Friday, June 21, 2013

State Legislature Recognizes Tug Crew for Emergency Rescue Effort

The captain and crew of Crowley Maritime’s Prevention and Response (PRT) tug Alert were recently recognized by Alaska State Legislature Rep. Eric Feige for their response during the emergency rescue tow of the drill barge Kulluk off the southern point of Kodiak Island.

Feige appeared aboard the Alert, the Crowley tug boat, which is under contract with the Ship Escort/Response Vessel System, to present a legislative citation to the captain and crew of the vessel.

The citation was issued for the crew’s role in attempting to save the storm-battered oil drill rig Kulluk last winter.

During the June 7 visit, Feige presented the crew with a letter of commendation from the members of the 28th Alaska State Legislature. It stated in part:

“The crew safely and methodically adapted to changing conditions, used their training to identify and manage hazards and then performed each task to minimize the risks associated with those hazards.”

The proclamation then goes on to express “admiration and respect” to the crew for its “superb teamwork” and conducting themselves as professionals “in an extreme and challenging incident.”

The 10,192-horsepower Alert, which is typically used for tanker escorts to and from the Alyeska Valdez Marine Terminal, departed Valdez in response to a request for assistance and arrived on scene to find Kulluk adrift at 4.5 knots in rough weather and sea conditions.

The Alert was able to catch a training line from Kulluk and proceeded to tie off and commence tow.  The crew slowed and re-oriented the Kulluk’s drift so that the original towing tugboat could secure a connection to the drilling rig. But with increasing heavy weather, the original towing tug connection parted after about 10 hours.

Once attached, Alert remained tethered by emergency tow line to the Kulluk and continuously maintained tow despite 54-foot seas and 40 to 50 knot winds pushing the Alert backward toward the Kodiak Island shore. A day later, the Unified Command directed the Alert to release the tow wire.

A U.S. Coast Guard investigation of the incident found that the Alert and all of Crowley Maritime equipment used in the evolution of the rescue attempt and towing of the Kulluk “performed flawlessly, met and exceeded standards.”

Crew members of the Alert onboard during Feige’s visit included Capt. Rod Layton, Brad Burger, Brett Spellman, James Mueller, Craig Matthews, Leroy Edenshawn and Walt Nickerson.

Nicaragua Canal Project Gets a Developer

The attempt to build an alternative to the Panama Canal became a bit closer to reality recently, as the Nicaraguan legislature has approved an exclusive commercial agreement with infrastructure development firm HKND Group to advance the Nicaragua Canal and Development Project.

The agreement, which was ratified June 13, grants Hong Kong-based HKND exclusive rights for the planning, design, construction, operation, and management of the Nicaragua Canal and other potential infrastructure development projects, including free trade zones and an international airport.

“Central America is at the center of North-South and East-West global trade flows, and we believe Nicaragua provides the perfect location for a new international shipping and logistics hub,” HKND Group Chairman Wang Jing said in a prepared statement announcing the agreement.

“Global shipping demands the efficiency and cost competitiveness of increasingly larger ships, and we believe this project will serve that still-unmet need,” Jing said.

The Nicaragua Canal is a proposed waterway through Nicaragua to connect the Pacific Ocean with Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The 130-mile waterway is expected to take up to 11 years to complete.

HKND says it has determined that contrary to previous belief, the route will not follow the San Juan River and that it is exploring the viability of alternate pathways.

HKND says that initial findings from its commercial analysis state that growth in East-West trade and ship sizes could eventually lead to $1.4 trillion in total goods value transiting the combined Nicaragua and Panama canals.

$1 Billion Budget Approved by Long Beach Port

Similar to what the adjoining Port of Los Angeles did earlier this month, the Port of Long Beach has approved a $1 billion budget for its upcoming fiscal year. The budget, which was approved June 17, includes the largest capital improvement spending plan ever adopted by the port.

The budget also projects operating revenue of $375 million, the port’s highest ever.

A total of $788 million in capital spending ― six percent more than FY 2013 ― leads the planned expenses in the budget that covers the upcoming fiscal year. The port’s modernization projects, including the Middle Harbor terminal and Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement, pushed the overall budget up by 6.6 percent compared to the current fiscal year.

The approved budget adds 52 new full-time positions, including 33 in the Engineering Bureau to oversee the ongoing capital improvements and 12 in the Security Division to enhance operational integration with the Long Beach Police Department and other partnering security agencies.

