Friday, October 24, 2014

Female Capt. Wins Discrimination Lawsuit

By Mark Edward Nero

Former Matson Navigation captain Katherine Sweeney has won a lawsuit in which she alleged she was discriminated against by the Washington state Board of Pilotage Commissioners because she’s a woman.

Sweeney, who helmed Matson containerships for seven years, had been aiming to become Puget Sound’s first female maritime pilot, but she said she was held back by a “good ol’ boys’ network” and widespread nepotism.

Sweeney was admitted to pilot training in 2007 as the state’s first-ever female pilot trainee and entered into a program that was run at the time by an all-male training evaluation committee and included trainees who were related to their instructors.

Despite performing as well as her male counterparts, Sweeney said, she was denied a license. This led her to sue the state Board of Pilotage Commissioners, which had voted against issuing her a pilot’s license.

In mid-October, a jury agreed with her claims and awarded her $3.6 million. However, she has said she has no intention of again trying to gain a pilot’s license and now works as an industry safety consultant.

“Hopefully, as a result of this lawsuit, this door will change and it'll open for the next woman, but I think it's pretty much shut for me,” she said in an interview with Seattle TV station KING, which first reported the outcome of the lawsuit.

The nine-member Board of Pilotage Commissioners, whose members are appointed by the Governor, said it has not decided if it will appeal the verdict.

POLB Appoints New Execs

By Mark Edward Nero

Under a reorganization initiated by Chief Executive Jon Slangerup, the Port of Long Beach has filled four executive posts with staff veterans.

Dr. Noel Hacegaba, who has been serving as the Acting Deputy Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer since June 2013, was named the new Managing Director of Commercial Operations/Chief Commercial Officer. Prior to the 2013 acting appointment, Hacegaba was Executive Officer to the Board of Harbor Commissioners, a position he was appointed to in July 2010.

The newly created Commercial Operations Bureau, now overseen by Hacegaba, includes the Business Development, Security Services, and Tenant Services & Operations divisions. Hacegaba is responsible for all commercial matters and serves as the primary liaison to the port’s customers.

Additionally, Sean Gamette, who has been serving as Acting Assistant Managing Director of Engineering/Chief Harbor Engineer since July 2013, has been named the new Senior Director of Program Delivery/Chief Harbor Engineer. Gamette, who joined the port in 2003, was promoted to Deputy Chief Harbor Engineer in the Program Management Division in 2009.

As now organized, his part of the Engineering Bureau includes the Program Management, Construction Management and Project Controls divisions.

Also, Roger Wu has been promoted to the newly created position of Assistant Director of Business Development. Before that, he’d been Manager of Commercial Trade – Ocean Carriers since June 2014. He was hired by the port as a marketing manager in 2007.

Eamonn Killeen, a Senior Port Leasing Officer, has been appointed to the position of Assistant Director of Real Estate, to succeed Gail Wasil, who retired in August. Killeen started with the port in July 2002.

The new appointments help fill a leadership void at the port caused by the exits of more than half a dozen upper managers from mid-2013 to mid-2014, including those in the positions of Deputy Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer, Managing Director of Trade Development & Port Operations, Director of Construction Management, Managing Director of Environmental Affairs, Chief Finance Officer and Director of Information Management.

PortVision Receives License to Directly Transmit Safety Messages

By Mark Edward Nero

Maritime business systems company PortVision says it has received a license from the US Federal Communications Commission that allows it to transmit automated identification systems, or AIS, safety messages directly to vessels that appear to be encroaching on fixed asset infrastructure such as offshore pipelines.

PortVision has been using AIS to notify asset owners of encroachment since 2006, but now with FCC and USCG approval, it can go a step further: instead of just notifying users by email or SMS when vessels approach, slow, or stop near their fixed assets, PortVision can transmit an AIS-addressed safety message directly to the wheelhouse of the encroaching vessel.

The automated notification can be displayed within modern Electronic Chart Display & Information System displays, or as an alert on the Class A AIS transponder. PortVision says the intent is to proactively interact with all stakeholders in an effort to increase safety and protect both life and property.

PortVision, which is based in Houston, but also has offices in San Diego and New Jersey, has been working with coastal and marine operators since 2012 to use AIS and related technology to improve safety around offshore pipelines.

The company says its initial use of the new technology will be in a joint pilot project with coastal and marine operators and Port Fourchon, a seaport in Louisiana on the Gulf of Mexico.

LA Port Seeks CFO Candidates

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Los Angeles is seeking candidates to lead its Finance Division as Chief Financial Officer.
The CFO reports to the Deputy Executive Director, Finance and Administration and is responsible for all the port’s financial affairs, overseeing and managing through five subordinate managers, a staff of about 60. The Finance Division includes Accounting, Debt & Treasury Management, Financial Management, Management Audit, and Risk Management sections.

