Friday, October 10, 2014

Fidley Watch: A Gentle Breeze

By Chris Philips, Managing Editor

As many as 350 thousand people, emitting as much as 225 metric tons per day of carbon dioxide, converged on New York City late last month to take part in the People’s Climate March, protesting carbon dioxide and its terrible effects on the planet.

Among those present were climate activist and actor Leonardo DiCaprio and climate alarmist and former US Vice President Al Gore, who arrived separately by private jet.

Also on-hand were billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer from California, US Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland. The peaceful protest snarled traffic and left thousands of pounds of trash in its wake.

Speaking at a nearby conference, US Secretary of State John Kerry likened the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, at levels with which he is not comfortable, to the threats of Ebola in West Africa and Islamic extremists in the Middle East, saying global warming “…has even greater longer-term consequences that can cost hundreds of billions, trillions of dollars, lives, and the security of the world.”

You don’t have to take his word for it, Kerry said, or Al Gore’s. “You can just wake up pretty much any day and listen to Mother Nature, who is screaming at us about it.”

Well, it is an election year, after all.

Meanwhile, out West, cooler heads prevail. A study on the effects of all those protesters breathing carbon dioxide on our screaming earth has determined it’s really only natural. According to the new NOAA-sponsored study by two former University of Washington scientists, the rise in temperatures along the West Coast over the past century is almost entirely due to naturally occurring environmental forces, not human emissions of greenhouse gases.

Nate Mantua, now with NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and Jim Johnstone, formerly with the UW’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Oceans, published the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study says wind – specifically natural, wind-driven climate patterns in the Pacific Ocean, such as El NiƱo and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation – is responsible for more than 80 percent of the warming from Northern California to the Pacific Northwest.

Changes in ocean circulation as a result of weaker winds were the main cause of about 1 degree Fahrenheit of warming in the northeast Pacific Ocean and nearby coastal land between 1900 and 2012, according to the analysis of ocean and air temperatures over that time.

The authors determined that those temperatures would have been different if global warming had been the most powerful influence on land and sea temperatures. Most of the warming in the region occurred before 1940, when greenhouse gas concentrations were lower and winds were weaker, the study found. In contrast, winds have strengthened since 1980 and coastal ocean cooled, even as the rise in greenhouse gases has accelerated.

“It’s a simple story, but the results are very surprising: We do not see a human hand in the warming of the West Coast,” said co-author Nate Mantua. “That is taking people by surprise, and may generate some blowback.”

Blowback indeed. While most of us aren’t surprised at the findings, it remains to be seen how this new information will affect the maritime industry and the millions (or billions) of dollars it spends annually in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint. To be sure, the reduction of pollutants is an important and worthy goal, but only if those pollutants are actually known to be hazardous.

It turns out, then, that carbon dioxide, in spite of having been classed as a hazard to human health by the Environmental Protection Agency, probably isn’t as bad as Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Gore and John Kerry might think. The concern over the effects of man-caused carbon dioxide may turn out to be a tempest in a teapot compared to what Mother Nature can throw at us all by herself.

Seattle, Tacoma Ports Announce Strategic Alliance

By Mark Edward Nero

The Seattle and Tacoma ports said Oct. 7 that they plan to unify the management of their marine cargo terminals and related functions under a single seaport alliance, with the goal being to strengthen the Puget Sound gateway and attract more marine cargo for the region.

The alliance is to manage marine cargo terminal investments and operations, planning and marketing, while the individual port commissions retain their existing governance structures and ownership of assets.

The ports say the level of cooperation between the state’s two largest container ports, which is unprecedented, is a strategic response to the competitive pressures that are reshaping the global shipping industry.

“The ports of Seattle and Tacoma face fierce competition from ports throughout North America, as shipping lines form alliances, share space on ever-larger vessels and call at consolidated terminals at fewer ports,” Port of Tacoma Commission President Clare Petrich said. “Working together, we can better focus on financially sustainable business models that support customer success and ensure our ability to reinvest in terminal assets and infrastructure.”

