Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tidewater Takes Delivery of Vigor-Built Tug

By Mark Edward Nero

Vancouver, Washington-based Tidewater Transportation & Terminals took delivery of the second of a series of three towboats, the Granite Point, on Dec. 22.

The vessel, built by Vigor Industrial’s Portland, Oregon shipyard, follows towboat Crown Point, which began operations along the Columbia Snake River this past May. Like the Crown Point, the Granite Point is a custom-built vessel specifically designed by Maine-based naval architects and marine engineers CT Marine.

Measuring 102 feet by 38 feet, with a depth at full load of 11 feet, the Granite Point has a hexagonal wheelhouse with floor-to-ceiling windows on all six sides.

“We are proud to have worked with Tidewater on Granite Point,” Vigor Executive VP of Fabrication Corey Yraguen said. “Like its sister ship Crown Point, this vessel sets new standards for future towboat design.”

The Granite Point, named for a granite cliff in Washington about 20 miles southwest of Pullman along the Snake River, was built to the same specifications as the Crown Point and forthcoming sister vessel, the Ryan Point.

The Granite Point is powered by two Caterpillar 3516C EPA Tier 3 certified diesel engines each producing 2,240 BHP at 1,600 RPM. The engines drive two 92-inch” by 100-inch fixed pitch, stainless steel propellers through CT28 Kort Nozzles. The vessel’s capable of a service speed of eight knots.

Electrical power is provided by two C7.1, Tier 3 generators, rated at 480 V, 200 kW at 1,800 RPM. The generators are controlled through an automatic transfer system that ensures the vessel can recover from a generator power loss in less than 30 seconds.

Deck machinery includes seven Patterson WWP 65E-7.5, 65-ton electric deck winches, with pilothouse remote operation and local push button control stations on the main deck. Each winch has Samson 1 3/8” Turbo 75 Synthetic Line.

“The up-front work paid off,” Tidewater CEO Bob Curcio said. “The vessels are fuel-efficient, ecologically-responsible, and are giving our captains and crews exactly what they’d asked for.”

Matson, Maersk Partner on Tsunami Detection

By Mark Edward Nero

Scientists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) are using commercial ships operating in the North Pacific Ocean to construct a network of low-cost tsunami sensors to augment existing detection systems.

The researchers, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said Dec. 16 that they’re partnering with Matson, Maersk Line and the World Ocean Council to equip 10 ships with real-time geodetic GPS systems and satellite communications.

The newly built pilot network of GPS-equipped ships enables each vessel to act as an open-ocean tide gauge. Data from the new tsunami sensors are streamed, via satellite, to a land-based data center where they are processed and analyzed for tsunami signals.

“Our approach offers a new, cost-effective way of acquiring many more observations to augment the current detection networks,” said SOEST assistant specialist and co-investigator Todd Ericksen.

The researchers are working with the NOAA Tsunami Warning Centers to ensure that the network provides the most useful data products to help them with their predictions. They also plan to work with their industry collaborators to develop a new version of the shipboard package that can be deployed on a much greater number of ships.

“Our new ship-based detection network is the first step towards the creation of the dense global observing network needed to support the efforts of tsunami warning centers to provide the best possible predictions of tsunami hazard to coastal communities,” said James Foster, a SOEST associate researcher and the project’s lead investigator.

Test Pile Driving to Begin at Seattle Port

By Mark Edward Nero

Contractors will begin driving test piles at Terminal 5 in Seattle the first week of January, with the installation and resulting noise expected to last through March.

The pile driving and testing is part of the design phase of a terminal improvement program. About 27 piles are expected to be installed at the edge of the Terminal 5 wharf. Installation and testing is planned to take place between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, as well as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

Test results could help reduce the final number of piles required and refine the depth of installation during berth construction, which the port says could help save money and reduce construction-related noise.

Once installed, the port says some of the piles will be tested using a method known as rapid-load testing that sounds like a half-second cannon shot. The sound can be as loud as 145 decibels at a distance of 50 feet. Nine tests are planned, with no more than one test per day.

Planned dock enhancements are expected make the terminal capable of accommodating heavier cranes and provide deeper drafts to handle the megaships cascading into the trans-Pacific trade.
“These terminal improvements are aimed at helping us compete in a changing marketplace to support the jobs we have and create new ones, while continuing to drive economic benefits for our communities and customers,” the port said in a Dec. 21 news release.

Questions about the pile driving and testing may be directed to (206) 787-6886 or Terminal5_Outreach@portseattle.org.

Rapp Marine to Equip Chinese Ships

By Mark Edward Nero

Crane and deck machinery specialist Rapp Marine said Dec. 22 that it will supply advanced equipment packages for two new oceanographic research vessels being built for Guangzhou Marine Geological Survey and the Polar Research Institute of China.

