Friday, September 6, 2013

Hamburg Süd Conducts First-Ever US Ship Christening

For the first time in its history, shipping company Hamburg Süd has celebrated the christening of a ship in the United States. The ceremony to name the 3,800-TEU container ship Cap Corrientes was conducted Aug 23 at the Port of San Francisco’s Pier 35.

The Cap Corrientes was built by Taizhou Catic Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Ltd in China for Vilmaris Management GmbH of Hamburg, Germany. The ship, which has a capacity of 500 reefer plugs, is 748 feet long, more than 121 feet wide and can reach a top speed of 20.3 knots, according to Hamburg Süd.

The vessel is on a long-term charter with the shipping company for deployment in the liner trade between the Pacific Coast, Australia and New Zealand.

Hamburg Süd started offering regular liner services to and from California in 1957, and currently offers 14 weekly departures from all major North American ports to Latin America, Australia and New Zealand, as well as to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.

The christening was performed by Ofelia Gallo, the wife of Joseph E. Gallo, president and CEO of the E&J Gallo Winery in Modesto, California. She was awarded the christening honor by Hamburg Süd because E&J Gallo is expected to be a prominent user of the vessel; Gallo and other Northern California wineries regularly use Hamburg Süd’s vessel fleet for global wine exports, and to import wines from around the world for bottling.

The Cap Corrientes is the third ship in the Hamburg Süd fleet to carry this name, according to the shipping company; the first Cap Corrientes, which was named after the province of Corrientes in Argentina, was christened in 1958.

Ocean Transport Company’s License Revoked

The Federal Maritime Commission announced Aug. 23 that it has revoked the ocean transportation intermediary license of Los Angeles-based Transporte Medrano Inc., which does business as Medrano Express.

The revocation means Medrano Express is no longer authorized to provide ocean transportation services in the United States, and the FMC has stated that consumers and businesses should no longer tender cargo to Medrano Express or its agents for the international shipment of goods.

The Commission’s revocation action came after it began receiving complaints that consumers have been unable to reach Medrano Express or locate their goods. In addition to Los Angeles, Medrano has offices in other major cities across the US, including Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Minneapolis.

Anyone using Medrano Express to arrange for international shipment of their cargo who is currently experiencing problems with a shipment, is being encouraged by Maritime Commission to take certain steps.

First, if cargo has not been delivered or recovered, you may place a claim for compensation via mail with surety company Roanoke Trade Services, Inc./For American Alternative Insurance Corporation Attention: Steve Knutson 1475 E. Woodfield Road, Suite 500 Schaumburg, IL 60173 USA.

The claim should include a copy of the invoice received from Medrano Express or its agent, plus the dollar amount paid to Medrano Express for shipment of goods, and the estimated value of the goods shipped. Also, bond coverage number 571646 should be referenced in the claim, and claims should be sent by certified mail, with a return receipt requested.

The FMC also says that claimants should contact the Maritime Commission’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services, which is working to help consumers locate their cargo and assist with the release and/or delivery of cargo, when possible.

Written requests for assistance should include a copy of the invoice received from Medrano Express and your contact information. The information can be emailed or faxed to or (202) 275-0059.

PortTech Expo Speakers Announced

Federal Maritime Commission Chair Mario Cordero and City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti have been named as speakers at the fourth annual PortTechEXPO taking place in the Los Angeles area Sept. 11, 2013.

“We are thrilled to have both Mayor Garcetti and Chairman Cordero speaking at the PortTechEXPO,” PortTechLA Executive Director Stan Tomsic said. “Their support and belief in a prosperous and sustainable port community will resonate with EXPO participants.”

Cordero is scheduled to launch the EXPO with the morning kickoff address, sharing insights on economic growth, environmental stewardship and sustainable port development. Cordero has more than 30 years of private legal practice experience and decades of public service, including eight years on the Port of Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, during which he spearheaded several pioneering environmental initiatives.

Garcetti, who was elected LA mayor in May, is scheduled to be the event’s keynote speaker. He has already made sustainability and the environment one of his top priorities and recently appointed the city’s first-ever chief sustainability officer, who’s tasked with fulfilling a Garcetti campaign promise of creating 20,000 new green jobs and making neighborhoods healthier.

The PortTechEXPO is an annual gathering during which technology companies connect with business prospects at Southern California’s ports and explore opportunities to achieve a more sustainable future. This year’s expo features demonstrations, interactive displays and the latest advancements in environment, energy, transportation and security technology solutions.

The event’s scheduled for 9 am to 5 pm at Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles, a large-scale craft marketplace located at 110 East 22nd St. in San Pedro. Registration begins at 8 am.

This year’s sponsors include the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, as well as global engineering group Cavotec and marine research center AltaSea. More information on the event, including registration fees or how to become a sponsor or exhibitor, can be found at, or by calling event organizer PortTechLA at (310) 519-1801.

Port Metro Vancouver Investing in Infrastructure Improvements

The Canadian government on Sept. 4 announced more than $100 million infrastructure investments aimed at improving efficiency at Port Metro Vancouver.

