Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tacoma Port Legal Battle Over Maytown Site Cost $1.5M

The legal battle over a gravel mining permit in Thurston County has cost the Port of Tacoma just under $1.5 million in legal expenses.

The legal battle centers on a 745-acre Maytown site – once envisioned by the port as the site for a proposed intermodal rail and logistics facility – that the port sold to Maytown Sand & Gravel last year for $19 million.

The port purchased the property in 2006 for more than $21 million and sank another $6.5 million in the site for consulting and pre-construction work related to the development of the rail facility. The port continued to work on the proposed rail facility until 2008, when vehement community opposition to the construction and operation of the rail facility coalesced, leading to the port's decision to abandon the rail facility project and sell the property.

One of the groups opposing the Maytown development, the Friends of Rocky Prairie, sued the port.

According to port documents, the lengthy legal battle has cost the port $1.48 million. The Friends of Rocky Prairie decided last week to abandon further legal appeals in the case.

The suit centered on the permit for the site allowing Maytown Sand & Gravel to mine gravel at the Maytown property.

The port had a vested interest in defending the gravel firm's right to mine the site. The terms of the sale to Maytown Sand & Gravel called for the firm to pay the port $8.5 million of the $19 million purchase price to the port in gravel.

The Friends of Rocky Prairie, while abandoning their legal battle, have said they will monitor the gravel firm's operations closely and that it complies with all permits.

Port of Vancouver USA Regional Economic Impact Increases

Overall job numbers tied to Port of Vancouver USA activities have increased slightly over the past five years despite the global economic meltdown and recession, according to a recently completed economic impact study.

Commissioned by the port and conducted by Pennsylvania-based Martin Associates, the study detailed that job growth linked to an increase in the port’s marine business made up for a slight decrease in jobs associated with the port’s industrial tenants and customers.

The study, which is conducted by the port every five years, found that the total number of jobs directly generated by port marine and industrial activities in 2010 was 2,337; a slight gain over 2,268 direct jobs in 2005.

Strong marine cargo growth in exported wheat, scrap metal and mineral exports, combined with increased wind energy imports, added 290 direct jobs related to the port’s marine business.

On the down side and more reflective of the recession, the industrial side of port operations lost 221 direct jobs.

“The Port of Vancouver’s growth in marine cargo and the resulting job creation is unusual in today’s economy,” the study's lead economist John Martin said. “It not only benefits the port, but the entire Southwest Washington community.”

Last conducted in 2006 and based on 2005 numbers, the current 2011 study based on 2010 data will be used by port commissioners and executives in planning the port’s future. According to port officials, the economic analysis is also a key component in the port’s integrated decision making process when evaluating cargo mix and prospective tenants.

Additional highlights of the study include:
  • Total jobs associated with port activities (including direct, indirect, induced and influenced jobs) equaled 16,996 in 2010; up from 15,580 in 2005.
  • The 2,337 jobs directly generated by port marine and industrial activities paid $116.3 million in wages and salaries in 2010, up from $98.75 million in 2005.
  • Port business activities contributed $80.8 million in state and local taxes in 2010, a number consistent with the 2005 data.
  • Port business activities injected $1.664 billion into Southwest Washington in 2010, a slight decrease from $1.693 billion in 2005.

Bipartisan Legislative Caucus Formed to Focus on Nation's Ports

Southern California Congresswoman Janice Hahn (D) and Texas Congressman Ted Poe (R) announced Tuesday the formation of the bipartisan House Ports Opportunity, Renewal, Trade, and Security (PORTS) Caucus.

According to the two House members, the mission of the legislative caucus will be to promote the important role played by the nation's ports in the national economy and the need to secure them.

United States ports support 13.3 million jobs and account for $3.15 trillion in business activity to the economy.

“As a long-time advocate for the Port of Los Angeles, I understand how vital the ports are for our nation’s economy,” Rep. Hahn said. “This bipartisan caucus will bring together Members who represent diverse ports across the country, so we will find ways together to promote our ports and keep them safe.”

Rep. Poe said that promoting and protecting the nation’s ports is critical to both national security and economic security.

“Ports are the gateway in and out of the United States. They are our country’s link to the rest of the world and the global economy. I look forward to working with Representative Hahn to building an effective congressional caucus that advocates on the behalf of ports nationwide,” Poe said.

Hahn and Poe pointed out that the US is served by more than 350 commercial sea and river ports that support 3,200 cargo and passenger handling facilities. Every day 15 seaports serve all 50 states moving both imports and exports totaling some $3.8 billion worth of goods. Additionally, ports move 99.4 percent of overseas cargo volume by weight and generate $3.95 trillion in international trade.

Given the importance of ports to our national economy, Hahn and Poe said, the nation's ports need to remain competitive and secure.

“Ports are a critical piece of our nation's economic infrastructure,” Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles Geraldine Knatz said.

“Maintaining secure, reliable and efficient seaports will generate much needed jobs and make American businesses more competitive abroad. Because our nation’s seaports must remain a national priority, we stand ready to support Rep. Hahn and Rep. Poe’s efforts to advance the issues of ports and the communities they serve.”

