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Friday, January 31, 2014

Fidley Watch: Ice Strength

By Chris Philips, Managing Editor

Early last month the news media were widely reporting the Russian research cruise vessel carrying 74 scientists, tourists and crew, that became lodged in the ice off the coast of Antarctica on Christmas Eve. On January 2nd, the vessel’s passengers were evacuated via helicopter to an Australian vessel by a helicopter from the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, which had been on its way to help but itself became stuck in the thick ice.

The US Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star was then asked to divert from its mission to resupply the McMurdo Antarctic base to assist, but the American vessel was stood down after both the trapped ships finally escaped the ice.

Much hay was made of the irony that the 1,764-gt, 230-foot Akademik Shokalskiy was crowded with researchers seeking to document the theoretical disappearance of Antarctic ice, but little was said of the most important aspect of the story: our crying need for more icebreakers.

The US only has 3 icebreakers. The youngest, Healy, a medium-duty ship best suited for first-year ice, is 17 years old. The other two are heavier-duty ships, but they’re both more than 30 years old, and one, the Polar Sea, has been out of service since 2010. The Polar Star only recently returned to service after a comprehensive overhaul that cost nearly $60 million, which prolonged the service life of the vessel for another seven to 10 years.

A fourth icebreaker, the Mackinaw, is a light-duty vessel built for the great lakes in 2006, and wouldn’t be of much use in the Arctic or Antarctic oceans.

The rest of the developed countries are way ahead of the United States in icebreaker and ice-class capacity, and are upgrading their current icebreaker fleets. Canada has six active icebreakers and one on the way, Denmark, has five active vessels, Finland has eight, and Russia has 40-plus, with another two under construction.

Even China has an icebreaker, mentioned earlier, with another expected to be delivered this year, and they don’t even have a port on the Arctic. Other countries with icebreakers include Japan, South Africa and Spain.

The US has more than 1,000 miles of Arctic coastline, accessible only by water, and the waterway of the Northern Sea Route becomes more navigable every summer. The Chinese, Russians, Finns, Danes and others all understand this and are building ice-strengthened cargo vessels and icebreakers at a tremendous rate- the US is woefully behind.

The Jones Act has kept the country’s shipbuilding capacity strong enough to produce a fleet of excellent ships. Now the US needs to make an icebreaker program a priority. The country’s lack of icebreaking capacity will soon become more evident as other nations develop their own vessels, then it will become embarrassing, and a threat to the security of the country.

Port of Vancouver to Annex Tenant’s Land

By Mark Edward Nero

After not being able to successfully negotiate a deal with the owner, the Port of Vancouver Commission on Jan. 28 voted to use its eminent domain powers to acquire a parcel of land it wants to use as part of the port’s $275 million West Vancouver Freight Access Rail Project.

The 1.1 acres is currently controlled by port tenant Pacific Coast Shredding, a subsidiary of scrap metal company Metro Metals Northwest that owns a total of about 14 acres at the port.

Under the resolution approved by the Commission, the port will launch a legal process to decide what would be fair compensation for the acre of land. The port had been unable to come to an agreement with Pacific Coast Shredding on a price during negotiations, so under the terms of its lease, the matter of compensation is being turned over to a neutral judicial proceeding.

The West Vancouver Freight Access project – which consists of construction of a new train access through existing facilities and includes new rail infrastructure – aims to speed freight movement. The Pacific Coast Shredding acreage that is needed for the project would be part of a $38 million rail entrance intended to eliminate a chokepoint on the regional rail system and to reduce congestion by as much as 40 percent.

Construction of the project, which began in 2007, is about 50 percent complete, according to the port.

MARAD Gives $7 Million to Maritime Academies

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Maritime Administration (MARAD) on Jan. 29 revealed that America’s six state maritime academies and the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY, will each receive $1 million from a government program that recycles obsolete vessels.

Grant recipients include the California Maritime Academy, Great Lakes Maritime Academy, Maine Maritime Academy, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, SUNY Maritime College and Texas Maritime Academy.

In a statement, MARAD said the funding is expected to help ensure US Merchant Marine officers “are available to meet our nation’s national security and economic needs.”

“The most important element in our US Merchant Marine fleet is our people,” US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “This funding will help ensure that dedicated men and women of our maritime academies continue to have the resources that make them the best educated and most highly trained mariners anywhere.”