“Our government's top priority remains the economy and creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity in every region of Canada,” International Trade Minister Ed Fast said in a statement released by the port. “That’s why I am proud to announce our government's investment which will help increase our exports to new markets by moving goods, services and people in a more effective manner.”

The investments are also expected to facilitate Metro Vancouver’s trade and investment ties to fast-growing Asia-Pacific markets, Fast said. Canada’s west coast ports, according to the federal government, are more than two days closer to Asian markets than any other ports in North America, a point the port and government have been making to potential customers.

The combined investment from the national government and port totals almost $106 million; an investment of about $50 million is being made in two new marine container examination facilities to meet the anticipated growth in container volume through Deltaport, British Columbia.

The Roberts Bank facility, located at the east end of the Deltaport causeway on the Tsawwassen First Nation Industrial Lands, is expected to open in the summer of 2015; the Burrard Inlet facility is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015.

The facilities are planned to help reduce processing times, which would therefore result in savings for Canadian businesses, while reducing air and noise pollution.

Once operational, the Robert Banks facility could reduce travel time and related emissions by a factor of 10, Port Metro Vancouver President and CEO Robin Silvester said.

Since 2006, Canada’s federal government has invested $1.4 billion into Asia-Pacific Gateway infrastructure projects, while provincial and municipal governments, as well the private sector, have spent an additional 2.5 billion.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

ILWU Severs Ties with AFL-CIO

International Longshore & Warehouse Union President Robert McEllrath has sent a letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka informing him that after a 25-year partnership, the ILWU is disaffiliating itself from the larger union.

“It is with regret but resolve that we have come to the point where the International Longshore and Warehouse Union must cut formal ties with the AFL-CIO,” McEllrath wrote in the letter, which was sent Aug. 29, on the eve of Labor Day Weekend. “The ILWU has been independent and unaffiliated for most of its history. Today, the ILWU returns to that tradition.”

Among the primary reasons McEllrath cited for the split were picket line crossings by AFL-CIO affiliates during an action against the Pacific Northwest grain terminals.

“A particularly outrageous raid occurred in 2011, when one affiliate slipped in to longshore jobs at the new EGT grain facility in the Port of Longview, Washington, and then walked through ILWU picket lines for six months until we were able to secure this critical longshore jurisdiction,” McEllrath wrote.

McEllrath’s laundry list of complaints also included incidents that have taken place in Southern and Northern California.

“In Los Angeles and Oakland, another affiliate is imposing internal union fines against dual union members for the ‘crime’ of taking a job as a longshoreman,” McEllrath wrote, implying the purpose of the fines was preventing the ILWU from filling new waterfront jobs that replace traditional longshore work due to new technologies.

“Throughout the Pacific Northwest, we are daily seeing still other affiliates blatantly cross the picket lines of ILWU members who have been locked out for months by the regional grain industry,” the letter maintains, citing how some of the Building Trades affiliates have displaced ILWU workers in the loading of barges at Terminal 46 in Seattle.

“These multi-state attacks against the ILWU are being coordinated in large part by a law firm with close ties to the Federation,” McEllrath wrote. “We see this situation only getting worse as the ILWU is about to start West Coast longshore negotiations and face the challenge of the ports soon being run by robotics and computer-operated machinery over the next five to ten years. The survival of the ILWU and the job security of our members depend on our having these remaining jobs. We will not let other affiliates jeopardize our survival and block our future as the primary waterfront workforce.”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Port Metro Vancouver Mid-Year Volumes Strong

Canada’s largest seaport, Port Metro Vancouver, saw six percent growth in cargo volumes through the first half of 2013 compared with the same six months last year, according to newly released data.

The data includes new records in key sectors, and a strong 2013 cruise season, according to the port.

The 2013 mid-year cargo volume statistics report shows that Port Metro Vancouver handled over 66 million tons of cargo through the end of June, compared with 62 million tons in the first half of 2012, a 6.3 percent increase.

“What we have seen to the mid-point in 2013 is continuing strong demand for Canadian natural resources, with all the major economic benefits that provides for the local and national economy,” Port Metro Vancouver President and Chief Executive Officer Robin Silvester said in a statement.

Total foreign tonnage at Port Metro Vancouver posted a seven percent increase with 52.7 million tons handled. Total domestic tonnage also increased by three percent to 13.7 million tons.

“Port Metro Vancouver’s strong 2013 mid-year growth is clear proof that our Asia-Pacific Gateway strategy is working,” Canada Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt said in a statement.

The port also saw a 21 percent increase in paying cruise passengers during the first half of 2013, with the number rising from about 262,600 to nearly 318,000. The number of voyages was up over 27 percent, going from 76 during the first half of last year to 97 within the first six months of 2013.

Port of Port Angeles Commission
Removes Board President

The controversy surrounding the resignation of former Port of Port Angeles Executive Director Jeff Robb has claimed another victim: port board member Jim Hallett, who has been removed from his position as Board of Commissioners president.

All three members of the board, including Paul McHugh and John Calhoun, voted Aug. 26 to remove Hallett as board president in the wake of a rift between board members that opened as a result of the situation surrounding Robb who, citing what he called “serious health issues,” resigned as executive director of the Port of Port Angeles in June.

