Friday, September 19, 2014

USCG Provides Propulsion Loss, Fuel Switching Guidance

By Mark Edward Nero

With deep draft vessels in and around California waters continuing to experience loss of propulsion accidents, the US Coast Guard is taking steps to increase awareness of recent loss of propulsion cases and provide general guidance, based on lessons learned, to help prevent future incidents.

Between June 2013 and June 2014, the USCG says, there were 93 loss of propulsion incidents – with 15 found to be related to fuel switching – in Coast Guard District 11. The district includes California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah as well as the coastal and offshore waters out over a thousand miles, and the offshore waters of Mexico and Central America down to South America.

An extensive analysis of loss of propulsion incidents in California, the USCG says, revealed that the leading causes include: general mechanical issues, lack of maintenance, start air system issues including insufficient start air pressure and issues with fuel oil systems.

Advanced planning and preventive maintenance are critical to the proper operation of a vessel’s main engine and prevention of losses of propulsion, the USCG states. In order to manage risk and improve safety, vessel owners and operators have been advised by the Coast Guard in a new marine safety bulletin to:
  • Ensure manufacturer’s technical publications are onboard and sufficient equipment/spare parts are available to perform routine preventive maintenance;
  • Establish a rigorous inspection and maintenance schedule;
  • Ensure engine components are maintained in serviceable condition and operated per manufacturer’s guidelines, particularly start air valves and fuel system seals, gaskets, flanges, fittings, brackets and supports;
  • Conduct initial familiarization and periodic crew training on pertinent systems and IMO/U.S./State requirements;
  • Exercise tight control, when possible, over the quality of fuel oils received;
  • Ensure fuel system components are operational, including flow indicators, pressure/temperature alarms, etc.;
  • Ensure a detailed fuel system diagram is available and posted in vicinity of pertinent systems, and;
  • Ensure start air supply is sufficient and fully charged prior to maneuvering.

The marine safety bulletin, which was developed by the District 11 Prevention Division in Alameda, Calif., is for informational purposes and doesn’t relieve vessel owners/operators from any domestic or international safety, operational or material requirement, according to the USCG.

Town Hall Meeting on SoCal Maritime Industry Scheduled

By Mark Edward Nero

The Center for International Trade & Transportation is conducting a free town hall-style meeting Wed., Oct. 15 on changing trends and the future of the maritime shipping industry in Southern California.

The CITT is a collaborative effort dedicated to the development, distillation and broad dissemination of objective information about the goods movement industry. It’s based at California State University, Long Beach.

The latest in its annual town hall meeting events on the maritime industry is scheduled for 6 pm to 8 pm in the Carpenter Performing Arts Center at California State University, 6200 Atherton Street, Long Beach, Calif. Admission and parking are free.

This year’s theme is “Global Trends, Local Impacts, Big Decisions,” and scheduled panelists for the roundtable discussion include: Jon Slangerup, the newly installed chief executive at the Port of Long Beach; Peter Friedmann, Washington DC, on behalf of three organizations: the Pacific Coast Council--Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Associations, Coalition of New England Companies for Trade, and Agriculture Transportation Coalition; and Bobby Olvera Jr., president of International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 13.

The scheduled panel moderator is Port of Hueneme CEO Kristen Decas.
For more information on the event, call the CITT office at (562) 985-2872 or visit

POLB Monthly Cargo Numbers Slip

By Mark Edward Nero

Container cargo shipments declined by 9.1 percent at the Port of Long Beach in August, something the port says is partially a reflection of early shipping by importers this year.

A total of 573,083 TEUs were moved through the port in August 2014. Imports dropped 8.2 percent to 300,851 TEUs and exports declined 17.7 percent to 126,856 TEUs compared to the same month in 2013. The volume of empty containers being sent overseas to be refilled fell two percent to 145,376 TEUs.