The money for the funding came from the sale of obsolete vessels from the Maritime Administration’s National Defense Reserve Fleet, which were purchased for recycling. Federal law requires that 25 percent of the profit from sales is distributed to maritime academies for facility and training ship maintenance, repair, and modernization, and for the purchase of simulators and fuel.

Fifty percent funds the acquisition, maintenance, and repair of vessels in the National Defense Reserve Fleet; and the other 25 percent is provided to the National Park Service, which provides grants for maritime heritage activities through the National Maritime Heritage Grants Program.

Since 2009, MARAD has provided almost $9 million in funding generated from vessel sales to the state academies and the US Merchant Marine Academy.

CLIA Appoints Trade Relations VP

By Mark Edward Nero

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) on Jan. 30 announced the appointment of travel industry veteran Dwain Wall to the newly-created position of Senior Vice President of Agency and Trade Relations, effective immediately.

In his new role, Wall is at the helm of member and trade relations for the North American travel agencies that comprise CLIA, the largest travel agent association in the world.

Most recently, Wall was Senior Vice President and General Manager of World Travel Holdings’ home-based division, which is comprised of the CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. brands. He resigned from that position in November 2013 after holding the job for five years.

Prior to joining World Travel Holdings, he co-founded the global luxury and adventure travel company Grand Expeditions and helped develop national affiliate programs for Hotels.com.

“His track record of developing and implementing highly successful travel agent programs is a great fit for CLIA as we enhance our value to the agent community and grow our membership base,” CLIA President & CEO Christine Duffy said in a statement. “And, by creating a dedicated trade relations position, CLIA is once again reinforcing its total commitment to our travel agency members.”

As part of CLIA’s leadership team, Wall will work alongside CLIA’s Senior Vice President of Strategic Marketing, Margaret Murphy.

“In this new position, I look forward to creating a dialog across various segments of the industry about what our future looks like,” Wall said. “Ultimately, my goal is to help member agencies be more successful, profitable and dynamic while staying ahead of the game as the industry continues to evolve.”

Hueneme Port Receives Business Award

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Hueneme has received the 2013 Business of the Year award from the chair of Oxnard Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors, based on the port’s status as an economic engine for the region.

The port, located in Ventura County, California, consistently ranks among the top ten US ports for autos and fresh produce. Its operations are responsible for about 9,500 trade-related jobs, and trade through the port generates more than $63 million in annual state and local taxes.

“The port provides well over 5,000 direct and indirect jobs in our community,” Board Chair Nancy Kierstyn Schreiner said. “The port generated $7 billion in goods movement and $1 billion in other economic activity in 2013. I want to congratulate the port on another record year.”

Mary Anne Rooney, president of the port’s Board of Harbor Commissioners said the port of appreciative of and thankful for the award.

“As the port looks forward, we strive to continue to strengthen and build upon our strong relationships,” she said. “We will continue to put our breadth of resources to work to assist the business community in increasing opportunities that exist through our unique organization.”

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

POSD to Host Port Authorities Workshop

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of San Diego will host the American Association of Port Authorities 2014 Maritime Economic Development Workshop, taking place Feb. 20-21 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel.

The workshop is geared toward port development, marketing and logistics executives. Among the key topics is how to implement and fund transportation infrastructure projects for the growing volumes of imports and exports and cruise ship passengers that flow through their facilities.

The event is scheduled to feature a host of business and logistics experts, shipping company executives, infrastructure development case studies and a three-hour “facilitated dialogue” session to bring the collective knowledge of the entire audience to bear in solving some of the port industry’s economic challenges.

“Seaports in the Americas are investing billions of dollars to improve their infrastructure, expand their services, enhance their cargo- and passenger-handling capabilities, create jobs and assist businesses looking to tap into the increasing global demand for both raw materials and domestically-manufactured products,” AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle said. “In order to effectively compete, seaports must deal with issues ranging from finding investment partners and passing effective freight policy legislation at the federal level, to convincing their local and regional stakeholders the investments they are proposing are necessary and worthwhile.”

He added that the US needs to invest in its port facilities if it wants to compete as a maritime nation.

“Focusing on port infrastructure as a separate aspect of international trade obscures the dependence of seaports on a robust domestic surface transportation system,” he said.