The research vessel for the Polar Research Institute of China will be a 122.5-meter (402 foot) icebreaker – the first icebreaker built in China. It will operate the vessel in the Southern Ocean, with a view to supplying China’s Antarctic Zhongshan Station.

The Polar Research Institute is a non-profit organization reporting directly to the State Ocean Administration and is also the only organization in China that has specialized in polar expeditions. Today they operate the Xue Long, a vessel that will work together with the new icebreaker to supply and assist researchers at the Antarctic Zhongshan Station.

The oceanographic research vessel for the Marine Geological Survey is expected to engage in surveillance, research and advisory services. Onboard are laboratories and workstations are used to collect the data that is analyzed by researchers and scientific advisors.

“We have worked long and hard to land these contracts, so this is a joyful occasion,” Rapp Marine Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing Tove Pettersen said. “Most maritime nations are working on plans to build oceangoing research vessels and we are involved in exciting processes for a number of similar projects, apart from which we also see an increasing demand from the fishery sector.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

BC Ferries, Marine Workers Ink 5-Year Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

BC Ferries, the service provider responsible for ferry service along coastal British Columbia, has ratified a new five-year contract with the BC Ferry & Marine Workers Union, both sides said Dec. 18.

The settlement took several months of extensive negotiations between the company and union representatives. Although the agreement was just ratified, it was reached in principle before the Oct. 31 expiration of the previous collective agreement. The union’s Provincial Executive and Ships’ Officers’ Component Executive endorsed the tentative agreement for ratification by the membership on Nov. 10.

“This is an historical vote,” union Provincial President Graeme Johnston said. “For only the fourth time in our union’s history has an agreement been reached without the intervention of a third party and before the expiration date of the contract.”

The terms of the new agreement are in place from Oct. 31, 2015 through Oct. 31, 2020. The agreement provides for 8.55 percent in wage increases over the five-year term of agreement, an average of 1.71 percent annually.

“The five-year agreement provides for fair and modest wage and benefit increases for our employees while continuing to provide an efficient and dependable service,” BC Ferries’ President and CEO Mike Corrigan said. “We thank the bargaining teams on both sides for their collaborative efforts.”

BC Ferry & Marine Workers’ Union is the largest marine union in Canada, representing more than 3,600 members from across 35 vessels, 47 ports of call and numerous other job sites. Its membership includes a diverse group of trades, ships officers, commercial services drivers and both ship and shore workers.

Economic Report: Vancouver USA’s Impact Grows

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Vancouver USA is generating $2.9 billion in total annual economic value across its region via cargo handled at the port’s marine terminals and revenue generated by industrial tenants, according to a recently released economic study.

The 2015 Economic Report, which was commissioned by the port and conducted by Pennsylvania-based Martin Associates, is an update of similar studies conducted in 2000, 2005 and 2010.

It states that the current growth is an increase of more than 81 percent from the economic value generated by the port in 2010.

In addition to maritime growth, growth of non-marine tenants – port businesses that don’t rely on shipping – and maritime activity at the port increased direct jobs by 900 and spurred a $42.9 million in increase in direct personal salary income since 2010.

The impact analysis is based on a telephone survey of 302 marine and real estate tenants and firms providing services to the marine terminals and represents a 100 percent sample of port tenants, as well as the maritime community serving the Vancouver marine terminals.

The full report provides an in-depth to look at how the Port of Vancouver’s role as an economic engine helps provide jobs, tax revenue and services in its community and across the Pacific Northwest.

The study, which was given during the Vancouver Port Commission’s Dec. 8 board meeting, is also meant to help the commission and staff members plan for the future as they attract industry, foster maritime activity and invest in infrastructure that supports local workers, families and businesses.

The full document can be seen at http://www.portvanusa.com/assets/POV-Total-Impacts-2015-final-11102015.pdf.

FMC Named Most Improved Small Agency

By Mark Edward Nero

The Federal Maritime Commission received an award for being the 2015 Most Improved Small Agency during a Dec. 8 ceremony recognizing the best places to work in the federal government.

The 2015 Best Places to Work report, compiled by the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte, provide a comprehensive rating of employee satisfaction across agencies in the federal government.

“I am extremely proud of the work the FMC has done to achieve this prestigious recognition,” Maritime Commission Chair Mario Cordero said in a prepared statement. “Our small but dedicated staff of 125 employees has one of the most important tasks in the country to ensure fair, efficient and reliable international ocean transportation for our nation.”

The report analyzes data from the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and provides rankings in 14 categories. The Maritime Commission achieved positive gains in all 14 categories measured.

