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Friday, February 21, 2014

POLB Monthly Cargo Volumes Decline

By Mark Edward Nero

Cargo volume got off to a flat start in the first month of 2014 at the Port of Long Beach, with overall traffic dipping 1.4 percent to 528,884 container units in January compared to the same month last year, according to newly-released data.

Imports were up two percent, to 279,415 TEUs during the month, while exports fell 3.4 percent to 122,411 TEUs. The number of empty containers exported and imported dropped 6.3 percent to 127,058 TEUs.

Movement of exports and empties are typically slow at Long Beach ahead of the Lunar New Year, which this year was Jan. 31, because much of China and other countries in East Asia shut down for two weeks for the holiday.

However, the adjoining Port of Los Angeles reported last week that in January its overall volumes increased to 685,550 TEUs, a nearly 2.5 percent rise compared to January 2013. LA attributed the increase in part to shippers moving cargo in advance of the Chinese New Year.

Port of Long Beach officials contend that although January was slightly down compared to the same month last year, 2014 is expected to be busier than 2013, which was the third-busiest year in port history with a total of 6.73 million TEUs.

For the fiscal year to date, Long Beach’s cargo traffic is up 3.4 percent to 2.18 million TEUs. The POLB’s current fiscal year began Oct. 1.

“We expect to be back to peak cargo levels at the Port of Long Beach by 2015 or 2016,” Noel Hacegaba, the port’s acting deputy executive director and chief operating officer, said.

The port’s latest monthly cargo numbers can be seen at http://www.polb.com/economics/stats/latest_teus.asp. More details on the cargo numbers can be seen at www.polb.com/stats.

Port of Douglas Hires Economic Development Manager

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Douglas County, located in the north-central Washington city of East Wenatchee, said Feb. 18 that it has hired a Kittitas County official as its new economic development manager.

Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce economic development director Ron Cridlebaugh was selected from a pool of 19 applicants, including six finalists who were interviewed for the post.

Cridlebaugh has held the position of executive director for the Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce, Ellensburg Business Development Authority and Economic Development Group of Kittitas County. During that time, he has assisted hundreds of small businesses.

Cridlebaugh’s experience also includes involvement in the operation of the Ellensburg Business Incubator and MicroLoan Programs. The incubator program nurtures small and startup businesses, while the MicroLoan program provides small business loans to businesses that haven’t been able to qualify for traditional financing.

Additionally, he has handled the business recruitment for Kittitas County along with managing industrial properties owned by the Ellensburg Business Development Authority and City of Ellensburg. He has also has managed the Ellensburg and Kittitas County tourism programs and has guided downtown revitalization projects.

“We hope to utilize his extensive experience in business development and recruitment, downtown revitalization and collaborative work efforts to move economic development forward for Douglas County and the entire region,” Port of Douglas County Executive Director Lisa Parks said in a statement announcing the hire.

Cridlebaugh’s expected to begin work at the port on March 17.

OSI Chosen to Design Navigation Subsystem for the Royal Navy

By Mark Edward Nero

British Columbia-based OSI Maritime Systems has been selected by Lockheed Martin Canada to support the design activity of the bridge and navigation capabilities for the Royal Canadian Navy’s new class of Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS).

OSI, which has been in business for more than 35 years, develops and delivers integrated bridge systems for warships, integrated dived navigation systems for submarines and C2 systems for small craft. The company currently has 16 naval customers around the world, with more than 500 warships and submarines operating with OSI’s integrated navigation and tactical systems.

Under its contract with Lockheed, which was disclosed Feb. 19, OSI will design an integrated bridge and navigation system for the new AOPS vessels.

“The Integrated Bridge and Navigation System is critical to the operation of AOPS, allowing safe navigation and enhanced situational awareness in the rugged environment of Canada’s far northern waters to its busy coastal regions,” OSI Maritime Systems President and Chief Executive Officer Ken Kirkpatrick said.

The design work is expected to be completed entirely in Canada at OSI’s Burnaby, BC facility.
AOPS is a Canadian government procurement project for the Royal Canadian Navy. The project equips Canadian forces with six to eight naval ice-capable offshore patrol ships able to assert and enforce sovereignty in Canada’s waters.

The first Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship, being built by Irving Shipbuilding, is scheduled to be delivered in 2018.