ATA to Take Los Angeles Port Truck Plan to Supreme Court

The American Trucking Associations, just weeks after winning a major victory against the Port of Los Angeles trucking program in federal court, has decided to seek a United States Supreme Court review of other portions of the lower court ruling that favored the port.

Late last month, a three-member Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that the port cannot require thousands of port-servicing independent truckers to become trucking firm employees. The ruling was a major victory for the ATA, who brought the original lawsuit in 2008, and a major setback to International Brotherhood of Teamsters efforts to unionize the drayage drivers at the port.

In a unanimous ruling, the Ninth Circuit panel dismissed the port's argument that the port was a "market participant" in the drayage industry. Without the "market participant" claim, the court found that the port's employee-only mandate is not exempt from federal interstate commerce laws and permanently enjoined the mandate.

However, the appellate panel split 2-1 in favor of the port on four separate truck plan issues opposed by the ATA, including an off-street parking provision, financial capability requirement, maintenance provision, and placard requirement.

ATA spokesman Sean McNally told that this "expansive view of market participation sets bad precedent going forward and would diminish the federal preemptive powers over rates, routes and service that is important to the industry."

McNally also told the news outlet that the ATA is "confident that the Supreme Court will accept this case and overturn these provisions and uphold the sanctity of rates, routes and services."

The ATA decision to take these issues to the Supreme Court also comes only three weeks after port officials decided to end further defense of the truck plan.
"We have no plans to seek further review," Los Angeles port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said in a statement at the time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bulk and Breakbulk Cargo Equipment Moving from Hydraulic to Electric

By Jim Shaw

October 2011

Old style cargo handling often incorporated a swinging center-mounted derrick, rigged to port and starboard deck stanchions, to handle heavy lumber cargos which were shifted into the wings by forklift, a process that damaged the timber and eventually lead to the development of the open-hatch or box-hold bulk carrier. Photo courtesy of the J. L. Shaw Collection.

Cargo handling by merchant ships has been an evolutionary process that has seen the most change take place in only the last few decades. Old-timers on the docks still remember when most breakbulk cargo was handled by winches and derricks arranged in “union purchase” configuration. This would see two derricks rigged in such a manner that the span between their ends would be great enough to allow cargo to be handled from a ship’s holds to the dock by using cable joined between the winches. If cargo was being handled to the dock, plus a barge or lighter moored alongside, then a “Butterfly” rig might be adopted, with derricks rigged out over each side of the ship. For heavier loads a single mast-mounted or deck-mounted pivoting derrick might be used, with cable and tackle running from twin masts or deck stanchions.

In time, the rotating crane was modified for shipboard use and these units have come to replace masts and derricks on most modern cargo ships. Their main advantage is that rigging time is negligible and operation is quicker, but their greater weight also reduces a vessel’s deadweight capacity and maintenance is more involved. Being hydraulically actuated they also have a potential for fluid leakage, a no-no in today’s operating environment. This is leading to one more small revolution in cargo handling, the shift to all-electric cranes, which is also taking place in hatch cover and ro/ro ramp design.

Electric Cranes
Electrically operated deck cranes have started to enter the market as replacements for hydraulic units, principally to avoid oil contamination but also because they are easier to maintain. Finland’s Cargotec, known for its Hiab, Kalmar and MacGregor brands, has been developing a series of electric-drive cranes that can provide equal or better performance to hydraulic units at the same cost. The company’s new variable frequency drive (VFD) cranes have hoisting capacities up to 100 tons and an outreach of more than 40 meters.

In the Cargotec design all machinery is enclosed within the crane housing, thus ensuring safer operation and ease of maintenance. The main advantages of the electric cranes are that the potential for hydraulic oil leakage is eliminated and their drives are easier to maintain.

Since being placed on the market Cargotec has received orders from Grieg Shipping for 24 of the new units, all with a safe working load (SWL) of 75 tons, for installation on six open-hatch bulk carriers it is having built in China. At the same time, Ethiopian Shipping Lines has ordered 21 of the cranes for a series of seven 28,000-dwt multipurpose ships it will be taking delivery of in 2012/2013. These cranes will be mounted on each ship in sets of three with a capacity range of 60-tons, 80-tons and 100-tons.

Electric Ro/Ro Ramps
More use of electrically-driven machinery is also being seen in the roll-on/roll-off sector where Japan’s Shin Kurushima Dockyard Co Ltd is completing a 4,000-vehicle-unit pure car truck carrier (PCTC) for Japanese owner Mitsui O.S.K. Line. The vessel is being equipped with a stern quarter ramp, a side ramp and six movable interior ramps, all of which will be operated and secured by electric winches and actuators.

One of the main technical reasons allowing this development is the availability of improved electrically-driven screwjack drives that can replace hydraulic cylinders for operating cleating and locking devices. This same machinery is being used on a new series of Con/Ro vessels being built by South Korea’s Hyundai Mipo shipyard for French owner CMA CGM. In this case the liftable car decks, measuring about 5,200 square meters per vessel, will all be electrically operated with an electric jigger winch installed in the ship’s car deck panels.

