, which increased from 6.96 to 7.16 and became the highest score in the survey.

Answers to the survey were received from across all ranks and nationalities including seafarers from the US, Canada, United Kingdom, Philippines, Poland, Croatia, Germany, India, and Turkey, as well as a number of African nations.

The age of the respondents ranged from 16 to late 60s. Masters made up the largest proportion of responses by rank; 11 percent of respondents stated that they were currently serving in the role of captain. The majority of responses were from seafarers working on bulk carriers and container vessels.

Full results of the latest survey can be downloaded at

Vancouver USA Wins Environmental Case

By Mark Edward Nero

The Washington Court of Appeals on Aug. 25 ruled in favor of the Port of Vancouver USA regarding an appeal brought by two environmental groups over whether the port’s lease for the Vancouver Energy terminal complies with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).

Environmental groups Columbia Riverkeeper and Northwest Environmental Defense Center claimed that the port failed to follow SEPA during the lease approval process.

Specifically, they alleged that the port should have waited to approve the lease until the state energy siting council (EFSEC) issued its environmental impact statement. They alleged that the lease improperly limited the alternatives to be considered in the siting council process.

However, the appeals court this week affirmed a January 2014 ruling by Clark County Superior Court Judge David E. Gregerson, who had ruled that the Port of Vancouver USA was not required to conduct a SEPA review prior to entering the lease with Tesoro-Savage.

Gregerson also found that the lease did not limit the alternatives to be considered during environmental review because it’s contingent on completion of that review.

The Court of Appeals also found that the port’s decision to enter the lease was exempt from SEPA’s Environmental Impact Statement requirement and did not limit the choice of reasonable alternatives for the project.

“We are pleased that the three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the decision of the Superior Court,” port CEO Todd Coleman said. “This is yet another ruling in the port’s favor that reaffirms our commitment to responsible development and thorough environmental review.”

“We look forward to continuing our collaborative work with all interested parties as the Vancouver Energy project goes through the EFSEC process,” Coleman said.

Asia-North America Trade Boom Expected by 2020

By Mark Edward Nero

Trade from China and Southeast Asia to North America is expected to boom during the next five years, according to new analysis released Aug. 26 by information and analytics company IHS Inc.

The World Trade Service of IHS Maritime & Trade forecasts that China’s trade will continue to increase by more than five percent per year between 2015 and 2020. This positive medium-term trade growth comes despite more recent setbacks caused by the marked economic slowdown in China and weaker growth among other emerging markets in the current and near-term.

“These increases will not be the double-digit rises seen before the 2008 global economic crisis,” IHS maritime and trade principal analyst Krispen Atkinson predicted. “However, an increase of more than 30 percent in the next five years underscores China’s intent to remain a new trade hub-and spoke lynchpin for the rest of the economic world.”

One new trend is the move toward larger container ships to streamline the supply chain. Shipping alliances that dominate east-west trade are pushing the trend toward containerships capable of carrying 20,000 TEUs in their quest to reduce unit costs. Current container ships hold around 13,000 boxes, so the new container carriers are capable of transporting more than 50 percent more cargo. Their push has meant further capacity has become available in the trade.

The analysis also predicts a boom in trade between Southeast Asian countries and North America.
Vietnam’s exports are estimated to increase by 44 percent by 2020. IHS forecasts a 44 percent increase in trade between Vietnam and North America and a 43 percent increase in trade between Vietnam and Europe in the next five years.

“China may be the major powerhouse in the region, but Southeast Asia is making significant headway,” Atkinson said. “In terms of actual cargo, the figures are still low when compared with China’s, but these are still huge jumps for these economies.”

Trade between the two regions is made up of manufactured goods like home appliances or mechanical hardware.

“Vietnam, India and many of the South Asian economies stand to benefit from recent energy and commodity price falls as net importers of these goods,” HIS director of sovereign risk analysis Jan Randolph said.