The downturn last month followed a surge in Long Beach from April through June 2014, when retailers shipped their products early ahead of the expiration of the longshore contract at the end of June.

Last month’s year-over-year numbers also suffer by comparison to an August last year that was the port’s busiest month since 2007. August 2013 kicked off the typical August through October peak shipping season, during which overseas companies typically export goods to the US in time for the holidays. The port says it believes that this year’s peak season may have occurred earlier this year.

The first eight months of 2014 saw a one percent increase in volume compared to the same period in 2013. Last year was the third-busiest year in port history with a total of 6.73 million TEUs.

So far for the fiscal year to date, Long Beach has seen 6.1 million containers, up from six million during the same 11-month period during FY 2013.

More details on the port’s cargo numbers are available at

Port Industry Meeting Challenge of Much Larger Vessels

By Luis Mota

The Port of Long Beach’s Acting Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Noel Hacegaba, has published a white paper, Big Ships, Big Challenges, on the competitive impact that a new generation of mega container cargo ships is having on US port authorities.

“The deployment of these mega ships presents physical, financial and operational challenges that must be met by port authorities across the country,” Hacegaba writes.

“Even for ports that will not see the mega vessels call at their ports any time soon, the arrival of the larger ships is creating a cascading effect in which the ships being replaced by mega vessels are being deployed in the smaller trade lanes. Thus, the strain of larger vessels has the potential to affect all ports, big and small.”

Dr. Hacegaba notes that the average size of container ships has grown considerably in recent years, and the trend is likely to continue for years to come.

According to Dr. Hacegaba’s report, ports around the country are spending $46 billion in capital improvements. Shipping companies are ordering larger ships to meet demand, while cutting the operational costs they would otherwise incur by sending cargo on multiple trips. As a result, ports of all sizes are struggling to ready themselves to handle the larger vessels. Hacegaba states that regardless of a port’s size, they face a demand to handle a larger class of vessels. In the coming years it is projected that smaller vessels will be put out of service to make way for larger ones. But the largest ships will go to the biggest ports, while today’s larger ships will switch to smaller ports.

For the vessel operators, the major investments in larger ships is straining their resources, so ocean carrier alliances and consolidations are also being forged as a result. While this is not new to the maritime industry, Hacegaba points out that they are “providing financial uncertainty for port authorities.” The newly aligned or consolidated vessel operators may move to different ports. A smaller port may spend millions on fixing its infrastructure, and then lose a major tenant.

Regardless, he says, smaller ports that don’t upgrade infrastructure, because of their struggle for funding, may face losing business as small-sized fleets are phased out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ocean and Coastal Towing

By Jim Shaw

The ocean and coastal towing sector on the West Coast is usually seen as the rather routine business of moving barges, plus the occasional dead ship, coastwise and to and from the 49th and 50th states, but the energy industry is changing all of that, as is ATB development. A large number of ATB units have been built on the Gulf Coast over the years, including several giants for Crowley Maritime, but the ATB wave is now breaking strongly on the Pacific Coast, with the Gunderson and Vigor yards at Portland contracted to build ATB barges of 183,000 barrels capacity and higher, the largest ever built on the Pacific. At the same time, the Nichols Brothers yard at Freeland, Washington has won contracts to build a series of new 10,000-hp pushtugs for the largest of these barges, destined for Kirby, with the overall design being furnished by Guarino & Cox of Covington, Louisiana. Each of the Nichols-built tugs will be powered by twin EMD 20-710G7C-T3 diesels, with a continuous rating of 5,000 bhp each, and will be capable of pushing as well as towing in open ocean conditions.

Open ocean towing will also be the principal activity of three tugs Foss Maritime is having built on the Columbia River by the company's own yard at Rainier. Their first employment is expected to be long trans-Pacific tows of petroleum equipment bound from the Far East to Alaska's north coast. Foss is also having a new deck barge completed by Gunderson for Alaska deployment and this unit will also be used to support the petroleum industry, indication that the energy sector will strongly drive tug and barge development for some time to come.