More than half of those categories saw double-digit improvement while Effective Leadership (Empowerment) saw the greatest gain with a 19.7-point increase over 2014. Scores for Strategic Leadership, Training and Development, and Support for Diversity were also among those measures receiving significant increases.

“I want to recognize the support of the Commissioners, senior executives, and the entire staff,” Cordero said. “I am fortunate to work with such a dedicated group committed to continuously improving our performance on behalf of the American public.”

Tacoma Port Commission President Picked

By Mark Edward Nero

On Dec. 17, the Port of Tacoma’s five-member commission chose member Connie Bacon as its president for 2016. Commissioners Don Johnson and Clare Petrich also were sworn in following their November re-elections.

Bacon, who was first elected to the Commission in November 1997, succeeds Johnson as president. She is a former executive director of the World Trade Center Tacoma and spent eight years as special assistant to former Washington Gov. Booth Gardner.

She also serves as adviser to the Asia Pacific Cultural Center and Fuzhou Committee, is co-founder of Water Partners Tacoma, and is a member of the Port of Tacoma Audit Committee. She’s also a member of the advisory board to the Port of Tacoma Endowed Chair at the University of Washington Tacoma.

In 2016, the Port of Tacoma Commission will have the following configuration: Connie Bacon, president; Dick Marzano, vice president; Don Meyer, secretary; Clare Petrich, first assistant secretary; and Don Johnson, second assistant secretary.

The port’s five commissioners serve four-year terms, with officer positions rotating yearly.

Friday, December 18, 2015

NWSA Monthly Container Volumes Continue Growth

By Mark Edward Nero

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, a marine cargo operating partnership of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, said Dec. 16 that it saw its container volumes improve six percent year to date in November, marking its ninth consecutive month of growth.

Containerized exports improved 11 percent year to date to 1,209,562 TEUs on the strength of Washington state’s agricultural sector. The state is home to one of the most productive growing regions in the world, and Seaport Alliance terminals provide simple access to markets overseas.

Containerized imports rose five percent year to date to 1.32 million TEUs, while domestic volumes remained flat at 807,009 TEUs. Through the first 11 months of the year, the NWSA has handled 3,339,057 TEUs, according to data from the ports.

In the month of November, the ports moved a reported total of 283,945 TEUs, compared to 240,578 units during the same month last year, an 18 percent jump.

Among the reasons for the increase was that November 2014 marked the beginning of the West Coast port disruptions during contract negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association.

The ports also reported that auto imports continued to be strong in November and were up seven percent year to date to 168,893 units.

Detailed information about the ports’ current and historical volumes can be seen at https://www.nwseaportalliance.com/sites/default/files/November2015-ContainerVolumes.pdf.

1st 18,000-TEU Ship Coming to America

By Mark Edward Nero

The CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, an 18,000-TEU megaship named in honor of one of America’s founding fathers, is expected to call at the Port of Los Angeles on Dec. 26 and the Port of Oakland on Dec. 31, making it the largest container ship of this capacity ever to call at any port in the United States.

The vessel, operated by France-based shipping line CMA CGM, is the world’s 10th largest containership, at 399.2 meters (about 1,310 feet) by 54 meters (177 feet). It was launched from a Chinese shipyard in November and delivered Dec. 4.

The ship is expected to be deployed on the Pearl River Express, a service connecting the main China ports – including Xiamen, Nansha and Yantian – with US West Coast ports, including the APM terminal at the Port of LA’s Pier 400.

“It’s fitting that the largest container ship to ever traverse North American waters would make its first call right here at the Port of Los Angeles,” LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a prepared statement. “The arrival of the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin sends a powerful message that our port stands among the world’s greatest, and that we are prepared to continue growing and adapting to the demands of our global economy.”

Currently, the largest ships serving the US West Coast can only carry a maximum of 14,000 TEUs. CMA CGM says it has been working closely with the Los Angeles and Oakland ports to ensure there is sufficient infrastructure to support the 18,000-TEU vessel and that it looks forward to working with other ports throughout the US as they begin similar assessments of their infrastructure.

The Port of Oakland says that included among the steps it has taken to improve its infrastructure are dredging berths and channels to 50-foot depths; raising the height of cranes that load and unload vessels; and modernizing marine terminals to handle increased import and export volumes.

Until now, vessels the size of the Benjamin Franklin have been deployed exclusively in the Asia-Europe trade, which is the world’s busiest container shipping route.

Port of San Diego Awarded Improvements Grant

By Mark Edward Nero

The California Division of Boating and Waterways has awarded the Port of San Diego a $6.1 million grant for a major improvement project at the port’s Shelter Island Boat Launching Facility.

