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Friday, June 27, 2014

BAE Systems Awarded $14 Million for Ferry Maintenance

By Mark Edward Nero

The San Diego branch of BAE Systems Ship Repair, has been awarded a $14 million modification to a previously awarded contract for USS Harpers Ferry fiscal year 2014 “phased maintenance availability.”

The 11.6-ton, 610-foot long USS Harpers Ferry was built by Avondale Shipyard, which is now part of the Northrup Grumman Corp. The vessel was commissioned in 1995 and has been homeported in San Diego since 2011.

According to the US Dept. of Defense, the "phased maintenance availability" includes the planning and execution of depot-level maintenance, alterations and modifications that will “update and improve the ship’s military and technical capabilities.”

The Southwest Regional Maintenance Center in San Diego is the contracting agency. The work, which will be performed in San Diego, is expected to be completed by November 2014.

Fiscal year 2014 operations and maintenance other procurement funding in the amount of $14,772,006 have been obligated for the contract, according to the DoD.

Study: Port Shutdowns Could Cost Billions Daily

By Mark Edward Nero

A new study shows the US economy could lose as much as $2.5 billion a day if a prolonged shutdown of West Coast ports occurs as a result of failed labor contract negotiations.

The study, conducted by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the National Retail Federation (NRF) by economists at the Interindustry Forecasting Project at the University of Maryland, found that the economic repercussions of a port closure would grow with time.

“A protracted dispute between the negotiating parties could lead to reduced or shuttered terminal operations for an extended period,” the study, which was released June 26, warned. “If such disruptions occur, the economic impact would be significant and widespread.”

According to the study, a five-day stoppage would reduce gross domestic product by $1.9 billion a day; disrupt 73,000 jobs; and cost the average household $81 in purchasing power.

A 10-day stoppage, the study concludes, would reduce GDP by $2.1 billion a day; disrupt 169,000 jobs; and cost the average household $170 in purchasing power.

A 20-day stoppage would reduce GDP $2.5 billion a day; disrupt 405,000 jobs; and cost the average household $366 in purchasing power, according to the study.

“It is important for the parties at the table as well as others to fully understand the economic consequences of a port disruption,” NRF President/CEO Matthew Shay said. “Any supply chain disruption, whether it’s a port slowdown or outright stoppage, would cripple international trade.”

Negotiations began in mid-May between Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore & Warehouse Union for a new contract agreement covering 13,600 dockworkers at 30 ports stretching from Southern California to Northern Washington state.

The current six-year contract’s set to expire June 30, but neither side has indicated that a new deal is imminent. The last major West Coast port disruption occurred in 2002, when management locked out dockworkers for 10 days until then-President George W. Bush ordered the two sides back to work under the Taft-Hartley Act. That shutdown was estimated to have cost the US economy several billion dollars.

Vancouver USA Hires Ops Manager

By Mark Edward Nero

Cowlitz County Public Works Director Kent Cash has been hired as the Chief Operations Manager for the Port of Vancouver USA, he said June 25.

Cash, who has been with the county for more than two decades, announced his departure in a prepared statement.

“I am very fortunate to have worked for the past 21 years with staff that is committed to providing exceptional public service on a daily basis,” Cash said in the statement.

The port, which began advertising the operations manager position in late May, has yet to comment on the hire.

In his new job, Cash will have overall responsibility for the port’s operations department, which includes supervision of the port’s Terminal Manager, Facilities Manager, Chief of Security, Project Delivery Manager, Real Estate Manager, Engineering Manager and Safety/Risk Manager.

The Chief Operations Manager also has the overall operational and budget responsibility for terminal operations, security, facilities, property management, project delivery and engineering, and is tasked with overseeing short and long-term strategic capital improvement programs for the port.

Cash said he’s expected to depart Cowlitz County in early July and begin at the port not long after.

Port of LA Unveils New Downtown Harbor

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Los Angeles on June 20 unveiled a new public centerpiece for its waterfront: Downtown Harbor and Town Square, located on Harbor Boulevard, between Fifth and Sixth Streets in San Pedro. The area, situated between the World Cruise Center and Ports O’ Call Village at the foot of the San Pedro Historic Waterfront District, Downtown Harbor is a new public harbor and plaza that connects the waterfront to downtown San Pedro.

The project, which took over two years to build, opens up 1.2 acres of existing waterfront between Fire Station 112 and the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. The space, which was previously a parking lot, has been transformed with a new harbor inlet for recreational vessels to dock for free for up to four hours. Surrounding the inlet is a public plaza and pedestrian promenade.

“The completion of Downtown Harbor is a major step forward as we continue to enhance the LA Waterfront experience for residents and visitors,” LA Harbor Commission President Vilma Martinez said. Construction began in March 2012 at a total cost of $32 million. The water cut was designed by Tetra-IBI Group and AECOM, and the town square was designed by Moffatt & Nichol.

The town square also features a public plaza and open amphitheater for community events, including the upcoming Tall Ships Festival, scheduled to kick off Aug. 20.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Seaman Killed at LA Port

By Mark Edward Nero

A crew member of a container ship was found dead onboard a ship at the Port of Los Angeles, with the cause eventually being determined as blunt force trauma to the head after a cable broke on a ship while containers were being moved.

The body of the unidentified 39-year-old Filipino man, who was employed by German company Hamburg Süd, was found at 10:45 pm June 18. The estimated time of death was between 10:15 and 10:30 pm, according to port police.

