Friday, October 18, 2013

Seattle TEU Volumes Halt Yearlong Slide

After a year of falling container volumes, the Port of Seattle last month managed to get back on the plus side when it comes to monthly numbers of TEUs moved.

Seattle Harbor container volumes were up by 2,500 units, or 1.8 percent, for September 2013 versus the same month in 2012, the first time this calendar year that a month saw gains compared with the year prior, according to newly released data.

Port of Seattle terminals moved more than 143,100 TEUs last month, a nearly two percent gain from September 2012’s 140,600 TEUs. The largest portion of the total volume came in imports of full containers. Nearly 48,800 TEUs were moved during the month, which was actually down from the about 53,000 TEUs from the same month last year. But the port saw a sizable gain in the number of full containers exported: 43,700 were shipped out through Seattle last month, as opposed to 34,470 in September 2012.

Before September’s increase, Seattle had seen its container volumes decline each month this year, with the cause attributed mostly 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 had seen year-over-year container volume increases while Seattle 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.

For the calendar year to date, Seattle TEU volumes are down 17 percent compared to the same nine months in 2012.

POLA Monthly Container Volumes Down 4.5 Percent

The Port of Los Angeles has released its September 2013 cargo volumes and the good news is that the overall volume of containers – 710,892 TEUs – exceeded 700,000 TEUs for the third straight month.

The bad news, however, is that volumes dropped 4.57 percent compared to September 2012.
According to newly released POLA data, imports declined by 3.75 percent at the port last month compared to the same month in 2012, going from 385,250 TEUs in September 2012 to 370,785 TEUs this September.

Also, exports dropped 12.79 percent last month, going from 172,432 TEUs in September 2012 to 150,380 TEUs in September 2013.

Combined, total loaded imports and exports for the month were down 6.55 percent, from 557,683 TEUs last September to 521,165 TEUs in September 2013. The one bright spot last month was in the volume of empty containers moved: the number was 189,726 TEUs, a 1.3 percent increase over September 2012’s 187,240 TEUs.

Factoring in empties, which increased 1.33 percent year over year, overall September 2013 volumes of 710,892 TEUs was a 4.57 percent decline compared to September 2012’s 744,923 TEUs.

For the calendar year to date, LA terminals have moved 341,000 TEUs fewer than during the same nine months last year, according to port data, a drop of 5.5 percent. For the fiscal year, which began July 1, the total volume is down almost 41,800 TEUs, or just under two percent. Despite the declines however, the Port of LA remains the busiest seaport in the United States.

Current and past data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles may be found at:

Dredging to Begin at Port of Kalama’s TEMCO Site

The Port of Kalama commission on Oct. 16 voted to award an $857,000 maintenance dredging contract to Hickey Marine Enterprises for a project to maintain the draft needed for large cargo ships traversing the port.

Vancouver, Washington-based contractor Hickey Marine will remove materials in front of the TEMCO Grain Terminal located at the port. TEMCO, which is co-owned by Cargill and CHS Inc., is itself in the midst of a $50 million grain-export expansion, which it expects to complete in early 2014.

“One of the goals of the Port of Kalama is to provide the facilities needed for the commerce and success of our business tenants,” Port of Kalama Economic Development Manager Jacobo Salan said. “We are consistently taking a proactive approach to upgrading and enhancing port infrastructure for these purposes.”

The expansion was undertaken by TEMCO after the Columbia River channel was deepened by three feet, to 43 feet, thus allowing bulk grain ships to carry more cargo per load.

The latest project is expected to begin November and run through the end of 2013, according to the port. Kalama officials say general business activity at the facility isn’t expected to be interrupted during the dredging.

Longshore Workers Strike at Port of Baltimore

Activity at the Port of Baltimore ground to a halt on Oct. 16 as International Longshoremen’s Association Local 333 went on strike after contract negotiations with the Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore broke down.

Following an Oct. 15 vote against the trade association’s latest contract proposal, national ILA officials ordered the strike and picketing began the following morning.

At the time the strike was called, five cargo ships were docked at Baltimore, according to the port.
According to Maryland Port Administration spokesman Richard Scher, although only ILA Local 333 is striking, the three other ILA locals that represent Port of Maryland workers will not cross the picket line, meaning all the port’s longshore workers – roughly 2,000 of the port’s 14,000 employees – are refusing to work.

