Friday, May 18, 2012

Long Beach Monthly Container Volume Drops

The Port of Long Beach saw across the board declines in all its container volume categories during April 2012, according to newly-released data, resulting in a total drop of 13 percent compared with the same month last year.

Last month, port terminals handled a total of 461,911 20-foot-equavalent units, compared to 531,090 TEUs in April 2011, a drop of 13.0 percent. The port’s loaded inbound container volume was down 13.75 percent to 232,963 TEUs compared to 270,107 TEUs in April 2011, while loaded exports were down 16.2 percent to 120,452 TEUs compared to 143,683 TEUs.

Empty container moves were down 7.5 percent to 108,496 TEUs compared to 117,300 a year ago. For the calendar year, container volumes at the port are down by 5.8 percent compared to the first four months of 2011, according to the port, which posted the data on its website May 15.

Long Beach is partially attributing the volume declines to the elimination of several niche service lines that had called at the port last year. Their loss, however, is expected to be countered by three new lines of vessels from Asia that are expected to begin calling at Long Beach later this month.

Combined, the three services are expected to add as much as 500,000 TEUs through the remainder of the year, according to the port, and analysts forecast modest growth in trade for Long Beach in 2012.

The POLB’s April 2012 declines contrast greatly with the volume number at the adjoining Port of Los Angeles, which earlier this week reported the busiest April in its 104-year history.
Combined, total loaded imports and exports last month increased 14.9 percent, rising from 479,808 TEUs in April 2011 to 551,393 TEUs last month.

For the calendar year to date, overall container volumes at Los Angeles have increased 6.1 percent to 2.58 million TEUs compared to the 2.43 million TEUs shipped during the first four months of 2011, according to the port.


Port of LB Celebrates Terminal Contract, Modernization

The Port of Long Beach on May 14 held a ceremony to commemorate construction of its in-progress $1.2 billion Middle Harbor construction project and a new 40-year, $4.6 billion lease on the property with Orient Overseas Container Line.

The event, which includes a ceremonial contract signing, attracted numerous industry and civic leaders, including OOCL CEO Philip Chow, International Longshore and Warehouse Union International President Robert McEllrath and Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster.

“What we speak of today is a collective vision - a vision to make the Port of Long Beach one of the world's most competitive ports,” Chow said during the ceremonies. “And the new design will make the Middle Harbor terminal the greenest in North America.”

Long Beach’s Middle Harbor project consists of combining two older facilities - one of which is vacant, and the other occupied by OOCL subsidiary Long Beach Container Terminal - into one facility that the port says could more than double trade while at the same time reduce air pollution by half.

Under the project, LBCT is expected to expand from its current 90-acre facility to the new, 304-acre terminal.

“In our industry we are too often criticized for lacking vision and not being forward thinking - the Middle Harbor project will turn all of that around,” LBCT President Anthony Otto said in prepared remarks during the ceremony. “This project is a testament to the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.”

ILWU Offers Reward for Union Hall Burglary

International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people who burglarized the union’s meeting hall near the Port of Longview last month.

On April 9, a safe at the hall was broken into and a large amount of cash was stolen, according to the union, along with credit cards, blank checks and paperwork. Also, computers were stolen and anti-union graffiti was spray painted on the walls.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the Longview police crime tip line at (360) 442-5920.

The burglary came about two weeks before an ILWU billboard on Longview’s outskirts was defaced with graffiti, although police have said the sign vandalism did not appear to be specifically targeting the union.

The billboard, which was erected in November 2011, while the union was in the midst of a battle over the use of labor at the Port of Longview’s EGT grain terminal, was replaced May 8. The labor dispute was settled early this year.

Port of LA Receives Waterfront Development Awards

The Southern California chapter of the Construction Management Association of America has chosen two major Port of Los Angeles waterfront development projects for achievement awards.

The port’s new Cabrillo Way Marina Phase II facility has won the 2012 award for sustainable projects valued at over $100 million; and the Wilmington Waterfront Park project has received the 2012 project of the year award for infrastructure/public parks valued at $51-100 million.

Cabrillo Way Marina is a 700-slip marina covering 87 acres of land and water in the West Channel/Cabrillo Beach Recreational Complex. The project updated a decades-old marina facility and added about a mile of public waterfront promenade. Construction was completed in December 2011 at a total cost of $125 million, making it both the largest LA waterfront and non-terminal construction project at the Port of LA.