More information about the 2014 Maritime Economic Development Workshop, including registration costs, is available at the AAPA website, http://www.aapa-ports.org/Programs/seminarschedule.cfm?itemnumber=19231, or by calling the AAPA’s Ed O’Connell at (703) 684-5700.

LNG Risk Management

By Lieutenant William J. Hickey, USCG

Risk Management has proven to be a critical component to promoting safe shipping. The combination of progress in Arctic shipping, an increasing demand for the use of alternative fuels and currently emerging environmental requirements make risk management an essential tool to ensure safety.

On January 29th, Pacific Maritime Magazine and United States Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound will produce a forum intended to explore the next steps in developing a compliance framework for the use of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) as a maritime fuel source. The event will offer the maritime industry an opportunity to hear from the regulatory and policymaking community on the anticipated national and local regulatory environment for LNG fueled vessels, LNG fuel bunkering operations, and LNG maritime fueling facilities.

Sector Puget Sound’s holistic approach toward understanding the unique hazards specific to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a marine fuel is vital to the successful implementation of rules and regulation. LNG possesses many major environmental benefits and economic advantages. Even though there is significant value associated with using LNG as a marine fuel, there are associated hazards that must be managed. Should the United States continue the shift towards alternative fuels, the US Coast Guard is prepared to foster our industry relationships and enforce appropriate safety requirements.

At present time, US Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound’s progressive industry outreach program promotes and enhances our understanding of LNG, and initiates guidelines that will appropriately fit the needs of our customers. With this in mind, Sector Puget Sound’s Officer in Charge Marine Inspection (OCMI) directed a local work group to research, partner, and develop policy that provides industry with a timely regulatory framework to address impending technology.

While there are risks involved in bunkering LNG, they are manageable with proper training and the crew competencies described in 33 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 127. Previously, the risk of release during LNG bunkering occurred as a direct result of crew and company inattention. All risks identified with the handling of LNG are serious and demand comprehensive risk assessments and risk management strategies.

LNG Release Risk
A risk involved with LNG is the release of cargo vapor into the atmosphere during bunkering operations. LNG has a unique behavior and we must first understand LNG’s differences and concerns as compared to traditional marine fuels associated with LNG.

Fore example, LNG is cryogenic, and remains a liquid only as long as it is held at extremely low temperatures. At higher temperatures it becomes flammable, and it requires specialized training to handle it properly and safely. The materials used in the movement and storage of the liquefied gas need to be carefully selected, making the equipment involved in all aspects of the fuel’s storage and transportation more expensive.

Some more general concerns include a lack of understanding by the public, coupled with concerns over the hazards of a release. Liquefied natural gas is considered a greenhouse gas, and a single serious incident involving LNG will affect the entire industry negatively.

A demonstration at the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) Academy in Seattle, WA in June 2013, confirmed significant differences between LNG as compared to other energy resources. ABS used the example of opening and closing a cryogenic valve generally with an operating range of + 80 degrees C to minus 196 degrees C. As the valve is opened, the cryogenic liquid passes through the valve and when the valve is closed it impedes the flow of liquid; during a routine oil and gas process this generally would not be a safety issue. The main difference when dealing with a cryogenic liquid is that this liquid becomes trapped within the valve body. This could be a hazardous condition, because trapped LNG may build pressure as it warms and has the potential to rupture components. This is an example of one of the risks involved in using LNG as a marine fuel. The release of LNG while bunkering can be potentially dangerous based on previous incidents.

Detailed steps to prevent LNG releases while bunkering, and methods to eliminate cargo vapor into the atmosphere while disconnecting transfer arms, is outlined by the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO). SIGGTO provides guidance on the safe operation for disconnecting transfer arms in the “LNG Transfer Arms and Manifold Draining, Purging and Disconnection Procedure.” Although this guidance is based on employing rigid transfer arms at a facility, the principles for hose systems (ship-to-ship, truck-to-ship) are considered to be the same. SIGTTO identified two incidents involving LNG releases while draining and purging of the manifold. These accounts suggested that there was a level of complacency within the crew and management involved which resulted in the release of LNG. The previous incidents provided valuable lessons learned. As a result, we can prevent future incidents by mitigating all aspects of manageable risk.