The "Arctic" Class
Foss has been steadily preparing for growth in the Arctic region and its new 132-foot Arctic-class tugs will have ice strengthened hulls and twin Caterpillar C280-8 mains that will meet all environmental standards. In addition, there will be no ballast tanks carried, thus eliminating the chance that invasive species might be transported, and holding tanks for black and gray water will be provided to permit operations in "no discharge zones." Energy efficient LED lighting will also be used where possible and all hydraulic systems will be compatible with biodegradable oil. Fuel, water and provision capacities will allow for nonstop voyages in excess of 3,000 nautical miles.

Seattle's Markey Machinery is supplying direct diesel-drive towing winches for the ABS classed vessels, along with a tow wire monitoring system. Designed with the assistance of Seattle's Glosten Associates to achieve well in excess of 100 metric tons of bollard pull, the new tugs are expected to be first employed to tow building modules from South Korea to several of the more remote ocean oil fields in the Arctic, with the first of the new boats, Michele Marie, projected to be completed by the end of this year and to make her first tow to Alaska next spring. Sister tugs Denise Lynn and Nicole Kathleen will follow.

An Arctic Barge
In the barge sector, Foss is having a 360-foot by 120-foot ocean-going deck barge built by Portland-based Gunderson Marine for delivery later this year. Gary Faber, Foss' president of global services, notes that the new unit will be particularly useful in Alaska where energy activity is picking up. "This barge will further connect us to the shallow draft regions of the Arctic," Faber said. "It allows us to move modules and cargo more safely, almost anywhere in the world, which adds tremendous value to our existing fleet."

The new barge's first Foss job is expected to occur in early 2015, when the Seattle company will perform a second sealift of oil and gas infrastructure to Point Thomson on Alaska's North Slope. According to Faber, the barge will likely be towed from South Korea by the first of the three Arctic-class tugs being constructed by the company's Rainier, Oregon yard. "With increased activity on the North Slope we continue to add to our Alaska capabilities," he noted. "Along with our new Arctic-class tugs, this barge will add yet another valuable asset."

Gunderson Builds ATB Barges
Besides the Foss barge, Gunderson has won contracts covering the construction of two new 578-foot articulated oceangoing oil and chemical tank barges for Houston-based Kirby Offshore Marine, with completion of the first unit scheduled before the end of next year and the second to follow in mid-2016. The ATB barges will have a capacity of 185,000-bbls each, making them the biggest ATB barge units to be built on the coast to date.

According to Joe Pyne, Kirby chairman and chief executive officer, the new ATB sets will cost approximately $75 million each to build, with the push tugs to be furnished by Washington State's Nichols Brothers Boat Builders. Pyne noted that the twin sets have been ordered because of "consistently strong coastal tank barge demand, utilization and increasing pricing." Kirby is also having 66 new inland tank barges and one inland towboat built along the Mississippi River and on the Gulf Coast plus two 155,000-barrel capacity ATB barges and two 6,000 HP pushtugs at Wisconsin's Bay Shipbuilding Company.

Previous to the Kirby and Foss contracts, the Gunderson yard had turned out the 380-foot by 96-foot deck barge Polar Trader for Seattle-based Northland Services and the 362-foot by 105-foot deck barge Columbia for Coos Bay, Oregon's Sause Bros. In addition, two 216-foot by 52-foot wood chip barges were finished for Washington's Dunlap Towing and two 200-foot by 54-foot deck barges completed for Seattle's General Construction.

Vigor Fab Builds ATB Barges
Down-river from the Gunderson yard the Vigor Fab facility on Swan Island has won a contract to build two 83,000 bbl. capacity tank barges for Seattle's Harley Marine Services, with both 422-foot by 76-foot units also to be configured for ATB operation. Designed by the Elliott Bay Design Group, the twin units will be among the largest vessels operated by Harley when delivered in the spring of 2015 and the summer of 2015. They will follow an ATB barge of nearly the same capacity being built by Zidell at Portland, and to be pushed by a 4,070-hp tug being completed by Conrad Industries on the Gulf Coast.

