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Friday, August 30, 2013

Federal Judge Rules
in Port of Portland Labor Dispute

A federal administrative law judge on Aug. 28 issued a ruling ordering the International Longshore & Warehouse Union to stop disrupting operations at the ICTSI terminal at the Port of Portland, where there’s been an ongoing dispute regarding territorial rights to certain jobs on the docks.

In his 52-page ruling, National Labor Relations Board Judge William Schmidt ruled that ILWU members did not have the rights to a handful of jobs plugging in, unplugging and monitoring refrigerated containers at the ICTI terminal and that the work rightfully belongs to a different union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Schmidt also wrote that the longshore union had engaged in “systematic sabotage” at the terminal during a 10-day period last year during the height of the dispute.

Schmidt’s order directs the ILWU to clearly post notices for 60 days at their Portland offices and San Francisco headquarters admitting it violated federal labor law and that it would no longer make any threats, engage in work slowdowns or stoppages at the disputed terminal. .

The order also directed the ILWU to cease filing nuisance grievances and lawsuits against ICTSI and shipping companies that are intended to hinder port operations. The labor dispute dates back to 2011, when ICTSI Oregon entered into a 25-year agreement with the port to operate the dock at Terminal 6, and chose to honor a collective-bargaining agreement between the port and the District Council of Trade Unions, of which the IBEW is a member.

The IBEW had performed the work since operations began at the terminal in 1974.

The ILWU, however, began to claim that under the collective bargaining agreement between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association – of which ICTSI is a member – longshoremen should be doing the work.

In August 2012, the NLRB ruled that the disputed jobs should go to the IBEW and not the ILWU, which the longshore union appealed.

Schmidt then took a year considering the appeal before issuing his ruling this week.

The ILWU has said it is still reviewing the decision and has not decided whether it intends to appeal the decision.

North Korean Ship Carrying Cuban Arms Intercepted by Panama

By Emily Keyes, PMM Editorial Intern

An incident involving the transportation of Cuban owned Soviet-era weapons aboard a shady North Korean flagged vessel that was detained by Panamanian officials, complete with a rioting crew and suicidal captain, sounds more like a film plot for a movie during the Cuban Missile Crisis than a news brief in 2013. (Warning the following is not a screenplay for the next Hollywood hit movie.)

The North Korean flagged cargo ship Chong Chon Gang, which had left the Russian Pacific in June, drew suspicion and international surveillance as she made her voyage through the Panama Canal and then “disappeared” on her way to Cuba, as a result of the vessel’s satellite tracking system being intentionally shut off, only to reappear at the Panama Canal on July 10, 2013.

The Chong Chon Gang has a checkered past of illegal drug and arms trafficking in states such as Iran, Ukraine, and Syria. Once the vessel reached the Atlantic entrance of the Panama Canal Panamanian authorities boarded the vessel on the suspicion that the vessel was carrying illegal drugs.

The crew violently resisted the boarding, and even tried sabotaging their own ship by cutting the cables on the onboard cranes used to offload the vessel, raising even more suspicion. The captain attempted suicide by trying cut his own throat. No drugs were found, but Soviet-era arms were found buried under 200,000 sacks of Cuban brown sugar that had to be offloaded by hand. Panamanian officials seized the vessel and the 35 crewmen were detained, and later charged with threatening Panamanian national security.

After two days of silence, Cuba acknowledged that among the cargo was 240 tons of “obsolete defensive weapons” that belonged to Cuba but was being sent to North Korea for refurbishment. Among the “obsolete” arms were two anti-aircraft missile systems, nine missiles in parts and spares, two MiG-21 jets and 15 motors for the airplanes.

The President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, posted a photo on the social media site “Twitter” of the undeclared weapons, and Panama has formally asked for assistance from the United States, Great Britain and the United Nations in handling the incident.

The United Nations imposed sanctions on North Korea because of their nuclear weapons and missile-development programs. The UN currently has international sanctions against North Korea to prohibit the sale, transfer or maintenance of most arms and related material to, and from, North Korea. Small arms and light weapons are exempt from those bans.

The United Nations Security Council will hear the case on whether there was a breach of the arms embargo. US officials say the shipment violates UN sanctions against North Korea. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) of Florida called the situation a “wake-up call” and Senator Marco Rubio (R) of Florida said the weapons shipment was a “flagrant violation of multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions.” It is unknown what, if anything, was unloaded in Cuba from the Chong Chon Gang. Some analysts suspect that North Korea is supplying Cuba with missiles. With Cuba just 90 miles from the US coastline, the relationship between the two communist states is of great concern.

The President of Panama has said “the world needs to sit up and take note: you cannot go around shipping undeclared weapons of war through the Panama Canal.”

Emily Keyes is a third year Global Studies & Maritime Affairs student at California Maritime Academy and an editorial intern at Pacific Maritime Magazine.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Alaska-Based Magone Marine Services
Bought Out

Western Alaska-based Magone Marine Services has agreed to be acquired by Resolve Marine Group, a marine services company based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The newly formed business will be named Resolve-Magone Marine Services.

