Friday, August 24, 2012

Hybrid Tug Catches Fire at Port of Long Beach

The Campbell Foss, one of two Foss Maritime hybrid energy tugboats operating at the Port of Long Beach, suffered a machinery fire shortly after completing a ship assist in the harbor earlier this week.

The fire, which is believed to have started in or near the engine room, occurred around 3:30 pm Aug. 20. According to Foss, the blaze was extinguished by the activation of the vessel’s onboard fire suppression system. The Long Beach Fire Dept. also responded to the incident.

Although there were no major injuries, one crewmember was treated for smoke inhalation, according to Foss.

Foss says cause of the fire is not yet known but that an investigation, which is being conducted in conjunction with personnel from Long Beach Fire and the US Coast Guard, is underway. The company says the Campbell Foss is expected to remain out of service until the investigation is complete, the vessel has been repaired and corrective actions have been taken to prevent a reoccurrence.

The Campbell Foss, which was originally built as a conventionally powered 78-foot by 34-foot Dolphin-class tug is powered by diesel engines and electric motors. The 280-ton tug was retrofitted in 2011 with 10 lithium batteries to help power the boat while it’s idling and traveling from job to job without tows. It was the first Foss tug to have undergone the conversion process.

Another of the company’s tugs, the Dolphin-class Carolyn Dorothy, which also operates at the Port of Long Beach, became Foss’ first purpose-built hybrid in 2009. The Carolyn Dorothy is currently out of service due to scheduled maintenance, but is expected to be back in service by November.

Port of Vancouver Posts Mid-Year Growth

Port Metro Vancouver handled 62.3 million tons of cargo through the first half of 2012, posting continued growth of six percent overall, according to newly released 2012 mid-year results.

“What we have seen to the mid-point in 2012 is continued resiliency in the Canadian export market,” Robin Silvester, President and Chief Executive Officer of Port Metro Vancouver said in a statement announcing the data. “Although some Asian economies show slower growth overall, through the port we saw continuing strong demand for Canadian natural resources.”

Total foreign tonnage at Port Metro Vancouver posted a six percent increase over the same period last year with 49 million tons, while total domestic tonnage was up six percent, to 13.3 million tons.

The mid-year numbers include healthy growth in key sectors, including:
  •  A six percent increase in container traffic, growing to 1.3 million 20-foot equivalent units, a Port Metro Vancouver record.
  • A rise in bulk volumes to 42.4 million tons, a six percent increase. Dry bulk cargoes like coal were up 10 percent to 16.7 million tons. Liquid bulk cargo ended the mid-year up seven percent to 4.9 million tons, the port says.
  • A five percent increase in break bulk cargo, for a total of 8.3 million tons. The growth was partially supported by 5.5 million tons of traffic in forest products like lumber, logs and wood pulp.
  • A 47 percent increase in auto volumes, rising to 223,000 units. The port attributes the increase mostly to the resumption of imports after the March 2011 devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which had shut down a large part of the Japanese industry for much of last year.
“Thanks to capacity building projects now underway, together with improved efficiencies, and this ongoing demand, we expect to see continued strength throughout 2012,” Silvester said.
Port Metro Vancouver is Canada’s largest export port by tonnage. It trades $75 billion in goods annually with more than 160 trading economies.

Port of Tacoma Sees Monthly Traffic Increase

Monthly container volumes leaped more than 19 percent at the Port of Tacoma in July compared to the same month in 2011, mostly thanks to the migration of the so-called Grand Alliance of shipping companies to Tacoma from Seattle near the start of the month.

The Port of Tacoma handled 146,000 20-foot equivalent units in July compared with 122,322 in the same month in 2011, with a portion of that traffic increase resulting from the addition of the Grand Alliance, which began calling at Tacoma’s Washington United Terminals July 2.

The consortium includes three of the world’s largest shipping lines: Hapag-Lloyd, which is based in Germany; Orient Overseas Container Line of Hong Kong; and Japan’s NYK Line. Additionally, Israel-based ZIM Integrated Shipping is an associated carrier.

