Friday, November 9, 2012

LA Harbor Board Approves Major
Construction Contracts

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners has approved more than $127 million in construction contracts for two major projects that would modernize the marine container terminal operated by longtime tenant TraPac, Inc.

“Redevelopment of the TraPac terminal reflects the port’s larger commitment to retaining its global position as America’s premier seaport,” Port of LA Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said. “It also reflects our commitment to job creation and sustainable growth as the pathway to long-term prosperity.”

The projects are key elements of the Port of Los Angeles’ overall capital improvement program, which has the port investing more than $1.2 billion over five years. Both contracts, which were approved Nov. 1, were awarded to California construction firms and are expected to support nearly 1,000 one-year equivalent construction jobs over the next two and half years in the greater Los Angeles five-county region. Work is due to begin in January.

The first contract, a $71.5 million project for new buildings and state-of-the-art truck entrance and exit gates at TraPac’s rear Berths 136-139, was awarded to Costa Mesa, California-based S.J. Amoroso Construction Co. The work includes a new administration building designed to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standard, a new yard operations building, truck scales and a pedestrian bridge.

The facilities project, which also includes backland and other infrastructure improvements at Berths 145-147, is expected to be completed in the summer of 2015. The second contract is a $55.7 million grade separation project awarded to Sacramento area-based MCM Construction. The South Wilmington Grade Separation involves building an elevated 4,100-foot roadway that links Harry Bridges Boulevard, Pier A Street and Fries Avenue to TraPac’s new entrance and separates truck from rail operations for safer and more efficient flow of traffic.

The work is due to be completed in the spring of 2015.

Both projects are part of a $365 million expansion of the TraPac terminal due to be completed in 2016. In 2009, the port, TraPac and its parent company, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL), signed a 30-year lease that paved the way for the modernization project, which is expected to increase terminal productivity, green operations and generate thousands of jobs throughout Southern California.

Celebration of Life Scheduled
for Former LB Port Official

The Propeller Club of Los Angeles-Long Beach has scheduled a “celebration of life” event in memory of former Port of Long Beach communications officer Steven Macias, who died last month of natural causes.

The event is planned for 3 to 5 pm Fri., Nov. 16 in the outdoor sculpture garden at the Museum of Latin American Art, 628, Alamitos Ave., Long Beach, California, 90802. Macias spent more than 21 years at the Port of Long Beach, beginning in July 1990. He retired in January at the age of 55. His body was discovered in his residence Oct. 15, after friends became worried when he didn’t show up for a seniors program at a local community college.

During his time at the port, Macias was in charge of various community and outreach efforts, including hosting the port’s seasonal harbor tours and working with school groups and seniors. He was also active for many years in helping plan the Propeller Club’s annual Seafood Feast.

All-Risk Hull Insurance Clarified

By Marilyn Raia

There are some misconceptions about what all-risk hull insurance is intended to cover. It is not a substitute for title insurance. It is not a service contract on a vessel such as might be offered for a household appliance. And, it is not a means for upgrading or refurbishing a vessel. Nonetheless, insureds under all-risk hull policies do not always understand what their policies do and do not cover. What might appear in the first instance to be a covered claim because the loss or damage was not expected by the insured may not be covered at all. This article reviews some circumstances under which the loss of or damage to a vessel has been held not covered under an all-risk hull policy.

As readers may recall from a prior article, Marine Insurance 101 (Pacific Maritime Magazine, November 2010), there are two basic types of hull insurance, all-risk and named perils. An all-risk hull policy covers all risks of physical loss or damage to a vessel from an external cause unless specifically excluded in the policy. It is not an “all loss” policy. That is, a hull policy does not cover everything that might happen to the insured vessel. To be covered, the loss must be fortuitous. That means the loss must be unexpected, unintended, or an accident, and not something certain to occur. A named perils policy is more limited in scope and covers only losses due to the perils named in the policy. The insured under an all-risk policy has the burden of proving the loss or damage claimed for was fortuitous.

Defective title to a vessel
An all-risk hull insurance policy does not provide relief to a vessel buyer who does not obtain good title in the transaction. In Commercial Union v. Sponholz, 886 F.2d 1162 (9th Cir. 1989), the insureds under an all-risk hull policy bought a trawler. During the term of the policy, the police confiscated the vessel after determining the Sponholzes had bought a stolen vessel. The Sponholzes were not implicated in the theft. They made a claim under their all-risk hull policy and argued the vessel was lost to them when it was taken away by the police. The district court held the confiscation of the vessel was not a covered physical loss of the vessel but merely the result of a defect in the vessel’s title. The Ninth Circuit agreed and held the hull policy was a casualty policy and could not be converted into a title insurance policy.

