Friday, July 6, 2012

Maritime Piracy in US Courts

By Marilyn Raia 
Pacfic Maritime Magazine July 2012

While Hollywood may have glamorized piracy, US courts have had to handle the real effects of the crime. The frequency of pirate attacks on commercial, military and pleasure vessels over the past few years has required US courts to consider issues not frequently considered over the past two centuries. This article reviews the history of US piracy law and a few noteworthy cases involving the criminal prosecution of pirates.

The Roots of US Piracy Law
Today’s piracy law has its roots in the United States Constitution. Article I, Section 8, clause 10 gives Congress the power to “define and punish piracy and felonies on the high seas and offenses against the law of nations.” With that power, in 1790, Congress enacted the first anti-piracy law. That statute defined piracy as murder or robbery on the high seas, or any other crime committed on the high seas that would be punishable by death under US law, if committed on land.

In an 1818 case, the United States Supreme Court held, among other things, that the 1790 statute did not authorize the courts to penalize persons committing piracy, if those persons were 1) not US citizens; 2) not sailing on a US flag vessel; or 3) not inflicting harm on US citizens. In 1819, Congress responded with a new anti-piracy law applicable not only to piracy with a nexus to the United States, but also to piracy with no nexus to the United States. Unlike the 1790 law, the 1819 law did not specify the acts constituting the crime of piracy. Instead, it referred to “the crime of piracy, as defined by the law of nations.” In the 1819 statute, Congress also expanded the jurisdiction of the courts to hear cases involving non-US citizens who committed piracy on the high seas. The courts had jurisdiction if the accused were found in the United States or brought to the United States.

The punishment for piracy under the 1819 statute was death. In 1897, the penalty was changed to life imprisonment at hard labor. In 1909, the penalty was changed to life imprisonment. The piracy law enacted in 1909 has not been changed since. It is found at 18 U.S.C. §1651.

The First Constitutional Challenge
One year after the 1819 statute was passed, the United States Supreme Court considered a constitutional challenge to it. In United States v Smith, 18 US (Wheat) 153 (1820), a jury found the defendant Smith was a crewmember of a private armed vessel, Creollo, which had been commissioned by the government of the colony of Buenos Aires. Smith and fellow crewmembers mutinied and confined the Creollo’s officer. They then set out on the Creollo and seized another private armed vessel, ironically named Irresistible. They set out to sea on the Irresistible without documents or a commission, and plundered and robbed a Spanish vessel.

The jury stated that if Smith’s acts were considered piracy under US law, then he was guilty. But, if his acts were not piracy under US law, then he was not guilty. Unfortunately, the trial judge could not determine whether Smith’s acts constituted piracy under the 1819 statute and certified the issue for decision by the United States Supreme Court.

Smith’s lawyer argued the 1819 statute was unconstitutional because Congress had to define “piracy” and could not leave the definition of the crime to judicial interpretation. He argued that referring to “the law of nations” to define piracy was not constitutional because the defendant did not have advance notice of what acts might be considered criminal. The United States Supreme Court disagreed. It reasoned the Constitution gave Congress the power to define piracy, but did not require Congress to define it in a particular way. Further, it held the crime of piracy was defined with reasonable certainty by the law of nations, commenting “whatever may be the diversity of definitions, in other respects all writers concur in holding robbery or forcible depredations upon the sea is piracy.” It also stated:

“So that, whether we advert to writers on the common law, or the maritime law, or the law of nations, we shall find that they universally treat piracy as an offense against the law of nations, and that its true definition by that law is robbery upon the sea.”

Following its analysis of the statute, the United States Supreme Court certified to the trial court that Smith was indeed guilty of piracy.

The Second Constitutional Challenge
Since the Smith decision in 1820, the United States Supreme Court has not again directly addressed the definition of maritime piracy. In 2010 though, two piracy cases were brought in the federal court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The two judges hearing the cases interpreted the piracy statute differently. In 2012, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals resolved their differences.

The first case, United States v. Said, 757 F.Supp.2d 554 (E.D.Va. 2010), involved pirates who approached the USS Ashland in a small skiff in the Gulf of Aden. One pirate shot at the USS Ashland with a firearm. The crew of the USS Ashland returned fire, destroying the skiff and killing one passenger. The pirates did not board or even attempt to board the USS Ashland. They were taken into custody by the crew of the USS Ashland and brought to Virginia for criminal prosecution.

