Friday, February 14, 2014

Port of Portland Approves Container Carrier Subsidy Program

By Mark Edward Nero

On a 7-1 vote, the Port of Portland Commission on Feb. 12 approved an incentive program designed to keep Hanjin Shipping from following through on a threat to stop calling at Portland’s Terminal 6.

Under the one-year program, the port says it will pay shipping lines $20 per container moved through Portland, plus an additional $25 per container for each increase in the number they transport beyond pre-determined levels, with a not-to-exceed budget of $4 million.

“The program is being developed in order to help sustain the mission-critical nature of the container franchise to shippers in Oregon and throughout the region,” the port’s general manager of marine business development, Sebastian Degens, said in a presentation to the Commission.

At the meeting, port Executive Director Bill Wyatt said that without the program, Hanjin will not continue its weekly calls at Terminal 6. Hanjin is the port’s largest carrier, handling close to 80 percent of the terminal’s cargo. The company, which has been averaging about 1,600 containers per week, has had a presence in the Portland area since 1994.

However, Hanjin announced in October 2013 that because of escalating costs, beginning in the first quarter of 2014, it would cease its direct-call service to Port of Portland as part of its Pacific Northwest Hanjin Express Service.

“If they choose to leave, we could end up seeing a fence go up around Terminal 6,” Wyatt said. Objecting to the program was the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, which said the subsidies would amount to an indirect subsidy benefiting terminal operator ICTSI Oregon.

The incentives are one component of a two-part initiative to increase the long-term viability of the container franchise in Portland, Degens said, with the second component involving a current initiative by Gov. John Kitzhaber’s office to bring parties together to address and seek remedies for current labor jurisdictional issues.

ILWU Local 8 has been involved in a years-long legal battle with ICTSI regarding territorial rights and productivity on the docks.

Gov. Kitzhaber announced Dec. 12 that a two-year dispute over specific work at Terminal 6 had been resolved and that the job of plugging in and unplugging refrigerated ships at the terminal was being reassigned from International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to ILWU Local 8 workers. However, since then the terminal operator has accused the longshore union of conducting work slowdowns and decreased productivity.

Port Commissioner Bruce Holte, a Local 8 member and former officer, cast the lone vote against the subsidy plan.

The subsidy program, which is set to expire at the end of 2014, would be paid for entirely from revenues received from ICTSI under the Terminal 6 lease, according to the port.

POLB to Test New Ship Emissions Control System

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Long Beach will fund testing of a new air pollution-control technology for docked cargo ships under an agreement approved Feb. 10 by the port’s Board of Harbor Commissioners.

Under the deal, the port would rely on regional air quality authorities to oversee a demonstration project to assess the safety and the pollution-reducing effectiveness of a mobile, barge-mounted emissions control system to capture and treat ships’ smokestack emissions.

The Alternative Maritime Emission Control System, or AMECS, diverts a docked ship’s emissions into an air-pollution filter-and-treatment device.

California recently began requiring container, refrigerated-cargo and cruise ships to plug in to shore power while at berth in order to reduce air pollution by using landside electricity. The regulations, however, only apply to about 100 of the port’s 300 vessel calls a month.

The new system, the port says, could provide an alternative to shore power, allowing ships to run their engines to produce the power they need for lighting, communications, pumps, refrigeration and more. “We want to become a zero-emissions port, so I look forward with particular interest to see how the AMECS technology performs,” Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond said.

A Los Angeles-area company, Advanced Cleanup Technology Inc. (ACTI), developed the AMECS technology. Under the agreement, the South Coast Air Quality Management District will supervise the testing on behalf of the port, with Long Beach staff oversight.

The port has been working with ACTI since 2006 on demonstrating the technology. An earlier, wharf-mounted version was often called “sock on a stack” due to the large bonnet that was lifted by crane and placed over the smokestacks to capture emissions. The new system is mounted on a barge and uses a direct connection to a vessel’s exhaust outlets.

The port says it will fund the total project cost of $2 million.

Jean Anne – Putting eNav to the Test

By Michael A. Moore

The system is so good, it's easy to become over-reliant, to get focused on the screen. You need to match what you see outside the window with what you see on the screen."

