Tuesday, November 20, 2012

SoCal Marine Exchange Director Retirement

After nearly two decades with the Marine Exchange of Southern California, Executive Director Capt. Dick McKenna has announced his retirement, effective March 31, 2013. Capt. McKenna, 70, joined the Marine Exchange as deputy executive director in 1993 and has been the executive director since 2008.

Before joining the Marine Exchange, Capt. McKenna served 28 years in the US Navy, retiring with the rank of Captain. He was recently honored by the Harbor Association of Industry and Commerce with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

“His contributions to the Southern California maritime industry are noteworthy and appreciated by all whom had the privilege of working with him,” Capt. Jim Morgan, President of the Marine Exchange Board of Directors, said of McKenna. “We wish him a long and well deserved retirement. We thank him for his leadership, passion for maritime commerce and above all, his friendship.”

In addition to providing critical maritime information to over 200 customers per month, McKenna was instrumental in establishing the Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) at the Marine Exchange, which monitors and facilitates the safe navigation of all commercial ship traffic within a 25-mile arc around the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

He also oversaw the installation of a 100 percent renewable energy installation, consisting of an 80-kW solar power project complemented by a wind turbine system generating 7.2 kW.

Currently, he leads a staff of 20 civilians, and a 10-person US Coast Guard contingent, with an annual budget of $2.4 million. The non-profit Marine Exchange is unique among the nation’s VTS in having a public/private partnership with the USCG.

An open recruitment is now underway for the Executive Director position. Information on the recruitment is posted at the Marine Exchange homepage, www.mxsocal.org.

POLB Monthly Container Volumes Up Sharply

The Port of Long Beach’s new fiscal year has gotten off to a very good start.

The total volume of TEUs that made their way through the port in October 2012 was up more than eight percent compared with the same month last year, thanks to double digit increases in the number of loaded inbound and outbound containers shipped.

Port terminals shipped a total of 530,313 TEU last month, an 8.7 percent increase from the 487,665 that were moved during the same month last year. There was a huge jump in the number of loaded inbound containers shipped: about 276,700 were moved last month, a 15.2 percent jump from October 2011’s 240, 248 TEUs.

The number of loaded outbound containers was up sharply as well: they rose from 118,323 in October 2011 to about 133,500 last month, a 12.8 percent increase.

The one area where Long Beach experienced a decline was in the number of empty containers imported and exported. Port terminals saw a seven percent drop, falling from about 129,100 TEUs last October to 120,100 last month.

The port’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

Long Beach’s jump in numbers was a contrast to those at the adjoining Port of Los Angeles, which last week reported month-over-month declines in October full imported and exported containers. Loaded imports and exports in October dropped by 3.15 percent at LA, from 562,390 TEUs last October to 544,692 TEUs the same month this year.

Last month was something of a role reversal for the ports: for much of the calendar year, the Long Beach had seen its monthly numbers decline, while LA’s had been rising.

SEIU Union Pickets Port of Oakland

Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021, which represents port employees primarily in the janitorial, custodial and maintenance fields, began picketing the Port of Oakland Nov. 19, unhappy over the status of contract negotiations.

“We’ve been prepared for this type of action and still hope to resolve the potential conflict,” Port of Oakland Acting Executive Director Deborah Ale Flint said. “Union picketing at our container facility could cause economic hardship to the port and to union employees not just on the day of the action, but in terms of future long-term business agreements.”

The pickets caused disruptions at port terminals and negative impacts on truckers and longshore workers trying to move cargo according to the port, but did not hinder airport operations.

Because Local 1021 membership rejected a tentative agreement reached between the port and union leadership in March, a mutually-agreed-upon arbitrator is scheduled to begin a non-binding fact-finding phase of impasse proceedings between the port and SEIU later this month. Arbitration meetings are currently scheduled for Nov. 29 and 30 and Dec. 3.

The negotiated contract that the union’s rank-and-file rejected would have required workers to begin making a five percent contribution to their own retirement; currently the port pays the eight percent employee share as well as the employer share of retirement costs.

“We are asking all of our unions to share in the process of getting the port on a path to long-term sustainability and global competitiveness,” Ale Flint said.

Union spokeswoman Anna Bakalis said the strike would continue indefinitely.

Federal Maritime Commission Fines California Companies

The Federal Maritime Commission has fined six companies a total of $383,000 for alleged violations of the Shipping Act of 1984, including two companies in the Los Angeles area.

The penalties, which were announced in mid-November, resulted from investigations conducted by the FMC area representatives in New York, South Florida, Los Angeles and Washington DC.

One of the West Coast companies that agreed to pay penalties was Greating Shipping Co., a licensed non-vessel-operating common carrier (NVOCC) in Alhambra, California. Greating Shipping was alleged to have violated section 10(a)(1) of the Shipping Act by knowingly and willfully obtaining ocean transportation for property at less than the rates and charges that would otherwise be applicable by the device or means of “misdescription” of the commodities shipped under certain service contracts with K-Line.

Greating Shipping made a payment of $68,000 in compromise of these allegations.

The other company was Proshipping Group Corp., a licensed and bonded NVOCC in City of Industry, California.

The Maritime Commission alleged that Proshipping violated section 10(a)(1) of the Shipping Act by knowingly and willfully obtaining transportation under service contracts to which Proshipping was not a contract signatory, and violated section 10(b)(2)(A) of the Shipping Act by providing service other than at the rates and charges in its tariff. Proshipping made a payment of $60,000 to settle the case.

The other three NVOCCs agreeing to pay fines to settle cases against them were China-based King Shipping Co.; Ft. Lauderdale, Florida-based American Freight Line – Southeast, Inc.; and Jamaica, NY-based U.S. Pacific Transport Inc.

Additionally, Icon Logistics Service, a business entity based in Laurel, Maryland was fined $20,000 for allegedly acting as a NVOCC without obtaining an FMC license as an ocean transportation intermediary.