Experience should include at least two years of administrative, managerial and professional experience in performing and managing one or more accounting functions with revenues of at least $100 million annually.

The port, which employs nearly 1,000 people, has a current fiscal year budget of $939 million.

The port is interested in candidates who have experience in developing and implementing comprehensive integrated financial planning, budgeting and reporting systems, with typical training for this position including a Bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, business, public administration, or a closely related field, with a Master’s degree being desirable.

Candidates must possess the knowledge and professional competence required to effectively lead and work cooperatively and collaboratively with other divisions, stakeholders and customers.

A brochure regarding the position is available at Those wishing to be considered can electronically submit a letter of interest to Attention: Mr. Bill Hawkins or Ms. Brett Byers, by Nov. 21, 2014.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

OOCL Exec Honored By POLB

By Mark Edward Nero

Orient Overseas Container Line CEO and Managing Director Andy Tung was presented with the “Port Pilot Award” by the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners on Oct. 20. The award is presented to business and political leaders and advocates who have made contributions to international trade within the maritime industry.

Tung is the 77th recipient of the award and the first third-generation Port Pilot winner. His father, C.H. Tung, and grandfather, C.Y. Tung, were recipients in 1987 and 1977, respectively.

Tung has led the Hong Kong-based OOCL, one of the top shipping lines calling at the Port of Long Beach, in various management roles since March 2006. However, he first worked for OOCL from 1993 to 1998 and has held top management jobs in the maritime industry in both the United States and Hong Kong.

Prior to his return to OOCL, he was a director of Cargosmart in Hong Kong and worked at Kong Dragon Airlines.

Under Tung’s leadership, OOCL has been in partnership with the Port of Long Beach on the $1.3 billion Middle Harbor modernization project. The new terminal is expected to utilize the world’s most advanced technology, doubling capacity and cutting emissions in half.

The Port Pilot Award was established in 1954 by the Port of Long Beach to recognize significant contributions to the advancement of world trade. The award is named for the harbor port pilots who guide cargo ships safely in and out of the port in all conditions.

More information about the award and a complete list of honorees is available at

California's Smaller Ports Handling Bulk and Breakbulk

By Jim Shaw

California's large ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland are well known for their container handling clout but the Golden State also has a number of smaller ports that are efficient cargo handlers in their own right, and many cater to the bulk, breakbulk and neo-bulk cargoes that the bigger ports sometimes shun. These smaller gateways stretch from the natural harbors of San Diego in the south to Humboldt Bay in the north, with a large cluster of facilities, both privately and publicly owned, maintained within the reaches of greater San Francisco Bay. It's worthwhile talking a look at these ports and facilities to see how they assist the world's eighth largest economy in handling its growing volume of imports and exports.

Port of San Diego
In Southern California, the ports of San Diego and Hueneme act as "satellite ports" for the larger gateways of Los Angeles and Long Beach within San Pedro Bay. San Diego is the only natural harbor of the four and functions as the US Navy's largest base in the Pacific. However it is also a large shipbuilding and repair center, and it still moves a considerable amount of commercial cargo, making it California's fifth largest port by tonnage when petroleum is not counted. Two large cargo terminals, Tenth Avenue and National City, offer a total of 15 berths. Refrigerated produce and dry bulks are handled at Tenth Avenue while National City specializes in autos, lumber and project cargoes. The total amounts to about 1.8 million tons of freight annually, including around 356,000 vehicles and over 100,000 TEUs of containerized goods, principally bananas and other tropical produce.

The port also handles cruise ships but these have been declining in number over the past several years because of the well publicized narcotics problems in neighboring Mexico. Cruise ship calls, in fact, have dropped from a peak of more than 250 in 2008 to fewer than 70 ships expected this year.

Port of Hueneme
To the north, the Port of Hueneme handles cargoes similar to those in San Diego – refrigerated produce and automobiles - but no dry bulks or cruise ships. Although a long ocean pier was built at Hueneme in the late 1800s to handle grain exports the port, as it stands today, was largely created during World War II. It remains a Navy-controlled harbor, the only one between San Diego and Puget Sound, but has also developed as a commercial gateway.

In 1977 Japan's Mazda Motors elected to use Hueneme as its West Coast base for imported automobiles. Two years later Del Monte selected the man-made harbor as its west coast importing and distribution hub for fruit and produce. Since then other produce handlers, including NYKCool, Sunkist Growers, Pacific Fruit and Chiquita, have moved fruit and produce through Hueneme while auto brands have grown to include BMW, Mini Cooper, Roll Royce, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Land Rover, Jaguar, Volvo, Saab, Hyundai and Kia.

Owned and operated by the Oxnard Harbor District, Hueneme currently handles about 1.4 million tons of cargo annually, including some inbound liquid fertilizer, and also serves as a supply base for Southern California's offshore oil industry.

