Thursday, April 29, 2010

ATA, LA Port Rest Cases In Clean Truck Suit

Testimony has concluded in a federal lawsuit brought by the American Trucking Associations that seeks to overturn non-environmental aspects of the Port of Los Angeles' Clean Truck Program.

Attorneys for the port and city of Los Angeles rested their case Wednesday, bringing to a close seven days of testimony before Judge Christina Snyder. The judge has instructed both sides to file concluding briefs no later than May 14. She will take a tour of the port on Thursday, then plans to review the two sides' briefs before issuing a ruling.

The suit centers on a Los Angeles port truck scheme that took effect in October 2008 requiring port-servicing drayage firms to sign so-called ‘concession agreements’ as a requirement to gain access to port terminals. Firms without such an access license are barred from entering port facilities. The plan was originally conceived by the port as a means to bar older polluting trucks and force drayage firms to use newer and cleaner burning vehicles, thereby cutting port-generated diesel emissions.

However, the port included non-environmental criteria in the concession agreements, such as financial, maintenance, insurance, safety, parking and labor criteria that the ATA argues is preempted by federal interstate commerce law.

The ATA sued the city and port shortly before the port initiated to the program. The ATA, which did not oppose the environmental aspects of the truck plan – such as progressive bans on older model year trucks – also sought and later received an injunction against certain non-environmental components of the concession agreements.

COSCO Increases Stake in Yantain Terminal Investment Firm

Chinese terminal operator and logistics firm COSCO Pacific announced Thursday that it will pay $520 million for a 13.7 percent stake in the Yantian Terminal in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

Hong Kong-based COSCO is purchasing the stake through an investment in Danish-firm Sigma Enterprises from A.P. Moller-Maersk subsidiary MAPM Terminals Invest Co Ltd. The purchase will increase COSCO's holding in Sigma from 6.85 percent to 20.55 percent.

COSCO said in a statement that it would finance the purchase internally, but may turn to "capital market transactions when it is appropriate.” Cosco also said that it has cash and reserves on hand of $700 million.

The Yantain Terminals, which move close to 9 million TEUs a year, are a major component of the transpacific trade routes.

Ports America Names New CPO

The nation's largest independent terminal operator, Ports America, announced Thursday that it has named Claus Michael Svendsen to the position of Chief Process Officer, effective May 1.

In his new role, Svendsen will report directly to Ports America President and CEO Michael Hassing and "be responsible for activities and actions currently under the Program Office as well as defining, structuring, and further optimizing Ports America’s processes," according to a statement.

A 10-year veteran of the maritime industry, Svendsen most recently served as CPO, Group Senior VP for European ferry operator Scandlines. He has also held various functional, operational, organizational restructuring and commercial leadership roles throughout Europe and Asia within Scandlines and A.P.Møller-Maersk.

Svendsen's appointment comes just over one month after Hassing, also a former Scandlines executive, was named to the Ports America CEO position.

The Iselin, N.J.-based Ports America's current portfolio includes 80 terminals at 42 ports across the nation.

Yoshida Named To Top MOL (America) Positions

Tokyo-based ocean carrier Mitsui O.S.K. Lines announced Thursday that Tsuyoshi Yoshida will become Chairman, President, and CEO, of MOL (America) Inc. effective June 22, 2010.

Yoshida, a 30-year veteran of MOL, has served assignments in Asia, Europe and North America. Since 2006 he has served as COO and Executive VP of MOL (America). He is a graduate of Yokohama National University with a bachelor's degree in Mathematics for Management.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Maersk Chassis Lease Firm to Expands Into Pac NW and Gulf

A.P. Moller-Maersk subsidiary Direct ChassisLink has announced plans to expand its chassis lease services into the Pacific Northwest and the Gulf of Mexico starting June 1.