Taken together, marine cargo operations at both ports support over 48,000 jobs across the region.
“Where we were once rivals, we now intend to be partners,” Port of Seattle Commission Co-President Stephanie Bowman said. “Instead of competing against one another, we are combining our strengths to create the strongest maritime gateway in North America.”

The alliance is the outgrowth of talks that began in January and were held with permission from the Federal Maritime Commission, the agency responsible for regulating the U.S. international ocean transportation system.

Subject to further FMC review and approval, the two port commissions plan to enter into an interlocal agreement, which is intended to provide a framework for a period of due diligence to examine business objectives, strategic marine terminal investments, financial returns, performance metrics, organizational structure and more.

The two commissions expect to formally adopt and move to submit the interlocal agreement to the FMC at a joint public meeting Oct. 14. A more detailed agreement for the alliance is expected to be submitted by the commissions to the FMC by the end of March 2015.

During the due diligence period, Port of Tacoma CEO John Wolfe and Port of Seattle Deputy CEO Kurt Beckett are to co-lead the planning work and coordinate with both port commissions; Wolfe is expected to be hired as the alliance’s CEO next spring following the FMC’s approval of the agreement.

The ports say that citizen and stakeholder public review of the alliance proposal will be undertaken throughout the due diligence period and that information about public meetings, how to submit written comments and other related news will be posted on both ports’ websites in the future as warranted.

Canpotex Expanding Portland Terminal Ops

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Portland, already the largest gateway on the US West Coast for bulk mineral exports, is expected to become even more diversified thanks to a new expansion of the Canpotex Ltd. potash export facility at the port’s marine Terminal 5 in the Rivergate Industrial District.

The Port of Portland Commission on Oct. 8 approved plans for Canpotex, through its Portland Bulk Terminals subsidiary, to invest up to $140 million in new equipment and infrastructure to improve the efficiency of its shiploading operations and the management of Canpotex’s specialty white potash products.

“Canpotex has been a great tenant for nearly two decades, and we are excited that this world-class shipper’s roots in Portland are growing even deeper with this expansion,” Port of Portland Executive Director Bill Wyatt said.

A new shiploader, improved control system technology and an upgraded conveyance system is expected to enable shorter turnaround times for Canpotex trains and ships, while a new storage building is expected to allow the potash exporter to better manage its specialty grade products at the terminal.

“This investment ... improves the speed and quality of our operations at the terminal,” Steve Dechka, Canpotex’s president and chief executive officer, said. “But it’s not just our company that benefits; we are doing our part to try to build efficiency into the transportation system in the Pacific Northwest corridor.”

Canpotex is a joint venture among three Province of Saskatchewan, Canada potash producers: Agrium, Mosaic and PotashCorp. In addition to Portland Bulk Terminals, Canpotex has operations at Neptune Terminal in Vancouver, British Columbia.

More than two million metric tons of Saskatchewan potash, which is a mineral nutrient used in fertilizer applications, is exported through Portland annually to international markets including Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Canpotex says that as a result of a long-term lease extension, it expects to incrementally increase its tonnage in the coming years.

2M Alliance Wins US Approval

By Mark Edward Nero

The Federal Maritime Commission on Oct. 8 approved the formation of a new vessel sharing agreement between Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co., dubbed the 2M Alliance by the two shipping companies.

The FMC’s approval – Richard Lidinsky Jr. cast the sole vote against the deal – means the last major hurdle has been cleared for the alliance’s formation; China and the European Union previously approved the deal.

Maersk and MSC announced July 10 that they’d signed a 10-year vessel sharing agreement on Asia-Europe, Transatlantic and Transpacific trades, including the West Coast of North America.

The shippers say the agreement includes 185 vessels with an estimated capacity of 2.1 million TEU. Maersk Line is to contribute 110 vessels with a nominal capacity of about 1.2 million TEUs, or 55 percent of total capacity, while MSC contributes 75 vessels with a nominal capacity of almost a million TEUs, or 45 percent of total capacity.

The shipping lines say that with the agreement in place, they’ll be able to provide their customers with more stable and frequent services and cover more ports with direct services as well as improve the efficiency of the companies’ networks through better utilization of vessel capacity and economies of scale.