The man was working on the Cap Posada cargo vessel, which originated in Vancouver, Canada and arrived at Berth 36 at the port’s TraPac terminal the afternoon of June 17.

The vessel departed for New Zealand on June 19 after a 10-hour delay as authorities investigated the matter. The accident was the second serious incident within just a few days at the port. On June 16, a worker fell about 25 feet into the cargo hold of a ship docked at the port’s Berth 209, and suffered back and leg injuries.

The unidentified crew member, in his late 50s, fell into a small area two levels below deck of the 623-foot bulk cargo vessel Navios Vector, a Panama-flagged vessel, according to the Los Angeles Fire Dept.

According to LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey, the crew member injured on June 16 was rescued after about two hours, then taken to a local hospital for treatment of leg and back injuries.

Desmond Bridge Replacement Delayed
12-18 Months

By Mark Edward Nero

The project to replace the aging Gerald Desmond Bridge at the Port of Long Beach will take at least a year longer than previously thought, say port officials.

During the June 23rd Board of Harbor Commissioners meeting, POLB Acting Executive Director Al Moro, an engineer by trade, said several factors will delay the project, including the need for more extensive reviews and calculations. “This is a complex design,” Moro said. Completion of the still-unnamed new bridge was set for late 2016 and is now expected to be complete anywhere from late 2017 to mid-2018.

The new bridge is being built just south of the current bridge. When the new bridge is completed, the old bridge is to be demolished.

Among the new bridge’s planned features are three traffic lanes in both directions, compared to the two lanes in each direction on the existing bridge. The span of the new bridge would also offer a 200-foot mean high water level clearance underneath, as opposed to the 156-foot clearance of the existing bridge.

The replacement bridge is being funded by a combination of federal and state funds, with the port providing between 10 percent and 15 percent of the total cost. The project, originally projected to cost over $1 billion to complete, is expected to have its price tag raised, although Moro did not say by how much.

A revised estimate of costs is expected to be provided by the bridge’s designer in July, Moro said.

The Gerald Desmond Bridge, which opened in 1968, is a main egress point for trucks into the port. Upwards of 60,000 vehicles a day cross its four traffic lane, 1,200-foot-long span, located over the port’s main channel.

P3 Shipping Alliance Abandoned

By Mark Edward Nero

Plans by containership operators Mediterranean Shipping Co, CMA CGM and Maersk Line to form an alliance have been abandoned after their proposal was rejected by China’s Ministry of Commerce.

The P3 Alliance was announced in June 2013 as a long-term operational vessel sharing agreement on routes covering Asia to Europe as well as transpacific and transatlantic routes to the United States, with an overall aim of making container liner shipping more efficient and improving service quality for the shippers.

Although receiving approvals from US and European officials earlier this year, the Chinese Ministry announced its disapproval June 17 after an anti-monopoly investigation.

During the investigation, the Ministry of Commerce informed the Alliance that its formation would adversely impact competition, and that the two sides had “several consultations on how to reduce the adverse impact of the concentration of undertakings to competition.”

Although the Alliance submitted “several remedy plans” to alleviate the Ministry’s concerns, the Ministry of Commerce eventually concluded that there was “no legal basis and convincing evidence” to support the remedy plans. “Therefore, according to the Anti-monopoly Law of People’s Republic of China, Ministry of Commerce decided to forbid this concentration of undertakings,” the Ministry said in a statement explaining its actions.

Following China’s decision, the Alliance members said they had ceased preparatory work on the coalition, which had expected to start operating later this year.

“We have delivered very good results on a stand-alone basis, and there are no reasons why we should not continue,” Møller-Mærsk Chief Executive Nils Andersen said, adding he didn’t rule out smaller alliances, or capacity adjustments, in the wake of the P3 rejection.

In a prepared statement, Mediterranean Shipping said it would review its options.

“We are disappointed by the decision of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce but will continue our efforts to operate more efficiently,” MSC Vice President Diego Aponte said in the statement. “We could have achieved these efficiencies much faster through P3, but with our investment in more fuel efficient vessels, further economies of scale will still be achieved over a period of time.”

Deal Off for Vancouver Potash Export Facility

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Vancouver USA has allowed an agreement for exclusive use of nearly 100 acres at the port’s Terminal 5 to expire on June 16, meaning the property will not be used by BHP Billiton as the site for a potash export facility.

The exclusivity agreement between the port and Australian company BHP Billiton was included in a lease, and was one of three definitive agreements the two parties entered into in February 2012. The two other agreements included a site improvement agreement and an entry agreement. All three contracts expired June 16. A final lease between the parties was not signed.

In a statement released on the matter, the port said the decision by it and BHP Billiton to allow the agreement to lapse enables the port to “move forward on developing a prime piece of property and, at the same time, keeps the option open to continue discussions with BHP Billiton about locating a potash export facility” at the Port of Vancouver at a later point.

“Fortunately, we have multiple properties, including Columbia Gateway, that could support this project, which enables us to be flexible,” Port of Vancouver CEO Todd Coleman said. “And because our relationship with BHP Billiton remains positive, we’re in a strong position to work with them in the future.”

Because the Terminal 5 land is no longer under an exclusivity agreement with BHP Billiton, the port is now able to market the 218-acre property for other uses.

“We’re confident that we can find a new tenant for Terminal 5 in the near future,” Coleman said. “It’s an extremely attractive property due to its size and access to river, road and rail transportation.”