Wear and Tear
An all-risk hull policy also does not serve as a way to compensate a vessel owner for losses due to wear and tear. Wear and tear occurs in the normal use of a vessel. Losses due to wear and tear are not considered fortuitous and for that reason they are not covered under an all-risk policy. Great Lakes Reinsurance (UK) PLC v. Soveral, 2007 AMC 672 (S.D. Fla. 2007) illustrates the point well.

In Soveral, the insured vessel sank at her dock because of rainwater accumulation. The rainwater accumulated because the batteries powering the bilge pump had died. The court held the loss was not fortuitous but rather the result of wear and tear. Accordingly, it was not covered under the all-risk hull policy issued by Great Lakes. The court reasoned the vessel was left completely uncovered in a tropical location during the rainy season. Rain entered the vessel and the bilge pumps were activated and eventually drained the battery. When the battery died, the bilge pumps stopped pumping and the vessel sank. In a declaratory relief action file by Great Lakes against its insured, the court held the deterioration of the battery constituted normal wear and tear and was not fortuitous. The court also held the entry of rainwater into an uncovered vessel during the rainy season was not fortuitous.

Another case illustrating the point is Axis Reinsurance Company v. Henley 2009 WL 3416248 (N.D. Fla. 2009). In that case, the insured vessel was used for fishing charters (although that fact was concealed from the insurer). During one trip, with passengers aboard, the vessel took on water. The batteries became submerged and one of the three engines did not start. A passenger had to bail the vessel out but succeeded in lowering the water level by only a few inches. Eventually, the vessel was able to return to the dock under her own power. The next morning the vessel was found to be sinking at the dock.

The insured made a claim under his all-risk hull policy. The insurer hired a surveyor to investigate the cause of the sinking. The surveyor found clogged scuppers which he deemed to be a partial cause of the loss. He also discovered the vessel lacked a starboard bilge pump which should have been part of the vessel’s original equipment, and had an inoperable port bilge pump. He also found the inboard ends of the discharge hoses for the bilge pumps were lower than the exit holes on the outside of the hull, resulting in a siphon effect and the flooding of the lazarette as the vessel took on water. The discharge hoses were not capped and did not have an anti-siphoning loop.

The court first found the policy to be void because the insured had concealed information about the vessel being used for charters. For “completeness of the record,” though, the court also stated even if the policy were not void, the loss would not be covered because it was not fortuitous. The court reasoned the proximate cause of the loss was the entry of water into the vessel due to wear and tear of the bilge pumps coupled with the siphoning through the discharge hoses, and not due to waves splashing over the sides of the vessel.

Negligence of the vessel owner
Loss of or damage to a vessel due to the negligence of a vessel owner often is considered fortuitous and covered under an all-risk hull policy. However, that is not always the case. Under certain circumstances, the negligence of vessel owner can also be considered a non-fortuitous cause of loss precluding coverage under an all-risk hull policy.

In Reliance Ins. Co. v. McGrath 671 F. Supp. 669 (N.D.Ca. 1987), the insured wooden-hulled vessel had not been away from the dock for more than two years. One day, the vessel owner took the vessel a short distance away for refueling. When leaving the fuel dock, the vessel owner heard some banging on the hull, which he concluded resulted from the vessel striking a submerged object. He believed there was not much damage and did not immediately haul the vessel. The vessel regularly took on water thereafter and had to be pumped out from time to time. Moreover, marine borers attacked the hull area that had been damaged and scraped when the vessel struck the submerged object. The marine borers were able to access the vessel’s planking because of the disturbance of the anti-fouling paint. Over many months, the borers consumed enough of the planking to allow water into the hull and sink the vessel.

The vessel owner made a claim under his all-risk hull policy for the constructive total loss of the vessel. The district court held the loss was not covered because the sinking was not fortuitous. Rather, the court found the failure to haul and inspect the hull and replace the anti-fouling coating after the vessel struck a submerged object caused the sinking, and those failures were attributable to the vessel owner’s negligence and lack of due diligence.

