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Friday, July 22, 2011

SSA Marine's Hemingway Receives Port's Top Honor

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners presented the Port of Long Beach’s highest recognition, the Honorary Port Pilot Award, to Jon F. Hemingway, Chief Executive Officer of SSA Marine, in a ceremony Thursday, July 21.

Hemingway becomes the 76th recipient of the award, which is presented by the Port to business and political leaders who have made significant contributions to international trade and the maritime industry.

The Port has presented the award to CEOs of leading corporations, prime ministers, ambassadors, members of Congress, Cabinet officials and presidents, including President Ronald Reagan.

Hemingway’s company, Seattle-based SSA Marine, and its affiliates provide cargo-handling and transportation services at more than 150 seaport facilities worldwide, including four shipping terminal operations that move about half of the cargo at the Port of Long Beach.

Hemingway, who began his career with SSA Marine in the mid-1980s, has overseen a major expansion of SSA’s services, from the West Coast into the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, Latin America, Asia and Africa. Hemingway serves as chief executive officer, president and director of more than 50 SSA Marine affiliates and serves on the board of directors of more than 20 joint ventures.

“The Port is proud to present Jon Hemingway with this prestigious award,” said Port Executive Director Richard D. Steinke. “It is fitting that on the Port’s Centennial anniversary we honor someone whose vision and extraordinary leadership will help shape our industry for decades to come.”

The Honorary Port Pilot Award was established in 1954 by the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners to recognize significant contributions to the advancement of world trade. It was last awarded in 2007 to Soo Ho Cho, President of Hanjin Shipping Co. To see all the previous winners, go to www.polb.com/portpilotaward.

The award is named for the harbor port pilots who courageously guide cargo ships safely in and out of the port under all conditions, in good weather and bad.

-PMM Staff

Judge Rules Long Beach Port Must Review Environmental Impacts of ATA Settlement

A federal court judge has ruled that a 2009 lawsuit settlement between the Port of Long Beach and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) regarding the port's clean truck program should have gone through a preliminary environmental review process.

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Sierra Club filed the suit against the port in December 2009, alleging that Long Beach city officials – including the port's governing board – violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by not properly reviewing the potential environmental impacts of the agreement before approving it.

The NRDC argued that the Long Beach settlement weakened the original scope of the truck program, and in doing so, created negative impacts to the environment.

On June 15, federal circuit court Judge Christina Snyder ruled that the agreement could have possible environmental impacts and that Long Beach should conduct an "initial study" under CEQA guidelines.

Most large projects, a categorization Judge Snyder said the truck plan falls under, typically require a review of potential environmental impacts. The first step in this is a CEQA – essentially a checklist – in which various potential impacts are examined. If the possible impacts pass a certain threshold, further environmental documentation and review, such as an environmental impact report, must be conducted. If the project falls below the CEQA threshold, no further review is required.

“Nothing about the port’s agreement with the ATA was made with the public’s health in mind,” director of NRDC’s Southern California Clean Air Program David Pettit said. “The agreement was a big giveaway to industry in hopes that ATA would drop their litigation against the port, and when they did, so did the port’s commitment to a sustainable clean truck program and cleaner air for port residents.”

The NRDC and Sierra Club suit grew out of a larger ATA suit filed in mid-2008 against the ports and cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles over portions of the two ports' jointly-developed clean truck program.

The Long Beach/ATA settlement, which was originally approved by Long Beach officials in October, 2009, and subsequently reviewed and approved by Judge Snyder in 2009, officially removed Long Beach from the larger ATA suit.

The larger ATA lawsuit, now involving just Los Angeles, is awaiting a ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Under the terms of the 2009 settlement, in exchange for the ATA dropping the lawsuit against Long Beach, port officials in Long Beach agreed to modify their version of the truck plan by replacing a requirement for port-servicing drivers to obtain a concession agreement with a requirement calling for drivers to participate in a registration agreement.

Under the original truck program developed by the two ports, trucking firms had to sign a concession agreement to be allowed to service the ports' facilities. The concession agreement contained numerous criteria that the ATA took exception to, including a mandate that all port servicing truck drivers work as per-hour employees of trucking firms, instead of as per-load independent owner-operators.

The industry has pointed out that independent operators – which make up more than 80 percent of the two ports drivers – are barred from unionizing and the promotion of the truck program employee-mandate is an effort by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to organize the port drivers.

Under the Long Beach registration agreement, trucking firms wishing to service the Port of Long Beach must agree to register with the port and comply with all environmental, safety and security requirements. In exchange, the trucking firms are provided with a transponder that permits access to port facilities.

"With this settlement, the Port of Long Beach and the ATA have agreed to move forward, together, on a Clean Trucks Program that works to safeguard the environment while contributing to economic growth and jobs," Port of Long Beach Harbor Commission President Nick Sramek said at the time.