Electric Hatch Covers
As with cranes and ramps, most hatch covers on modern ships make use of hydraulic rams to control opening and closing, the old moveable beams, timbers and battened-down canvas tarps having long since been shed. After years of development, Cargotec’s MacGregor subsidiary has recently developed an electrically operated system for large bulk carriers that uses side-rolling hatch covers.

The combined rack-and-pinion drive and lifter in the new “MacRack” system employs just one electric motor per hatch cover panel to both raise the panel and move it sideways to open or close the hatch, thus making separate hydraulic lifters obsolete. To accomplish the lifting move a lever mechanism converts the electric motor’s rotating motion into a vertical movement during the opening of the covers, providing the upward force needed to lift the panels. When closing, the mechanism lowers the covers and pushes them together to achieve the correct amount of rubber gasket compression and waterproof tightness.

Like the electrically operated cranes and ramps, the new electrically operated hatch covers provide a more environmentally-friendly ship.

Port Extends Public Review of Proposed Terminal
Pier S

The Port of Long Beach has extended the public review period on a draft environmental study of Pier S, a proposal to develop a state-of-the-art, $650 million container shipping facility on Terminal Island. The Port will accept written comments until December 2, 2011, providing additional time for groups, individuals and agencies to submit comments on the document. The original deadline was November 15, 2011.

The proposed Pier S shipping terminal development on a vacant 160-acre parcel would utilize the latest technology and practices for reducing air pollution from cargo operations. The new facility would generate and sustain up to 40,000 new permanent jobs in the region, as well as thousands of temporary construction jobs.

The Port released the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) and supplemental environmental impact report (SEIR) on September 16, analyzing the impacts of the proposed development, and the mitigation measures that would be used to address those impacts.

More information on the project, including electronic versions of the environmental reports, can be found at

The environmental documents are available for review at:
Written comments can be submitted to Richard D. Cameron, Director of Environmental Planning, 925 Harbor Plaza, Long Beach, 90802; or

Seaspan Shipyards Win NSPS Non-Combat Contract

Canada's Federal Government has chosen Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards as the prime contractor to build the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) program’s non-combat vessels.

The $8 billion program is expected to pump billions of Canadian dollars into the local economy and create an average of 4,000 jobs over the next 8-years.

The non-combatant vessels covered by the contract include the Joint Support Ship, the Polar Icebreaker, the Offshore Oceanographic Support Vessel, and the Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels.

NSPS was devised as a long-term solution to develop Canada’s maritime capabilities. The award is based on a 30-year roadmap for the development of new ship platforms. A second award covers the design and production needs for the country’s military vessels.

“We are honored to have been chosen to provide non-combat vessels for the men and women of the Royal Canadian Navy and Coast Guard,” said Jonathan Whitworth, Seaspan CEO. “We have a long and established track record of working with the Canadian Navy and Coast Guard in building ships on time and on budget. Seaspan is committed to returning BC’s shipbuilding industry to its once-thriving roots. This award is a direct result of that commitment. We will deliver world-class ships to Canada.”

Whitworth credits the winning of the contract to the team that produced the bid and the participation of many supporters including the Government of British Columbia, local First Nations, shipyard unions and teaming partners from across Canada.

Although planning will begin immediately, construction on the new vessels will not likely start until late 2012. In the meantime, more than $150 million worth of infrastructure will be built at Seaspan’s shipyards in North Vancouver and Victoria, while vessel design work is being finalized.

In addition to the current contract, the Canadian Government has plans for a further 17 vessels which could also fall under the non-combat package.

Salvors Removing Oil From M/V Rena

Salvors led by Danish company Svitzer continue to pump oil from the grounded containership Rena, while on shore the incident command team is planning for any impact on the shoreline from the oil that has been leaking from the ship since it struck the Astrolabe Reef, near New Zealand's Tauranga Harbor on October 5th.

Nearly half of the oil on board the grounded Rena has been pumped off the ship, leaving approximately 700 tons in the ship, held in five different tanks.

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) Salvage Unit Manager Bruce Anderson said two booster pumps installed on Sunday afternoon had sped up the pumping rate from the port tank, and salvage teams were continuing to work on ways to extract oil from the submerged starboard tank and two settling tanks in the engine room.

The salvors have loaded more equipment on the ship including a lighting system.
“This is important, because they have been working in dark, oily corridors, which is clearly risky and challenging,” Mr Anderson said.

“The lighting will make the working environment safer for the teams on board. They have also loaded heavy duty compressors to aid the pumping system.”

National On-Scene Commander Rob Service said planning teams were continuing to track the movement of between 5 and 10 metric tons that leaked from the ship overnight Saturday. He noted that while it is a relatively small amount of oil, it is the most significant amount released since the vessel shifted and spilled around 300 metric tons October 11th.