The pirates were indicted on multiple counts. They moved for dismissal of the count for violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1651 on the ground that what they did was not piracy because they did not board or take control of the USS Ashland. The district court granted the motion. It held due process considerations did not allow a construction of the piracy statute to include actions other than “robbery or forcible depredations upon the sea,” the definition given to “piracy” by the United States Supreme Court in Smith, 190 years earlier.

The second case, United States v. Hassan, 747 F.Supp.2d 599 (2010) involved pirates who mistook a military vessel, the USS Nicholas, for a merchant ship. The pirates opened fire on the USS Nicholas and the crew of the USS Nicholas fired back. The pirates fled in their vessel but were captured and brought to the United States for prosecution. They too moved for dismissal of the count for violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1651. They argued the facts in the indictment were insufficient to establish the crime of piracy. The judge in their case took a different approach and denied the motion. After an exhaustive review of the development of piracy law in the United States as well as international conventions, customs, and law, the judge concluded piracy must be defined according to “contemporary customary international law”. He further found contemporary customary international law may change over time and, in fact, had changed since 1820 when the United States Supreme Court decided the Smith case. The court then concluded contemporary customary international law does not require an actual robbery on the high seas as a prerequisite for a conviction for piracy under 18 U.S.C. § 1651.

The Fourth Circuit’s Approach to Piracy
After being convicted by a jury and sentenced to life imprisonment, the defendants in Hassan appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the conviction. It reviewed the authorities relied on by the district court and concluded that when Congress enacted 18 U.S.C. § 1651 and provided for piracy to be defined by the “law of nations,” Congress contemplated the definition of piracy would evolve as the law of nations evolved. The Fourth Circuit also recognized the international definition of piracy has, for decades, encompassed violent conduct on the high seas in addition to robbery. It reasoned that limiting the definition of piracy to robbery on the high seas would “render it incongruous with the modern law of nations and prevent [the federal courts] from exercising universal jurisdiction in piracy cases.” In addition to affirming the jury convictions of the defendants in Hassan, the Fourth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the piracy count in Said and sent that case back the district court for further proceedings consistent with its holding that the crime of piracy within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. §1651 is not limited to robbery on the high seas.

The federal statute under which pirates are usually prosecuted, 18 U.S.C. § 1651, provides for piracy to be defined “under the law of nations.” The first United States Supreme Court case limited the crime of piracy to robbery on the high seas. Since then, US courts have recognized a broader definition of piracy based on contemporary customary international law. Piracy now includes acts on the high seas other than robbery. In the US courts, it is likely a pirate who does not succeed in his attempt to rob a vessel on the high seas will face the same life imprisonment sentence as one who does.

Terminal Operator, Unions Reach Temporary Deal in Jurisdiction Dispute

The Port of Portland, terminal operator ICTSI Oregon and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have agreed to temporarily allow members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to perform work at the Terminal 6 container facility that has been historically performed by the IBEW, which for now remedies a bitter labor dispute.

Under the agreement, which was announced July 3, the ILWU will handle the plugging, unplugging and monitoring of refrigerated containers at the terminal until the National Labor Relations Board rules on a jurisdictional dispute case the ILWU has filed. Under the dispute, the ILWU says its contract with the Pacific Maritime Association requires the terminal operator to hire longshore workers.

“We are optimistic that this represents a positive first step in resolving the ongoing issues that have taken place at the terminal,” Port of Portland chief commercial officer Sam Ruda said of the agreement.

As part of the interim arrangement, IBEW electricians have agreed to stand down and avoid any disputes with the ILWU at the terminal while the issue of jurisdiction is considered by the NLRB.

Also under the deal, the port has committed to assign other work to its IBEW employees so that they won’t be displaced and suffer economically due to the lost work assignments. Also regarding the labor dispute, a federal judge issued a 10-day restraining order, also July 3, in response to a request filed by the NLRB to address the weeks of work stoppages and slowdowns at Terminal 6.

In his ruling, US District Judge Michael Simon barred longshore workers from “engaging in slowdowns, stoppages, withholding of services, or threatening, coercing or restraining ICTSI Oregon Inc., or any other person engaged in commerce” over the 10-day period. Enforcement of the order’s provisions has been assigned to the U.S. Marshals. On July 4, the Cape Manila, a 696-foot container ship operated by German-based Hapag-Lloyd called at Terminal 6 and no problems with work flow were reported during the day.