Additionally, the budget sets aside $73 million for environmental programs to improve air and water quality, as well as to protect wildlife habitat.

Al Moro, the port’s Acting Executive Director, said the budget incorporates a combination of prudent fiscal planning and ‘green growth’ that increases cargo flows with environmental sustainability programs.

“Our carefully planned 10-year capital improvement program represents a significant investment in this port, and this annual budget is just one part of that,” Moro said.

Early this month, the Port of Los Angeles adopted a 2013-14 fiscal year budget of about $1.1 billion, with about $400 million -- or 37 percent of the total budget – allotted for capital improvement.

The Port of LA’s new fiscal year begins July 1; Long Beach’s starts Oct. 1.

Long Beach Harbor Commissioners Shuffle Roles

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners on Monday June 17, elected board member Thomas Fields as its President for a one-year term that begins July 1. He’ll succeed Commissioner Susan E. Anderson Wise, who served two consecutive years as President.

At the same time as Fields’ election, Commissioner Nick Sramek was elected as Vice President. Commissioner Doug Drummond was voted Secretary. Commissioners Wise and Rich Dines will serve as assistant secretaries. All terms begin July 1.

Fields, a Long Beach advertising executive and former city planning commissioner, was appointed to a six-year term on the Harbor Commission in 2009 by Mayor Bob Foster. This marks his first stint as Board President.

“I look forward to serving as Board President; this is an exciting time for the port as we look for the next executive director while at the same time proceeding with our capital improvement program,” Fields said.

Fields is the founder and owner of Thomas Fields Associates, a Long Beach marketing and advertising agency. He launched his career as an advertising agency writer-producer in New York and Los Angeles.

As Board President, Fields will serve as chair of the commission; the duties for the post include running board meetings and representing the port to the public and shipping industry.

Using LNG as Fuel

Despite their several years of experience with various grades of Diesel fuel, an appropriate level of readiness will be required of all those crew members newly involved with bunkering and monitoring of LNG fuel aboard ship. While traditional bunkering procedures are required to be followed to ensure maximum security and safety, the requirements for LNG bunkering are even more rigid. For instance, given that each flange or coupling connection is a potential spillage hazard, requiring absolute caution in connecting/disconnecting, the number of such connections should be held to a minimum. Furthermore, the LNG Bunkering Rules and Procedures shall include a mandatory “Emergency Shut-Down Procedure” (ESD), drill to be practiced periodically.

The eventual enforcement of ECA and SECA legislation is fast approaching, and the new Emission Control Area (ECA) for North America took effect August 1, 2012, requiring ships to burn fuel oil with a maximum of 1.0% sulfur content. This in turn will be reduced to 0.1% as of January 1, 2015, hence, conversion to LNG appears to be the most logical solution, and in this light, Ship-Owners are advised to consult with the major fuel refineries and Classification Societies for training programs that cover formal LNG bunkering procedures.

Meanwhile, it is reasonable to assume that as the demand for LNG as a marine fuel increases, and that suppliers develop the capability for economic mass production of same, comparable to that of conventional liquid fuels, that the price of such fuel will gradually decrease to a more competitive level and that bunkering stations for LNG will become established all around the world. There are already numerous LNG carriers equipped with DF (dual fuel) main propulsion diesel engines, capable of burning cargo-boil-off gas, built by Rolls-Royce, MAN-B&W and by Wartsila, and their numbers are gradually increasing.

The choice of LNG is evidently encouraged by proven claims of lower exhaust emissions resulting from higher efficiency, cleaner burning characteristics, reduction in NOx and particulate levels averaging 75 percent, with almost zero levels of SOx.

LNG is not without its limitations, one of which is that LNG storage tanks have to be heavily insulated to maintain a constant temperature of minus 165 degrees Celsius. The insulation is required not only to preserve the ultra-low temperature of the LNG tanks, but also to protect the ship structures from the effects of the cryogenic temperatures of the LNG.

Aboard ship the required storage space for such tanks is estimated to be as much as 250 percent larger than that required for conventional diesel fuel tanks of corresponding fuel capacity.