The North Carolina-based Direct ChassisLink, which already offers leased chassis to drayage firms at container yards, marine terminals and railroads in Chicago, the Midwest, the Northeast and the Ohio Valley, will begin offering the service to customers in Houston, New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.

“Over 1000 truckers are currently participating in the program in the Northeast, Ohio Valley and Midwest regions with great success. Less time swapping chassis means more time servicing their customers, reduced fuel costs resulting in a direct and immediate benefit from this program,” said Direct ChassisLink Vice President Andy Chinigo.

Direct ChassisLink plans to have 20,000 chassis available through its system by June 1.

tags: Direct ChassisLink, chassis

Horizon Lines Reports $13.2M Loss in 1st Q

Jones Act ocean carrier Horizon Lines Inc. posted a $13.2 million loss in the first quarter, citing increased operating expenses and a decline in container traffic on all the carrier's routes except for its Hawai'i/Guam service.

The first quarter loss is $3.2 million greater, or 24 percent, than the $10 million loss Horizon reported in the first quarter of 2009.

"During the quarter, we faced ongoing rate pressures, high fuel costs and increased contractual labor expenses relative to last year, and we expect these to continue," said Chuck Raymond, Horizon's chairman, president and chief executive officer.

After adjustments, Horizon reported its per share loss at 39 cents. Industry watching analysts had expected the loss to be in the 26 cents per share range.

Revenues during the first quarter rose 5 percent to $286.1 million.

Company-wide, total container volume for the first quarter fell by 1.9 percent, mainly on lackluster performance in the Puerto Rico and Alaska services. However, in the carrier's Hawaii/Guam service, total container volume was up slightly for the quarter.

"Our business in Hawaii is reflecting a modest economic recovery and Alaska is stabilizing," Raymond said. "Hawaii and Guam have improved nicely. They're up a couple of percentage points in March and we're seeing the same in April."

Guam Port Clears Hurdle For $50 Million in Upgrade Plans

The US Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration has awarded Hunt Valley, Maryland-based EA Engineering, Science and Technology a contract to manage the Port Authority of Guam's $200 million port modernization project, spurring hope on the island that long-sought after funds for the project will now begin to flow.

The management contract was required to be in place before the US Congress can authorize $50 million in Defense Department funds for the port project.

Previous attempts to raise funds to kick-start the modernization program have not met with much success. In mid-February, the federal government refused to authorize $50 million in national recovery grant funds to the Guam port authority. The loss also cost the port authority $49.1 million in matching funds from the US Department of Agriculture.

However, port officials are upbeat about the $50 million from the Defense Department and are hoping to work with the Obama Administration to secure more funds in the near future.

The modernization plan comes as the Defense Department readies a $15 billion plan to begin moving about 8,000 US Marines and 9,000 of their dependents from Okinawa, Japan to a new base on Guam. Island officials believe that without the upgrades to the commercial port, the military buildup, set to begin later this year and run through 2014, will cause significant disruptions to commercial shipping to the island.

Under the terms of the management contract, EA Engineering, which has a presence on Guam, will be responsible for awarding nearly $157 million worth of contracts related to the $200 million modernization program.

Financial details of the contract with EA Engineering were not released.

San Diego Port Gets New Top Cop

Brainerd, Minn., Police Chief John Bolduc has been named the new Chief of Harbor Police with the Unified Port of San Diego.

Bolduc, a Twin Cities-native and 24-year police veteran, will take over the 140 officer and 20 civilian staff member department in San Diego on May 14. The San Diego harbor police are overseen by the port's board of commissioners and have jurisdiction in five cities: Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego.

In addition to serving nine years as police chief of Brainerd, Bolduc also previously served three years as chief of police for the city of Mora, Minn.

"In the 33 years I've been on the Brainerd City Council, to me I've never had a finer police chief," Brainerd Mayor James Wallin told the Brainerd Dispatch. "Our loss is their gain, of course, but at least we had him for nine years. He made the department what it is today and I'm very thankful we had him for nine years."