Anchorage Port Security Guard Killed
in Dock Incident

A security guard at the Port of Anchorage was killed when the truck he was driving rolled off a dock and plunged into about 50 feet of water.

The driver, identified as Joseph Renteria Jr., 42, had been a long-term employee of Doyon Universal Services, which provides contract security services. He had been assigned to the port for about a month before his death, which occurred about 7:20 pm on July 2, according to police.

After the incident, the port released a security video to the media which shows Renteria driving west toward the water, pausing briefly and then starting to turn south down another roadway before the truck straightens and drives over a concrete curb at the dock’s edge and into the water.

Local authorities are investigating the accident, and a medical examination is expected to be performed to try determining whether a medical condition, such as a heart attack, may have caused Renteria to lose control of the vehicle.

The security pick-up he was driving will also be examined to determine any mechanical issues, according to the Anchorage Police Dept.

Port of Long Beach Approves Shipping Incentives

The Port of Long Beach Board is installing two new incentive programs in August, one aimed at attracting more containers to come through Long Beach via rail, the other designed to encourage larger, cleaner ships to dock at the port.

Under the programs, which launch Aug. 1, the largest ships calling at the port will have their daily dockage fees capped, and ocean carriers who move additional containers via rail through Long Beach will get incentives.

“This is about going after additional business,” Long Beach Harbor Commissioner Rich Dines said prior to the board’s unanimous approval of both measures July 2.

Under one program, the port will cap daily dockage fees at $8,641 a day for ships longer than 345 meters, or 1,132 feet. Without the change, the largest vessels would pay more than $11,000 a day in dockage fees.

Also, ships that qualify under the port’s Green Ship Award Program - another new incentive that also was approved this week - may earn up to $6,000 more in incentives. The program aims to attract newer, less polluting vessels to Long Beach.

Ocean carriers also will save on rail cargo costs under a program that will give them a $10 incentive for every additional container they move via rail through Long Beach between Aug. 1, 2012, and July 31, 2013, compared to the previous one-year period. Such containers account for more than two-thirds of all containerized cargo moving through Long Beach, according to the port.

The incentive is designed to encourage them to ferry more cargo through Long Beach and increase the use of rail, which is less polluting than trucks on a per-container basis. “Shippers have options on how to route their cargo, and we want to make sure we give them the right reasons to move through Long Beach,” POLB Executive Director Chris Lytle said.

The port says the programs are expected to accomplish multiple goals, including helping protect the port’s share of business in an increasingly competitive maritime market, keeping jobs in the region and encouraging more environmentally friendly and efficient practices.

Gov. Hospitalized After Choking at USS Iowa Dedication

The governor of Iowa was hospitalized after choking on food during a rededication ceremony for the former battleship USS Iowa at the Port of Los Angeles on Independence Day.

Gov. Terry Branstad was rushed by ambulance to a local hospital after choking on a carrot and vomiting during the event, according to his spokesman, Tim Albrecht. Branstad, 65, was then treated and released. He later returned to the ship for a 4th of July fireworks display, Albrecht said.

The 45,000-ton USS Iowa is scheduled to open to the public as a floating museum July 7 at the Port of LA’s Berth 87, directly south of the World Cruise Center.

The ceremony was attended by former USS Iowa crew members, other veterans and various elected officials, including Branstad, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin.

During its heyday, the USS Iowa took part in every major military conflict from World War II until the post-Cold War period. It was decommissioned in 1990 and donated to the Los Angeles-based Pacific Battleship Center in 2011.

The 887-foot ship arrived in Southern California in May after being based in Northern California for a time after being decommissioned as a warship in 1990.

The new museum’s operator, the non-profit Pacific Battleship Center says it will offer guided tours and educational programs, including overnight stays and youth camps. About 400,000 visitors are expected to visit the ship annually at its new home in the LA harbor.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Advances in Technology for Deck Machinery

By Kathy Smith
July 2012

State-of-the-art deck machinery and cordage is found in more segments of the maritime industry, including tugs and research vessels. Whether connecting tugs and barges, launching and retrieving scientific research packages from the pitching deck of a research vessel or tethering an escort tug to a fully-laden tanker, deck machinery continues to make great technological leaps.

Coupling Tug and Barge
Missouri-based Intercon is supplying Crowley Maritime’s new Ocean Class tug building program with their DW275 European-style reverse waterfall winches. Allen Craft, Senior Vice President says, “The main idea behind a reverse waterfall is to lower the towing drum and center of gravity, which improves vessel stability.”