Vigor itself has launched construction of the first of three push tugs it is building for Vancouver, Washington-based Tidewater Barge Lines, the first newbuildings Tidewater has ordered in nearly three decades. Designed by CT Marine of Edgecomb, Maine, the state-of-the-art vessels have been designed specifically for service on the Columbia/Snake river system, which Tidewater serves as far inland as Lewiston, Idaho. Each of the 102-foot by 38-foot tugs will be powered by twin EPA Tier III compliant Caterpillar 3516 diesels of a combined 4500-hp. Earlier this year the Vigor yard delivered the 4,050-cubic-yard capacity split-hull dump bargeFreedom to Tacoma, Washington-headquartered American Construction Company (see Pacific Maritime Magazine, February 2014) and, prior to that, the 250-foot by 70-foot deck barge Iliuliuk Bay to Harley Marine.

Hyak's Towing Tugs
Across the Columbia River, at Vancouver, Washington, the JT Marine Shipyard has completed two ocean-going tugboats, the 120-foot by 35-foot twins Hawaii and Washington, for Hyak Maritime, with both vessels now operating under charter to Crowley Marine Services. These boats make use of a pair of medium-speed General Electric 8L250 EPA Tier II diesels driving Schottel FP1515 azimuthing stern drives, the combination giving them a free running speed of 14.5 knots and a bollard pull of about 82 tons. Their design is based on the successful Titan class tugs which Seattle-based naval architects Jensen Maritime developed in conjunction with Seattle towing operator Western Towboat a number of years ago.

The success of this class in strenuous ocean towing is evidenced by the fact that Western Towboat is currently constructing its seventh Titan class at Seattle while JT Marine is building its third Titan for Hyak. This boat, to be christened Montana, will differ from the previous two by making use of a Markey series TESD-34 100HP double drum electric winch at the stern. This equipment is rated for 2,500 feet of 2 1/4-inch wire rope on each drum and features a line-pull of up to 183,000 lbs. and a drum brake capacity of 293,000 lbs. The two previous tugs make use of JonRie 500 double drum towing winches outfitted with 2,400 feet of 1/4-inch wire on the primary drum, and 1,800 feet of 2-inch wire on the secondary drum.

An ATB Shows its Worth
In normal applications articulated tug/barge units traditionally remain coupled together in a commercial cargo move but Foss Maritime demonstrated this past year that advantage can also be taken of their ability to be safely uncoupled. Queried by a petroleum company if it could safely deliver a large prototype drilling rig from China to a shallow draft harbor in the Arabian Gulf, Foss drew on its previous experience with the particular harbor in question, which it had done a congestion study on two years ago, and then asked Seattle's Glosten Associates to prepare a harbor entry and berthing simulation using Foss' ATB barge Mariner. Normally coupled to the pushtug Strong (thus "Strong Mariner") the bow-door equipped barge met two key elements of the project, namely that it could accommodate all of the parts of an 11,022 cubic meter oil rig and deliver such parts in under five meters (16.5 feet) of water while berthed at a pier designed for a much smaller vessel.

After considerable berthing studies and load measurements, the ATB loaded the rig, Abu Dhabi National Drilling Company's ND66, at Zhanjiang, China in August of last year, an operation taking 13 days, then set sail for Abu Dhabi. Once off the discharge port the barge was separated from its pushtug and taken in hand by three smaller tugs furnished by the locally-based National Marine Dredging Company and maneuvered to its berth. Once secured, the rig was offloaded from the barge in five days. Because of the success of this operation, Foss was awarded a second contract to move another rig to the same location. This time the load-out was accomplished at Shanghai, China in under four days while discharge near the original location took less than two days. With two successful moves under its belt, Foss is continuing to work with ExxonMobil and the Japan Oil Development Company on ways it can continue to assist in this project.