The partnership between the two privately held companies, which was revealed Aug. 27, is expected to be homeported at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where Magone Marine is based. Founder Dan Magone is expected to continue overseeing operations.

Resolve has relocated two vessels to augment Magone’s fleet in Alaska: salvage tug Resolve Pioneer, with an 80-ton bollard pull capability, and the salvage barge RMG 300, which has a 450-ton capacity crane. Resolve Pioneer is an ABS class +A1, Ice Class 1C towing vessel that towed the crippled Carnival Triumph cruise ship from Mexican waters to Mobile, Alabama last February.

“With Resolve’s added capabilities of personnel and equipment, it will now allow us to handle the increased potential of environmental threats to our region created by the significant rise in maritime activity,” Dan Magone said in a statement.

Resolve Marine Group provides marine salvage, wreck removal, emergency response and OPA-90 SMFF services, as well as marine emergency response and safety training, naval architecture and marine engineering globally.

Magone Marine, which has operated out of Dutch Harbor for nearly 40 years, provides salvage, emergency marine assistance, and ship repair services in the Bering Sea region. It evolved from a diving services company and now provide local emergency response and vessel maintenance services.

Long Beach Port Issues $2.6 Million
in Anti-Pollution Grants

The Port of Long Beach is issuing $2.6 million in community grants to local anti-air pollution efforts, which is slated to go toward 32 projects, including air-filtering systems for schools and parks, health education for families with asthma and mobile medical clinics.

The grants include 25 awards – totaling $1.54 million – for schools, preschools and city parks, mostly for indoor air-filtration systems, windows and air-conditioning upgrades that reduce air pollution.

Another seven grants of almost $1.09 million were announced for mobile health units, screening programs and local health education, mainly focusing on asthma. A local health group, area chapters of national health organizations, the City of Long Beach Health and Human Services Department, a local hospital and two clinics received the grants.

“These funds will help students enjoy better air quality in school and at park centers, and will also provide valuable health services – for example health workers will show families who have children with asthma to better cope with the disease, to avoid asthma attacks and trips to the emergency room,” Harbor Commission President Thomas Fields said.

The Port of Long Beach’s community grant programs were established in 2009 as a way to address the cumulative environmental impacts of its redevelopment and modernization projects. Thus far, the port has given out a total of $17.4 million to health organizations, schools, preschools and city parks.

A complete list of award recipients for the latest round of grants can be seen at http://www.polb.com/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=11404. More information on the Port Community Mitigation Grants Program is available at www.polb.com/grants, or by calling (888) 789-GRANT.

Ferries Conference Early Bird Deadline Near

Wed., Sept. 4 is the early bird deadline for the 2013 Philips Publishing Group Ferries Conference, taking place in Seattle near the end of next month.

The Ferries Conference brings together public transit agencies, port districts, municipalities and other ferry system users, with the operators, architects, engineers and shipyards providing the boats and expertise needed for successful ferry operations.

During the conference, attendees hear from public funding sources, consultants and public and private operators, with the aim being to help introduce, fund and operate ferry systems around the country. This year’s program is expected to focus on three topics: where ferries might reasonably provide solutions to commuter and community transportation needs; how public transit agencies, municipalities and other parties can determine vessel types, scheduling and pricing; and how to integrate ferry systems into the community by engaging the customer base.

Seattle Mayoral Candidate Ed Murray has accepted an invitation to speak to delegates about issues related to transportation and regional collaboration and is expected to address delegates at a conference luncheon.

The conference takes place Sept. 25 at the Red Lion on 5th Ave. Early bird registrants can save up to $47 in in fees. For more information, including the agenda, sponsorship opportunities and registration availability, visit www.ferriesconference.com.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Monthly Cargo Volumes Still Down in Seattle

Seattle Harbor container volumes were down 16 percent for July 2013 vs. the same month in 2012 and are down 21.2 percent year-to-date, according to newly-released data.

Port of Seattle terminals moved nearly 135,000 TEUs last month, down from more than 160,000 in July 2012. For the calendar year to date, Seattle has seen about 925,300 TEUs, compared to more than 1.17 million TEUs through the same month last year.

The port has seen volumes decline each month this year, with the cause mostly attributed to its loss of the Grand Alliance group of shippers, which in July 2012 began three new calls each week at Washington United Terminals, having moved their business from the Port of Seattle. Since the shift, Tacoma has seen year-over-year container volume increases while Seattle has experienced the opposite.

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

The good news for Seattle regarding its July 2013 container numbers is that with the Grand Alliance volume shift factored out, the port’s full outbound volumes are up 4.2 percent YTD. There’s also more good news: July marked the end of the one-year period since the Grand Alliance shifted over to Tacoma, so beginning with August, Seattle is expected to show positive year-over-year gains.