San Francisco Bay Ports
Within San Francisco Bay the Port of Oakland now dominates container traffic but there are several smaller ports in the greater Bay Area as well as a large number of private terminals that handle bulk, breakbulk, neo-bulk and heavylift cargoes. The Port of San Francisco itself, once the leading port of the Pacific, handles very little general cargo these days, amounting to just over 7,300 tons last year. 

However, it has become a base for aggregate imports and this commodity, destined for the local construction trades and brought in by self-discharging ships, totals about 1.2 million tons annually.

San Francisco also remains a cruise port, hosting from 60 to 80 vessel calls and 200,000 passengers annually. To better handle these ships the new James R. Herman Cruise Terminal is nearing completion at Pier 27 and will replace the port's aging Pier 35 structure by the end of the year.

Port of Redwood City
South of San Francisco the Port of Redwood City has also become a base for imported aggregates and this trade now dominates the port's tonnage figures although some scrap metal is exported and limited amounts of bauxite and gypsum imported. Earlier this year the port completed a $17 million wharf modernization program which saw a new 430-foot by 60-foot concrete structure replace a wooden dock built during World War II. The new wharf has been specifically sized to accommodate a conveyor and hopper system and is being used to handle aggregates as well as other dry bulk commodities. Opened as a commercial port in 1937, and substantially expanded during the war years, Redwood City has been handling about 1.4 million tons of cargo a year moved by an average of 50 deepsea ships and 25 barges.

Port of Richmond
In the northern reaches of San Francisco Bay the Port of Richmond is situated next to one of the world's oldest and largest oil refineries. Operated by Standard Oil, the refinery's import and export figures are included with the port's, making Richmond the State of California's third largest port in terms of overall tonnage, with more than 18 million tons of liquid, general and dry bulk cargo moved annually. The port itself, administered by the City of Richmond, contains five city-owned docks handling about 255,000 tons of cargo annually, and ten privately-owned terminals. One of the largest of the latter is the Levin-Richmond Terminal, which moves a wide variety of bulks, including scrap metal, iron ore, petroleum coke and coal. It also operates its own short line railroad which interchanges with two mainline carriers. The port's city-owned Pt. Potrero Marine Terminal is the largest import automobile facility on San Francisco Bay and handles Honda and Subaru automobiles.

Port of Benicia
To the east on Carquinez Strait the Port of Benicia, formerly the US Army's Benicia Arsenal, features a single 2,401-foot-long deepwater pier that can accommodate three vessels simultaneously. The pier, and an adjoining 640 acres of storage area, is used by the Benicia Port Terminal Company, an AMPORTS company, to handle General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and Toyota automobiles while the Valero Corporation makes use of a portion of the pier to export bulk petroleum coke. Valera also maintains an adjacent tanker berth that serves its Benicia oil refinery.

A number of private facilities are located across the Strait, including the C&H Sugar docks at Crockett, while other installations are located to the east at Pittsburg and Antioch, one of the largest being the USS-POSCO complex at Pittsburg which handles steel coils.

Port of West Sacramento
Inland to the east, the ports of Sacramento and Stockton are reached by dredged deepwater channels maintained at depths of 30 feet and 35 feet respectively. Sacramento, the capital of California, has been seeing fewer ships each year because of its shallow channel, which restricts ship size as well as the loads they can carry. In 2006 the City of West Sacramento assumed responsibility for the port, after which it became known as the Port of West Sacramento. Last year all remaining cargo operations, principally the export of bulk and bagged rice and the import of dry and liquid fertilizers, were taken over by Seattle-based SSA Marine under a long-term lease agreement. This has seen the port's cargo volume stabilize at about 300,000 tons annually

Port of Stockton
The Port of Stockton, like Sacramento, serves California's inland agricultural region and thus handles such commodities as rice, animal feed and fertilizer. While Sacramento has berths for eight ships, Stockton can berth up to 15 following its incorporation of the former Rough and Ready Island Navy Base. This has also given it one of the largest land areas of any West Coast port, with more than 4,000 acres either currently operational or available for development.

Stockton's main imports are fertilizers and molasses, plus some steel products, while major exports include rice, sulfur, iron ore and coal. The latter two commodities have been coming in by rail from the Rocky Mountains area for export to Asia and have built up to nearly 1 million tons shipped annually. Last year a rail loop track was extended to allow the handling of six unit trains weekly. This has helped Stockton draw in around 400 vessel calls each year moving just over 3 million tons of import and export cargo.

Counting vessels drawn into San Francisco Bay by Stockton and other small ports, as well as the large container ships that dock at Oakland and the cruise liners calling at San Francisco, the Golden Gate sees an average of 3,500 ships arrive each year.