The hydraulically-powered 520-HP winches have 500,000 pounds of line pull. The towing drum holds 4,200 feet of 2 ¾-inch line, and the secondary drum holds 3,000 feet of 2 1/2-inch line. The auxiliary drum holds 300 foot of 1-inch line. Craft says the control is state-of-the-art. “They have touch screen control in the wheelhouse and a local station. In addition to controlling, they are also able to monitor static and dynamic line tension and line speeds, plus the amount of wire out.”

The Crowley tugs are 49.3 meters long, with a 14 meter beam, 10,880 HP and a offer a bollard pull of 150 metric tons. Intercon’s contract is to supply winches for four newbuilds.

Craft reports that Intercon’s tug/barge coupler system has been gaining more interest as the petroleum industry looks to more worksafe options. “It eliminates the need for conventional deck machinery because the tug is actually pushing a petroleum barge rather than towing it,” he says. “Our customers like the safety of the positive connection to the barge rather than it being at the end of a tow line.”

As Craft explains, there is a notch in the stern of the barge that the tug goes into bow first. The tug rams extend out and engage into the sides of the notch and are the only part touching the barge. The tug can pitch, but every other motion of the tug is echoed by the motion of the barge.

“Must less time is wasted waiting on weather, and fuel economy is improved when pushing,” he says. “The crews also prefer the stable ride that results from the tug following the motion of the barge. The benefits have resulted in many repeat customers.”

Because the tugs are dual-mode certified, they can be used as conventional tugs or in the pushing ATB capacity, and the couplers are installed below deck. Intercon provides two coupler rooms with all the machinery installed, which can be fit into new or existing tugs.

Precise Package Delivery
The US Navy’s Office of Naval Research has two new AGOR class research vessels under construction in Anacortes, Washington and Seattle-based Markey Machinery will be providing their new CAST6 deep-sea research winches for these vessels.

Markey’s research winch, the CAST6, will spool fragile fiber-optic cable up to 0.393 inches in diameter and 10,000 meters in length. As Markey’s Oceanographic Winch Sales specialist John C. Davis says, “An increasing number of the operators of these vessels are looking at ways they can reduce the stress and strain on their wires and cable. Our systems offer specialized motion compensation control to compensate for the motion of the ships and reduce the stress and strain that they are subjected to.”

He explains a sensor known as a “Motion Reference Unit” (MRU) measures the heave, pitch and roll of the vessel using accelerometers. The output from the MRU is plugged into a “Program Logic Controller” (PLC), which controls haul-in and payout in response to the MRU output, based on the motion of the vessel. The result is that the science package at the end of the cable is effectively decoupled from ship motion. The system can operate up to sea state 5 conditions.

One of the unique features of the CAST6 winch is that it can handle several different overboarding machines and easily accommodate a variety of different diameter wires or cables. “Our level wind system is controlled by programmable electronic touch screen,” Davis says. “It is driven by a 10hp vector-duty motor and simply by the push of a button, you can easily change from a wire size of .322 inch diameter cable (the standard for deep sea research) to a different size cable.

Engineer Peter Petrov adds: “The main design point of this machine is to keep it very simple and highly optimized for low inertia so we can quickly go in a reverse direction to accommodate for the motion compensation. Even though control of the machine is mechanical, it is very highly programmable, and with that, naturally comes the ability of changing wires, removing the whole drum, replacing a new drum in the place of the old one, and with just a push of the button, the spooling mechanism knows to change the wire and quickly adapts without changing the mechanical parts.”

The output sheave of the level line is mounted inside of a flagging block that allows the operator to reeve the cable to different overboarding points without any intermediate turning sheaves or fairleading blocks of any kind. This has a dramatic time-saving advantage when a research vessel is preparing to depart port on a new research mission. “There is also a lower turning sheave that is instrumented for scope counts and tension that provides output to the wire rope monitoring system that feeds into a shipboard-wide instrumentation system.”

Davis reports that unique operator controls provide a link between the onboard research cranes and the Markey winches, allowing the safe launch and recovery of packages over the side of the vessel.

Allied Systems is manufacturing a set of cranes with docking heads that will eliminate the need for crew to use tag lines to steady the equipment as it elevates off the deck and is deployed under water.