Another cost factor to be addressed is in the design and construction of LNG bunker tanks, since unlike conventional marine fuel storage tanks that are not pressurized, LNG Bunker Tanks are designed, built and classed as “Pressure Vessels”, and therefore subject to design and construction rules similar to those of steam boilers and compressed air storage tanks for use aboard ship. Accordingly, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has published IMO Interim Guideline MSC 285(86) adopted in 2009, as a preliminary version of the IGF-Code. Rules for LNG-fuelled ships have been published by the various classification societies based on several years of experience with LNG as a marine fuel.

This document specifies approved criteria for the arrangement and installation of LNG-fueled engines and related systems and fixtures, intended to ensure a level of technical integrity regarding the safety and reliability of same comparable to that of conventional oil-burning machinery. Meanwhile, the International Maritime Organization is in the process of compiling a new code that is expected to be incorporated into the SOLAS in time for the next revision due in 2014. Accordingly, owners of LNG-fueled vessels will be required to apply for permission of the Harbor Master or equivalent authority prior to entering port.

Conversely, considerable funds are being expended in the research of technical solutions and cost-effective methods of improving the safety and efficiency of LNG-powered main propulsion machinery in an on-going research and development program pioneered by Germanischer Lloyd, in partnership with TGE Marine Gas Engineering, MAN-B&W and NEPTUN Stahlkonstruktion among others.
This effort includes the conversion of an existing oil tanker from conventional diesel fuel to LNG, to serve as a full-scale model to provide engineers with a life-size platform on which to install, test and/or modify their technical concepts to determine feasibility, efficiency and cost effectiveness, for the ultimate refinement of all phases involved in developing the most cost-effective LNG-burning marine propulsion plant possible.

While there is still much to be learned about LNG by operating engineers, there is also much information available from the manufacturers of LNG-burning marine Diesel engines such as MAN-B&W; Wartsila and Rolls-Royce, as world-renowned experts in this field, staffed by highly qualified Service Engineers, on-call, ready to fly out to wherever their expertise may be needed.

Liquefied Natural Gas, otherwise known as LNG, is natural gas in its liquid form. When natural gas is cooled to minus 259 degrees Fahrenheit (-161 degrees Celsius), it becomes a clear, colorless, odorless liquid and is not corrosive. Natural gas is primarily methane, with low concentrations of other hydrocarbons, water, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, oxygen and some sulfur compounds. During the process known as liquefaction, natural gas is cooled below its boiling point, removing most of these compounds. The remaining natural gas is primarily methane with only small amounts of other hydrocarbons.

LNG weighs less than half the weight of water so it will float if spilled on water. Natural gas may be stored in a number of different ways. It is most commonly stored underground under pressure in three types of facilities. The most commonly used in California are depleted reservoirs in oil and/or gas fields because they are more available. Aquifers and salt cavern formations are also used under certain conditions. The characteristics and economics of each type of storage site will dictate its suitability for use.

Two of the most important characteristics of an underground storage reservoir are its capability to hold natural gas for future use and its deliverability rate. The deliverability rate is determined by the withdrawal capacity of the associated valves and compressors and the total amount of gas in the reservoir. In other states, natural gas is also stored as LNG after the natural gas has been liquefied and placed in aboveground storage tanks. Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel. It produces fewer emissions and pollutants than either coal or oil.

The North American supply basins are maturing, and as demand for natural gas increases in California and throughout the United States, alternative sources of natural gas are being investigated. Natural gas is available outside of North America, but this gas is not accessible by pipelines. Natural gas can be imported to the United States from distant sources in the form of LNG. Since LNG occupies only a fraction (1/600) of the volume of natural gas, and takes up less space, it is more economical to transport across long distances and can be stored in larger quantities.

LNG is transported in double-hulled ships specifically designed to handle the low temperature of the LNG. These carriers are insulated to limit the amount of LNG that boils-off or that evaporates. This boil-off gas is sometimes used to supplement fuel for the carriers. Most LNG carriers average about 1,000 feet in length, and require a minimum of 40 feet draft when fully loaded.

There are currently 136 ships that transport more than 120 million metric tons of LNG every year, from sources such as Algeria; Australia; Brunei; Indonesia; Libya; Malaysia; Nigeria; Oman; Qatar; Trinidad and Tobago. Within the United States, LNG marine terminals are located in Everett, Massachusetts; Cove Point, Maryland; Elba Island, Georgia; and Lake Charles, Louisiana, plus Offshore Boston; Gulf of Mexico; Freeport, Texas; Sabine, Louisiana and Penuelas, Puerto Rico.