The ILA is the largest union of maritime workers in North America, representing over 65,000 longshore workers on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Great Lakes, major U.S. rivers, Puerto Rico and Eastern Canada.

In April, the union ratified a new contract with the United States Maritime Alliance, or USMX, which represents employers at 14 ports and 24 ocean carriers, thus averting a potential strike at East Coast ports.

The Port of Baltimore is ranked as the top port in U.S. for handling autos and light trucks, farm and construction machinery, imported forest products, imported sugar, imported aluminum and imported gypsum, and second in the U.S. for exported coal and imported iron ore.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fidley Watch: Environmental Awards

Chris Philips, Managing Editor

A federal jury in the Eastern District of Virginia has acquitted both the owner, Angelex Ltd. and ISM manager Kassian Maritime Navigation Agency, Ltd., of the Antonis G. Pappadakis of sixteen felony charges alleging that they, through their agents and employees, engaged in illegal discharging of bilge water in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (“APPS”) and then attempted to hide the illegal discharges from the US Coast Guard. Magic pipe specialist attorneys including George M. Chalos and Briton Sparkman of international law firm Chalos & Co and Patrick Brogan of the Norfolk, Virginia firm of Davey & Brogan, represented the defendants. Who knew there were magic pipe specialists?

After a nine-day trial and two days of deliberations, the jury vindicated the defendants and rejected claims by the US Department of Justice that the illegal conduct was performed by the vessel’s crewmembers with the intent to benefit the defendants. Not only did every witness in the case confirm that the illegal conduct on board the vessel was hidden from the defendants, the defense further established that such conduct was in violation of the vessel’s “zero tolerance” pollution prevention policies and procedures, which strictly prohibited crewmembers from taking any “shortcuts” to bypass the vessel’s pollution prevention equipment.

While Angelex Ltd. and Kassian Maritime Navigation Agency, Ltd. are probably reeling from their attorney’s fees, the ruling is a victory nonetheless. It’s refreshing to see a company rewarded for its efforts at environmental stewardship.

Another award winning company is Jones Act-carrier Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE). This summer, TOTE, Inc. became the first US company to take home the Next Generation Shipping award at Nor-Shipping, the premier forum for the global maritime industry.

The Nor-Shipping 2013 Awards recognize achievement in energy efficiency, innovative ship design and young entrepreneurship. With a focus on innovation, the Next Generation Ship Award honors the most promising design for ships that will be at sea in the coming decade.

TOTE was honored for its Marlin Class of 3,100 TEU LNG-powered containerships (see Pacific Maritime Magazine, August 2013), ordered from San Diego’s General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in December 2012. Once completed in 2015, the 764-foot ships will operate in the US Jones Act market between Jacksonville, Fla., and San Juan, Puerto Rico as the world’s first LNG powered containerships. Construction on the ships will begin in March 2014.

TOTE’s choice of LNG fuel will reduce ship emissions 95 percent below even the world’s most stringent air quality standards, virtually eliminating Sulfur Dioxide (SOx), and Particulate Matter (PM), and will reduce Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Nitrous Oxide (NO2) beyond any other fuel source.

TOTE is also moving forward with a project to convert its two existing ro/ro vessels to LNG. The conversion will be accomplished with the help of NASSCO, who delivered the vessels in 2003. Eight MAN engines will be converted to dual fuel diesel/LNG over the course of four years, with 30 to 40 percent of the work to be accomplished while the vessels are underway.

Washington Gov. Appoints Maritime Development Director

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Oct. 11 announced maritime industry veteran Stephen Sewell has been appointed to the state Department of Commerce as economic development director for the state’s maritime industry sector.

Inslee introduced Sewell while participating in a roundtable at Crowley Maritime and tour of the Harbor Island Training Center at Vigor Industries, along with Commerce Director Brian Bonlender and other officials.

“Steve Sewell is a dynamic and well-respected leader who has developed strong local, national and international relationships over more than 25 years in the maritime industry,” Inslee said. “He will be an outstanding asset in our efforts to expand our working waterfront as a job creation engine for Washington’s economy.”

