Friday, October 25, 2013

Crowley Tug Performs Rescue in Bering Sea

The crew of the Crowley Maritime Corp. tug Siku, operating in Western Alaska, recently rescued six men adrift in the Bering Sea after their 21-foot, aluminum skiff ran out of gas in Hooper Bay and was being blown out of the bay and into the seas.

Responding to a request by the Coast Guard, the crew of Siku, which was in the area holding for weather, located the skiff, which was drifting about a mile offshore of Hooper Bay despite having its anchor out. Siku Capt. Angus Isaac instructed the skiff crew to pull up their anchor and ready themselves for a line from the tug. The captain then maneuvered the tug so that the skiff was in the lee to protect it and its passengers from the building wind and seas.

The crew then threw a heaving line to the skiff and pulled it alongside the tug allowing the passengers to disembark and board Siku. The tug crew then attached a line to the skiff and towed the stricken boat back into the sheltered waters of Hooper Bay where it was refueled and towed close to shore.

According to Crowley, the Siku completed the rescue in about five hours before returning to its barge, which throughout the rescue waited out the gale in protected waters. Once the storm passed, the tug-barge combo continued its business along the Yukon River.

“We are proud of the professionalism of Captain Isaac and his crew,” Crowley Marine Operations Director Greg Pavellas said. “Crowley has a longstanding relationship with the people of Alaska and we were happy to put our safety and rescue training to work in order to lend a hand to those men who were in dire need.”

Crowley’s tug Siku, which was designed for utilization with oil barges in the coastwise and river trades of Western Alaska, measures 85 feet long and is powered by two Caterpillar engines providing 1,248 horsepower and a total bollard pull of 25,000 pounds.

Port of Vancouver USA Reaffirms
Oil Terminal Lease

For the second time in three months, the Port of Vancouver USA has approved a 10-year lease with the Tesoro Savage Petroleum Terminal (TSPT) for a crude oil handling facility at the port.

The lease, which was unanimously approved by the port’s three-member Board of Commissioners during the board’s Oct. 22 meeting, was the same document the commission approved on July 23, 2013. A new vote was placed on the Oct. 22 agenda in light of concerns brought to the port’s attention about procedures used during a July 22 workshop leading up to the prior vote. The concerns raised were focused on the port’s use of executive session during the workshop.

“We are confident that our use of executive session was appropriate,” Port of Vancouver CEO Todd Coleman said. “However, because concerns were raised, the port presented the lease to the commissioners during today’s meeting for a new vote; and after more than two hours of public comment and more than a half hour of deliberation, the commissioners voted to approve the lease.”

The project, proposed by longtime tenant Tesoro in partnership with the logistics company Savage, would bring North American crude oil to the port by rail where it will then be transferred to marine vessels for transport to refineries in Washington, Alaska and California.

About 42 acres of port property is expected to be leased by TSPT to accommodate a rail unloading facility, storage tanks, and a vessel loading area. The estimated capital investment by TSPT is $100 million, and revenue to the port over the 10-year lease period is expected to exceed $45 million.

When operational, the terminal would be capable of shipping up to 360,000 barrels of crude a day, with up to four trains arriving daily from North Dakota and Canada. The facility is also expected to create between 80 and 120 permanent jobs and 250 temporary construction jobs.

With the October 22 lease approval, the project continues to move through the environmental permitting process. Washington State’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council is acting as the lead agency for local and state permits, and the companies will work through an extensive process, addressing local, state and federal requirements. TSPT, like all port tenants, is required to obtain all necessary permits as a condition of operation at the port.

BNSF Planning California Rail Capacity
Expansion, Improvements

BNSF Railway says it plans to spend about $100 million on maintenance and rail capacity expansion projects in California this year.

The company’s 2013 capacity enhancement projects in California include preliminary design work for the $500 million Southern California International Gateway, or SCIG project, which would sit just outside West Long Beach, alongside the Terminal Island Freeway on land owned by the Port of Los Angeles, and would serve on-dock rail facilities at both the LA and Long Beach ports.

The facility, which would feature electric, wide-span cranes, ultra-low emission switching locomotives and low-emission rail yard equipment, is expected to eliminate millions of truck miles from the 710 Freeway upon completion in 2016.