It was recently announced that Guidelines for Using Gas as a Ship Fuel, in line with I.M.O. regulations, have been issued by the German Classification Society, Germanischer Lloyd. These provisions are applicable to all ships powered by single-fuel such as natural gas, or dual fuel such as gas and fuel oil, in conjunction with the relevant provisions established by the SOLAS, and the natural gas may be stored in either a gaseous or liquid state, according to Dr. Herman J. Klein, Executive Board Member of GL. However, they do not apply to liquefied gas tankers.

In addition to several years’ service as engineering officer, British Merchant Navy and as Chief Engineer, US Merchant Marine, Louis Lemos is a US Navy certified Ship Superintendent (MINS); former Marine Engineering Advisor to the South Vietnamese Navy, (US Defense Attaché Office, Saigon); a licensed Stationary Engineer (Tampa, Florida); Commissioned Inspector of Boilers and Pressure Vessels (National Board); former Port Engineer with Military Sealift Command, (MSCPAC and MSCFE). Now retired, he has more time to pursue his writing. Mr. Lemos can be reached at 415-897-9056 or

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Changes Come to the Columbia

The Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River System, which includes segments of the Willamette and Snake Rivers, has seen a number of recent developments take place that will affect its future. One of the most recent is the decision by Seattle’s Foss Maritime Company to withdraw from the river, with its local ship-assist and towing business to be sold to competitor Tidewater Barge Lines. The move, which takes effect this month, reflects a feeling by Foss that business is not expected to grow on the river, and that there is a strong probability of fewer ships calling. Shortly after the Foss announcement, terminal operator Kinder Morgan disclosed that it had given up on its plans to open a new $150 million coal exporting facility on the river near St. Helens. Although environmentalists quickly took credit for the decision, company spokesman Allen Fore said a “suitable site” at Port Westward for terminal construction could not be found.
Grain exports, long one of the river’s most stable trades, has been troubled recently by labor lock-outs at the United Grain terminal at Vancouver and the Columbia Grain and Louis Dreyfus terminals at Portland. Protests have also taken place at grain facilities located at Kalama and Longview, which could impact the long-range plans of shippers.
One positive development for the river’s future, at least in the shipyard sector, has been a decision by Portland-based Vigor Industrial to order a new 960-foot by 186-foot floating drydock from China’s Daoda Marine Heavy Industry Company. To have a lifting capacity of 80,000 long tons, the company expects the drydock will bring back business lost to the river when Vigor sold an earlier 87,000-long-ton capacity drydock to the Grand Bahama Shipyard in 2001.
Seattle’s Foss has also elected to retain its yard at Rainer, Oregon, considered one of the more successful small boat builders on the West Coast. Still a question mark is the arrival of bulk crude oil on the river for coastal distribution by tank vessels, a potential new business for several ports.
Crude Oil Boom
While coal has been the big story on the Columbia over the past several years (See Pacific Maritime Magazine, June 2012) crude oil suddenly stepped into center stage this year, with a terminal at Clatskanie, Oregon already receiving and shipping crude brought in by rail from the Dakotas.
Originally built to store and ship ethanol, the Port Westward facility was purchased by Global Partners of Massachusetts in January and its enthanol tanks converted over to hold crude. Although the facility’s handling volume is limited, a much larger transshipment terminal is being planned at Vancouver, Washington where oil major Tesoro and Salt Lake City-based Savage Companies have joined forces to plan, develop and operate a major transshipment center. Expected to be operational by next year, the facility is being designed to initially handle about 120,000 barrels of crude daily, but near-term expansion could boost the figure to 280,000 barrels.
Subject to regulatory approval, the new Tesoro/Savage joint venture will own rail unloading and marine loading facilities while land will be leased from the port, initially for ten years. Savage will oversee and manage design, construction and operation on the joint venture’s behalf, with the crude expected to move to Tesoro’s refineries in California by both ship and barge.
Vancouver’s availability of land and its rail infrastructure, including a loop track that can accommodate unit trains of more than 100 cars, played a large part in Tesoro’s decision, with the oil firm noting the port “is uniquely positioned to serve as a hub for the distribution of North American crude oil to West Coast refining centers.”
Coyote Island Terminal
As regional environmentalist now turn their attention to a potential flood of bulk oil shipments coming down the Columbia gorge they have not forgotten coal. Although three West Coast coal projects have been cancelled at Grays Harbor, Coos Bay and Port Westward, a rail-to-barge transshipment facility is still being planned at the Port of Morrow, Oregon and a larger terminal is under consideration at Longview, Washington. In addition, there are plans to install a floating barge-to-ship transfer plant at Port Westward on the lower Columbia to handle barge traffic from Morrow. However, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers said the government agency has received more than 30,000 public comments during an initial 60-day comment period following the permit filing for the Morrow terminal, and that it is still waiting for responses from regional indian tribes, the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
There is no estimate on how long the consultation process on the proposed facility will take but its promoter, Ambre Energy, has indicated that it would like to start construction next year. To be known as the Coyote Island Terminal, the finished complex would be able to transfer up to 8 million metric tons of coal annually from rail cars to barges. The barges, to be built on the river, would then be moved to Port Westward. There, the coal would be transloaded to Panamax-size bulk carriers using a floating Siwertell discharge/load unit. Ambre has said it would pay approximately $850,000 to the Port of Morrow in port fees, and about $1.6 million in property taxes to Morrow County, while creating around 35 family wage jobs.
Millennium Bulk