Earlier this year, the two carriers, which control 28 percent of the global container shipping market, were previously involved in the failed P3 Alliance of shippers. The alliance received approvals from US and European officials, but fell apart after the Chinese Ministry announced its disapproval June 17 following an anti-monopoly investigation.

The 2M Alliance partners say they expect to begin joint operations in January.

POLB Weighs Congestion Relief Measures

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Long Beach leadership said Oct. 8 that it’s addressing the months-long issue of cargo traffic congestion at its terminals by, among other things, identifying key issues with tenants and key stakeholders to seek solutions.

“This issue is on the top of my list right now,” Long Beach port Chief Executive Jon Slangerup said. “I have convened a high-level Congestion Relief Team to meet daily, seek solutions and solicit feedback from our staff in the field.”

In conjunction with the Congestion Relief Team, port field staff is said to be meeting regularly with customers and stakeholders to listen to their concerns, collaborate on solutions and monitor performance.

The congestion is being blamed partially by the port on a surge of larger ships that has taxed terminals at ports around the world to move cargo faster.

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners has also established a subcommittee to focus on port efficiency and the port says it’s also seeking an agreement with the Federal Maritime Commission to have substantive discussions with the Port of Los Angeles on congestion and other common issues of concern.

Slangerup says he has committed to issuing regular updates to customers and stakeholders on the congestion issue.

“We will do everything we can to bring our partners who operate and work at the terminals together to identify bottlenecks and implement solutions,” he said.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Information Technology and Marine Software

By Kathy A. Smith

As technology continues to advance, maritime software companies are adapting their products to the demands of today's generation of mariners, longshoremen and naval architects. From programs that plan container stowage or maintenance routines and inspections to full-fledged ship design software, today's systems are changing the interactions between hardware, software and the user.

AMT Marine Software Inc., a privately-owned marine consulting company based in Delta, British Columbia, offers ship cargo stowage planning software for a range of ships including container ships and multi-purpose vessels. It is intended primarily for tonnage centers as well as for non-vessel operators such as container terminals, freight forwarders and shipping companies. Solutions range from stand-alone shipboard loading computer software to complex company-wide integrated ship planning, cargo tracking, documentation and electronic data interchange systems.

AMT's flagship program, SimpleStow, is designed specifically for stowage planning of container vessels and container data processing. The popularity of this program surged five years ago when the US Customs and Border Protection Agency began requiring special documents that include detailed container stowage plans in BAPLIE international standard format 24 hours before loading containers on a vessel headed to the US.

SimpleStow's user interface and graphical displays are easily accessed and intuitive for those who have minimal computer experience. The program provides a well-developed set of functions to plan container stowage, sort, filter, group, search, import-export and process container data. The program uniquely allows for a full voyage-planning scenario, not just for cargo loading in a single port.

"The main purpose of a good stowage plan is to ensure unobstructed access to containers that must be processed in all ports during the voyage with minimal containers shifting and restowage, at the same time making sure that physical limitations such as allowable stack weight, height and other parameters are not exceeded," explains Managing Director Vladimir Babakov.

In addition to an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop method, the ship planning process is facilitated by a set of built-in customizable stowage rules and automatic checks of stowage conflicts and limitations. The most complex operations in the program are supported by wizards that lead the user step-by-step through the process.

"The software doesn't require a lot of space on a computer and is highly customizable by the user," says Babakov. "With a flexible Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), cargo data can easily be imported or exchanged between any partners, including shipowners, terminals and agencies."

Eliminating the need to enter data over and over again creates savings in time and claims due to lost or mis-delivered cargo. "Port Captains mostly use laptops to work with stowage plans but I've not yet heard of anyone using a Smartphone app," says Babakov. "The main limitation so far is the size of the screen that makes it challenging working with big graphical images overloaded with data."

For almost a decade, Finland-based Eniram has been providing vessel energy management solutions to a variety of global shipowners and operators. One of their unique data-gathering products called Dynamic Trimming Assistant (DTA) helps crews run a vessel at optimum trim order to save on fuel and cut emissions.