Wilmington Waterfront Park was designed to serve as a buffer between the port and adjacent residences. The project called for constructing a new 30-acre buffer area while the park was constructed on adjacent, vacant port-owned property. The park’s 16-foot high slope along the south border serves as a noise barrier and offers elevated views of the harbor. Construction of the park was completed in June 2011 at a total cost of $55 million.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Shaver Welcomes the M/V Sommer S

Ports along the lower Columbia and Willamette Rivers in Oregon and Washington will soon get more help as venerable Shaver Transportation celebrates the christening of a brand new, 5,360-HP combination ship assist tug. To be commissioned the Sommer S in a ceremony on the banks of the Willamette River later this month, the tug, built by Portland's Diversified Marine, is a memorial to Sommer Shaver, one of the company’s principals who passed away ten years ago at the age of 43. The M/V Sommer S is a confident stride into the future of ship assist in the area.

“We designed this boat to be Columbia River specific,” says Steve Shaver, President of Shaver Transportation. Dubbed the Columbia class, the new boat is the first in a new series of tug designs by the firm, and will be the most powerful tug in Shaver’s fleet.

Portland, Oregon’s Shaver Transportation has a long history of service moving freight on the Columbia, Snake and Willamette Rivers, as well as a history of assisting ships into the ports of Portland and Astoria.

In 1880 George Washington Shaver and partners founded People’s Freighting Company. The company’s first vessel was the steamboat Manzanilla, which they sailed on the Willamette and Columbia rivers between Portland and Clatskanie, Oregon. In 1893 Shaver Transportation was incorporated by George W. Shaver and sons James W. Shaver and George M. Shaver. Their next two steam-powered sternwheelers were the George W. Shaver and the Sarah Dixon, named for the founder and his wife. Shaver soon shifted away from transporting people and cargo in favor of barge towing, and the fleet grew to seven tugs by 1914.

By 1950, Shaver Transportation had two-dozen steel-hulled diesel engine tugs. Log towing was a large portion of the business during these years, and Shaver established itself in ship assist work in Portland’s booming harbor and in ocean towing up and down the coast from Alaska to the Panama Canal.

The Shaver family remains at the helm today. Harry L. Shaver is the Chairman of the Board, his son, Steve Shaver, is President, and his daughter, Samantha Shaver, is a member of the Board. The company currently has about 98 employees.

Today, Shaver Transportation focuses on three lines of business: ship assist, grain barging and harbor/specialty towing.

Sommer Sondra Shaver 
The new boat is named after Harry Shaver’s daughter and Steve and Samantha’s sister, Sommer Sondra Shaver, who dedicated much of her life to Shaver Transportation. “Sommer was a strong, fearless and brilliant woman,” says her sister, Samantha. “She would be so proud to have a tug named after her. She had so much pride in the family business and the shipping industry.”

Samantha says the company was Sommer’s life. “She did the work of ten. She treated our customers like family, and she traveled the world to visit them.”

Ten years after the loss of Sommer, the company still benefits greatly from the relationships she forged and the trust she established with the shipping community around the world.

“She crossed barriers that most women would not,” Samantha recalls. “She loved everyone at work, especially the boatmen. She looked out for them, making sure they always knew how much she appreciated their hard work. She believed at Shaver the employees were like family.”

The Sommer S
The Sommer S is an 80-foot by 36-foot, twin Z-drive, diesel-powered ship-docking tug, designed specifically for the particular job of ship-handling, escort, and related harbor support activity services on the lower Columbia and Willamette Rivers. The boat is equipped with a hawser winch and line-handling crane forward and heavy bow fendering for ship assist and escort work. A series of barge handling winches are fitted aft for securing to and pushing bulk barges.

Capilano Maritime Design, in North Vancouver, British Columbia, designed the new boat. The firm specializes in the design of commercial workboats including tugs, barges, crew boats, dredges, offshore supply vessels, marine construction vessels and ferries. Capilano also offers general consulting services to the marine industry.

Capilano’s Senior Naval Architect, Mark Mulligan, also had a hand in the design of the company’s first Z-drive boat, the 107-foot, 4,000-HP M/V Portland, built by Nichols Bros. Boatbuilders, in Freeland, Washington, in 1981. “At the time of her design I was working for Maritime Industries, and we did all the engineering. The tug was actually designed by my predecessor at Maritime, Jim Towers, so I helped him in the final design and sailed with him from Nichols Brothers builders to Portland on the delivery voyage as engineers,” he says. “As I recall, it was the first Z-drive in the area,” says Matt Nichols, CEO of Nichols Brothers Boatbuilders, which delivered the Portland in 1981.