POLB Staff Moving to Temporary HQ

By Mark Edward Nero

Staffers at the Port of Long Beach’s administration building have begun moving to a new interim building about a dozen miles inland as part of a transition that’s expected to eventually result in a new, permanent home near the waterfront.

The move to Long Beach Airport Plaza began in mid-February and is occurring in stages over four weekends through March. The current seven-story administration building, which sits in the heart of the port, is being vacated because, among other reasons, it’s more than 50 years old, overcrowded and doesn’t meet current seismic standards.

The port paid $14.25 million for the eight-story interim building in December 2012, and since March 2013, has spent more than $16 million on repairs, upgrades and other costs, including new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning; carpeting; and improved access for the disabled.

The interim headquarters, which was previously occupied by the Boeing Corp., was built in 1987; Long Beach closed escrow on it Dec. 27.

The building is expected to house the port’s administrative staff of about 350 people for three to five years while the port seeks a location for, and builds a new, permanent HQ in or near downtown Long Beach.

Beginning March 10, mail should be sent to the interim administrative offices’ address: 4801 Airport Plaza Drive, Long Beach, CA 90815.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

POLA Monthly Container Volumes Up Nearly 2.5 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Los Angeles has released its January 2014 cargo volumes and according to the data, overall volumes increased nearly 2.5 percent compared to January 2013, something the port attributes in part to shippers moving cargo in advance of the Chinese New Year, which fell on Jan. 31.

Container imports increased 6.7 percent, from 337,428 TEUs in January 2013 to 360,037 TEUs in January 2014. Additionally, exports increased 1.7 percent, from 159,257 TEUs in January 2013 to 161,938 TEUs in January 2014, according to the data.

Combined, total loaded imports and exports for January rose 5.1 percent, from 496,686 TEUs in January 2013 to 521,975 TEUs in January 2014. Factoring in empties, which decreased 5.1 percent year over year, overall January 2014 volume of 685,550 TEUs was a 2.47 percent increase over January 2013’s 669,000 TEUs.

For the fiscal year, which began July 1, volumes are up 2.25 percent compared with FY 2013. So far, LA terminal has moved 4.84 million TEUs during the first seven months of the current fiscal year, an increase of over 106,000 units from the 4.73 million TEUs moved during the same time last year.

Current and past data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles can be found at http://www.portoflosangeles.org/maritime/stats.asp.

Nome Advocates for Deep Water Port Expansion

By Margaret Bauman

Nome, Alaska, site of the legendary 19th century gold rush, is today's destination for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, but local officials see their city port playing a significant new role in development of the Arctic as the next big rush.

"The Arctic is the next economic hot spot," says Nome Mayor Denise Michels. "This is going to happen. Our job is to be proactive rather than reactive. They have been coming. They will come... and with the ice cap shrinking, there will be more and more vessels in the Arctic. The message that Nome wants to get out is that Nome needs the infrastructure in place now," Michels said.

The challenges for the bustling port are two-fold: First, Nome is a seasonal port, with first dockings about early June, the inner harbor closed by the end of October and the outer harbor by the end of November. Second, it will take millions of dollars to complete the project and a request likely won't go to Congress until early in 2015.

Right now the deep draft vessels anchor off of Nome and lighter their passengers into the small boat harbor, said Josie Bahnke, city manager. Cruise ships also come into the causeway at Nome. With an expanded causeway, the port would also be able to accommodate the Coast Guard, Bahnke said.

So Michels, Bahnke and retired Nome harbormaster Joy Baker, now projects manager for the Port of Nome, are working with the US Army Corps of Engineers in Anchorage and the state of Alaska to develop their deep water port expansion project. They are seeking $250 million for design and construction of the extension of the existing causeway to establish the deep draft area.

It's another step in improving and expanding facilities at this century-plus old seasonal port, a priority for Nome's local government since the early 1980s.

"We are a regional hub now," said Baker. "All the fuel comes through here. We are a transshipping port, and support for oil and gas development in the Arctic."

"It's a national security issue, an international access that is needed," Michels said. "It is a global issue. It is infrastructure needed to meet national security and national interests with development of the Arctic."

In 2012, the port was awarded $10 million from the state toward the project, a portion of which is dedicated for study and data collection to come up with a design concept, Baker said. "We are gathering information to determine what design is best," she said. A portion of that general obligation bond money from the state was used to build a high ramp dock at the small boat harbor and some funds were set aside to build a third sheet pile dock, which may go out to bid this spring and into construction in the summer of 2014, Baker said.