Ambre is also the lead investor in the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals project at Longview, Washington where investors hope to build a $643 million export facility at the former Reynolds Metals site. In May, federal, state and Cowlitz county regulators selected a Virginia-based consultant, ICF International, to help prepare an environmental impact statement for the proposed terminal. ICF will help the Corps of Engineers, the Washington Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County officials collect public comment on the project.
Ken Miller, Millennium CEO, said the company is “happy” to have a contractor on board as it is the first step in moving forward with the permitting process. With a targeted throughput of 44 million metric tons annually at full build-out, the Longview facility would receive coal using as many as 16 unit trains a day while being capable of loading two ships simultaneously. However, Ambre has been forced to focus its attention on a disagreement it has with Cloud Peak Energy over ownership of the Decker mine in the Rocky Mountains, a mine that is expected to be the source of much of the coal moving to the Columbia.
Ambre and Cloud Peak, the latter considered one of the nation’s largest coal producers, jointly own the mine but Ambre would like to take full control. In turn, Cloud Peak wants land and rail easements for a new mine it wishes to develop in Wyoming and an option to ship as much as 5 million tons of coal annually through the completed Millennium facility.
Not a party to the Millennium project, the nearby Port of Longview has set its sights on the Dakota oil business but not on the oil itself. Instead, the Washington port is interested in heavy project cargo that the oil developments might generate. With this in mind, port commissioners voted in May to purchase a second mobile harbor crane that could be teamed with the port’s existing Liebherr unit to handle bulky heavylift freight. A down payment of $1.5 million has already been placed on a used Liebherr unit at the Port of Rotterdam, Holland, with the full purchase price of $3.9 million to be made using commercial loans.
“It gives us another tool in our tool belt to attract more cargo,” said Doug Averett, the port’s director of operations. Averett noted that the two cranes, working together, could easily handle large refinery parts coming from Asia and destined for the Dakotas. To make the new crane as flexible as possible the port will spend another $396,000 on handling equipment and attachments. Fortunately, Longview is in a sound enough financial condition to make the investment, particularly after posting its fifth consecutive record revenue year.
Most of the income has come from surging grain exports generated by the new EGT elevator, which shipped 4.68 million tons of wheat, soy beans and corn last year, representing nearly two-thirds of all tonnage handled at Longview. In total, the port generated $33.8 million in docking fees and rent last year, a 20 percent jump over 2011 and producing $8 million in net operating income.
EGT officials have said they expect to export about 8 million tons of grain annually once the elevator is working on a full-year basis. This will create additional revenue for Longview and will help offset a 28 percent decline in calcined coke exports and a 40 percent slump in log loadings.
While container numbers have yet to rebound to their pre-recession level at the Port of Portland, and annual grain shipments have remained static at around 4 million tons, mineral bulks have been growing. That has persuaded terminal operator Kinder Morgan to invest $9.5 million in its soda ash export facility at the port’s Terminal 4, where a new shiploader conveyor system is being installed. The upgrade is part of a 10-year lease extension agreement, with two five-year options, signed between Kinder Morgan and the Port at the start of the year.
The investment is being made in conjunction with several other projects to help boost productivity. This includes the dismantlement of an old Dravo loader and dredging of the facility’s loading berth, with the loader now gone and dredging to be completed by September.
Soda ash handled at the terminal, which is used in the manufacture of glass and detergents, has been coming from Wyoming by unit train and is being exported to the Pacific Rim by the American Natural Soda Ash Corporation (ANSAC). Looking at a growing potential for additional mineral exports, Portland is continuing to explore the creation of an entirely new cargo-handling complex on West Hayden Island. However, the required property will first have to be annexed by the City of Portland, an action to be considered by the Portland City Council later this year.
The port would like to develop facilities for the handling of several types of bulks, as well as motor vehicles, on the island but after watching what developers of potential coal terminals along the river have had to go though, officials are concerned that the demands of environmental groups could push development costs to an unrealistic level. In the meantime, container volumes through the port have been down 11.8 percent through the first quarter, with only 48,440 TEUs moved compared to the same period last year, while grain shipments have been off 14 percent.
Vigor Industrial
While development of West Hayden Island is still to be decided upon, Portland-based Vigor Industrial has already made a decision to expand its shipyard capacity on the river by ordering a new 960-foot by 186-foot floating drydock from China’s Daoda Marine Heavy Industry Company. To be delivered to the company’s yard on the Willamette river early next year, the new dock will have a lifting capacity of 80,000 long tons, making it the largest floating drydock in the United States.
Tesoro Corporation, with partner Savage Companies, plans to deliver crude by rail to the Port of Vancouver, Washington where an existing loop track for unit trains will be employed and a new marine facility built. Photo courtesy of the Port of Vancouver.
“We decided now is the time to buy because demand to service large vessels is growing and large drydock capacity in proximity to the US West Coast has diminished,” said Vigor Industrial CEO Frank Foti, who added that the new dock’s first job will likely be to prepare Vigor’s largest existing drydock at Portland for use at Vigor’s Seattle yard. This would provide the Seattle facility with expanded capacity to service larger vessels in Puget Sound. At the same time, the Chinese-made dock at Portland will allow Vigor to lift the US Navy’s newest generation of Military Sealift Command dry cargo/ammunition ships as well as post-Panamax cargo and cruise vessels.
Vigor previously owned an 87,000-long ton capacity, Japanese-built drydock at Portland, which it acquired with the purchase of the Portland Shipyard in 1998, but sold that unit to the Grand Bahama Shipyard in the Bahamas when Alaska tanker traffic began to decline in 2001.
“The new drydock will allow us to meet future demand, grow our business and put more people to work across the Pacific Northwest,” said Foti.