Captain Greg Johnson, the master of Pasha Hawaii's Jean Anne has a few things to say about ECDIS and electronic navigation.

Captain Johnson knows of what he speaks. The Jean Anne has been equipped with a paperless primary ECDIS navigation system since its 2005 launch, and met IMO/SOLAS requirements with paper charts as a back-up.

"We went fully ECDIS compliant last May, with dual electronic systems" said Captain Johnson. "We still have paper charts on board, but I think the electronic charts are much better."

From the day it launched in 2005, Pasha Hawaii's M/V Jean Anne has led the West Coast commercial fleet in embracing innovation and technology. The 14,330-ton, 579-by-102-foot ship was the company's first pure car/truck carrier constructed to meet the requirements of the Jones Act.

Besides its ten-deck ro/ro design and 19-knot cruising speed, the Jean Anne was equipped for the electronic navigation revolution with a Sperry Marine multi-console Vision 2100 integrated bridge system (IBS), including a navigation station, conning station, planning station, steering station and separate weatherproof bridge wing consoles.

"The paperless navigation practices on the Jean Anne will apply to SOLAS-compliant newbuild deliveries in 2014," said Christian Hempstead, of Hempstead Maritime Training.

Captain Johnson may be all for paperless charts and the electronic bridge, but he is not quite ready to leave the old ways totally behind. He said the Jean Anne carries a set of paper charts as a worst-case backup.

"Training in the use of the sextant and plotting on paper charts is important," he said. "It's good practice to manually plot and target, then look at the situation. You have better understanding of how the ship interacts with its environment."

Proper training is the key to successful implementation of a paperless electronic navigation system, according to Captain Johnson.

"You very much need type specific training," he said. "I went to a one week AMO ECDIS course. It was on a TRANSAS system."

Pasha has installed Sperry on the Jean Anne – so he trained on that as well. The two systems do the same things, but in different ways.

"It's like the difference between a PC and a Mac. You really need training on the system you will be working with."

One of the main differences brought about by an integrated bridge system, in Captain Johnson's view, is track steering, which combines an ECDIS with the autopilot. The navigator can program a voyage plan into the ECDIS that contains one or more tracks.

"Track steering is a step up from autopilot," said Captain Johnson. "We input the voyage information and parameters, along with maximum rudder and whether it can deviate 50 or 100 meters off course.

"We are not making course corrections – we just make sure the machine is following the line. At waypoints, it gives an alarm then makes the turn unless you tell it not to."

The autopilot system receives its orders from the ECDIS and transmits steering commands to the steering system. Those orders may include manual changes of wanted heading, turn radius or rate of turn. The orders may originate from track control along a selected route.

The software that controls the whole system is Sperry Marine's proprietary Voyage Management System software, which integrates inputs from the ship's navigation sensors to present a clear, real-time picture of the ship's position and movement across the ECDIS.

Before the 2013 upgrade, the Jean Anne's charts were updated with commercial e-charts.

"When we went fully compliant, we started using NOAA e-charts," said Captain Johnson. "You can have the best system in the world, but if the charts are not upgraded you don't get the full advantage of your technology."

The Jean Anne's charts are updated using onboard wi-fi when the ship is in port in Honolulu and San Diego.

Increased safety is another reason Captain Johnson likes the increasing role of integrating electronics in navigation.

"The biggest thing to increase safety is AIS," he said. "The AIS is integrated into the radar and the ECDIS. You can actually see a ship's name on the radar screen as well as the electronic chart, so you know who you are talking to."

Even though the Jean Anne's bridge system is automated and intelligent, Captain Johnson recognizes that system failures can occur, such as the possibility of GPS failure or spoofing.

"If the spoof is mid-ocean, it would be hard to tell unless you noticed the swell coming from a different direction," he said. "We check the magnetic compass against the gyro header every hour and log the readings. We would notice a differential in the track line."

There is one slight change in the integrated bridge system that Captain Johnson would like to see made in the interest of safety.