"In order to sail at the optimum trim at sea it is important to know the dynamic trim accurately," says Director Captain Melvin Matthews. "Only then can the crew either transfer the weights on board, ballast or de-ballast to get the vessel to the optimum trim."

Eniram overcame this challenge by installing attitude sensors that include combined inclinometers and accelerometers that measure dynamic trim in real time. The data is collected continuously on the Eniram Vessel Platform (EVP) installed on board which is integrated with a vessel's bridge and engine systems.

Computation of the data uses proprietary Eniram technology which calculates the optimum dynamic trim for any given dynamic situation. This optimum trim along with the dynamic trim is then displayed on a screen in real-time to the crew on board the vessel. The optimum trim is dynamic because it is affected by almost all the dynamic factors that a vessel faces at sea rather than a fixed value for a given draft and speed.

"In our experience of more than 200 vessels we have seen an average savings potential of 2 to 3 percent by keeping the vessel at the optimum trim," says Matthews. "This tends to be higher for ships that have streamlined hulls and operate at faster speeds such as cruise ships and container vessels."
Another innovative solution developed last year by Eniram is the Optimum Speed Assistant (OSA). On a voyage between two ports it gives the most cost-effective and efficient speed profile to be maintained to arrive just in time. It takes into consideration the present and forecasted weather, currents, depths, transit through SECA/ECA areas, including engine configuration when calculating the optimum speed.

"Data-driven analysis and insights can give conclusive competitive advantage to a business," says Matthews. "Companies now have much better visibility of the performance of their vessels and the way they're being operated. With lower costs and better operational utilization, these vessels tend to have higher than average ROI not otherwise seen in the industry."

Victoria, BC-based Helm Operations (formerly Edoc Systems Group), originally developed operations software for the workboat industry, beginning in 1999, with their TugAssist product. Today, Helm offers complete enterprise information management solutions for the marine commercial transportation industry and their newest offering moves with the times.
"We are building a new platform called Helm CONNECT," says Vice President of Marketing, Rodger Banister. "The difference from our original software is that this new software is web-based, app-based and workflow-based."

Web-based is as described, meaning accessible over the Internet. App-based means the system allows for individual app purchases rather that having to buy an entire suite of modules with applications across an entire department. For instance, in the Health Safety Quality Environmental (HSQE) suite, if a company only requires the preventative maintenance application, that's all they need to purchase, then they can add additional applications or bundles of applications as required.

The most unique part of the new Helm CONNECT program is its workflow-based capability. And that means extensive client consultation through User Experience workshops. Helm personnel meet with a client company's stakeholders – everyone who is involved in a specific workflow – for an in-depth discovery process, in order to map out specific workflows that will help build out the software. Incorporated into the development of the program is the ability to compartmentalize sections so that only specific people need to see their tasks as they relate to their own individual role. "It becomes a step-by-step process and makes it a whole lot easier to complete," explains Banister. "When we sit down with them and talk about it, we become a catalyst for discovering how it is they work with each other."

Third party integration is another building block in the process of Helm's software development. The software is built on top of what's called an extensible API (Application Programming Interface), which means that any other 3rd party developer, once they're given access, can build into Helm software. "We think it's a nice solve for the market," adds Banister. "And since being acquired by ClassNK, we have the opportunity to accelerate the build so we can get to the global market faster."
Seattle-based Palaemon works primarily with maritime clients; founder Michael Armfield worked in the marine industry before beginning the new venture in 2011. The focus is on building apps for operations that help streamline and digitize a variety of functions and to help marine companies stay in compliance and pass audits for programs like AWO-RCP, ISM, and ISO.

Palaemon recently introduced Mobile Ops, a new product for harbor services and towboat operations. "It carries out a lot of paperless functions such as HSQE submissions, has a dispatch system, time cards, and a vessel management feature where you can build out maintenance routines and inspections," says Armfield. "Crew members can carry out inspections while managers or other designated people ashore can be notified if any deficiencies are created, and then start a process to get things done aboard the vessel."