BNSF also plans to expand its automotive facility in San Bernardino by adding parking and track to support growth in new automobile traffic, and will construct a connection track between BNSF and Union Pacific main lines in the Richmond area in Northern California.

The company says it will also continue its track maintenance program in California, which includes 2,300 miles of track surfacing and undercutting work, the replacement of more than 100 miles of rail and more than 300,000 railroad ties, as well as signal upgrades.

“BNSF's capital investments in California will help ensure our network is prepared for growing demand for freight rail,” company Chairman and CEO Matthew Rose said Oct. 7. “We are focused on investing to meet our customers’ expectations and on expanding capacity where growth is occurring. Given the importance of a low cost supply chain to the U.S. economy, our privately funded rail infrastructure is well positioned to help California compete in global markets.”

The planned capital investments in California are part of a record 2013 capital commitment of $4.3 billion for BNSF.

NVOCCs Penalized for Law Violations

Three Southern California-based non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOCCs) have been fined by the Federal Maritime Commission after investigations found alleged violations of the Shipping Act of 1984, the FMC revealed Oct. 22.

UTi, United States Inc., a licensed NVOCC and freight forwarder headquartered in Long Beach, California, submitted a voluntary self-disclosure to the Federal Maritime Commission disclosing potential violations of 8(a)(1) of the Shipping Act arising from a failure to maintain a general tariff covering all points or ports on its own routes and on any through transportation routes established.

Based on the company’s self-disclosure and remedial measures voluntarily undertaken, a compromise agreement was reached under which UTi United States paid a $140,000 fine to settle the case.

East-West Logistics, a licensed NVOCC located in La Mirada California, was alleged to have violated section 10(a)(1) of the Shipping Act of 1984 by knowingly and willfully obtaining ocean transportation for property at less than the rates and charges that would otherwise be applicable by “misdescribing” the commodities shipped under certain service contracts and by improperly obtaining reduced rates limited to certain named accounts under certain service contracts.

In addition, East-West Logistics violated section 10(b)(2)(A) of the Shipping Act by providing service other than at the rates and charges in its NVOCC tariff. The company made a payment of $55,000 to settle the allegations.

El Monte, California-based Versatile International Corp., doing business as King Yang Shipping, was alleged to have knowingly and willfully violated section 10(a)(1) of the Shipping Act by engaging in cargo misdescription activities involving inbound shipments to the West Coast; and to have violated section 10(b)(2) of the Shipping Act by providing service that was not in accordance with the rates or charges contained in Respondent’s NVOCC tariff. Versatile made a payment of $55,000 to settle the allegations.

In addition, an NVOCC based in Long Island, NY, one in Taiwan and two in China were also fined for various Shipping Act violations, including service contract, tariff and bond violations. The FMC says that in total, it recovered over $617,000 in penalties.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hanjin Planning Port of Portland Exit

Hanjin Shipping says that because of escalating costs, it will cease its direct-call service to Port of Portland as part of its Pacific Northwest Hanjin Express Service (PNH) effective January 2014.

With the change, all shipments currently being served via the Port of Portland will be rerouted through the Seattle or Tacoma ports, according to an Oct. 17 letter to customers. All other port calls on the PNH service are expected to remain the same.

“Decision to stop Portland port call service comes with much difficulty knowing the level of appreciation received from our customers with this exclusive service in and out of great State of Oregon,” the letter reads in part. “However, the cost of serving this port has escalated significantly this year to deter us from maintaining quality service which you have come to expect.”

Hanjin is the largest container carrier calling at Portland’s Terminal 6. The service represents about 80 percent of container throughput at the terminal, averaging about 1,600 containers per week. Hanjin has had a presence in the area since 1994, and has contracts with many of the area’s largest shippers.

The departure of Hanjin would leave Hapag-Lloyd, Hamburg Süd and Westwood Shipping as the remaining direct calling carriers at Terminal 6. The port says the change would not affect other business lines such as autos, minerals, grain, steel or liquid bulks.

Hanjin leadership staff is expected to meet with officials from the port and terminal operator ICTSI Oregon in coming weeks. Meanwhile, Hanjin will continue weekly direct calls at Terminal 6 for the duration of the calendar year.

“Hanjin has been a valued customer of the port for almost 20 years and we continue to believe that they have a valuable container shipping franchise in this market,” Port of Portland Chief Commercial Officer Sam Ruda said in a statement.