"We still have a function where you can silence the alarm," he said. "That needs to be changed. The captain needs to know as soon as possible whenever there is a problem with the system or the ship's situation."

He also firmly believes in human oversight of the electronic system.

"The bridge is manned 24/7," he said. "The system is only as good as the person taking care of it."

One of Captain Johnson's concerns is the tendency of young watch officers – used to video consoles and games – to keep their attention focused totally on the electronic display while navigating.

"We've noticed a lot of the younger officers tend to focus more on the electronics – it's important that they develop the habit of looking up and out the windows to make sure what of what you are seeing, or not seeing on that screen."

The Jean Anne underwent retrofitting in response to environmental regulations in California. The ship is burning marine diesel oil, a lighter and cleaner fuel, and has modified its fuels to avoid the loss of power problem that has plagued other ships when they switch fuels when approaching port.

"We tried low sulfur, regular and gas oil fuels," said Ulrich Piencka, the Jean Anne's chief engineer. "We found we did not have the control we wanted, so we switched to using purely two grades – NGO and HFO. Outside the 200 miles limit, we use HFO, then we switch. The chiller improves the viscosity of the NGO, which improves the starting. We haven't had any loss of power problems that way."

Long Beach Port Appoints
New Environmental Director

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Long Beach’s harbor board on Feb. 10 formally promoted staffer Heather Tomley to the position of Director of Environmental Planning. In her new role, she will be charged with leading the port’s environmental initiatives.

Tomley, who will report to Managing Director of Environmental Affairs and Planning Rick Cameron, had been the port’s Acting Director of Environmental Planning since July 2013. She originally joined the port as an Environmental Planning Associate in 2005, was promoted to Environmental Specialist and then Senior Environmental Specialist in 2006 and Assistant Director in 2008.

“Heather Tomley’s work in the Environmental Planning Division has been instrumental to the greening of the port,” Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond said.

As Director of Environmental Planning, Tomley will lead the division most directly responsible for the port’s signature environmental programs: the Green Port Policy and the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan. The division coordinates programs to improve air, water and soil quality, preserve wildlife habitat and integrate sustainability into port practices.

Tomley earned her bachelor of science in chemistry and a minor in Psychology from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and her master of science in environmental science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She’s scheduled to begin her new role March 17.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

LNG Propulsion Moves Forward

By Jim Shaw

The recent announcement by Crowley Maritime that it has ordered two LNG-powered con/ro ships from Mississippi-based VT Halter Marine for Puerto Rico service has helped move the United States to the forefront of the LNG revolution – at least in terms of deadweight tonnage on order. Since Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE) announced plans to convert two of its Alaska trailerships to LNG in 2012, followed by orders for two LNG-powered 3,600-TEU container carriers for Puerto Rico service, LNG propulsion has featured in almost every new large ship order for Jones Act trading. This has seen Matson Navigation order two 3,600-TEU container ships from the Aker Philadelphia Shipyard, both to be powered by dual-fuel engines, while recent tanker orders for the shale oil boom feature "LNG-conversion-ready" designs.

In the wings is a dual-fuel container-carrying ATB design being put together by Ocean Tug & Barge Engineering Corporation and Minyan Marine (see Pacific Maritime Magazine, Dec. 2013). In Canada, BC Ferries has requested proposals from shipyards for three dual-fuel ferries while Washington State is continuing to move forward with its LNG retrofit project for the Issaquah class.

To the south, Harvey Gulf has increased its order of LNG-powered offshore supply boats to six, which will make it the largest owner and operator of such vessels in the world. The stimulus for such sudden interest in LNG is the wealth of US gas reserves and increasingly restrictive environmental regulations, particularly for coastal operations. The Jones Act has also helped spur LNG usage, largely because vessels involved are tied to a specific trade lane for which refueling facilities can be easily customized.

European Technology
In northern Europe, where LNG propulsion was pioneered, the same basic forces have been driving development, with most projects involving either offshore supply vessels working the North Sea or local ferries that can be tied to a specific bunkering facility. In addition, and like US operators, European owners are facing increasingly strict environmental regulations as Emission Control Area (ECA) regulations come into force. A major difference, however, is the fact that Europe has been steadily developing LNG technology, with Finland's Wärtsilä and Germany's MAN Diesel now world leaders in LNG propulsion. American ships ordered to date will make use of this technology, often in combination with European or Asian hull designs.