Hull insurance is important for every vessel owner to have. However, vessel owners should not expect all-risk hull insurance to cover every casualty and occurrence that might befall their vessels. All-risk hull insurance covers only fortuitous losses and should not be considered a financial resource for business decisions gone awry or the failure to maintain the insured vessel.

Marilyn Raia is of counsel in the San Francisco office of Bullivant Houser Bailey. She is certified by the California State Bar as a specialist in admiralty and maritime law and handles maritime and transportation matters. She can be reached at

Camas-Washougal Port Buys Waterfront Acreage

The Port of Camas-Washougal is acquiring a parcel of waterfront property along the Columbia River at the former Hambleton Lumber site in Washougal, Washington.

“We believe this is the biggest news at the port since the August groundbreaking of the 120-plus acre Steigerwald Commerce Center in our industrial park,” port Executive Director David Ripp said in a prepared statement. “We’re excited that both of these developments will bring much needed jobs to our area and at the same time, demonstrate the port as a leader in balancing the need for economic growth with preserving the quality of life here-particularly the scenic beauty and recreational opportunities along the Columbia River.”

The purchase agreement specifies the sale of about 13.25 acres from real estate development company Killian Pacific at the former Hambleton Lumber Co. site, located adjacent to an existing port recreational boating marina.

In all, the property sale to Killian Pacific totals about 26.5 acres, with the Port of Camas-Washougal purchasing about half of the parcel from Killian Pacific, including rights to tideland leases and associated uplands area.

Killian Pacific will retain ownership of a portion of the Hambleton Lumber Co. site and intends to continue to collaborate with the port on the eventual development of the area, according to Killian Pacific President Lance Killian.

“We look forward to finding the right balance between market and community needs and contributing to enhancing the community through the development of this property,” Killian said.

The sale’s closing date is effective Nov. 16, 2012.

San Diego Port Commissioner Leads Congressional Race Vote

With absentee and provisional ballots still remaining to be counted, Scott Peters, one of seven members of the San Diego Board of Port Commissioners, is leading the race to represent California’s 52nd Congressional District in the US House of Representatives.

According to San Diego County election officials, Peters, a Democrat, won 50.1 percent of the Election Day vote over the incumbent, Republican Brian Bilbray, but there are still more than 100,000 absentee and provisional ballots left to go through.

The 52nd District includes north and eastern portions of San Diego County, but not the Port of San Diego.

Peters has been a member of the port commission since January 2009 after being appointed by then-Mayor Jerry Sanders. He served a one-year stint as board chair in 2011, during which the port reduced its number of departments and number of employees to save money and streamline service.

If Peters is confirmed as the winner of the Congressional race, it would be up to San Diego’s mayor to appoint his replacement to the port board.

Prior to joining the port board, Peters spent eight years on the San Diego City Council, from 2000-2008, and was Council President from 2006 through 2008.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fidley Watch - Passing Gas

Even through the economic downturn of the past few years, the world has remained hungry for coal, oil and natural gas. At the same time, the recent oil and shale gas boom in the US has seen domestic natural gas production rise by 15 percent. As the increased supply of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) has lowered prices in the US, in other parts of the world, the increased demand has seen a commensurate increase in prices. At press time, the landed price in dollars per Thousand Cubic Feet ($US/MMBtu) averaged $3.24 in the US, $9.80 in Europe and $12.95 in Asia.

The disparities in supply, demand and value raise interesting issues for the maritime industry. In this issue, Singapore journalist Jaya Prakash details the efforts of Singapore and Malaysia to capitalize on the storage and transportation of LNG to ensure energy independence and in the hopes of creating an LNG spot trading market.

Meanwhile, the increase in LNG transportation, fueled by the lower environmental impact of LNG vs. oil or coal, has led some to predict an impending shortage of LNG carriers to meet market demand – especially in light of the announcement by Japan in September that the country would close down its nuclear power generation industry by 2030 – and in spite of an increase in orders for new carriers.

Finally, LNG terminals continue to be developed, including two in Oregon. One of these, Jordan Cove Energy, in Coos Bay, notified the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in February of this year that, due to current market conditions, it no longer intended to construct and operate an import terminal. Instead, Jordan Cove is exploring the feasibility of a liquefecation export project to be built and operated at the same site, intending to liquefy 6 million metric tons per year for export.