Mobile Ops works on any modern device including iPhones, Androids, tablets, and computers. Crewmembers can simply fill out information on whatever device they use, then management can export the data as needed to, for instance, an Excel spreadsheet and then perform analytics.

The program has been developed with web development framework Ruby on Rails and a front-end Javascript framework, with data stored in either a document-store or a SQL database, but the end user only sees easy, intuitive prompts. "The program has a very modern and elegant user interface, big buttons and bright colors," explains Armfield. "It also adapts to the screen size of any device, all the way from the cell phone in your pocket to big laptop displays."

Palaemon also offers custom-built software solutions. In one case, an application was built for a marine company's warehouse that allowed workers to plug in pallet information and take photos of goods, which helped streamline receiving processes and also sped up productivity.

"We named the product Mobile Ops because it's anywhere; it's in your pocket or on the iPad in the galley on the boat," says Armfield. "It's data at any time which helps companies make strategic decisions and get information to the crew."

SSI (formerly ShipConstructor Software Inc.), based in Victoria, BC, offers 18 sophisticated software products specifically designed for the shipbuilding and offshore industries.

"We pride ourselves on covering the broadest possible spectrum in the marine industry in terms of the type of vessels and the types and sizes of customer," says CEO Darren Larkins. "We service very small companies with one or two people to large ones such as Ingalls Shipbuilding in the US."

In business since the early 1990s, the company began on the AutoCAD platform and a Microsoft Access database program which evolved with next-generation technologies to the point that SSI completely rewrote their software about six years ago which has garnered a new, innovative approach in 3D modeling.

"With ShipConstructor, the virtual ship is stored in a Microsoft SQL server database, and that's unique to what we do," says Larkins. "Marine companies can use this for production, purchasing, planning, and even in sales and marketing by leveraging the amount of information put in during the engineering process for all these other activities." The Autodesk platform also allows for the capacity to be able to view the ShipConstructor model in the cloud, on a tablet device or on a phone.

ShipConstructor's use of commercial, off-the-shelf technologies such as AutoCAD and Microsoft SQL Server allows it to be integrated with other business processes and applications and ShipConstructor's Marine Information Model provides real-time, concurrent engineering enabling all engineering disciplines to work within a single integrated environment that incorporates common shipbuilding standards, concepts and terminology.

Newly released, due to feedback by SSI's innovative new Client Council program, is ShipConstructor 2014 R2.1, which is now being used earlier in the design process, because clients also want to reuse the information at later stages in order to avoid rework and prevent errors. "Our total solution is much more than just what we make," adds Larkins.

Congressman Introduces Freight Infrastructure Bill

By Mark Edward Nero

US Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) on Oct. 3 said he has introduced a bill that would annually provide billions of dollars for construction of seaport projects such as on-dock rail, terminals and cargo loading areas.

The bill, HR 5624, is also known as Economy in Motion: The National Multimodal and Sustainable Freight Infrastructure Act, was submitted to the House of Representatives Sept. 18. It proposes the formation of a freight program that would be funded through the implementation of a one percent waybill fee on transported cargo.

Lowenthal’s legislation would create a two-part incentive formula program, available in states that develop freight plans and form freight advisory committees as encouraged under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, aka MAP-21, which President Obama signed into law in 2012.

The measure also would establish a national competitive grant program with broad, multimodal project eligibility. A new freight trust fund would provide as much as $8 billion annually for freight infrastructure-improvement projects across all modes.

“The movement of goods is one of the most important economic engines in our nation,” Lowenthal said in a news release announcing the legislation. “The infrastructure this engine depends on is crumbling and we must fix it, make it stronger, and make it better. My bill would do this while also taking action to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts that are the unintended consequence of goods movement.”

Leslie Blakey, President and Executive Director of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors, which represents a coalition of more than 60 public and private organizations dedicated to increasing federal investment in America’s intermodal freight infrastructure, said she applauds the Congressman for proposing both an investment plan and a revenue generation strategy.