"The change will streamline our program. At the same time, under the new registration system, the Port of Long Beach will have the tools to strictly monitor and enforce its Clean Trucks Program and the program’s truck emission reductions. It will also be positioned to enforce fully all of its security and safety related regulations."

Due to the larger ATA lawsuit the same portions of the original two-port truck program that Long Beach agreed to remove from its version have been enjoined by court order on the Los Angeles side.

Since the now-differing versions of the truck program were implemented by both ports in 2008, port-servicing truck emissions have been reduced by more nearly 90 percent and nearly 100 percent of the ports-servicing trucks have been replaced by 2007 or newer model year vehicles.

It remains unclear what a CEQA review conducted well after the fact would accomplish given the overwhelming success of the truck programs in reducing port pollution.
"At this stage, legal analysis is that this is not an earth shattering opinion," ATA's Curtis Whalen said. "It concerns the processes required by CEQA and the fact that the port did not do an [initial review]. The court found only that there was a “possibility” that the settlement would have a substantial environmental impact and that the port conduct an initial study."

The NRDC and Sierra Club both argue that a component of the Los Angeles concession agreement model – a requirement that cleaner trucks servicing the ports be maintained in optimum working condition – is impossible given the low pay of port drayage drivers. As the new trucks age and are not maintained, the groups argue, pollution will increase.

The trucking industry, which has invested more than $650 million in the drayage fleet upgrades since the 2008 implementation of the truck programs, has countered that it is not in their best interest to allow their sizable investment to go unmaintained.

In addition, trucks servicing the ports are required to meet all state and federal air quality and safety requirements to operate in the port.

Labor Leader and Former Council Member Nominated for Long Beach Port Board

Mayor Bob Foster announced June 19 that he has appointed longshore union official Rich Dines and former Long Beach City Council member Doug Drummond to fill two seats on the Port of Long Beach's five-member governing board.

"I’m pleased to appoint Rich Dines and Doug Drummond to the Harbor Commission," Foster said. "Between the two, they have extensive knowledge of both the port and the City of Long Beach. I’m confident that they will both serve the Harbor Commission well."

Rumors had swirled for months that the seat on the port commission vacated by Mario Cordero in June – when he took a seat on the Federal Maritime Commission in Washington, DC – would be filled by a representative of the port labor community. Dines' name was prominently mentioned in connection with the possible appointment.

Dines represents more than 20,000 dockers from San Diego to Fresno as the President of the Southern California District Council of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). He also serves as the SCDC's representative to the FuturePorts organization, a board member of the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network and sits on the Policy and Steering Committee for California State University Long Beach’s Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT).

A second seat on the port board was opened with the revelation by Foster that port commissioner Mike Walter had tendered his resignation from the port board last month. Walter, a highly-regarded business educator and local philanthropist, was first appointed to a six-year term on the port board in July 2005.

"I hoped to be in a position through which I could make a major difference," Walter told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. "However, this is not the situation, and the probability of that occurring in the near term appears very low. Therefore, I do not wish to be considered for another term on the Board of Harbor Commissioners."

Set to fill Walter's seat, Drummond served as a Long Beach City Council member from 1990 to 1998, serving as the city's vice-mayor from 1994 to 1996. A 29-year veteran of the Long Beach Police Department, Drummond recently served on the board of directors for the Long Beach Transportation Company, the city's public transit agency. During his tenure on the City Council, Drummond also served as a board member of the Southern California Association of Governments and the Gateway Cities/Council of Governments representing 26 L.A. County cities. He is also a past president of the Long Beach Historical Society.

Drummond's background with the LBPD comes as City Hall moves toward absorbing the port's internal security operations into the city police department.

Dines and Drummond now face a review by the city's Personnel and Civil Service Committee and final approval by the City Council.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Deck Machinery: A Twist in the Story of Rope Strength

By Merry Schnell and Frank Choltco-Devlin

July 2011

Application-induced twist is a very common thing to see in a rope, though it often goes unnoticed. While the twisted rope may seem fine, it actually experiences a loss of strength and its chance of failure is increased. With such serious consequences, it is important for those who routinely handle ropes to be able to identify twist, take appropriate actions to remove it, and prevent it from continuing to happen.


Rope Construction 101
The story of twist begins with the very basic understanding of rope construction. All ropes are made with twisted components. Simply stated, fiber is twisted into yarns, yarns are twisted into strands, and strands are either twisted or braided into rope. Strands are created in what is called “S-strands” or “Z-strands.” S-strands are twisted to the left, and Z-strands are twisted to the right. When these strands are used in combination, torque, which is the force that tends to produce a twisting motion, is balanced.