China, the world's largest shipbuilder, has found itself in the same situation as the US but is quickly catching up with the help of European expertise. China's Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard has recently gained a contract to build six 174,000-cubic meter (cu.m) LNG carriers, each to be powered by five MAN 51/60DF dual-fuel engines in an electric drive configuration (DFDE) making them the first large LNG carriers to be built in China with this power configuration. At the same time, three smaller LNG tankers in the 28,000-cu.m to 30,000-cu.m range are being built for China's coastal services, illustrating that the country is taking a hard look at LNG as a new energy source.

PetroChina is now forecasting that 3 million tons of shale gas will be produced from China's own reserves by 2015 with gas output increasing to 7 million to 8 million tons by 2020. This will help drive China's development of LNG in the marine sector, with the Nantong COSCO KHI Ship Engineering yard already working with Lloyd's Register on a new LNG-fueled 28,000dwt multipurpose vessel design.

LNG Bunkering Facilities
Beyond the storage requirements of LNG, the tanks of which can take up a large amount of space on a commercial vessel, bunkering is still acting as a constrictive force to further expansion. Ship orders, in fact, have run ahead of bunkering facilities development, although this is about to change. Late last year California-based Clean Energy Fuels announced it would begin construction of a new fuel station for cargo ships running on LNG at Jacksonville, Florida in partnership with Royal Dutch Shell and General Electric (GE). Shell had earlier stated it was planning the development of LNG plants on the Great Lakes and along the Gulf Coast while GE has been evaluating five domestic locations with the expectation that the US will need 50 to 100 small-scale LNG fueling terminals for ships, trucks and rail by 2025.

Mike Hosford, GE's general manager for Unconventional Resources in Houston, said GE "believes the age of gas is here" and that the industry now needs "bigger players" who can develop the required infrastructure. While the Jacksonville facility will offer convenient refueling for LNG-powered ships on the Puerto Rico run, where the new TOTE and Crowley vessels will trade, Shell's Great Lakes operation will initially service bulk carriers operated by The Interlake Steamship Company.

Last March, Shell reached an agreement in principle with Interlake to supply LNG in support of the Ohio company's conversion of its vessels to LNG. Interlake currently operates a fleet of 10 ships and expects to convert the first to gas by early next year. An Interlake spokesman said the conversions will require "significant capital investments," but that the investments are expected to result in "significant environmental benefits."

Port Fourchon Terminals
Along with the agreement with Interlake, Shell also announced an accord with Edison Chouest Offshore under which it will supply LNG to Chouest vessels operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Shell plans to build a small-scale liquefaction unit at its existing facility in Geismar, Louisiana which will have an output of about 0.25 million tons of LNG per annum. Once operational, the plant will supply LNG along the Mississippi River, the Intra-Coastal Waterway and to the offshore Gulf of Mexico and onshore oil and gas exploration areas of Texas and Louisiana. To provide for storage, transportation and distribution, Shell is expanding its existing relationship with fuels and lubricants re-seller Martin Energy Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Martin Resource Management Corporation (MRMC).

Shell plans to move LNG to Port Fourchon, Louisiana, a major supply base for the offshore industry, by barge. Three companies, Harvey Gulf, TY Offshore and Waller Marine, have already responded to a Shell request for proposals on this project and have submitted the design of an articulated/tug barge (ATB) that would carry LNG storage tanks internally, with the expectation that three would be built. Harvey has already launched construction of its own LNG fueling facility at Port Fourchon, which will consist of two terminals, each having 270,000 gallons of LNG storage capacity and the ability to transfer about 500 gallons of LNG per minute.

The company has selected Houston-based CH·IV International as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project while Middletown, Rhode Island-based Maritime Simulation Institute will develop an LNG bunkering safety training course for Harvey employees.