“This deep-sea line borrows proven Render/Recover® controls from Markey’s hawser line of winches to reliably secure instruments to a specialty docking head using cable tension alone. Secured by the CAST6, a crane launches or recovers the instrument without the need for tag lines, allowing operations to proceed in deteriorating sea states,” Davis explains. “By removing those ‘hands’ from the deck, you improve the safety of operations. It’s a specialized integration, the winch and crane create an effective handling system. That’s another advancement that the CAST6 winch provides in relation to previous versions of Markey’s legacy deep-sea research equipment.”

The trend toward electrically driven winches is very apparent onboard ships in the United States academic research fleet. “They are more highly efficient, there is less maintenance involved, and interfacing them to the electronic digitally programmable controls makes the entire system seamless from operator to package,” says Davis. “You consume less energy and that means there are fewer emissions and pollutants. As well, you don’t have to dispose of hydraulic oils so you are handling less waste.”

Strong but Soft
Keeping mooring and tug lines working safely and securely is what Washington-based Samson Rope has been doing for more than a century, and they continue to develop new products for today’s market needs.

“We’ve spent a lot of time going to the market and finding out what the needs of our customers are and then spending time trying to develop something different,” says Terry Crump, Director of Sales for the Americas. “We’ve been handling high-modulus polyethylene fiber (HMPE) for longer than most companies and we’ve developed some methods of manufacturing it that enable safe operations.”

In fact, company technicians spend a lot of their time in the field on vessels or in shipyards showing crews how to handle and splice ropes, and generally how to deal with them on a daily basis to get a good safe service life out of them. “That hands-on experience has really paid off,” adds Crump. “And over time, we will go back to the vessel and inspect the lines to see how they are doing and perform residual strength testing. We’ve gotten a lot of positive industry feedback from companies like British Petroleum, Alaska Tanker and Shell.”

Samson has provided several of Shell’s LNG carriers with Amsteel®-Blue made with Dyneema® (HMPE) and is readying to supply mooring lines to Chevron as their current newbuild LNG program continues.

One of Samson’s newest tug line products is called Saturn-12, a line made with Dyneema® which can increase residual strength up to 15-20 percent. “It has a coating that we put on it that really enhances the yarn-on-yarn internal abrasion, and tug companies like Crowley and some of the companies down in the Gulf, G&H Towing and Moran are starting to use it,” Crump reports. “They are seeing a much longer service life, and the higher residual strength gives them a greater degree of safety when they are handling big tankers.”

Dyneema® fiber is also used in Samson’s Dynalene product that also helps with abrasion challenges. Dynalene is permanently spliced over the rope, acting as a cover and is easily installed anywhere on the rope. “It gives tug operators some real good protection because when they go to do an assist on a big tanker, they don’t have any control over what the surface conditions are like on these ships,” says Crump. “By putting this chafe protection on it, operators don’t have to worry that their lines are going to get cut.”

Tug and mooring customers are also using a lightweight, high-strength flowing rope, Quantum-12, that can grip a capstan or H-bitt. An overlay of EMAD yarn of polyester is spun around some of the fibers of the Dynema® to increase the coefficient friction because Dynema® is very slippery and doesn’t tie off very well. Crump says the British Navy has converted over to it and the US Coast Guard is also starting to use it.

Mistrial Declared in Case Against ILWU President

The trial of International Longshore and Warehouse Union President Robert McEllrath has ended in a mistrial after a six-person jury deliberating the case in Washington state couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on the charges against him.

McEllrath had been accused of standing on the railroad tracks with several hundred other ILWU members and supporters to stop a train that was scheduled to deliver grain to the Port of Longview’s EGT grain terminal on Sept. 7, 2011.

The three-man, three-woman jury assigned to the case by the Cowlitz County District Court deliberated for about two-and-a-half hours June 29 before informing the judge that it was deadlocked on the charges, all of which were misdemeanors.

“The ILWU hopes that this result ends this chapter and that Cowlitz County can move on with the business of finding good local jobs for local workers,” union vice president Ray Familathe said.

The judge in the case has scheduled a hearing for July 5 to determine if the case will be retried.

The labor dispute stemmed from company using the services of a union other than the ILWU at Berth 9, a $200 million joint venture at Longview between Bunge Ltd., ITOCHU International and STX Pan Ocean.