Port of LA Launches Urban Marine Research Center Project

Port of Los Angeles officials, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, philanthropic leaders, marine scientists, students and community members were on hand June 17 for the official unveiling of a plan to transform a 100-year-old pier on the LA waterfront into a world-class urban marine research and innovation center.

At the event, officials announced that the 28-acre site currently known as City Dock No. 1 will be developed into the “AltaSea” urban marine center through a public-private partnership between the port, the non-profit Annenberg Foundation and a host of regional public and private universities.

The facility is planned to feature circulating sea-water labs, offices, classrooms, lecture halls, support facilities, an interpretive center, and the development of the world’s largest seawater wave tank for studying tsunamis and rogue waves.

“At the edge of the largest urban area in the western U.S., the AltaSea research campus is part of a grander vision for the Port of Los Angeles,” POLA Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said. “We will continue our growth and expansion as America’s leading trade gateway and at the same time facilitate some of the most innovative and collaborative marine research and solutions possible.”

About $57 million in funding commitments for the project’s first phase already have already been tallied, including $32 million in site-related capital investments by the Port of LA and a $25 million gift by the Annenberg Foundation to get the project underway. Phase 1 is currently estimated to cost $155 million, with a 2018 completion goal.

The anchor tenant of Phase 1 will be the Southern California Marine Institute, a strategic alliance of 11 major Southern California universities that have marine science academic and research programs.

The entire project cost is estimated at more than $500 million with completion over a 15- to 20-year timeframe.

“AltaSea will position the City of Los Angeles as the premier location for addressing ocean-related environmental issues that are not only important to Southern California, but to the world,” Villaraigosa said.

Regarding the planned facility’s name, Daniel Pondella, Director of the Southern California Marine Institute and Chair of Biology at Occidental College, explained its origin.