Tacoma released its July 2013 cargo volumes earlier this month, and they showed a leveling off from the double-digit increases it saw during the first 11 months of the Grand Alliance shift. Tacoma terminals saw a total of 146,017 TEUs in July, virtually identical to the number seen in July 2012.

As a region, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma are down 8.3 percent for July 2013 vs. 2012 and down 2 percent YTD, according to Seattle data.

POLA Study: Air Pollution Down Significantly

New data shows air pollution associated with operations at the Port of Los Angeles is at its lowest level since the port adopted a formal plan to reduce harmful emissions in 2006.

The port’s 2012 air emissions inventory shows that LA’s seven years of aggressive clean air strategies have been record-setting. The results include a 79 percent drop in diesel particulate matter since the start of pollution reduction efforts.

The emissions inventory also shows that the amount of diesel particulate emissions related to moving 10,000 20-foot containers through the port in 2012 was 81 percent lower than the emissions output related to moving the same number of containers through LA in 2005.

“Every year really does count and our systematic approach has accelerated our progress,” Los Angeles Harbor Commission President Cindy Miscikowski said in a statement released by the port. “Much of the credit is shared by our industry partners who have invested in technology that in some cases surpass government regulations.”

The port’s air emissions inventory tracks the progress of a comprehensive suite of clean air measures, requirements and incentives to reduce harmful emissions from all sources associated with port operations: ships, trucks, trains, cargo-handling equipment and smaller harbor craft. The latest findings are based on data from the 2012 calendar year and compared with data collected annually since the baseline year of 2005.

In addition to exceeding the port’s 2014 goal for diesel particulates, the latest data shows a record plunge in emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx), which have fallen 56 percent and 88 percent respectively since 2005.

The results exceed the port’s 2014 goal for NOx and put the port within striking distance of its goal to cut SOx emissions 93 percent by 2014. Both NOx and SOx are key components of smog.

For SOx alone, 2012 marked the greatest reduction in a single year since 2005, according to port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz.

“This past year, SOx emissions were cut in half,” she said. “That doesn’t happen without teamwork, which shows how far we’ve come and what ports, ocean carriers, regulatory agencies and others can do together.”

The SOx findings are especially significant to the port because they reflect major progress in tackling vessel emissions. Ships remain the biggest generators of port-related air pollution and they pose the greatest challenge because they are a mobile source regulated by international convention.

The Port of LA’s full 2012 air emissions inventory report can be read at http://www.portoflosangeles.org/pdf/2012_Air_Emissions_Inventory.pdf.

Environmental Review Begins for Yang Ming Terminal

The Port of Los Angeles said Aug. 27 that its initiating the environmental review process on a proposed berth-improvement project at the port by Taiwanese marine transport company Yang Ming.

The start of the environmental process, which is expected to formally begin this fall, is the first step in Yang Ming's plan to enhance its terminal facilities and deepen its berth to accommodate 14,000-TEU vessels and increase cargo volume.

Executives from Yang Ming and the Port of LA signed a term sheet agreement in May to perform a number of key improvements expected to enhance the Yang Ming terminal facilities. As part of the agreement, the port plans to invest $122 million in improvements at the terminal, including construction of a new 1,260 linear foot wharf at Berths 126-129, dredging to a depth of minus 53 feet at the newly constructed wharf and expansion of the West Basin Intermodal Container Transfer Facility. The West Basin terminal is a partnership between Yang Ming, China Shipping and Ports America.

Yang Ming’s current lease at the West Basin Container Terminal ends in 2021, but this agreement will extend the lease to 2030, and is expected to deliver between $365 and $525 million in revenue to the port, depending on cargo volumes.

The $122 million enhancement of the Yang Ming terminal facilities is a component of LA’s five-year, $1.2 billion investment plan to update terminals, increase rail capacity and deepen its main channel.

Jensen Maritime Hires Four for Seattle Office

Jensen Maritime, Crowley Maritime Corp.’s Seattle-based naval architecture and marine engineering company, has continued a recent hiring boom by adding four new hires to work out of the company’s Seattle headquarters, the company revealed Aug. 20.

Jensen’s new team members include marine engineer Brig Henry; accounting manager Jean Hays; naval architect Jeffery Martel; and administrator Lisa Vogt.

Henry joins Jensen with more than 20 years of experience in vessel operations, project management and marine engineering. Martel joins Jensen’s Seattle office as a naval architect. In his new role, he’ll assist the stability team as it performs inclines and calculates stability on all types of workboats.

Hays has 27 years of experienced leadership in finance and accounting, is expected to play a key role in defining Jensen’s financial strategy while also tracking project performance.

Vogt joins Jensen’s Seattle office as an administrator, responsible for monitoring Jensen’s project management procedures while also supporting the business development and project management teams.

Since August 2012, Jensen has hired more than 25 engineers, architects and other specialists to assist with customer projects in the company’s three locations, Seattle, New Orleans and Jacksonville.
At the same time the Seattle hires were announced, Jensen also said it was adding three hires into its New Orleans office and one at its Jacksonville location.