Oregon LNG, in Warrenton, Oregon, followed suit in late March, changing its project from a proposed import terminal to a liquefecation and export facility.

While exports will surely make up a large portion of domestic LNG production, the promise of a lower-emission fuel has a local West Coast company making plans to convert part of its fleet to operate on LNG. In August, Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE), based in Tacoma, Washington, announced plans to convert its two ORCA-class ro/ro ships to burn LNG. The company has received a permit from the US Coast Guard providing a conditional waiver from the Emissions Control Area (ECA) fuel sulfur content requirements, and expects the project to take up to five years and cost $84 million.

The groundbreaking project could open the door to other maritime uses of the fuel, while ensuring a local supply of LNG for use by other sectors of the transportation industry in the region.

The future looks rosy for natural gas, and the ability of the maritime industry to profit from its transportation as well as its environmental benefits makes the future of the maritime industry a bit rosier as well.

Chris Philips, Managing Editor

Alaska and Hawaii See Upswing

By Jim Shaw

The economies of the 49th and 50th states are continuing to show a slow but steady improvement, with the value of tourism in Hawaii expected to nearly equal its 2006 record this year. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, tourists visiting the islands spent $9.59 billion over the first nine months of the year, a 20 percent increase from a year earlier. At that pace spending could reach $13.89 billion by year’s end, eclipsing the record of $12.63 billion set in 2006.

Taking advantage of the growth Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) has decided to make a $30 million investment in its Honolulu-based cruise ship, the 2005-built Pride of America, with the renovation work to be accomplished at Pearl Harbor. Another cruise line, Seattle-based InnerSea Discoveries, will send its 76-passenger Wilderness Explorer to the state next year to operate a series of seven-night cruises out of Honolulu.

At the same time, Alaska is preparing for an upswing in its cruise business as ships return to the state following a lowering of a controversial passenger tax. However, new fuel requirements may stunt this growth by 2015. The state is also moving forward with its plans to export more LNG while keeping a close watch on the Northwest passage where record low ice levels are allowing more navigation at a time when US icebreaker capacity has shrunk to a new low.

Growth Sparks Refurbishment
With forecasts improving dramatically for Hawaii’s tourism business, Norwegian Cruise Line will give its Honolulu-based Pride of America a major refit in March when the 80,439-gt ship enters dry dock for a 14-day stay at Pearl Harbor. According to NCL’s chief executive officer, Kevin Sheehan, more than $30 million will be spent on the vessel to add 24 new ultra-luxurious suites, four additional inside staterooms and four of the line’s unique Studio staterooms for solo travelers. The staterooms, two of which will measure 566 square feet while the remainder will measure between 414 square feet and 363 square feet, will be located on Deck 13. In addition, a Cagney’s Steakhouse and a Brazilian-themed steak house known as Moderno Churrascaria will be added to the ship.

Other amenities will include the installation of upgraded flat-panel TVs in all staterooms, improved wireless Internet access, new carpeting in all guest areas, updated physical fitness equipment and renovations to the vessel’s photo and art galleries.

Sheehan said NCL, which once operated three ships among the islands, is confident in the success of Pride of America and will continue to evaluate the possibility of bringing a ship back to Hawaii in the future.

InnerSea to Hawaii
Although Pride of America is the only large US-flag cruise ship operating among the Hawaiian Islands, Seattle-based InnerSea Discoveries has announced it will send its 76-passenger Wilderness Explorer ex-Spirit of Discovery to the state next year to operate seven-night cruises between Oahu and the Big Island. The 166-foot-long vessel will join the cruise line’s smaller 36-passenger Safari Explorer in the islands, which launched seven-night upscale cruises in the state last fall.

The Wilderness Explorer sailings will include visits to Oahu’s Kaena Point State Park and Waianae Harbor as well as stops at Opihihali; on Maui, Honomalino Bay; on Lanai and Kailua-Kona; on the Big Island.

“We are sending the Wilderness Explorer to Hawaii to add another option for travelers seeking an active island adventure at a moderate price,” said Tim Jacox, InnerSea’s executive vice president of sales and marketing. Jacox said that cruise fares for the vessel’s Hawaii sailings will start at $2,495 based on double occupancy and will feature a number of chances for both dolphin and whale-watching plus a night swim with giant Pacific manta rays and snorkeling at the Molokini undersea crater off Maui.