Long Beach Container Volumes Up Again

Cargo volume climbed 14.7 percent at the Port of Long Beach in September compared to the same month in 2012, fueled by double-digit gains in both imports and exports of containerized goods.

A total of 587,114 TEUs moved through Long Beach last month. Imports increased 16.2 percent to 307,981 TEUs. Exports rose by 17.2 percent to 134,676 TEUs.

Empty TEUs, which were being sent overseas to be refilled with goods, were up 9.4 percent year-over-year, to 144,457 units.

For the first nine months of 2013, cargo container volume was up 13.7 percent, including 16.2 percent more imports, 11.5 percent more exports and 10.8 percent more empties.

For the year’s third quarter – July through September – imports are up 16.1 percent compared to third quarter 2012. For the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles combined, imports were up 5.7 percent for the third quarter.

For the Port of Long Beach alone, September was the second busiest month of 2013 thus far, after August. This is mostly attributed to the shipping peak season -- August through October – as retailers prepare for a rise in buying as the end-of-the-year holidays approach.

More details on Long Beach cargo numbers can be found at

Truckers Conduct Work Stoppage at Oakland Port

Hundreds of drayage truck drivers who are part of an organization called the Port of Oakland Truckers Association conducted a work stoppage at the port Oct. 21 to protest what they call unsafe working conditions and unfair compensation.

Multiple terminals at the port had their operations shut down or slowed by the protest, which began at 5 am.

The Truckers Association, which is made up of independent owner-operator drivers who are paid by the load and responsible for their own gas, insurance and truck maintenance, is calling for a $50 monthly “green emissions fee” to offset the cost of upgrading trucks to meet new exhaust standards that are planned go into effect Jan. 1.

The group is also asking for an extension of the Jan. 1 compliance date and a congestion fee compensating truckers for hours currently spent waiting unpaid for a load, as well as an increase in pay per cargo load, something that hasn’t taken place in 10 years, according to the group.

“We want to put an end to inhumane treatment,” the Association said in a statement. “We need safer conditions and better compensation.”

According to the Port of Oakland, about 6,800 drivers are registered do business there; the Truckers Association says it has about 350 members so far.

Port of Baltimore Longshore Strike Ends

After a three-day strike that virtually shut down operations at one of the East Coast’s largest ports, longshore workers at the Port of Baltimore went back to work – temporarily, at least – on Oct. 18.

On Oct. 17 members of International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 333 agreed to return to their jobs for 90 days while the union continues contract negotiations with the Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore, which represents local shipping lines.

The strike was approved by union leadership the night of Oct. 15, after Local 333 members overwhelmingly rejected a contract covering local issues such as workplace safety. Starting the next morning, longshore workers began picketing shipping terminals.

At the time the strike was called, five cargo ships were docked at Baltimore, according to the port. At least one ship – the CCNI Antofagasta – left Baltimore without unloading any cargo. It instead sailed to the Port of Charleston in South Carolina.

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

The four ILA locals in Baltimore represent about 1,200 dockworkers. Although only Local 333 was on strike, the three other ILA locals representing Port of Maryland workers would not cross the picket line, meaning all the port’s longshore workers – roughly 2,000 of the port’s 14,000 employees – refused to work.

Negotiations between the union and management group are ongoing.

Seattle Mayoral Candidate Outlines Industrial Agenda

Seattle mayoral candidate Ed Murray has released a detailed agenda for industrial growth, one in which he calls the city’s maritime sector a significant part of the city’s economic base and outlines four goals for the sector’s long-term health.

The goals outlined include development and implementation of a plan for freight mobility and safety in industrial areas; and encouraging the development new research/manufacturing/retail businesses and high-precision manufacturing businesses in industrial areas.

“If the City was able to promote the development of life sciences and technology in South Lake Union, there is no reason the City cannot do the same with high-precision, high value manufacturing and with hybrid manufacturing/retail small businesses,” the plan reads in part.

Other goals outlined include the creation of opportunities for energy efficiency and environmental cleanup; and vocational training in STEM related fields relevant to Seattle’s industrial economy.

“Environmental clean-up is also a critical issue in our industrial areas. This requires partnerships with the federal government, state agencies, city departments, the Port of Seattle and key industries,” the agenda states. “Murray is committed to the environmental clean-up of our industrial areas.” See the complete plan here: