Friday, May 16, 2014

Foss Holds Dedication Ceremony for New Fireboat

By Mark Edward Nero

The first of two new technologically advanced fireboats that Foss Maritime is building for the Port of Long Beach was dedicated in a blessing ceremony earlier this month at Foss Maritime’s Seattle shipyard.

Foss Senior Vice President Gary Faber, made opening remarks during the May 1 ceremony. He praised the hardworking men and women who helped construct the vessel. Also among the speakers were POLB Deputy Chief Harbor Engineer Peter Forsythe and Mike Magill, Vice President of Foss’ Technical Services, who introduced the Rev. David Marshall of St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church of Shoreline, who blessed the vessel.

Xavier Espino, Battalion Chief of the Long Beach Fire Department, was also present, as was his wife Colleen, who had the honor of breaking the ceremonial bottle of champagne across the fireboat’s hull.

The vessel, named Fireboat 20, is being readied for service and is scheduled for delivery to Long Beach this summer.

Fireboat 20 has a Voith Schneider Cycloidal propulsion system that allows for exceptional maneuverability, a firefighting system with a pumping capacity of 41,000 gallons per minute, and seven caterpillar engines. It is designed as a state-of-the-art command center, with a CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense) system that protects the firefighters from threats.

A second fireboat for the Port of Long Beach is also under construction and is expected to be delivered in late 2014 or early 2015, according to Foss.

New Assistant Managing Director at POLB

By Mark Edward Nero

Neil D. Morrison, who joined the Long Beach Harbor Department in August 2009 as Director of Engineering Design, was promoted by the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners to Assistant Managing Director to oversee Harbor’s Engineering Design and Maintenance divisions on May 12.

Morrison’s new post was created as part of an ongoing reorganization of the Engineering Bureau, to better guide the construction and maintenance of the Port of Long Beach’s terminals, roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

In addition to his duties as Director of the Engineering Design Division, Morrison has also served as Acting Director of Maintenance for the port since March.

He has 35 years of experience as a civil engineer and executive overseeing and guiding design and construction projects for both the private and public sectors.

The POLB’s Engineering Design Division is critical to the development and renovation of the port and the maintenance of roads, wharfs, utilities, storm drains and other port-owned improvements. The Maintenance Division is also responsible for upkeep of port-owned infrastructure, including buildings, roadways, utilities, landscaping and lighting. It also manages the port’s vehicle fleet.

Morrison is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, with a B.S. in Civil Engineering, and he earned an MBA from the University of Redlands. According to the port, he’s a licensed civil engineer in three states including California.

Metro Vancouver Opening Community Office

By Mark Edward Nero

Port Metro Vancouver said May 12 that it is opening a community office in the city of Delta this summer in order to give those in the area an opportunity to speak with staff about port operations, initiatives and projects, including the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project.

The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project is a proposed new three-berth container terminal at Roberts Bank in Delta that would provide further capacity to potentially meet forecast demand until 2030.

“Many important port activities are taking place in Delta, and the new office will be a location where local community members can drop in to get information and provide input that will help Port Metro Vancouver balance growth demands with the need to protect our environment and respect the quality of life of our neighbors,” Port Metro Vancouver President and Chief Executive Officer Robin Silvester said in a statement announcing the office.

The office is expected to open in late July at the Trenant Park Shopping Center in Ladner and is planned to be open 10 am to 6 pm Wednesday to Friday and from 10 am to 4 pm Saturdays. The hours may be adjusted in the future based on community interest.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said she was “extremely pleased” that the port was opening an office in Ladner.

“Port related activities and growth are a major source of interest for our community,” she said. “With the upcoming environmental assessment process for the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 expansion, this office will help to ensure timely and effective communications between Delta residents and Port Metro Vancouver.”

Maritime Achievement Awards

By Mark Edward Nero

The annual Puget Sound Maritime Achievement Award was presented this week at the annual Seattle Maritime Festival luncheon held aboard the cruise ship Carnival Miracle at the Port of Seattle's Pier 91 cruise terminal.

The award began in 1951 when the newly formed Puget Sound Maritime Press Association decided to honor maritime leaders deserving special recognition. Industry segments represented by past recipients include steamship lines and agents, tug and barge operators, passenger vessel operators, port authorities, stevedores, labor and government.

In the past, the award has recognized either a long and distinguished career or a specific achievement. This year's award went to Dr. Gary Stauffer, who not only led a long and distinguished career, but has been instrumental in guiding young men and women into maritime careers through his work with the Youth Maritime Training Association.

The award was presented by Stauffer's longtime friend and industry colleague, Ken Passe, who described some of Gary Stauffer's career and accomplishments.

Gary Stauffer attended the University of Washington where he earned a Master of Science degree focused on the population of Chinook salmon in the Green/Duwamish Rivers and, ultimately, his PhD on the development of a growth model for salmon in hatcheries.

He began his permanent federal career in 1973 with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), ultimately serving as the Director of the Resource Assessment and Conservation Engineering (RACE) Division.

Passe pointed out that in 2001, Stauffer was awarded the NOAA Administrator’s Award, for his role in the development of new research policies. In 2005, he was awarded a Department of Commerce Silver Medal for advancing Bering Sea research.

Stauffer retired in 2006 after 33 years, and was approached to assume the role of President of the all-volunteer Youth Maritime Training Association in 2006 from retiring founder Norm Manly. As YMTA President, Stauffer served on many maritime and education boards including Ballard Maritime Academy Board and the Propeller Club. He worked tirelessly, raising funds, reaching out to maritime education programs in the area. In 2011, Stauffer was recognized by a local television station as a Kids First Mentor because he spent a lot of his time giving back to the community through working with youth in both the Youth Maritime Training Association and Ballard High School Maritime Academy and connecting youngsters with prospective employers in all areas of the maritime industry.

The winner of the Seattle Propeller Club’s 2014 Public Official of the Year Award, also presented at the maritime Luncheon, is Representative Rick Larsen of Washington State’s 2nd Congressional District, encompassing the City of Everett and Bellingham, Island and San Juan counties, and part of Snohomish, Whatcom, and Skagit counties. This award recognizes the contributions and support of a local, state, or federal policymaker or public official who has demonstrated an understanding and appreciation for the regional maritime industry and those who earn a salary or wage from it.

Rep. Larsen, who has served as the member of Congress for Washington’s 2nd Congressional District for the past 13 years, was recognized for his leadership on the House Armed Services and Transportation & Infrastructure Committees in supporting key US-flag-maritime issues as the Jones Act, Maritime Security Program, Title XI shipbuilding financing, and fishing fleet recapitalization. Furthermore, Mr. Larsen is noted as a firm and persistent voice in Congress for promoting trade initiatives that will help assure cargo to our regional ports and government vessel construction and ship placement for Puget Sound bases.

“During my time in Congress I have always appreciated working with the maritime community, which is a critical component of the economy and culture of the Northwest. I am honored to receive this award. I look forward to continuing to make progress on issues like fleet recapitalization and Arctic policy that will grow our maritime industry,” Rep. Larsen said.

Previous award winners include Senators Gorton and Murray, Congressman Norm Dicks, Seattle Port Commissioners Pat Davis, Bill Bryant, and Gael Tarleton, along with state senator Ed Murray –prior to becoming Seattle’s current mayor.

The annual Maritime Festival Luncheon, attended by several hundred participants, is sponsored by Vigor Marine and presented by the Seattle Propeller Club and the Port of Seattle as part of the Seattle Maritime Festival.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Russia From My House

By Chris Philips, Managing Editor

Comedienne Tina Fey, impersonating then-governor Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live, said “I can see Russia from my house.” As a line, it’s a pretty good one, and got her the well-deserved laugh. As an observation on US Arctic policy, it’s not so funny.

The country’s national strategy for the Arctic includes a promise to keep the Arctic region peaceful, stable and free of conflict, but consists mostly of concerns over global warming and efforts to safeguard the world’s climate and fragile ecosystems. US policy further pledges to “…intelligently evolve our Arctic infrastructure and capabilities, including ice-capable platforms as needed.”

Those of us engaged in trade along the Pacific and Arctic coasts can certainly attest to the need to “intelligently evolve” our Arctic infrastructure, and that idea seems to have bipartisan support from our lawmakers, but so far no hard plans or funding.

Our neighbor to the immediate north, also an Arctic power, is actively engaged in a national shipbuilding effort, which includes a heavy-duty icebreaker, the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker. That ship will be built by Seaspan/Vancouver Shipyards and is expected to be delivered in 2017 for a current price tag of C$1.3 billion.

Meanwhile, our Arctic neighbors across the Pacific aren’t letting the grass grow under their feet, but are actively engaged in Arctic infrastructure development of a different sort.

In March, the Barents Observer reported that Russia had dropped 350 paratroopers over a Siberian island in a show of strength in Arctic conditions. The soldiers, dressed in new, specially designed 7-layer military gear, landed on the island after having undergone an Arctic survival training program.

According to the Observer, the Russian Northern Fleet reopened a shuttered airfield on the northern island in 2013, which included the involvement of three Navy vessels, including the Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser, seven support vessels and four nuclear-powered icebreakers (Russia currently has nine). The story says the newly reopened base will protect offshore oil and gas resources in the region and keep an eye on the growing number of ships sailing along the Northern Sea Route.

Two weeks later, the Barents Observer announced more Russian strategic Arctic military exercises to come in late 2014. The following paragraph from the story deserves to be printed in its entirety:
“Russia has over the last few years strengthened its military presence in the western part of the Arctic. New strategic submarines of the Borey-class were based in Gadzhiyevo naval base on the Kola Peninsula some few months ago. Many more submarines, including multi-purpose subs, are under construction and will be based close to neighboring Norway on the coast of the Barents Sea. The Northern fleet’s sailing along the Northern Sea route included the navy’s nuclear powered battle cruiser Pyotr Veliky last fall and Russian strategic bombers resumed flights both in the Arctic and along Norway’s northern coast a few years back and are now nearly a weekly recurrence.” (Barents Observer, March 28, 2014).

In mid-April, a television moderator for a Russian question and answer show asked Vladimir Putin if he was planning on invading Alaska, and joked that people were calling it “Ice Crimea.” The Russian leader joked that he wouldn’t want it (he also said that about Crimea), and besides, he’d have to pay Russian employees extra to live there.

For the time being, Mr. Putin is too busy in the Ukraine to be distracted by Alaska, but he’ll be holding exercises in the Arctic this fall, and will have a pretty big fleet stationed in Siberia by this time next year. Meanwhile, we’ll try to find the money to reactivate the icebreaker Polar Sea, talk some more about the possibility of developing a new icebreaker program, and hope the former Soviet satellites keep Russian-president-for-life Vladimir Putin busy for a few more years.

Trade Groups Urge Speedy Labor Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

On May 9, a broad coalition of industry trade groups sent a letter to the heads of the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore & Warehouse Union urging that a new labor contract be completed in an expeditious manner.

The letter, which was sent by dozens of groups, including the Retail Industry Leaders Association, American Trucking Associations, the California Trucking Association, Agriculture Transportation Coalition and Toy Industry Association, comes a month after the National Retail Federation sent its own letter to the PMA and ILWU urging a quick contract agreement.

The union and management are beginning talks to extend the current six-year labor contract, which ends June 30.

“Failure to reach an agreement will have serious economy-wide impacts,” the letter, which a total of 67 groups signed off on, reads in part. “The potential for disruptions in the flow of commerce at West Coast ports is creating uncertainty in a fragile economic climate and forcing many businesses to develop contingency plans that come at a significant cost to jobs and our economic competitiveness.”