Of the 146,000 TEUs, the majority, more than 86,500, were full inbound containers coming from destinations outside the US, according to newly-released port data. That number however, was actually down from the 87,600 TEUs moved in June 2012.

So far, the biggest difference seen in month-over-month volumes has been in the number of empty containers the port has seen. In July, Tacoma moved 15,700 empty TEUs, its highest monthly total of the calendar year, far outpacing the 13,000 that were shipped in and out of the port in March.

For the year to date, Tacoma has seen 875,777 TEUs, a nearly four percent increase from the 842,500 that it had shipped through the same seven-month period in 2011.

New Alaska Shipbuilding Center Opens

Alaska Ship & Drydock, a subsidiary of Vigor Industrial, has opened a new state-of-the-art assembly hall designed to build ships up to 500 feet in length in Ketchikan, Alaska.

The assembly hall, according to ASD, is 70,000 square feet with an adjacent five-story production center to minimize material flow and maximize efficiency.

“The new assembly hall positions the Ketchikan Shipyard to be very competitive for emerging shipbuilding opportunities in Alaska,” Alaska Ship & Drydock President Adam Beck said. “Its strategic position coupled with the exceptional expertise of ASD’s skilled workforce in meeting the needs of Arctic and north-water mariners, makes ASD an important part of Vigor’s ongoing growth plans.”

The Ketchikan Shipyard is owned by Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, known as AIDEA, and managed by ASD Vigor under a 30-year contract.

“The partnership between ASD and AIDEA has allowed the creation of a new and invigorated industry in Ketchikan,” AIDEA Executive Director Ted Leonard said in a statement announcing the opening of the production center.

The next phase of improvements for the Ketchikan Shipyard, according to Vigor and ASD, includes a $10 million steel fabrication shop scheduled for completion in late summer 2013.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Port of Portland Sued By Longshore Union

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union filed a federal lawsuit against the Port of Portland on August 16th. The union seeks to stop hundreds of thousands of dollars in aid authorized by the port for a terminal operator and several ocean carriers as reimbursement for costs incurred during recent labor unrest.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the expenditures to Terminal 6 operator ICTSI and demands what it calls “illegally granted funds” remain in public hands.

“The port’s handout to ICTSI is not only illegal, it’s wrong,” Leal Sundet, ILWU Coast Committeeman and resident of Clackamas County, said. “Our lawsuit aims to stop the port’s direct interference in a private labor dispute and to keep the money in public hands, where it can be invested in local infrastructure and for other purposes that serve the public good.”

On Aug. 8, the Port of Portland Commission authorized the payment of about $700,000 to ICTSI to offset operating costs and lost revenue associated with labor unrest associated with Terminal 6. On July 11, the commission authorized payments totaling tens of thousands of dollars to shipping lines to compensate them for losses incurred during the unrest.

The ILWU says that the expenditures are against both federal labor law and the Oregon state constitution. The crux of the union’s argument is that public entities like the port are prohibited from helping one side or the other in a private sector labor dispute and that the port’s “gifting” of funds doesn’t fall within the permissible exception of certain business activities that the Oregon Constitution grants the port.

The port, however, has said that no reimbursements to the terminal operator have been made as of yet, and that rather than direct payments to ICTSI, the reimbursements could come in the form of rent payment credits. No tax revenues would be used, according to the port.

The port authorized the expenditures during the midst of a labor battle between the ILWU and the International Brotherhood and Longshore Union over work at Terminal 6. The ILWU at the time was attempting to win jobs hooking and unhooking refrigerated containers at the terminal, work that that been performed by the IBEW since Terminal 6 launched operations in 1974.

The ILWU claimed that under the collective bargaining agreement between it and the Pacific Maritime Association – of which ICTSI is a member – longshoremen should be doing the work. However, the National Labor Relations Board ruled Aug. 13 that the jobs rightfully belong to the electricians union.
During the height of the dispute this past June, production at the terminal dipped dramatically, causing long lines of drayage trucks and increasing the number of stacks of containers waiting to be loaded and unloaded.