Towing in the Gulf
Closer to home, Crowley Maritime has been very busy with towing operations in the Gulf of Mexico where it has completed a number of high profile moves for the petroleum industry, all accomplished using its recently completed Ocean-class tugs and high deck-strength 455 series barges. Last year, the Crowley tugs successfully delivered the Olympus platform and Lucius spar to a location in the US Gulf, the move undertaken in three stages, both nearshore and offshore (see Pacific Maritime Magazine, December 2013).

Earlier this year, Crowley equipment was again called upon to move and deliver the Jack/St. Malo facility from Ingleside, Texas to a position between the Jack and St. Malo offshore oil and natural gas fields where the unit was connected to its moorings and made storm-safe in more than 7,000 feet of water. To undertake this task Crowley employed its 455-series barge Julie Bas well as the tugs Ocean Wind, Ocean Wave and Ocean Sun. During the first stage of the move, the rig's topsides were skidded onto Julie B and later lifted and installed onto the hull of the Jack/St. Malo, which was then moved into deep water by the tugsOcean Wind and Ocean Wave, with Ocean Sun providing escort.

The Crowley-contracted tug Harvey War Horse II then helped move the platform to its final location, with the 455-series barge455 7 and third-party barge Marmac 400 following under tow of Crowley tugs Warrior and Pilot, both loaded with piles to serve as anchors for the platform. In addition, the barge Marty J, towed byPilot, made three subsequent trips to the installation site to deliver additional equipment. This included chains, connectors and line reels that were used in the mooring of the facility. "This was another successful pairing of Crowley's new Ocean-class tugboats and high-deck strength barges," said Crowley's John Ara, vice president, Solutions, concerning the complicated move. "We look forward to utilizing these specialized teams and assets in projects in the future."

PNW Ports Receive Environmental Awards

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Portland and Port of Tacoma have been named among the recipients of the American Association of Port Authorities’ Environmental Achievement Awards for their efforts to better understand initiatives and trends in environmental protection and enhancement at ports around the globe.

The Port of Portland won in the Stakeholder Awareness, Education & Involvement category after it teamed with the International Institute for Sustainable Seaports on an initiative to increase awareness of the role seaports around the globe play in implementing a broad array of environmental initiatives at seaports across the globe.

The initiative’s resulting white paper, entitled Environmental Initiatives at Seaports Worldwide: A Snapshot of Best Practices, was first released in 2010. It addressed the geographic, community, financial and regulatory drivers that impact port decision-making related to sustainability through an assessment of current environmental management initiatives.

In 2013, the port and I2S2 partnered again to create an updated version of the white paper, adding new information about environmental initiatives at seaports and assessing trends within the industry since the first white paper was developed.

The Port of Tacoma received an award in the Comprehensive Environmental Management category for its work that was detailed in paper entitled Biofiltration: West Hylebos Log Yard.

In 2010, the port was confronted with a dilemma: bring the runoff from its log dock into compliance with stringent stormwater regulations in a cost-effective manner, or risk shuttering its lumber operations and the 40 jobs it supports.

To meet the challenge, the port devised a plan to design and create a $2.7 million treatment facility. The resulting treatment facility delivered an innovative, economical solution by mimicking nature’s own filtering processes which to date reduces pollution loads by 92 percent and counting.

Portland and Tacoma were among four award winners, with the others being Port Tampa Bay and the Georgia Ports Authority. The ports were recognized Nov. 13 at AAPA’s 103rd Annual Convention and Exposition.

Report: Cruise Lines Important to US Economy

By Mark Edward Nero

New data released by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Sept. 15 show that the North American cruise industry continued to expand in 2013, generating employment, income and other economic benefits throughout the US economy.