He was immediately hired by the port commission at the same salary to fill a newly created job, environmental affairs director, but the vote was 2-1, with Hallett against. Hallett later said he was unhappy with the way the situation was handled and that other candidates should have been interviewed for the previously unannounced position.

Commissioner Calhoun later revealed that Robb was given the job because the port feared the potential of a lawsuit over a dysfunctional relationship between Robb and senior staff members.

The handling of Robb’s resignation and immediate rehiring has drawn the ire of local, regional and state watchdog groups, including the Washington Coalition for Open Government, which on July 22 sent the commission a letter chastising it for its actions and petitioning for the removal of Robb from the environmental affairs director post.

At the Aug. 26 meeting, Hallett’s board colleagues said his stance on the controversy had compromised his effectiveness.

“I am concerned whether you, now, as chairman of the commission, are as effective as we would like because of all the fallout from all this issue,” Calhoun said to Hallett.

Ultimately, both Hallett and McHugh agreed with the assessment and Hallett yielded his seat as president to Calhoun. “I suppose I could say I'm relieved,” Hallett said, “but that wouldn't be a true statement.”

Calhoun is expected to remain board president until after the Nov. 5 elections, where a successor to McHugh’s seat will be voted in. McHugh was eliminated in the primaries; Port of Port Angeles employee Colleen McAleer and event-services company owner Del DelaBarre will face off in the election.

Port of Everett Schedules Tank Farm Hearing

After more than a decade in the works, the Port of Everett Commission is expected to soon authorize Executive Director John Mohr to take the necessary steps to compete the transfer of the Mukilteo Tank Farm property from the U.S. Air Force.

The Port Commission is expected to hold a public hearing Sept. 10 to amend the Comprehensive Scheme of Harbor Improvements in order to accept the nearly 21 acre waterfront parcel. Once the Port Commission accepts the transfer of the property, the Air Force will execute the transfer of the property to the Port of Everett.

The port’s been working with the city of Mukilteo, city of Everett, Washington State Ferries, Sound Transit and Community Transit since 1999 to secure the tank farm for transportation and community access purposes.

“We are so thrilled with the forward progress on the transfer of the Mukilteo Tank Farm,” Mohr said. “It has been a long time in the making. We all look forward to the day that the people of Mukilteo and Everett will have the long-awaited access to their waterfront.”

The port is currently in negotiations with Washington State Ferries, Sound Transit and the City of Mukilteo to enable the envisioned multi-modal facility, which includes the relocation of the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal to the tank farm property.

Fidley Watch: Safe Harbors

By Chris Philips, Managing Editor, Pacific Maritime Magazine

Last month, US Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani, and Port of Tacoma CEO John Wolfe held a press conference at the Port of Seattle to announce proposed legislation they claim will significantly strengthen American ports, including many in the Pacific Northwest.

Their legislation proposes to eliminate the harbor maintenance tax (HMT), a federal tax imposed on shippers based on the value of the goods being shipped through ports. The tax is intended for the maintenance of federal navigational channels, but while HMT revenues are about $1.6 billion per year, only $850-900 million per year is spent on harbor maintenance, leaving waterways under-maintained while building up a surplus approaching $7 billion. The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) says the lack of funding has resulted in full channel depth and width only being available about 35 percent of the time.

The HMT has also been blamed for the rerouting of cargo from Pacific Northwest ports to Canadian ports in Vancouver and Prince Rupert, BC. Those ports are maintained with a different funding mechanism, and are able to avoid the roughly $110 per 40-foot container paid into the HMT by US-bound carriers.

Murray and Cantwell’s bill proposes to replace the HMT with a Maritime Goods Movement User Fee, the proceeds of which would be “fully available to Congress to provide for port operation and maintenance.”

The senators claim the bill would double the amount of funds available for American ports, and ensure that shippers couldn’t avoid the fee by using ports in Canada and Mexico. The senators further claim the bill would set aside a portion of the user fee for “low-use, remote, and subsistence harbors that are at a competitive disadvantage for federal funding.”

So far so good, but the senators from Washington State couldn’t resist a partisan jab at perennial scapegoat “big oil” in their legislation. The Senators say the Maritime Goods Movement User Fee would also pay for infrastructure investments “by closing loopholes that allow the largest oil and gas companies in America to receive billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies every year, even though they enjoy profits in excess of $100 billion annually.”

The Harbor Maintenance Tax and its disadvantages are well documented, and this editor would not hesitate to characterize the dislike of the HMT as universally bipartisan. While the Maritime Goods Movement User Fee is a good start toward a discussion about removing or revising the HMT, using legislation such as this as a cudgel to collect more taxes from oil and gas companies sounds less like the strengthening of US ports and more like an early Senate re-election campaign.

Senator Cantwell’s office said the legislation has not been formally introduced to the Senate, and therefore the text of the bill wasn’t available at press time, so there is still time to rewrite the bill to reflect the needs of the US commercial maritime industry as a whole, without adding unnecessary partisan rhetoric. We hope Senators Murray and Cantwell will reconsider the anti-oil language and write a bill that will gain the support of both sides of the aisle.