Between 1994 and 2002, Sewell served in senior leadership roles at the Port of Seattle, including Managing Director of the Seaport Division, Corporate Secretary and General Counsel. Since 2011, he had been a founding executive and senior vice president at LoadStar, a subsidiary of port operator Hutchison Port Holdings.

Between 2002 and 2010, he held upper management positions with PB Ports & Marine and cargo tracking company Savi Networks.

“I’m enthusiastic about being in a position to help address some of the big issues facing our state – education, jobs and transportation. Positive change in all of these areas is possible through the growth and health of the maritime industry,” Sewell said.

Commerce Director Brian Bonlender said the new position is modeled after the state’s Office of Aerospace.

“Washington has one of the most vibrant maritime sectors in the country, producing some of the best family-wage jobs in the region, but its importance to our economy is often overlooked or taken for granted,” Bonlender said. “This position will help drive policies important to the continued growth of the maritime sector.”

Fire Breaks Out at Port of LA Terminal

A small fire broke out the morning of Oct. 15 at a shipping container facility at the Port of Los Angeles, but was extinguished in under an hour, according to the Los Angeles Fire Dept. No injuries or significant property damage was reported.

The blaze was reported about 7:34 am at the port’s TraPac container terminal.

According to the LAFD, the source of the fire was an electrical transformer, and that after working with the LA Department of Water and Power to ensure power to the transformer had been shut down, the fire was attacked and extinguished in less than 40 minutes.

“Firefighters applied foam and water, fire out,” LAFD spokeswoman Katherine Main said. “No injuries.”

The TraPac terminal, which covers about 173 acres, operates at Port of LA berths 135-139 and serves shipping companies Mitsui OSK Lines, APL Logistics, Hyundai Merchant Marine, CMA/CGM and CSAV.

The terminal is currently in the midst of a multi-year, $71.5 million improvement project. Over the next two years, new buildings and state-of-the-art truck entrance and exit gates are being constructed by contractors. The work is expected to be completed in the summer of 2015.
It is not yet known whether the fire was connected to the work at the terminal, which has been ongoing since early 2013.

Vigor Industrial Renames Subsidiaries

Portland-based ship repair and industrial services company Vigor Industrial has renamed two of its subsidiaries. As of Oct. 8, 2013, US Fab, Vigor’s fabrication and shipbuilding subsidiary, is now Vigor Fab. Alaska Ship and Drydock, which operates the Ketchikan shipyard in Alaska, is now Vigor Alaska.

“It’s about better serving our customers,” Vigor Industrial President and CEO Frank Foti explained in a statement announcing the changes. “The new names not only simplify things for customers dealing with Vigor, they better reflect the reality that no matter which subsidiary customers are working with, they can count on Vigor’s high level of craftsmanship and customer service.”

The changes apply to the names only, according to the company, and do not alter the operating structures of either subsidiary. The new names went into effect immediately.

Vigor Fab and Vigor Alaska join three other subsidiaries under the Vigor name: Vigor Shipyards, which provides repair, maintenance and modernization services to the US Navy and Coast Guard; Vigor Marine, which provides fixed-price ship repair, refit and modernization services to commercial customers; and Vigor Machine, which provides machining work for a variety of industrial applications, including turbines and generators.

Directors Reappointed to Port Metro Vancouver Board

Eugene Kwan and Marcella Szel have been reappointed to second three-year terms on the Port Metro Vancouver Board of Directors. The board members’ new terms expire Sept. 25, 2016.

Szel, who has spent more than 20 years in the transportation industry, is the Board’s Vice Chair, as well as Chair of the Human Resources & Compensation Committee and a member of the Audit Committee. She’s a member of the Boards of Directors for both Translink, the organization responsible for the regional transportation network of Metro Vancouver, and transportation and logistics enterprise Global Transportation Hub.

Kwan is the Chair of the port’s Major Capital Projects Committee and a member of the Governance Committee. He is also President and Chief Executive Officer of Agincourt Capital Corp., a privately held investment company with extensive experience advising offshore investors and Senior Counsel with Stikeman Elliott LLP.

Port Metro Vancouver’s Board of Directors is composed of 11 members: one federal appointee; one British Columbia provincial appointee; one appointee for the Prairie Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba; one municipal appointee; and, seven federal appointees recommended by port users.

Szel and Kwan were initially appointed by the Canadian federal government on the recommendation of the port user group.