Union Local 21 had contended that its contract with the Port of Longview required that the 25 to 35 jobs inside the terminal go to ILWU labor. The company, however, said its lease agreement with the port did not specify ILWU workers. Members of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 701 had been working at the terminal.

The Sept. 7 protest was part of a summer-long series of demonstrations by the union at the port that led to dozens of arrests.

The labor issue was settled under an agreement ratified by the port Jan. 27, which states that all labor at the terminal must be dispatched through the Local 21 union hall.

Although McEllrath had been the highest ranking union member charged in the case, he was not the only one. In March, the president of the Local 21 chapter and a member of the union’s executive board both pleaded guilty to charges related to last summer’s protests at the terminal.

Homeland Security Announces Port Security Grants

The US Dept. of Homeland Security has awarded more than $97 million in grants to various seaports, port-related public agencies and private companies for various projects, including helping protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism.

The $97 million in grants, which was announced June 29, is part of a total of $1.3 billion in preparedness grants awarded by the DHS during the 2012 fiscal year. In addition to the port security, grants were awarded in the categories of transit security, intercity passenger rail, tribal homeland security and other categories.

The largest share of the $97 million went to the City of Los Angeles Harbor Department, which runs the Port of Los Angeles. It received $6.9 million, which it says it’ll use to buy two police boats and upgrade communication and computer systems.

The neighboring Port of Long Beach received $2.8 million for various projects.

Among the other West Coast ports receiving major grant funding were the Port of Oakland, which was the recipient $3.5 million and the Port of Stockton, which was awarded $1.7 million.

Seaports receiving lesser funding included the ports of Olympia, Grays Harbor, San Diego and Everett, which received $299,000, $265,650, $153,750 and $55,725, respectively.

Grant recipients also included numerous port-related businesses, including Long Beach Container Inc., which received $3.3 million; the Seattle Fire Dept., which received $1.5 million; and container terminal operator and vessel stevedore TraPac Inc., which was awarded $1 million.

The full list of awardees and amounts can be seen at .

Port Security Bill Approved by House

Legislation that directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a study of gaps in US port security passed the U.S. House of Representatives June 28 on a 411 to 9 vote.

H.R. 4005, commonly known as the “Gauging American Port Security Act” or GAPS Act, also directs Homeland Security submit to Congress a classified report on the security holes that includes a prioritization of existing loopholes and a plan for addressing them. The bill is sponsored by California Congresswoman Janice Hahn, whose district includes the Port of Los Angeles. The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.

“The loopholes that continue to exist in port security keeps me up at night,” Hahn said.

“Ports are a huge piece of our economy and an attack or disruption would have a disastrous impact on American jobs and the economy,” she explained. “We will be able to better protect our ports and their contributions to our economy if we know where the weaknesses are and have a plan to address them therefore I’m very pleased this bipartisan and common sense piece of legislation has passed.”

“My first question as a member of the Homeland Security Committee was to Lee Hamilton, vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, on what Congress should be doing to protect our ports. Mr. Hamilton’s response that Congress wasn’t focused enough on our ports meant we needed to act.”

Ships make about 50,000 calls a year on U.S. ports, carrying two billion tons of freight and 134 million passengers, according to federal statistics.

American ports import and export about $3.8 billion worth of goods daily through all 50 states according to the data, plus move 99.4 percent of overseas cargo volume by weight and generate $3.95 trillion in international trade.

However, according to the Department of Homeland Security, less than three percent of cargo coming into the country is scanned.

First Grand Alliance Ship Calls at Port of Tacoma

The first ship associated with the new Grand Alliance service at the Port of Tacoma has officially docked at Washington United Terminals.

The July 2 call by Hapag-Lloyd’s Dusseldorf Express was the first of three new calls each week at the terminal as result of the new Grand Alliance business announced in March.

Port, terminal and shipping line officials celebrated the maiden ship call with a plaque presentation before crews began unloading and reloading the ship.

The Grand Alliance is a consortium of three of the world’s largest shipping lines, Germany-based Hapag-Lloyd, Orient Overseas Container Line of Hong Kong and Japanese company NYK Line, along with associated carrier ZIM Integrated Shipping of Israel.

The associated services will connect Tacoma to Europe and Central and South America, as well as Asia.

Washington United Terminals is a 105-acre container terminal on the Blair Waterway that has four post-Panamax and two super-post-Panamax cranes capable of handling the world’s largest ships, 51-foot water depth, on-dock rail and a newly extended 2,600 foot berth.