“From its Latin root, Alta means high, deep, noble and profound,” he said. “Our goal is to forge deep and profound partnerships on every level and engage the entire Los Angeles community – from government agencies to university researchers, to science educators and industry leaders – in marine research that will transform the future.”

Phase 1 is expected to create an estimated 1,087 construction jobs, according to the port, with Phase 2 providing an additional 4,161 construction jobs.


Long Beach Port Sees Strong Upswing in Imports, Exports

Container cargo rose by more than 17 percent in May 2013 at the Port of Long Beach, leading to the port experiencing some of its highest volumes in nearly three years, according to newly released data.

A total of 583,588 TEUs were moved by the port’s container terminals in May, up 17.2 percent from the same month in 2012. Additionally, imports increased a whopping 22.2 percent to 305,498 TEUs. Exports were up 13.9 percent to 147,073 TEUs.

The number of empty containers that moved through the port was up 10.2 percent to 131,017 TEUs.

Import volumes are the highest since August 2010 overall and export volumes are the highest since October 2010, according to the port’s data.

For the first five months of 2013, Long Beach’s total cargo container volume is up 17.2 percent – including 19.3 percent more imports, 12.2 percent more exports and 18.9 percent more empties. The port attributes the increases in part to larger ships calling at the port more frequently, as well as the addition of service lines beginning in the final quarter of 2012.

For the fiscal year to date, which began in October 2012, Long Beach has seen 4.3 million TEUs, a 15.5 percent increase from the 3.7 million units it saw during the same eight month period during FY 2012. The overall increase includes an 18.8 percent rise in loaded inbound TEUs, a 12.7 percent increase in loaded outbound containers and a nearly 12 percent upswing in empties.



World’s Largest Ship Officially Named

Maersk Line’s newest vessel, which is for now believed to be the largest container vessel in the world, was named June 15 in a ceremony at the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering shipyard in Okpo, South Korea.

The ship now bears the name of the company’s late owner, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, who died in April 2012 at the age of 98. The naming was officially performed by Ane Mærsk Mc-Kinney Uggla, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller’s youngest daughter.

“As you sail the waters of the world, may your journeys be smooth and your tasks successful,” Mærsk Mc-Kinney Uggla said to the ship during the naming. “May you bring happiness to your crew, may you be a safe haven for all who board you and may you bring pride and prosperity to all.”

The ship is the first Triple-E vessel – Economy of scale, Energy efficiency and Environmentally improved – to join the Maersk fleet, and has a capacity of 18,000 TEUs. Its launch is the first of five planned for Triple-E vessels in 2013, with several more expected to join the fleet in 2014.

A total of 20 Triple-E vessels are expected to be gradually phased in over the next couple of years on the existing route between Asia and Northern Europe.

Triple-E vessels, according to Maersk, will consume about 35 percent less fuel per container than the 13,100 TEU vessels being delivered to other container shipping lines in these years and will also reduce CO2 emissions by more than 50 percent per container moved, compared to the industry average CO2 performance on the Asia-Europe trade.

A video of the ship’s naming can be viewed at



POLA Container Volumes Fall in May

The Port of Los Angeles has released its May 2013 cargo volumes, and for the fourth time in five months, those volumes were down compared with the same month last year. May 2013 overall volumes fell 12.9 percent compared to May 2012, according to port data.

Imports dropped 12 percent, from 370,721 TEUs in May 2012 to 326,114 TEUs last month, while exports decreased 16.3 percent, from 185,107 TEUs in May 2012 to 154,004 TEUs in May 2013.

Combined, total loaded imports and exports for May dropped 13.4 percent, from 555,829 TEUs last May to 481,019 TEUs in May 2013. Factoring in empties, which decreased 11.2 percent year over year, overall May 2013 volumes (636,851 TEUs) were down 12.9 percent compared to May 2012, 731,352 TEUs.

The port is attributing the overall decline in part to a vessel service that shifted out of the Port of Los Angeles. French shipping line CMA CGM Group moved a weekly ship call from Los Angeles to the neighboring Port of Long Beach last year. Mediterranean Shipping Co. also jumped from the Port of Los Angeles to the Port of Long Beach late in 2012.

For the first five months of this calendar year, LA moved 3.0 million TEUs, which is down about 7.5 percent from the 3.31 million moved over the same time from last year, but still far more than any other US port.

For the current fiscal year, which began in July 2012, volumes are down 4.74 percent, falling from 7.48 million TEUs to 7.13 million.