Fire Risk
This incident occurred while draining and purging the manifolds at the end of loading. The weather conditions were dry and very still, with no wind. The purging was proceeding with the vents and manifold drains to atmosphere open. Progress of the operation was slower than normal as a result of problems with the nitrogen supply. (There may also have been some pressure to complete the operation to avoid delay to sailing.) A member of the ship’s staff approached the vent to check with a gas detector when the gas cloud ignited, source unknown. The fire was very short lasting, really only a flash fire, and had largely burnt out before the fixed shore monitor was brought into operation. However, the crewmember involved suffered serious burns. Despite thorough investigations, the source of ignition has never been definitively identified. It may have been some unexplained fault with the gas detector or it may have been static electricity. Another possibility was a spark generated by a dropped object. No evidence could be discovered to support any of these hypotheses.

Vapor Release Risk
The Secretariat has recently become aware of another incident. During the draining and purging operation after cargo discharge a release of LNG and vapor occurred. The LNG came into contact with two persons, and several persons were located inside the vapor release. Fortunately, no one was hurt and there was no ignition of the vapor.

The immediate causes for the release were identified as:
• Failure to drain the piping between the ship’s ESD valve and the double shut valve

• Failure to close the hard arm vent valve when the methane content was greater than the agreed percentage by volume

• Opening an ESD valve with hard arm vent open.

 Root causes for the release were identified as:
• Failure to comply with established procedures

• Failure to have adequate procedures

• Competence of personnel undertaking the operation

Manageable Risk 
In Vice Admiral John P. Currier’s, US Coast Guard paper on “Risk Management for the Proficient Operator,” VADM Currier presents the concept of “The Risk Spectrum,” and the two elements of operational risk: those that are manageable and those that are beyond our control. Although this article was intended for US Coast Guard use, the element of manageable risk must be understood while bunkering LNG. Examples of these risks are provided in the table below:

For LNG bunkering operations to be conducted safely, it is essential that a detailed procedure is established, there is good communication between shore to ship or ship to ship, and that the crew is competent and has been trained to procedure. It is necessary that operators assess their competency management systems to ensure LNG transfer personnel are reserved for the most exceptional talents of their trade and are appropriately trained. In “Understanding the human element in LNG Bunkering,” published by Lloyd’s Register Consulting, they have found that, “There are many advantages of an effective competency management system, for example, improvement of staff motivation, a framework for staff development, reduction of incidents and accidents.”

This study also revealed, “Significant consequences can arise when competence is not managed following the introduction of new procedures and equipment.” It would be common to recognize companies that are now utilizing LNG as a marine fuel for the first time, and how proficiency must be managed effectively throughout an organization for a successful transition. VADM Currier acknowledges that there are certain unmanageable risks involved that are beyond crew or operator’s control. However, the Coast Guard’s operational risk model proves to be critical to mission success. By adopting this model for LNG operations, it increases the safety of personnel, property and environment.

Current LNG Regulations
LNG regulations that currently govern crew competency are explained in 33 CFR 127. Two elements of VADM Currier’s manageable risk model can be applied to LNG operations; Crew Selection and Qualification/ Proficiency. US LNG bunkering operations require persons in charge (PIC), to have at least 48hrs of LNG transfer experience, possesses professional knowledge of LNG hazards, have an extensive understanding of existing and ever-changing laws and regulations such as 33 Code of Federal Regulation 127 Subpart B; and complete familiarity and working knowledge of the operators vessel/facility Operations Manual & Emergency Manual procedures “examined” by the US Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP).

The operator is responsible to ensure that all employees involved in transfer operations have training which includes but are not limited to Advanced LNG firefighting procedures, LNG properties and hazards, training and a general working knowledge of the company’s, Operations Manual and Emergency Manual, security violations & security procedures, LNG vessel design and transfer operations, LNG release response procedures, first aid procedures that include response and treatment for frostbite, burns, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and transporting injured personnel. These standards and other factors will be assessed by the COTP and his designated representatives to ensure safe operations when handling, transferring or transporting LNG.

Risk Management is essential to promoting safe LNG shipping and to overall LNG operations in the United States. USCG Sector Puget Sound COTP and OCMI are proactively engaged in a progressive industry outreach program to promote LNG as a marine fuel. The USCG recognizes there are credible risks involved with LNG and its unique chemical behavior are comparatively different to traditional marine fuels. These hazards can be managed successfully through effective risk management and its feature of crew proficiency for LNG operations.