Pasha Adds Box Capacity
In the commercial cargo sector Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines began offering a container shipping service between San Diego and Hawaii this past summer using the 2005-built auto carrier Jean Anne after having the vessel modified to accommodate up to 100 TEUs. Pasha Hawaii general manager Reggie Maldonado said the new service was added because of requests by customers. “Pasha Hawaii had been approached by many of our customers to expand our specialized shipping services to include container shipping,” he said. “We are pleased to be able to offer this new service to our customers.” By operating the service to and from San Diego, Pasha’s entry into the West Coast container market is not in direct competition with Matson, which serves the ports of Long Beach, Oakland and Seattle, but Pasha clearly has more ambitions as its second ship, the combination container-ro/ro carrier Marjorie C, nears completion at the VT Halter yard in Mississippi. The 692-foot Con/Ro, due to enter service next year, will have the ability to carry 1,400 TEUs, both above and below deck, as well as up to 2,750 vehicle units. A stern ramp rated at up to 250 metric tons will also allow the new ship to carry heavy rolling stock and oversized cargoes.

Alaska Cruise Growth
In Alaska, the 2012 cruise season brought about 940,000 visitors to the state, a 6 percent increase from the previous season, with 2013 numbers expected to be even stronger. Some of the growth can be attributed to the reduction of Alaska’s cruise passenger tax from $50 per person to $34.50 per person two years ago. This saw several ships returned to the trade after long range itineraries were adjusted but John Binkley, president of the Alaska Cruise Association, said there were also several other reasons for the growth. “There were more ships brought back to Alaska and some had longer itineraries,” he noted. Binkley also said there were a few more shoulder season sailings operated in early spring and late fall as well as bigger vessels employed.
“For next year, it’s a combination of more ships, larger ships and more sailings for the ships that are coming,” he observed, “so the combination of all that should push us right over the million-passenger mark.” If this target can be met it would be about where Alaska’s cruise passenger numbers were five years ago. However, the cruise industry is already facing another obstacle to growth in Alaska, with the cost of new emissions rules – the first of which went into effect this past August - expected to have an even greater impact than the passenger tax.

New Emissions Rules
The cruise industry estimates that the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offshore emissions rules for ocean vessels in US coastal areas have raised fuel costs by about 40 percent for cruise ships operating to Alaska, or about $220,000 on a typical 7-day cruise.

A further tightening of emission limits effective in 2015 will raise that to almost 70 percent over previous costs, and to absorb such a cost the per-passenger price of a seven-day cruise would have to go up by about $125 based on current fuel prices. Cruise ship operators say they can bear the 40 percent cost hike, as they have the passenger tax, but not the 70 percent increase. The 2015 rule change, “would harm us significantly,” said Stein Kruse, president and CEO of Holland America Line, one of the main cruise operators to Alaska. “We don’t see a way to pass that cost on to our customers, and we would have to take steps to mitigate the increase which will affect our deployments.” Cruise ship waste water in the 49th state is also a continuing problem and the Cruise Ship Waste Water Science Advisory Panel met in Juneau for three days during September to tackle the subject. It expects to submit its findings and recommendations to the Alaska state legislature early next year and have a new wastewater permit for the 2013 cruise season ready by the time the current permit expires in April.

Alaska Ship & Drydock
While the cruise industry is seasonal in Alaska, Vigor Industrial, the new owner of Alaska Ship & Drydock (ASD) at Ketchikan, wants to make shipbuilding a year-around industry. It is hoping the construction of a new $31 million assembly hall and production center at Ketchikan Shipyard will do the trick. “The new assembly hall positions the Ketchikan Shipyard to be very competitive for emerging shipbuilding opportunities in Alaska,” said Adam Beck, ASD President. “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.”

Beck noted that the Ketchikan yard is now capable of constructing ships of up to 500 feet in length, with the new 70,000-square-foot assembly hall located adjacent to the five-story production center to minimize material flow and maximize efficiency. Over the past nine months ASD has been building modules for Alaska Longline Company’s 136-foot by 40-foot factory longliner Arctic Prowler and expects to deliver the vessel in early 2013. Shortly after that a new $10 million steel fabrication shop will be opened at the yard, which is expected to assist ASD in the construction of a number of new “Alaska” class ferries wanted by the State of Alaska.

LNG Export Potential
On the horizon is the possibility of large-scale exports of natural gas from Alaska to Japan, a country that has been exploring energy options to nuclear power after the shutdown of all but two of its 53 nuclear reactors since last year’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and resulting emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski has been championing the state’s 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas as a possible solution to Japan’s problem. “Alaska’s gas is the perfect fit to meet Japan’s energy needs,” she said. “An LNG line from the North Slope could deliver long-term, stable energy supplies to Japan at a reasonable price.”

Murkowski also noted that an LNG pipeline from the North Slope to tidewater in southern Alaska could deliver affordable natural gas to Fairbanks as well as other communities in Southcentral Alaska. At the same time, gas exports from the state wouldn’t present the same concerns and controversies that surround potential exports from the Lower 48 because of Alaska’s geographic position and the current glut of shale gas. Alaska has been sending natural gas to Japan for more than four decades from Cook Inlet and this is currently the only LNG currently being exported from the US.

Arctic Worry
While Alaska is examining potential gas exports to Japan, as well as watching Shell’s petroleum drilling efforts off its West Coast (see Pacific Maritime Magazine, August 2012), its Arctic frontier may be visited by more ships as northern ice continues to melt. A former Soviet research ship, the 100-passenger Akademik Ioffe, has been making several annual 14-day cruises in the Northwest Passage for a private tour operator while several sailboats were able to make the passage this past summer because of low ice conditions.

In July the US Coast Guard Cutter Healy, the nation’s only operational polar icebreaker, departed Seattle on the first of three Arctic missions scheduled for the year. Left behind were the service’s two heavy icebreakers, Polar Sea and Polar Star. The latter is currently undergoing $57 million worth of repair work at the Vigor yard in Seattle and is expected to return to service next year. The former, which suffered a major engine failure in 2010, was to have been scrapped starting this year but got a reprieve in October when the Senate voted to delay demolition.

In the meantime, China, Russia and Canada are all preparing to build new icebreakers. China, which successfully sent its A-2 class Xuelong through both the Northeast and Northwest passages this year, is having a new icebreaker built that will be capable of moving through ice up to 1.5 meters thick at a speed of 2 to 3 knots. At the same time, Russia, the world’s icebreaking leader, is preparing to build a $1.1 billion ship that will be capable of breaking ice 4 meters thick.

Closer to home, British Columbia’s STX Canada Marine is designing an icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard that will have the ability to break through ice 2.5 meters thick. The US Coast Guard has argued it needs a minimum of three heavy icebreakers and three medium icebreakers to maintain a constant presence in the Arctic but, to date, Congress has not appropriated money for any new construction and some Republicans have argued that both heavy US icebreakers should be mothballed until the Coast Guard can more sharply define its Arctic mission.

LB Port Board Approves HQ Move

The Port of Long Beach has taken a big step toward moving out of its current aging, seismically deficient headquarters.

The port’s Board of Harbor Commissioners on Nov. 5 voted 4-1 to approve the purchase of an office building at 4801 Airport Plaza Dr., just east of the Long Beach Airport, to serve as temporary headquarters for the Port of Long Beach administrative offices.

The port’s administrative staff, about 350 people, expected to move to Airport Plaza sometime in 2013.
The Board stressed that the move is temporary, and that discussions are expected to begin soon on building a permanent headquarters in or near downtown Long Beach.

“I am relieved that we have identified and agreed upon a secure, safe, temporary home for the port (staff) while we go forward with locating the space where the port presumably will be for the next 50 years,” Board President Susan Anderson Wise said. “This is not my first choice; it was my hope that the commission could come together and lease the (Long Beach) World Trade Center, but I am glad we’ve reached this decision.”

Last fall, the five-member harbor commission twice deadlocked on a 2-2 vote whether to purchase the Long Beach World Trade Center. Commissioners Thomas Fields and Nick Sramek voted for the extension and commissioners Rich Dines and Doug Drummond against. The fifth member, Susan Wise recused herself from the issue because she and her husband both have office space in the building.

Wise, Dines, Drummond and Sramek voted in favor of purchasing the Airport Plaza building. Board Vice President Fields voted against, citing complaints by port tenants and other stakeholders regarding the 11-mile distance between the temporary HQ and most terminal operations on the docks.

“In the business sector that I came from, the customer is always right,” said Fields, an advertising executive who was appointed to the Board in December 2009. “And when I listen to our stakeholders … and they tell us the harm they will suffer, the inconvenience they will suffer by moving out of this area, I have to take that with a great deal of heat. To me, moving out of the downtown to the airport does not make sense.”