“Congressman Lowenthal’s bill has added a significant piece to the freight dialogue,” she said. “Each day, our nation’s freight infrastructure needs grow and a strategic campaign of public investment is needed.”

Port of San Diego Hosting Hull Paint Expo

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of San Diego is inviting the San Diego Bay boating community to the port’s fourth Eco-Friendly Hull Paint Expo, a free event featuring the latest hull paint products, along with information on proper hull cleaning and boat maintenance.

The event takes place from 10 a.m. to noon on Sat., Oct. 18, at Nielsen Beaumont Marine, 2420 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego 92106.

Paint manufacturers, representatives of San Diego Bay boatyards, hull cleaners and Port of San Diego staff members will be on hand to answer questions. Two boats that have been operating with eco-friendly hull paint will be out of the water and on display. There also will be a hull cleaning seminar where boat owners and hull cleaners can share tips and best practices on the use, cleaning, and maintenance of eco-friendly hull paints.

Port representatives will be on site demonstrating how to use an easy online calculator to help estimate costs to convert boats to eco-friendly hull paints. There will also be information on special limited-time grant funds available to Shelter Island boaters for repainting their vessels.

Boat owners within the Shelter Island Yacht Basin have a limited amount of time to apply for grant funds to convert to eco-friendly hull paint options. The program, which began in 2011, expires in May 2015.

Information on applying for the grant program is available on the port’s website at

Port of Everett Adding Harbor Crane

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Everett says it will add additional lift capacity to its operations in March 2015 with the purchase of a new, 150-ton GHMK 7608 mobile harbor crane.

The port, which is one of the Pacific Northwest’s busier breakbulk handling facilities, says the nearly $5.1 million investment in the new crane is expected to allow it to better accommodate its niche market of overdimensional cargoes, and provide opportunity to compete for new heavylift business.

“We are investing in our infrastructure and cargo handling equipment to continue with our reputation of safe and excellent service, quick and efficient turnaround times and huge lift capacity,” Carl Wollebek, the port’s Chief Operating Officer, said.

The new crane will complement the port’s Gottwald HMK280 crane which, like the new crane, was purchased from equipment supplier Terex Port Solutions. Working in tandem, the port’s two mobile harbor cranes would have a 250MT capacity.

“This will most certainly complement their current Terex Gottwald HMK280 and will give them the capability of providing tandem heavy lift services to their customers,” Terex Regional Sales Manager Alex Garcia said.

In addition to the new equipment, engineering work is underway to build a 140-foot heavylift pad at the port’s South Terminal facility. The heavylift pad, estimated to cost $2.5 million, will allow for both roll-on/roll-off cargo operations and mobile harbor crane operations at the South Terminal.
The infrastructure investment, made possible with the grant support of Washington State, is out to bid and is scheduled to be complete in 2015.

Seattle Port to Survey Recreational Fishermen

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Seattle says that people who fish or collect shellfish from the Lower Duwamish Waterway may be invited to take part in a voluntary survey over the next year to tell researchers about their fishing habits.

The port, in conjunction with King County, the City of Seattle and the Boeing Co., are conducting the survey at the direction of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington State Department of Ecology in order to learn how to better protect people who collect and eat seafood from the Duwamish Waterway.

Through the fall of 2015, staff from ECOSS, a south Seattle nonprofit, will approach fishermen along the waterway to ask questions about catching and eating fish and shellfish. The survey will take about 10-15 minutes to complete. Surveyors won’t ask for fishing license information, and information gathered from fishermen will remain anonymous.

Researchers say they hope the survey results will support better communication with communities and guide outreach to help fishers make healthy choices about catching and eating seafood in the years leading up to, during and following a Superfund cleanup. The Environmental Protection Agency listed a five-mile segment of the river as a federal Superfund site in 2001 because of contaminants in the waterway sediments.

Early cleanup efforts by King County, City of Seattle, Port of Seattle and Boeing began in 2004 and are expected to reduce contaminant levels in waterway sediments by 50 percent even before Superfund cleanup begins several years from now. These “early action” cleanups will be completed in 2015.

Additional information about the survey and cleanup is available at