Shaver Transportation president Steve Shaver concurs. “It was definitely the first one on the West Coast. There was only one other Z-drive around at the time, and that one was on the East Coast. There isn’t anything older than the Portland with Z-drives out here – we were ahead of our time.”

The company also recently repowered the Portland, which was built with World War II-vintage engines. The company’s Chairman of the Board, Harry Shaver, says the Portland’s Fairbank Morse engines were replaced with more powerful MTUs, which will also help with fuel consumption in the big boat. “It was the first tractor tug on the West Coast, and it’s built like a tank,” he says. In addition to being more efficient and more powerful, the new engines are quite a bit smaller. “There’s a lot more space in the engine room now,” he notes. “It was pretty roomy before, but you could play volleyball in there now.”

While the Sommer S is smaller (although deeper) than the Portland, at only 80 feet long by 36 feet wide and with a 14-foot draft, the boat’s twin MTU/Detroit Diesel 16V4000 M61 main engines, each rated 2,680 bhp at 1,800 rpm, driving Schottel SRP1215 360-degree azimuthing thrusters with 94.5-inch diameter fixed pitch propellers, will provide a bollard pull of more than 65 tons, making her by far the most powerful tug in the company’s fleet.

“We initially discussed a tower tug with a big tower and push knees as a kind of combination upriver and ship docking tug,” Mulligan explains, “but the customers decided a pure ship docking tug was what was needed,” although the company did specify a push pad on the bow, under the main fender. “The result is a simple, hard-working 65-ton bollard pull ship docker that can also push barges around.”

We decided a ship-assist boat that can push barges would be better,” says Steve Shaver. “You can look into the future and see the potential need for this boat. The pilots told us what was important to them, and as a result, this boat hits the sweet spot for its size and horsepower.”

The bridge of the Sommer S is very well laid out for ship assist work. “This boat has some of the best visibility of a ship-docking tug that I’ve ever seen,” he says. “I’m excited about this boat because in the concept stage we got a lot of input from pilots and employees.

Crew-Friendly Spaces
The design of the boat was a collaborative effort, and the company made sure to get the operators, or boatmen, involved throughout the design and construction process. The result is a vessel that is as well suited to the operator as it is to the task at hand. “I spent 17 years working on the boats,” Steve says, “and I tried to keep in mind what I would like if I was living on the boat.” For example, there’s a vestibule off the galley that separates the galley and mess from the doors to the berths. “I hate to have a door right up against the galley,” he says. “Noise in the galley might wake the crew, and the vestibule acts as a buffer for that noise. You might walk through the boat and ask yourself why that weird hallway is there- that’s why.”

Steve did a lot of research before the design process even started. “I looked at a lot of boats here on the West Coast, as well as on the Mississippi, and this boat is laid-out better than any I’ve ever seen,” he says. The Sommer S can accommodate 6 crew in two double berths and two single berths, although she will normally sail with two or four. “It’s amazing how much we’ve been able to fit in to a boat of this size,” he says.

Rob Rich, Shaver’s Vice President of Marine Services, started working on Columbia River tugboats in 1979, and has been with Shaver Transportation for 26 years. Rich echoes what Steve Shaver said about the crew spaces. “It’s not a giant boat, but it’s doing a big boat’s job. We tried to make it as spacious as possible, and the crew has had significant input in terms of the wheelhouse and deck machinery and interior layout and function.”

The company tries to promote from within its ranks, so the possibility of training operators is a very real one for the new boat. “We have room for extra crew, in case we’re training someone,” Rich says.

The new boat will be performing ship assist work in the ports along the lower Columbia River, so the company really wanted to design the boat around the tasks it would be performing on a day-to-day basis. This might include assisting an auto or lumber ship one day, while making up to a grain barge for a short trip down river the next.

According to Steve Shaver, the ratio of ship assist to barge towing is roughly fifty-fifty. “We were looking at horsepower and maneuverability,” he says, “and we did things the way we felt would work best for Columbia River – she’s definitely not an off-the-shelf model.”

For ship docking the boat is fitted with a heavy duty DEPCF-48 hawser winch from Markey Machinery, with a 50-hp electric motor. The winch is a single-drum electric hawser winch with fairlead featuring automatic tension-selectable render/recover mode, high braking capacities, and fast line speeds for escort and ship-assist vessels. The winch drum will be fitted with 400 feet of 9-inch circumference Spectra/Plasma line in 8 layers and will have a brake capacity of 400,000 lbs. minimum, at the second layer. The rated pull is 22,150 lbs. on the second layer at a speed of 67 feet per minute. The company prefers electric hawser winches because, according to Steve Shaver, “they’re a lot smoother, and the crews like them much better.”