Braided vs. Laid Ropes
Laid rope constructions include 3-strand, 6-strand, and wire ropes. Because of the construction of these ropes, they often kink, or hockle. This happens as a load is applied to the rope, causing it to untwist until it reaches a “torque-balanced” state. When the load is removed, the strands try to resume their twisted state, but their lay has been dislocated and they become deformed (see Figure 1). During manufacture, laid ropes can be torque balanced at a specific load range, but this will not eliminate all untwisting while the rope is loaded outside its load range.

All braided ropes, including 8-strand, 12-strand single braids, double braids, and core-dependent double braids, are constructed from an equal number of S-strands and Z-strands. This creates a balanced or torque-neutral construction that will not naturally twist while under load.

In order for a rope to maximize its full-strength potential, all strands of the rope must share the load equally. This load sharing (and the strength of the rope) is reduced when a braided rope is twisted, or the twist levels of a laid rope are altered.

Twist in a Braided Rope: The Bad News
As twist is induced in to a braided rope, depending on the direction of the twist, either the S- or Z-strands will take more of the load.

Figure 2 illustrates this phenomenon, where all of the Z-strands are tight and all of the S-strands are loose. The loose S-strands will not bear the same load as the tight Z-strands, causing the tight strands to be overloaded and resulting in a significantly weaker rope.

Figure 3 uses 24-mm (1-in.) diameter AmSteel®-Blue, a 12-strand single braid construction, to illustrate how little twist it takes to affect the strength of the rope. It is important to note that larger diameter ropes will be affected more severely at lower levels of twist than smaller diameters. However, the first step toward preventing twist is to inspect for it.

Identifying Twist
Identifying twist in a braided rope is relatively easy. Simply follow a single line of picks (or crowns) down the length of the rope (see Figure 4). If the picks form a straight line parallel to the length of the rope, there is no twist. If the line of picks spirals around the circumference of the rope, that section of rope is twisted. Although a braided rope will not twist on its own under load like a laid rope, there are various ways a braided rope can become twisted. For example, when it is attached to a laid synthetic or wire rope, twist is transferred to the braided rope as it is loaded.

Managing Twist: The Good News
Twist can be managed, but in order to do so, it needs to be managed early on and as a continued part of the rope’s maintenance.

Twist can be introduced in to the rope when it is installed; therefore, it is important to handle the rope correctly from the beginning. Tips to managing twist include the following:

Improper reeling or unreeling of a rope can cause twist; rope should never be taken over the top of a reel (see Figure 5).
  • Alternate directions each time the line is wrapped on to an H-bitt.
  • Twist is induced in a rope when a load is lifted or pulled and allowed to spin. Once the load is removed, remove the twist.
  • Avoid using a laid rope as a messenger line for a braided mainline or pendant (see Figure 6).
  • Avoid using a laid rope or wire rope mainline with a braided mooring pendant.
  • Avoid using a laid-rope mooring pendant on a braided mainline
  • Avoid connecting a braided rope sling to a wire rope winch line.
  • Use a swivel to connect the messenger line to the mainline or pendant
  • to reduce twist in the mainline (see Figure 7).
As the old adage says, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If the right steps are taken to manage twist from installation through the entire use of the line, the life of the line will be extended significantly.

Empties, Import Drops Slam Los Angeles Port In June

A sharp drop in imports and empty containers handled in June led the Port of Los Angeles to its first down month of the year.

The port moved a total of 640,795 TEUs in June, a 7.5 percent drop over May and a 12.3 percent drop over June of last year.

In the import column, the port handled a total of 333,894 loaded inbound TEUs in June, a 7.5 percent drop from the previous month of May and a 10.2 percent decline compared to June of 2010.

On the export side of the ledger, the port handled a total of 163,137 loaded outbound TEUs in June, an 11.5 percent drop over May, but a 5.5 percent increase over loaded outbound numbers in June of last year.

A sharp drop off in the number of empties heading in and out of the port was a main factor in taking the wind out of the port's sails during June. Empties were down 29.5 percent compared to the year-ago period.

Despite the down numbers for the month, the port--which remains the busiest container complex in the Western Hemisphere--is still holding onto positive territory for the calendar year. The port has handled a total of 3,767,227 TEUs since the start of the year, a 2.8 percent increase over the first six months of 2010.

Seattle Port Down in June, Slips Into Negative For Calendar Year

The Port of Seattle saw a sizable increase in exports handled during June, however the numbers were not enough to offset a massive drop off in import boxes, leading the port to end the month down just over 10 percent compared to June, 2010.

The port reported handling a total of 170,720 TEUs in June, a 1.2 percent decline over total numbers in May and a 10.4 percent decline compared to June of last year.

Reported import numbers for June came in at 61,471 loaded inbound TEUs for the port, a negligible 0.2 percent decline over May but a more significant 30.7 percent decline over June 2010.