Roll-On/Roll-Off Fueling
While the Shell and Harvey facilities are expected to center around facilities using permanent tanks for storage, both on land and on ship, with trucks and/or barges being used for supply, Finland's Wärtsilä has developed a way of making LNG available when a stationary tank solution is not possible. Its LNGPac™ ISO system, developed for small and medium-sized vessels that don't require a large LNG capacity, uses LNG fuel tank containers that can be transported by road to the nearest LNG terminal for refilling and then loaded onboard ship ro/ro style with no bunkering procedures required. Besides the LNG tank, which is mounted on a standard IMO dimension frame (20ft, 40ft and 45ft), the system consists of a docking station and an evaporator skid installed permanently on the ship. The connection points are located at the end of the fuel tank containers, allowing easy hook-up to the onboard fuel gas handling system.

The tank container is also fitted with processing equipment, including the valves and instruments required for operational and safety purposes, along with a pressure build-up evaporator (PBE). The PBE is used to build up and maintain an operational pressure of approximately 5 bar in the tank, with the pressure then feeding gas to the engines instead of relying on rotating pumps or compressors. This feature makes the fuel tank containers completely redundant. If a container must be taken out of service for some reason, another can easily be placed into operation. Because of its roll-on/roll-off nature the LNGPac™ ISO system is seen as particularly applicable to ro/ro ships employed on short sea routes or in the coastal trades.

Bunkering Harmonization
Unfortunately, the various bunkering systems being developed for LNG have caused a problem of their own to date, because of the lack of harmonization, but classification society DNV GL has responded to this by launching a Recommended Practice (RP) that provides guidance on how LNG bunkering can be undertaken in a safe and efficient manner. With the EU poised to help 139 European seaports and inland ports inaugurate LNG bunker stations by 2025, DNV GL felt the time was ripe for standardizing development processes as well as designs and operations.

Jan Tellkamp, project manager for the RP, said its development is based on extensive experience of LNG bunkering-related projects over the past decade, as well as on knowledge that can be drawn from other relevant industries, in particular from the large-scale LNG industry. According to Tellkamp, the RP covers all modes of bunkering a ship with LNG and provides guidance on how to work on the three key topics suggested by recent ISO guidelines – planning, design and operation; safety management systems; and risk assessment. He noted that the concept of "layers of defense" is detailed on both the equipment and procedural levels and that the RP is expected to be formally published later this year after input from the LNG industry.

In Asia, Japan's classification society Nippon Kaiji Kyokai is working on a similar set of guidelines as compatriot shipowner NYK Line prepares to order its first dual fuel tugboat in a project to be subsidized by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

New Shipbuilding Advocacy Group
Lobbies for Industry

By Mark Edward Nero

A newly formed national shipbuilding advocacy group calling itself the Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition (AWIBC) on Feb. 6 sent a letter to member of the chairs of the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus, urging sustained funding for the construction of amphibious warships.

“Building these warships on a regular schedule ensures stability in construction, keeps production lines active, and allows second- and third-tier suppliers to allocate their resources and manpower to support the cost-effective and fiscally efficient production of amphibious warships,” the letter, addressed to Rep. Rob Wittman (R–Va.), and Rep. Joe Courtney, (D-Conn.), said. It was signed by AWIBC chair Brian Schires, who is the vice president of Rolls-Royce North America’s marine programs.

“AWIBC requests that Congress provide incremental funding in fiscal year 2015 for the next San Antonio-class amphibious warship, LPD 28, to allow suppliers across the country to begin manufacturing parts and products for its construction,” Schires stated in the letter. “Without sustained funding for the production and construction program of the next San Antonio-class amphibious warship, LPD 28, the skilled jobs of the industrial shipbuilding base are at risk.”

The letter pointed out that US Navy amphibious warships make it possible for the US Navy and Marine Corps to respond swiftly and aggressively from sea and air in times of crisis, from major combat operations to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief across the world. They hold, transport and deploy combat vehicles, helicopters, amphibious landing craft and assault vehicles. The US lost an estimated 57,000 manufacturing facilities and six million manufacturing jobs between 1998 and 2010, according to the AWIBC, something the coalition says it finds troubling.