Rob Rich points out that an additional duty of the Sommer S will be Columbia River Bar escort work, and for this she had to be built to American Bureau of Shipping Standard. “Frequently, the Coast Guard will call us out to escort a ship due to propulsion, steering or navigational issues. These vessels require an escort, and occasionally a tethered escort, “ Rich says. “This is where a good render/recover winch really becomes important.”

Another feature of the Sommer S is the boat’s deck crane, used for line handling, which she has in common with the other ship assist boats in Shaver’s fleet. “The Vancouver has a crane, and we bought a crane for the Portland as well,” Rich says. “We’ve been told by vendors and other operators that they’ve only seen that on our boats.” Steve Shaver notes that the new crane will be useful in putting a line aboard a ship or running lines to a dolphin.

Rich points out that, although the Sommer S is only 80 feet long and primarily designed for ship assist, she is also set up to easily handle harbor barge activity. “With rubber down to the waterline and four 60-ton barge winches on it, it’s fully capable of making up to a barge and working it around the harbor or down the river.”

He says the lack of a large push surface for more dedicated barge work was driven by the boatmen. “We looked hard at installing knees on the stern or integrated on the bow, but the crew said they’d rather just have the pad.” Rich points to decisions such as this one that make the boat such a unique blend of Capilano’s cutting edge design and state of the art equipment coupled with the input of Shaver’s crews. “In a small family owned company like Shaver, where the owner is a step away from the pilothouse, the crew’s input rates quite highly,” he says.

Looking Ahead
Ship assist and escort have been a key part of Shaver’s business for almost 100 years, and Shaver’s fleet of six tractor tugs each offer more than 3,000 HP and more than 40 tons of bollard pull to handle ships of any size and configuration.

In addition to the Sommer S, Shaver has three tugs that are either ABS certified or meet ABS standards, including one recently acquired tractor tug from the East Coast. The new 93-foot tug, to be named Washington, is in the process of being outfitted for Columbia River work at Diversified Marine, where she shared the yard briefly with the Sommer S.

“In the space of 14 months we’ve gone from one Columbia River Bar escort tractor to four, the Sommer S, Vancouver, Washington and Portland” says Rob Rich.

The company’s fleet of tugs is RCP and ISO 9001/2008 certified, and the engines in four of the Shaver boats were replaced with 2007-2009 Tier II engines, which offer 11 percent more power but burn almost 35 percent less fuel and use 90 percent less lube oil. The new engines are quieter and have less vibration, leading to less crew fatigue and more comfort.

While half of Shaver’s business is shipdocking, the other half involves moving massive grain barges up and down the Columbia-Snake river system, and the company’s barge fleet has a combined capacity of almost 55,000 tons. Most of the barges are specially designed to transport grain and bulk commodities such as wheat, barley, soybeans, corn, canola and rapeseed, and the fleet includes four 298-foot long self-unloading barges. At 4,000 tons each, these “Magnums” have the greatest capacity in the region. The company employs highly automated cargo systems and weight-saving features that allow a barge to be completely discharged within 5 hours.

Shaver currently has two new barges under construction at Portland’s Zidell Marine Corporation that are 23 feet shorter than the Magnums, yet capable of hauling nearly as much cargo. The first of the new barges will be ready by August, and the second is scheduled for delivery in October of this year.

“We’re trying to become more efficient in the way we use our equipment,” says Steve Shaver, “because we have more demand for our bigger barges.”

The two new barges, to measure 275 feet by 42 feet, will each be capable of transporting 3,600 tons of grain. “Not our biggest barges,” he says, “but pretty big.”

Harry Shaver says the company is planning to have two of the big Magnum barges built as well. “It costs as much to push a small barge as a big barge,” he notes. To handle the barges, Shaver’s fleet of specialized push-knee tugs includes the 3,600 horsepower tractor tug M/V Deschutes, and her sister tug M/V Willamette, as well as the recently repowered M/V Cascades and M/V Clearwater, making the company’s push-knee tugs some of the cleanest, most reliable and fuel-efficient tugs in the industry.

With the addition of the Sommer S, Shaver Transportation has a versatile, reliable fleet of tugs and barges to meet the future head-on.