On the export side, the port scored more solidly, posting 47,701 loaded outbound TEUs handled in June, a 1.3 percent drop over May but a solid 20.4 percent increase over the same month last year.

The weak June numbers pushed the port into the negative column for total boxes handled for the calendar year. The port moved a total of 1,007,138 TEUs in the January to June period, a 0.04 drop compared to the first six months of 2010.

USCG Wants To End Propulsion Loss Incidents

The United States Coast Guard District Eleven office has issued a marine safety alert to increase awareness and reiterate general guidance on fuel systems and fuel switching safety in an effort to prevent propulsion losses.

The USCG said that after a noted decrease in loss of propulsion (LOP) incidents, there has been a recent increase in the number of reported LOP incidents on deep draft vessels within the Eleventh Coast Guard District which covers the states of California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.

According to the alert, posted July 11, Coast Guard studies and review of marine casualties indicate that lack of maintenance and testing of certain systems, including fuel oil systems, is one of the leading causes of propulsion failures.

"Advanced planning and careful fuel system management are critical to safely switching fuels. This is especially important if fuel switching is not routine practice. Proper procedures, training, and maintenance are essential for vessels to safely switch between heavy/intermediate fuel oils and marine distillates," the USCG alert said.

Vessel operators, said the Coast Guard, also need to have a good understanding of their system requirements and limitations, and determine if any modifications may be necessary to safely switch between intended fuels.

"Extensive analysis of LPO incidents have revealed certain trends among vessels operating on marine distillate fuels," the alert said.

In order to manage risk and improve safety, vessel owners and operators should:
  • Consult engine and boiler manufacturers for fuel switching guidance;
  • Consult manufacturers to determine if system modifications or additional safeguards are necessary for intended fuels;
  • Develop detailed fuel switching procedures;
  • Establish a fuel system inspection and maintenance schedule;
  • Ensure system pressure and temperature alarms, flow indicators, filter differential pressure transmitters, etc., are all operational;
  • Ensure system seals, gaskets, flanges, fittings, brackets and supports are maintained and in serviceable condition;
  • Ensure a detailed system diagram is available;
  • Conduct initial and periodic crew training;
  • Exercise tight control when possible over the quality of the fuel oils received;
  • Complete fuel switching well offshore prior to entering restricted waters or traffic lanes; and
  • Test main propulsion machinery, ahead and astern, while on marine distillates.
Additionally, the Coast Guard said that the following guidance might assist vessel owners and operators in preventing propulsion losses when operating on marine distillates:
  • Monitor for accelerated wear of engine/fuel system components and evaluate maintenance period intervals;
  • Ensure fuel viscosity does not drop below engine manufacturer’s specifications;
  • Ensure proper heat management of fuel systems to maintain minimum viscosity values;
  • Make appropriate fuel rack adjustments to account for potential fuel pressure differentials between residual fuel oils and marine distillates;
  • Determine speed limitations for stopping the engine ahead and ordering an astern bell to ensure timely engine response; and
  • Ensure start air supply is sufficient and fully charged prior to maneuvering.

TTSI Makes Commitment To Hydrogen Drayage Fleet

Rancho Dominguez, California-based logistics firm Total Transportation Services, Inc. has signed a letter of intent with alternative fuel truck maker Vision Industries Corp. to purchase one hundred zero emission hydrogen fuel cell-electric class 8 heavy-duty trucks for drayage use in the Southern California ports.

The $27 million purchase would follow on a successful trial of an initial Vision fuel-cell truck, which is set to be delivered to TTSI on July 22.

The letter of intent also includes option language allowing TTSI to purchase an additional three hundred Vision trucks, bringing the total potential value of a TTSI sales contract to approximately $108 million.

"We are pleased to see such demand from a trucking company of TTSI's caliber," Vision Industries Corp. CEO Martin Schuermann said. "It underlines our assumptions that there are multiple commercial applications for our hydrogen powered zero emission big rigs in today's trucking industry."

TTSI will test the initial Vision Tyrano zero emission truck in commercial revenue service, performing typical drayage operations, hauling freight containers from port terminals in the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports to rail yards and other distribution facilities.

"Up and above the benefit of zero emissions, we at TTSI feel that this fuel format is the only true way to break our dependence on imported fuel," TTSI president Vic La Rosa said. "Hydrogen is the most abundant resource on the planet."

The initial Vision truck to be tested by TTSI is part of a project funded jointly by Vision and the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles through the two port' Technology Advancement Program.

TTSI, a vocal proponent of green transportation in the Southern California drayage community, has in the past invested in other forms of clean fuel trucks, including the 2009 replacement/conversion of its entire fleet of more than 100 trucks to clean diesel and liquefied natural gas.