The US Army Corps of Engineers in mid-November produced its Alaska Deep-Draft Arctic Ports Navigation Feasibility Study, which notes that "increased vessel traffic coupled with limited marine infrastructure along Alaska's Western and Northern shores poses risks for accidents and incidents, increased response time for search and rescue, and requires international coordination."

The study calls for accommodating line haul fuel barges, icebreakers, cargo barges, tankers, Coast Guard cutters, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessels, landing craft and tugs.

It would extend the existing causeway 2,150 feet, demolish the existing spur breakwater, construct a 600-foot concrete caisson dock and extend utilities to the caisson dock. It would also involve dredging the outer channel and maneuvering area to minus 5 feet, dredging between the existing causeway and main breakwater to minus 22 feet, and disposal in the existing offshore disposal area.

Facilities at nearby Point Spencer would accommodate line-haul barges, tug assist, icebreakers, oil and gas support vessels and a heavy lift barge. Construction there would increase a 1,000-foot caisson dock, a 4,800 foot causeway and breakwater and dredging the turning basin and entrance channel to minus 35 feet, and upland facilities including fuel tanks and a 13-acre laydown area. There would be no connecting road to Nome.

Cape Riley, with a 5.5-mile road connecting to the Nome/Teller Highway, would accommodate shallow draft mineral extraction and lightering vessels. There would be a 250-foot by 40-foot concrete caisson dock, a 200-foot by 360-foot staging area, a 550-foot turning basin with minus 12.5-foot depth and a 305-foot entrance channel with minus 12.5-foot depth.

Plans are for a public review in March, then an agency decision in June, a civil works review board in August and a chief's report in December 2014. Once signed, that final report will be sent on to Congress for authorization and funding, said Lorraine Cordova, project technical lead.

"It looks like we have a viable project," Cordova said. "It meets the test for benefit cost ratio... that benefits will exceed the cost. It is my hope that when the feasibility study is complete that it will be budgetable."

Right now the study is a cost-shared study with the state of Alaska. "We cost share the study 50-50 and if it goes to construction, likely 65 percent will be coming from the corps and 35 percent from the state," she said.

Senators Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, are pursuing public-private partnerships, and "we haven't ruled any of that out," she said.

The corps report said that as of 2012 the projected increase in northern sea route traffic was 30-fold over a period of eight years, and that the increase in such traffic from 2012 to 2013 preliminary results showed a 13-fold increase in one year.

A data spread sheet compiled by the corps also compiled the tons of gravel and cargo that have come through the Port of Nome from 1988 through 2012, as well as gallons of fuel sold, plus revenues from this activity.

In 1988, for example, 26,798,810 tons of cargo moved through the port, generating revenues of $267,988. In 2012, the cargo volume was 56,575,830 tons, generating $411,879 in revenues.

"We are attempting to meet the needs that are already there," Cordova said. "Nome is overrun. Nome is severely crowded between cargo vessels, dredges, fishing boats and fuel. This isn't a matter of attracting new business. It's just trying to take care of business that is already there."

Assuming funds are appropriated by Congress, there would likely be a three year construction season, she said.

The corps held a public planning session last spring, engaging residents of Nome, Teller and Brevig Mission with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Fish and Wildlife, to address concerns involving expansion to a deep draft port. "Part of our job is doing the National Environmental Policy Act work and an environmental impact statement," she said. "The ones we have talked to support the project. The traffic is there and people want to make sure their way of life is protected. It's a fine line that we all walk."

Propane Leak at Port of Tacoma Causes Evacuations

By Mark Edward Nero

A hose ruptured on a tanker truck at the Port of Tacoma the morning of Feb. 17, leaking more than 1,500 gallons of propane and forcing the immediate area to be evacuated.

The truck was transferring 2,500 gallons of liquid propane to another tank when the hose ruptured and began dumping propane into the atmosphere, resulting in a large chemical cloud. The Tacoma Fire Dept. was called to the scene around 11:30 am, according to Battalion Chief Jim Zuluaga.

About 25 firefighters responded to the leak, which was in the 4000 block of Marine View Drive in Tacoma, near the Chinook Landing Marina. Workers were then moved away, and for about two hours, an area was blocked off between State Route 509 and Pacific Highway East.