“If this trend continues, there is a very real risk that there will be a permanent loss of the skills required to make much-needed parts and services for US ships, and the US military will need to look overseas for suppliers,” Schires wrote. “We have to maintain the core shipbuilding industrial base that we need.”

Canadian Government Seeking Lifeboat Construction Contractors

By Mark Edward Nero

The Government of Canada has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to seek feedback from shipyards regarding construction of a new generation of Coast Guard lifeboats. The ships are to be built as part of the country’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) small vessels program.

The RFI’s intent is to directly engage with Canadian shipyards that are potential suppliers of the new vessels. The Canadian Government says this initial step in the procurement process will provide it with information it needs before drafting a Request for Proposals.

The country’s small vessel program, which was announced in June 2013, includes 18 to 21 new vessels for the Coast Guard fleet. Canadian shipyards – other than those selected under the NSPS to build the large vessels, and their affiliated companies – will be able to compete in individual procurement processes on a project-by-project basis.

The new vessels are expected to replace the Coast Guard’s existing Arun-type vessels, which are an average of 18 years old. Construction of the boats could begin later in 2014, according to the Canadian Government.

“The Government’s commitment to build these ships in Canada will result in long-term jobs and economic growth for our country, stability for the industry, and vital equipment for our men and women in the Canadian Coast Guard,” Canadian Minister of Public Works and Government Services Diane Finley said in a statement announcing the RFI.

The Request for Information can be viewed at

$4 Million in Illegal Car Parts Seized at Port

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Customs & Border Patrol on Feb. 6 said that it has seized more than $4 million in illegal car parts at the Port of Oakland in a shipment from China falsely listed on the manifest as light-emitting diode power supplies.

Customs officials said that officers examining a commercial shipment at the port in mid-October found that instead of containing the LED supplies, it contained 25,600 high-intensity discharge (HID) conversion kits and ballasts, and that the kits’ street value runs anywhere from $150 to $500 apiece, bringing the total estimated value of the seizure to an estimated $4.1 million.

According to Customs, HID kits are used to convert stock vehicle headlights to higher-intensity HID lamps, and are regulated by US Department of Transportation.

Customs officials said they worked with the Department of Transportation to determine that the kits and ballasts weren’t in compliance with US standards and didn’t meet dimensional, electrical and marking requirements.

According to Customs, HID lights can be dangerous to other drivers because they’re very bright, and can result in fire hazards if they are improperly installed in vehicles.

“Products that do not comply with rigid safety standards present a significant hazard to consumers,” Brian Humphrey, Customs’ San Francisco field operations director, said in a statement.

The illegal parts, according to Customs, will likely be destroyed.

BNSF Pledges $5 Billion to Capital Improvement

By Mark Edward Nero

BNSF Railway says it will spend a single-year record of $5 billion in 2014 on its capital commitment plan, about $1 billion more than its 2013 capital spending.

The largest component of the capital plan, BNSF said in a Feb. 4 announcement, is spending $2.3 billion on its core network and related assets. BNSF also says it plans to spend about $1.6 billion on locomotive, freight car and other equipment acquisitions.

Much of the capacity expansion in the 2014 capital plan is for infrastructure investment on BNSF’s Northern Corridor. Expansion and efficiency projects, the rail company says, will primarily focus on line capacity improvements to accommodate growth in agricultural products, intermodal, automotive, and industrial products volumes related to crude oil production and other terminal improvements to enhance productivity and velocity.

More than $900 million in the capital plan is earmarked for expansion and maintenance in the Northern Corridor, according to the rail company.

The program also includes about $200 million for continued installation of positive train control (PTC) and $900 million for terminal, line and intermodal expansion and efficiency projects.

“Our capital plan continues to focus on improving our ability to meet our customers’ service expectations, increasing our capacity where there is growth, and strengthening our railroad,” BNSF Railway President/CEO Carl Ice said in a prepared statement. “BNSF’s capital investments are an integral part of making sure our network is well prepared for the demand for freight rail service in the U.S.”