The letter was spurred by a history of contentious talks between the PMA, which represents management, and ILWU, which represents about 13,600 port employees in California, Oregon and Washington. Both the 2008 and 2002 talks weren’t resolved until after the contracts’ expirations, and in 2002, the PMA launched an employer lockout that shut down the West Coast ports for 10 days and resulted in an estimated $1 billion-per-day loss to the industry.

“We urge you to stay at the negotiating table until a deal is reached even if negotiations extend beyond the current contract expiration,” the organizations’ letter states.

Panama Canal Workers End Strike

By Mark Edward Nero

Construction workers in Panama have ended a strike that had shut down work on the expansion of the Panama Canal for more than two weeks.

On May 8, Grupo Unidos por el Canal, the consortium expanding the waterway, said in a statement that work had partially resumed on the project and was expected to gradually return in the coming days.

About 700 construction workers walked off the job April 24 demanding higher wages and better working conditions. The strike not only put a halt to a project to build a third set of locks for the Panama Canal, but hundreds of other projects around the world run by the consortium.

The strike came just six days after the president of Panama and other officials inaugurated the $3.1 billion latest phase of the canal expansion project, which includes construction of a new ship lock system complex and new waterway bridge. The current lock system lifts ships of up to 85 feet to the main elevation of the Panama Canal and down again. The new locks could accommodate larger ships.

The consortium has not said whether the strike is expected to affect the targeted December 2015 completion date for the canal expansion. The finish date for the $5.25 billion has already been pushed back multiple times from the original time frame of October 2014.

Port Connector Road Closing for 2 Years

By Mark Edward Nero

As part of a project to build a replacement for the Gerald Desmond Bridge, the southbound I-710 (Long Beach) Freeway connector to westbound Ocean Boulevard/the Gerald Desmond Bridge closed May 10 so it can be demolished.

The ramp is expected to be out of commission for about two-and-a-half years.

The ramp’s demolition is required to lay the foundations of a new bridge that will replace the obsolete Gerald Desmond Bridge, and to build a new southbound I-710 Freeway connector ramp to the new passage. The new bridge is being built just north of the existing structure.

Construction work will include eventual demolition of the eastbound Ocean-to-northbound I-710 connection. Details of that closure are expected to be announced later this year.

With the connector closed, southbound I-710 traffic heading to Terminal Island is being diverted onto southbound Pico Avenue, then to an on-ramp that rejoins westbound Ocean to cross the Desmond Bridge. Detour signs are in place, and a temporary traffic light is being installed at the intersection of Pico and Pier D Street.

The $1 billion Desmond Bridge project consists of replacement of the current 45-year-old structure with a new state-of-the-art span. The new, still-unnamed structure is expected to be finished in 2016.
The new bridge is designed to be higher from the water and have more traffic lanes than the present bridge.

Crowley Named One of Healthiest Companies in US

By Mark Edward Nero

Crowley Maritime Corp. has been named one of the “Healthiest Companies in America” by wellness management company Interactive Health.

Out of an eligible 1,400 groups, Crowley was one of 68 honorees from across the United States recognized for their efforts to prioritize employee wellness and create an ongoing culture of health. This is the first year Crowley has won the award.

The “Healthiest Companies in America” award is given to organizations across America that have achieved company-wide low health risk status while sustaining high employee participation in their wellness programs.

The selection process analyzes biometric screening results to choose winning organizations that demonstrated improved overall employee health across the following key health indicators: glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol and tobacco usage.

Crowley’s wellness program, called “Live Well” offers tools, resources and benefits to keep employees and their families healthy, such as annual health evaluations, monthly newsletters, health interest groups and webinars, online health challenges, gym and weight loss reimbursement programs, healthier on-site food options and support for employee wellness activities.

“The ‘Live Well’ goal is to promote the health and wellness of our people by creating a work environment that nurtures all dimensions of wellness while heightening engagement, reinforcing healthy behaviors, increasing performance and controlling health care expenditures,” Crowley’s manager of employee programs, Katy Keene, said.