Crews monitored propane levels in the atmosphere until they dropped to safe levels, then closed the valves on the tanker and secured the scene, according to the Tacoma Fire Department.

No injuries were reported, the fire department says, and port operations are not believed to have been impacted by the incident.

Mitsui OSK Lines and Affiliate Fined $1.2 Million

By Mark Edward Nero

Japan-based vessel-operating common carrier Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and its corporate affiliate, Nissan Motor Car Carrier Co. (NMCC), have reached an agreement with the Federal Maritime Commission to settle charges that they engaged in violations of the Shipping Act.

MOL and NMCC operate pure car carriers (PCCs) and roll on/roll off (ro/ro) vessels in US inbound and outbound trades.

The agreement resolves allegations that MOL and NMCC violated section 10(a) of the Shipping Act by acting with other ocean common carriers regarding the shipment of automobiles and other motorized vehicles by ro/ro or specialized car carrier vessels, where such agreements had not been filed with the Commission or been effective under the Shipping Act.

The compromise also addressed related activities and violations arising under such carrier agreements. The Commission alleged that the practices persisted over several years and involved numerous U.S. trade lanes.

Under the agreement, MOL agreed to pay $1,275,000 in penalties and agreed to provide ongoing cooperation with other Commission investigations or enforcement actions with respect to these activities, but weren’t required to admit to violations of the Shipping Act.

This is the second public announcement in recent months of Commission enforcement action against parties who fail to file carrier agreements. In December 2013, a different compromise was announced under which two Tokyo-based companies – K Line and NYK Line – paid $1.1 million and $1.2 million, respectively, in penalties for similar Shipping Act violations.

Vancouver USA Port Welcomes Ship’s
Maiden Voyage

By Mark Edward Nero

On Feb. 11, the Port of Vancouver USA welcomed the cargo ship M/V Alam Sinar, commanded by Capt. Arturo Lobigas of the Philippines, on her maiden voyage to the United States.

Lobigas and his 19-member Filipino crew were welcomed to Vancouver by representatives from Pacific Northwest Ship and Cargo and Port of Vancouver USA.

The M/V Alam Sinar, a Class NKK bulk carrier, was built in Japan in 2013, is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd. and operated by Malaysian Bulk Carrier. The Singapore-flagged vessel is 579 feet (176.5 meters) long and has a deadweight capacity of 36,320 tons.

Before docking at the Port of Vancouver, the M/V Alam Sinar sailed from Takamatsu, Japan, then to the Port of Vancouver USA where she loaded about 6,000 metric tons of copper concentrate.

The vessel next arrived in Vancouver, B.C. on Feb. 14 and then Campbell River, British Columbia. It is later expected to sail to Akita and Nihama, Japan before its final stop at Isabel, in the Philippines.

Canadian Companies Unveil
Shipbuilding Industry Strategy

By Mark Edward Nero

On Feb. 12, the British Columbia Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Board (SSRB), a group representing various Canadian private sector companies, released a workforce development strategy document for the B.C. shipbuilding and ship repair industry.

The document, titled “Towards 2020: A BC Shipbuilding & Ship Repair Industry Workforce Strategy,” is intended by the SSRB to inform and guide public and private investments in labor market development initiatives over the next decade.

It forecasts that throughout the next ten years, British Columbia employers will need over 4,000 skilled workers and trades people to meet existing and future job openings in both the shipbuilding and ship repair sector, as well as the directly affiliated metal plate and fabrication sector in professions such as welders, marine fitters, electricians, pipefitters/sprinkler installers, trades supervisors, machine fitters and marine engine mechanic occupations.

“The release of this strategy is timely for our industry as public and private institutions begin making critical decisions that will impact BC’s shipbuilding and ship repair industry for many years,” John Shaw, Vice President, Government Relations and Business Development for Seaspan Shipyards, and Vice-Chair of the SSRB, said.

Chuck Ko, President of Allied Shipbuilders, said the document was developed in consultation with many stakeholders, with the goal of “illuminating the way forward” toward building a more effective and efficient labor market for British Columbia’s growing shipbuilding and ship repair industry. “It will guide and inform decision making in both public and private sectors as to the best way forward as this industry develops rapidly over the next few years,” he said.

A digital version of the Workforce Strategy is available at http://issuu.com/gocrocodile/docs/towards_2020_digital