The purchase price for the vacant building, which was once occupied by the Boeing Corp., is $14.25 million. There’s also an annual ground rent payment of about $255,000. Additionally, the port says it expects to spend another $9 million in renovations.

The eight-story building was built in 1987. Closing date for escrow is Dec. 27.

The current seven-story administration building, built in 1959, is overcrowded and does not meet current seismic standards. The Harbor Commission has placed a priority on moving port staff out of the current location because of overcrowding and safety concerns.

New York-New Jersey Port Terminals Reopen

All marine container terminals at Port of New York-New Jersey have now reopened or are close to reopening after having been closed for days due to damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

The Port Newark Container Terminal and the Global Terminal opened their gates at 7 am for truckers on the morning of Nov. 5 and welcomed their first vessels since the hurricane the night of Nov. 4.

The Port Elizabeth Terminal reopened the morning of Nov. 4 with the arrival of four vessels at the Maher Terminals facility and another at APM Terminals’ container terminal. Longshoremen were back to work and unloading cargo at about 8 am Sunday, according to a Port Authority of New York-New Jersey news release.

Also on Nov. 5, the Red Hook Container Terminal in Brooklyn received its first cargo vessel since the storm. The New York Container Terminal on Staten Island has now also reopened, with the first ship scheduled to arrive the night of Nov. 6. Four additional vessels are also scheduled to arrive at the terminal this week, according to the Port Authority.

With the port’s closure, ships had been forced to either idle offshore or leave for other destinations on the US East Coast or elsewhere.

Although the hurricane led to the closings of numerous ports along the Eastern seaboard, including facilities in Maine, Connecticut, Virginia and Maryland, most of those reopened in the day or two following the storm. New York-New Jersey, which is near where the hurricane struck hardest, was surged by nearly four feet of water and was without power for days.

NY-NJ is the third busiest port in the US, after Los Angeles and Long Beach. In 2011, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey handled a record 5.5 million 20-foot equivalent units worth more than $185 billion.

New Security Building Under Design at Vancouver USA Port

The Port of Vancouver USA  says that a new 3,600 square foot security building is being designed at Terminal 3 after construction of new grain silos at United Grain Corp. forced the demolition of the previous security building in 2010.

With the expansion of the port’s operations and sheer acreage, the new port security headquarters has to be designed as a state-of-the-art facility, according to the port.

There are multiple projects underway at the port that are part of West Vancouver Freight Access Project, or WFVA, a $137 million effort by the port to create jobs and generate revenue by investing in freight rail infrastructure.

The WFVA, which began in 2007, is divided into 20 elements, all of which are expected to be complete by 2017.

Included in the upgraded security building will be expanded and centralized video surveillance that can cover the port’s new rail entrance, Terminal 5 and other areas where new rail service and maritime operations will take place.

The port has teamed with KPFF consulting engineers and BBL Architects to design and build the office space, which the port says is on schedule to begin construction in June 2013 and be completed by 2014.

BNSF Announces Leadership Changes

BNSF Railway Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer John Lanigan has decided to retire effective Jan. 15, 2013 and will be replaced by coal business group Vice President Steve Bobb, the company announced Nov. 1.

Lanigan started with BNSF as executive vice president and chief marketing officer in January 2003. Prior to joining BNSF, he served as president and CEO of, Inc.

Bobb had been BNSF’s group vice president, Coal Business Group, since April 2006. Previously, he was general manager of BNSF’s Texas Division

In his new role, he’ll be responsible for BNSF’s sales, marketing, customer service, economic development, and business unit activities. Assuming his position with the coal business group will be consumer products group Vice President Steve Branscum.

Branscum began his career with the company’s Industrial Engineering department in 1980. He had been group vice president, Consumer Products, since June 1999. Prior to that, he served as vice president, Intermodal Marketing, since July 1996.

Additionally, Katie Farmer has been promoted to group vice president, Consumer Products, succeeding Steve Branscum. In this capacity she is responsible for the commercial activities of BNSF's intermodal and automotive business. Farmer was appointed vice president, Domestic Intermodal, in June 2010. Prior to that she was vice president, Sales, Industrial Products, where she was responsible for leading the carload sales effort across the US and Canada.