The ILWU work slowdown eventually led to some shippers temporarily opting to bypass the Port of Portland for other West Coast ports. The situation eventually prompted the port commission to take the step of offering reimbursements to the shippers and ICTSI.

Crowley Buys New Tankers

Crowley Maritime Corp.’s petroleum and chemical transportation group has purchased two new Jones Act tankers, the Pennsylvania and the Florida, from vessel construction company Aker Philadelphia Shipyard. The tankers, scheduled for delivery in September 2012 and March 2013, mark Crowley’s re-entry into the Jones Act tanker market since its last tanker was retired in 2011.

“This is yet another example of our on-going investments in new equipment and technology to meet the current and future needs of our customers,” Crowley’s Chairman, President and CEO, Tom Crowley, said.

The company says the tankers will be capable of carrying nearly 330,000 barrels of a wide variety of petroleum products and chemicals and they’ll operate in the US coastwise trade.

The US-flagged vessels are the 13th and 14th in the Veteran Class built at Aker. With a length of 183.2 meters, a breadth of 32.2 meters, and a depth of 18.8 meters, the tankers come in at 45,800 deadweight tons with a draft of 12.2 meters.

Powered by the first Tier II large-bore engines, MAN-B&W 6S50MCs, the speed of the Pennsylvania and the Florida is expected to average better than 14.5 knots.

“Putting these vessels into service continues our commitment to offering a wide variety of solutions for the safe and reliable transportation of petroleum products and chemicals for our customers,” Rob Grune, Crowley’s senior vice president and general manager of petroleum services, said.

Crowley has a long history of transporting petroleum products and chemicals by tanker and articulated tug and barge, or ATB. Until 2011, the company owned and operated Jones Act product tankers that carried petroleum products and chemicals.

Crowley says that as of 2013, it will own and operate 17 ATBs, including 155,000-barrel, 185,000-barrel and 330,000-barrel capacity tank vessels.

Port of Seattle Approves Rail Corridor Sale

The Port of Seattle Commission has voted to approve the sale of portions of its Eastside Rail Corridor to King County, Washington, and also grant the county a permanent easement over a portion of the corridor that still has freight service.

The easement would allow King County to move forward with plans to develop a recreational trail.

BNSF Railway first announced its intention to divest of the 42-mile corridor in 2003. In 2007, the Port of Seattle signed a memorandum of understanding with BNSF, setting the stage for the port’s 2009 acquisition of the corridor and the beginning of the federal rail-banking process. King County has been a partner since 2007; in 2009 Sound Transit, Puget Sound Energy, and the cities of Kirkland and Redmond joined the effort to preserve the corridor.

“Today’s vote is evidence that persistence does, in fact, pay off,” port CEO Tay Yoshitani said. “Through a difficult economic downturn we’ve been able to keep the project on the right track – ensuring that the corridor stays intact and available for the region’s future.”

“Though the specifics have changed several times, we’ve been steadfast in the goal: preserve the corridor and place it into public ownership,” Commission President Gael Tarleton said after the vote. “Many agencies joined us to make that goal a reality. We look forward to working with our stakeholders around King County to make rails and trails work for all of us.”

The transaction, which the port commission approved Aug. 14, now goes to the King County Council for final approval.

Port of Long Beach Awards Pollution Reduction Grants

The Long Beach Harbor Commission on Aug. 20 awarded $5.4 million to nonprofit groups, agencies and port tenants to fund 28 projects that will reduce, avoid or capture emissions of greenhouse gases.
Recipients of this round of grants include port marine terminal operators, area hospitals, schools and nonprofit organizations.

The awards were the third round from the port’s Community Mitigation Grant Programs, which are designed to off-set environmental impacts from port construction projects.

The awarded projects incorporate available technologies to cut pollution, but there are residual impacts that the grant programs are designed to address.

The grants were recommended by an advisory committee of community members and representatives from air quality regulatory agencies and industry.

The Port Grant Programs were established in 2009 by the Long Beach Harbor Commission to lessen the health effects of port-related air pollution and to reduce greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gas grants were awarded in four categories this round: energy efficiency, landscaping, renewable energy and transportation.

A complete list of GHG grant recipients can be seen at