Lieutenant William J. Hickey is a Marine Inspector at Sector Puget Sound. He is a graduate of SUNY Maritime College where he earned a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering and a USCG Third Assistant Engineers License. He was previously stationed at Marine Safety Unit Texas City.

New Seattle Traffic Overpass Opens

By Mark Edward Nero

The Washington State Department of Transportation on Mon., Jan. 27 opened a new overpass in Seattle’s SoDo district that allows vehicle traffic to bypass a busy railroad track near the Port of Seattle’s busiest terminals.

Before the new South Atlantic Street overpass, train activity often blocked traffic for extended periods, which not only slowed truckers traveling to and from the Port of Seattle, but also created backups that stretched onto Seattle streets and Interstate 90.

The new overpass could save truckers as much as 20 minutes of travel time between the port and I-5 or I-90, according to the WSDOT.

The section of Atlantic beneath SR 99 is expected to remain closed to through traffic until the SR 99 tunnel opens to traffic. Drivers can now use the new overpass to travel in both directions between Atlantic and Alaskan Way South.

Later this winter, crews are expected to complete improvements to the bicycle and pedestrian path on the west side of SR 99 between Atlantic and South King streets.

The north leg of the overpass will open to the public after the tunnel opens and eventually link traffic to a newly rebuilt Alaskan Way and Seattle waterfront

Cruise Industry Expects Growth in 2014

By Mark Edward Nero

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and its member cruise lines are looking at a positive year of growth in 2014, including a passenger forecast of 21.7 million worldwide guests on CLIA’s 63 member lines, according to the association’s annual State of the Cruise Industry findings.

The CLIA’s 2013 global passenger numbers were estimated at 21.3 million, with the US making up nearly 52 percent of the total amount.

“The global cruise industry is at an exciting juncture with strong consumer interest in cruising and significant cruise line investment in a diversity of exciting ships,” CLIA President & CEO Christine Duffy said.

To meet the projected increase in demand, member lines are expected to introduce 24 new ships in 2014-2015, adding a total passenger capacity of 37,546, representing a capital investment of about $8 billion in ocean going and river cruise categories, according to the CLIA.

Sixteen vessels – a $3.9 billion investment with a combined passenger capacity of 19,500 -- are expected to launch in 2014 alone.

Globally, the CLIA fleet’s currently comprised of 410 ships, up from 393 ships last year, and includes a wide variety of vessels, according to the Association. The 24 new ships expected to launch this year and next represent a total capital investment of about $8 billion.

Twelve additional new global and regional ships – both confirmed orders and options – for 2016 to 2018 represent an additional 33,192 passenger capacity and an investment estimated at $7.9 billion in ship development, according to CLIA.

POLB Head Predicts Future Growth

By Mark Edward Nero


Container growth at the Port of Long Beach is poised to grow back to pre-recession levels in the near future, according to the port’s interim director.

The prediction came Jan. 23, during the POLB’s annual “State of the Port” address, an event where port leadership addresses stakeholders regarding the port’s recent past, present and future.

“In the next two years, we expect to surpass more than seven million TEUs, our peak before the recession,” Acting Executive Director Al Moro said. “Our economy is getting better.”

The Port of Long Beach, is making tremendous strides in its efforts to modernize and improve its ability to compete with other seaports, Moro said, by upgrading terminals, roadways, bridges and railways, as part of a 10-year, $4 billion capital improvement program.

Moro, a civil engineer who was appointed to the interim position last June after then-Executive Director Chris Lytle left to take the top job at the Port of Oakland, said he marvels at the wide array of engineering projects he’s overseen in the past several years in his role as the port’s Chief Harbor Engineer, including the 300-acre Middle Harbor Terminal Redevelopment where next-generation cranes have arrived, and the massive Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement.

He said that even as the port has been modernizing its facilities, it managed to bring in more than 11 percent growth in container cargo in 2013, and also continued to reduce air pollution from port sources.

Last year was the third-best in port history for cargo containers – 6.73 million containers were moved – ranking 2013 behind only the pre-recession years of 2006 and 2007, according to data.

Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond introduced Moro at the event, which was held at a downtown Long Beach hotel. Drummond said he’s excited by the port’s progress and is confident infrastructure improvements will keep the port competitive.

“Our No. 1 priority at the port remains to complete our projects under construction on time and on budget so that we can all benefit from these massive improvements,” he said.

An archived webcast of the State of the Port event is available at www.polb.com/stateoftheport.