Philips Publishing

Port of LA Has Busiest April in Its History

The Port of Los Angeles saw double-digit increases in cargo volumes across the board last month, resulting in the busiest April in its 104-year history.

The number of loaded inbound containers increased by 16.7 percent, growing from 312,359 20-foot equivalent containers in April 2011 to 364,555 TEUs last month, according to data released by the port May 15. The number of loaded outbound TEUs increased 11.5 percent, from 167,448 TEUs last April to 186,838 TEUs in April 2012.

Combined, total loaded imports and exports for April increased 14.9 percent, rising from 479,808 TEUs in April 2011 to 551,393 TEUs last month. Factoring in empties, which increased 13.3 percent year over year, overall April 2012 volumes – 707,182 TEUs – were up 14.5 percent compared to April 2011’s 617,272 TEUs.

When combined, those figures reflect the busiest April in Port of LA history, surpassing April 2007’s volumes of 679,575 TEUs.

For the calendar year to date, overall container volumes have increased 6.1 percent to 2.58 million TEUs compared to the 2.43 million TEUs shipped during the same period in 2011. Regarding the fiscal year to date, total volume is up 2.3 percent, rising from 6.60 million TEUS for the 10-month period to 6.75 million TEUs. The Port of LA’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.

Long Beach Commission Approves Bridge Replacement Contract

The Port of Long Beach’s Board of Harbor Commissioners on May 14 gave its preliminary approval to a contract to design and build a replacement for the Gerald Desmond Bridge, the nearly 45-year-old corridor that crosses the Cerritos Channel.

The commission voted unanimously to award a $649 million contract to a consortium of companies that includes Shimmick Construction, FCC Construction and Impreglio SpA. The project consists of replacement of the current bridge, which has been structurally obsolete for years and faces critical maintenance issues.

“Today is an historic day,” commissioner Rich Dines said at the time of the vote. “I look forward to having this bridge built on time and under budget and creating many thousands of jobs. It’s been a long time coming.”

According to the port, replacement of the bridge will increase the water-to-bridge clearance from 154 feet to 205 feet, allowing larger ships to call at the port’s inner harbor terminals. The work to be performed includes building a six lane, cable-stayed bridge; the current bridge has four lanes and has a through arch design.

The consortium beat out two other companies for the contract and was not only the lowest bidder, but its technical proposal was ranked the highest by the selection committee, which included a representative each from the port, the California Dept. of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the three agencies that are teaming to pay for the project.

Under port bylaws, a second vote by the commission is needed to formally ratify the agreement; that vote’s expected to take place in late June. Construction could begin as soon as early 2013.

MOL to Call at Port of Seattle

Mitsui OSK Lines and the New World Alliance announced on May 11 a new service at the Port of Seattle that it’s believed will result in more capacity and faster transit times for improved exports to Asia.

MOL’s PSX service will add a Seattle call at APL’s Terminal 5 beginning May 21, which the port says will provide expanded coverage and capacity for cargo from the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to Seattle, the PSX will also add stops in Vancouver, BC, Tokyo and Yantian to the 10 other stops, which include Hong Kong, Oakland and Los Angeles.

“We appreciate MOL’s business, as their containers mean more jobs for our region,” Linda Styrk, the Port of Seattle’s managing seaport director, said in a statement announcing the move.

These vessels will be the first MOL ships to call Seattle since 2008, and average over 6,300 TEU in size. Last year, the Port of Seattle harbor handled over two million 20-foot equivalent containers.

Port of Everett Could Buy Former Mill Site

The Port of Everett is reportedly exploring whether to buy a 66-acre site that formerly housed a waterfront paper mill and is known to have dangerous levels of contaminants in the soil.

The mill, which closed in April, was operated by tissue manufacturer Kimberly-Clark. The mill is considered attractive to the port for many reasons, among them being that it’s located on a large, industrial tract that has access to a deep-water channel on Puget Sound, as well as a railroad and a dedicated water supply pipeline.

Everett, which is located 25 miles north of Seattle on the Puget Sound, operates eight berths situated on about 100 acres of land, plus a bulk unloading facility, multi-purpose warehouse and is served by BNSF Railway.

Everett’s South Terminal, which includes a 75-foot wharf and is dredged to minus-40 feet MLLW, is just south of the mill site. The port could use the property to expand shipping operations, a port spokesman said. Among the obstacles, he said, would be financing the purchase and the cost to cleaning up the property, which has seen decades of pollution on the land and in underlying sediment.

Unsafe levels of petroleum, dioxins and other unsafe substances have been previously found in the waterway next to the plant.