“This study shows the cruise industry is an important economic contributor, supporting businesses and jobs across America, from travel agents who help their clients select from a diverse array of exciting cruise choices, to the businesses in every state that provide products and services to cruise lines,” CLIA President and CEO Christine Duffy said in a statement announcing the findings.

Duffy noted that on a global basis, over the ten years from 2003 to 2013, demand for cruising worldwide increased 77 percent, from 12 million to 21.3 million passengers. Globally, cruise industry expenditures generated $117 billion in total output, requiring 891,009 full-time equivalent employees who earned $38.47 billion in income.

The report found that total contributions of the cruise industry to the US economy in 2013 reached a record $44.1 billion and that the cruise industry supported 363,133 US jobs, paying wages of $18.3 billion.

The study also found that nearly 10 million cruise passengers embarked at US ports, representing 57 percent of the North American cruise industry’s global embarkations; and that US-based direct spending by cruise lines, passengers, and crew totaled $20.1 billion, nearly double expenditures made in 2000.

Although California had more than 600,000 embarkations in 2013, Florida was the center of cruising in the United States, with its five cruise ports accounting for nearly 62 percent of all US embarkations during the year.

An executive summary and the full study are available online at

POLA August Container Volumes Up Nearly 7 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

Overall containerized cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles increased 6.7 percent in August 2014 compared to August 2013, according to newly-released data.

Total Port of LA cargo for August was 757,702 TEUs, making it the busiest single month at the port since August 2010, according to the data.

The increased volume is attributed by the Port of Los Angeles to peak season shipping as well as larger vessels calling at the port.

Container imports increased 7.8 percent last month compared to the same month a year ago rising from 355,682 TEUs in August 2013 to 383,551 TEUs in August 2014. Exports rose 6.16 percent during the time period, going from 158,484 TEUs in August 2013 to 168,248 TEUs in August 2014.

Combined, total loaded imports and exports increased 7.3 percent, from 514,167 TEUs in August 2013 to 551,799 TEUs in August 2014. Factoring in empties, which increased 5.3 percent year over year, the overall August 2014 volume of 757,702 TEUs was a jump of 6.7 percent compared to August 2013’s 709,675TEUs.

For the first eight months of calendar year 2014, the POLA’s overall volume of 5.52 million TEUs represents an increase of 7.61 percent compared to the same period in 2013.

Current and past data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles can be found on the port’s website at:

Seattle Commission Formally Appoints Port CEO

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Seattle Commission on Sept. 11 voted to formally appoint Ted J. Fick as the port’s new Chief Executive Officer; his selection was announced in August. Fick officially takes over for the retiring Tay Yoshitani on Sept. 29.

“I am ready to dig in to the complex competitive challenges facing the port – and to working with such a skilled team of commissioners, executives and staff. I look forward to all that we will accomplish together,” Fick said.

Fick has over 25 years of leadership experience in major manufacturing and transportation organizations – including oversight of international operations. He spent many years working in the Puget Sound region’s manufacturing and industrial community, beginning at his family’s Tacoma-based company, Fick Foundry. He then spent many years with one of the Pacific Northwest’s primary manufacturers, PACCAR, holding leadership positions in both PACCAR and their Kenworth division.

He left the Pacific Northwest in 2000, and has since held multiple leadership positions in transportation and manufacturing companies. Most recently, he served as CEO of Polar Corp., a $475 million trailer and component parts manufacturer in Minnesota. In that job, he oversaw three operating divisions, multiple manufacturing plants and a workforce of over 2,000 represented and non-represented employees.

Commissioners said they were excited to see how his expertise in successfully guiding organizations through changing competitive environments will bring new ideas and energy to the port.

“Ted understands and appreciates the challenges facing the port,” Commission Co-President Courtney Gregoire said. “He also immediately demonstrated to us where he saw opportunities within those challenges, opportunities for making the port stronger and more competitive and for generating new jobs and growth for our region.”