Humboldt Bay
North of San Francisco Bay only one California commercial port remains. This is the Port of Humboldt Bay, sometimes also called the Port of Eureka, which lies about 100 miles south of the Oregon border. Not discovered by navigators until 1806, the natural harbor has been used for lumber exports since shortly after the California Gold Rush, reaching a peak about 25 years ago. Although there are almost a dozen deepwater facilities located within the harbor most have deteriorated since the lumber boom and only a few remain serviceable today. In recent years log exporting has resumed at the port and this sees about a ship a month handled, with around 350,000 tons exported annually.

POLB Temporarily Extends Demurrage Window

By Mark Edward Nero

From now through the end of October, containers imported into the Port of Long Beach will have an extra three days that they can remain on the docks before fees kick in, the port revealed Oct. 17.

The move is being made to give some relief to cargo owners as the supply chain works to eliminate congestion that has plagued the port for months. From Oct. 18 through Oct. 31, the “free” time that containers can sit before demurrage is charged has been extended from four to seven business days.

“The terminal congestion is very unfortunate, and a truly exceptional occurrence, so I am using my authority to waive demurrage fees through the end of the month,” Port of Long Beach Chief Executive Jon Slangerup said.

A number of factors have combined to back up cargo at the local port complex in recent weeks: an upswing in cargo shipments arriving for the holiday shopping season, the arrival of larger ships that can carry 50 percent more cargo and a shortage of truck chassis to haul containers.

“As additional cargo flows through the port, helping to sustain jobs both locally and throughout the country, the Port of Long Beach is doing what it can to help terminal operators ease congestion and move cargo through the port efficiently,” the port said in a statement announcing the move.

The adjoining Port of Los Angeles, however, says it has no plans to introduce such a waiver.
“There is a concern that this will not help the overall situation,” POLA spokesman Phillip Sanfield told Pacific Maritime Magazine, saying that instead, the port is looking at other anti-congestion measures, including opening up more areas to temporary container and chassis storage.

Tacoma’s Cargo Surges; Seattle’s Drops

By Mark Edward Nero

Container volumes through the Port of Tacoma surged in September, posting a 20 percent gain over the same month last year, according to newly-released data. The port handled 225,890 TEUs last month, making it the busiest month since September 2005 when 216,430 TEUs were handled.

Last month’s strong volumes are expected to signal the end of the peak shipping period, when retailers increase inventories to prepare for the holiday shopping season. The statistics also reflect additional volume from larger vessels and shipping line alliances calling at Tacoma, according to the port.

For the calendar year, Tacoma handled 1.6 million TEUs through September, a 10 percent increase year to date. Also, full containerized imports grew 13 percent year to date to 590,418 TEUs, while exports improved 9 percent to 418,713 TEUs. Domestic volumes posted a four percent gain year to date to 355,766 TEUs.

Meanwhile at the Port of Seattle, there was a 23 percent drop in container volumes last month compared to September 2013.

Seattle saw about 109,000 TEUs last month, compared to more than 142,000 in September 2013. For the calendar year to date, volumes have dropped about 12 percent, falling from about 1.22 million through the first nine months of last year to just over one million during the same period in 2014.

Despite Tacoma’s recent growth in container volumes, the Puget Sound gateway continues to lose market share on the West Coast, mainly due to Seattle’s losses. On Oct. 7, the two ports announced that they had agreed to a special alliance which, pending review by the Federal Maritime Commission, could attract more cargo and grow jobs in the region by unifying the management of the marine cargo terminals at the ports.

Foss Tows Incapacitated Cargo Ship

By Mark Edward Nero

An incapacitated Russian cargo ship that had lost power due to mechanical failure after leaving the Port of Everett, Washington was towed to the Port of Prince Rupert by a Foss Maritime tug on Oct. 20 after drifting for nearly three days.

Foss Maritime’s oceangoing tug, the Barbara Foss, towed the Russian cargo vessel, Simushir, which lost power due to mechanical failure late on the night of Oct. 16 off the west coast of Haida Gwaii, also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. The ship had recently left Everett on its way back to Russia when a broken oil heater rendered the vessel disabled.

A Canadian Coast Guard vessel arrived at the scene last Friday to tow the ship, but could not keep a tow line attached and the ship again went adrift.

The Barbara Foss was eventually called in and managed to tow the stranded ship to the Port of Prince Rupert, BC early Monday morning, where two assist tugs and a pilot were on hand to help the ship dock.

The Simushir, which is roughly 443 feet long and was built in 1998, is owned by Russia-based Sakhalin Shipping Co., commonly known as SASCO. According to SASCO, the vessel was carrying about 400 tons of bunker oil, 298 containers filled with mining equipment, and 50 tons of diesel fuel when it lost power.

The Simushir had been traveling with a crew of 11, but officials said the vessel’s captain was reported injured and had to be evacuated by helicopter to Haida Gwaii on Oct. 17. No further medical details were given.