The award was announced at the most recent meeting of the Boating and Waterways Commission, held at the port’s administration building in November.

The estimated $9.5 million improvement project entails improving the Shelter Island launch ramp’s basin by enlarging the maneuvering area, replacing the worn-out launch ramp, increasing the lengths of the boarding floats, providing a concrete drop-off area for kayaks, and bringing the restroom to ADA standards. The port says it also anticipates receiving $3.35 million in project funding from the Wildlife Conservation Board.

The Shelter Island Boat Launching Facility was built in the mid-1950s and is used by recreational boaters from the general public. Small yachts, inboard and out-board motorboats, private fishing boats, fishing tournament boats and amphibious tour buses all compete for space at the launch ramp and its basin.

“It’s the most popular boat launch in San Diego Bay with nearly 50,000 boat launches a year,” Board of Port Commissioners Chair Dan Malcolm said. “However, this is a heavily congested facility that needs improvement.”

When completed, the new launch facility basin is expected to be 82 percent larger: the new entry/exit point would increase from 25 feet to 60 feet and new walkways and public viewing platforms will be added, as well as a separate area for hand-launched watercraft.

The Port of San Diego said it expects to solicit bids for the project in the fall of 2016, with construction taking place between December 2016 and December 2017.

POLA Container Volumes Up 7 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Los Angeles handled a total of 709,968 TEUs in November 2015, a jump of seven percent compared to the same period last year, according to data that was released Dec. 16.

Imports improved 7.6 percent to 358,423 TEUs in November compared to the previous year, however exports dropped 5.7 percent to 142,020 TEUs in November. Factoring in empties, which increased 16.5 percent, overall November volumes of 709,968 increased seven percent compared to November 2014.

“We’ve seen container volumes at and above 700,000 TEUs for the past six months, which demonstrates consistency and the strength of our supply chain partners,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said. “With larger vessels coming into the transpacific trade this month… we can further show the gains we have made this year in terms of effectively moving greater volumes through our port.”

For the first 11 months of 2015, overall volumes of 7,534,181 TEUs are down 1.9 percent compared to the same period in 2014. For the fiscal year so far, the port has seen 3.63 million TEUs so far, nearly identical to the 3.62 million during FY 2015. The new fiscal year began July 1.

Current and past data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles is available at http://www.portoflosangeles.org/maritime/stats.asp.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

NASSCO Delivers LNG-Ready Tanker

By Mark Edward Nero

General Dynamics NASSCO has launched the first ship in a series of “ECO Class” tankers for the fleet of SEA-Vista, a Florida-based company that operates a fleet of US-flag product tankers servicing the US coastwise trade of crude oil, petroleum and chemical products.

The christening and launch ceremony was held Dec. 12 at NASSCO’s San Diego shipyard.

The tanker, Independence, is a 610-foot, 50,000 deadweight-ton, and LNG-conversion-ready product tanker with a 330,000-barrel cargo capacity. Construction on the ship began in November 2014.

The Independence will be operated by Seabulk Tankers.

“We are pleased to complete this important milestone for the first in a series of three fuel-efficient, ECO Jones Act product tankers,” Seabulk Tankers President & CEO Daniel Thorogood said.

As part of the ceremony, the ship’s sponsor, RaceTrac Petroleum CEO Allison Moran, christened the ship with a traditional champagne bottle break over the ship’s hull, and Jayne Rathburn, former CEO/owner of US Joiner, pulled the trigger to release the ship into the San Diego Bay.

The new tanker symbolizes the US shipping industry trend toward cleaner, more fuel-efficient modes of transporting product. On Dec. 4, NASSCO delivered the company’s first ECO Class tanker, the Lone Star State, to American Petroleum Tankers.

A video of the Dec. 12 launch ceremony can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/148725849.

Storms Close 9 Pacific Northwest Ports

By Mark Edward Nero

On Dec. 11, two US Coast Guard captains of the port temporarily closed nine maritime entrances in the Pacific Northwest – seven in Oregon, two in Washington – due to severe sea conditions and large amounts of debris in the water caused by a string of storms.

The entrances are expected to remain closed during the duration of the inclement weather, which began December 7 and includes heavy rain and snow.

In Washington, the port of Grays Harbor in Westport; and Quillayute River in LaPush were closed; in Oregon, the ports of Chetco River in Brookings; Coos Bay; Umpqua River in Winchester Bay; Siuslaw River in Florence; Yaquina Bay in Newport; Depoe Bay; Tillamook Bay in Girabaldi were all closed.

The Columbia River was also closed to all maritime traffic.

The action was taken after several storms carrying strong winds and heavy rainfall crossed the Pacific Northwest last week and caused flooding and landslides in parts of Oregon and Washington. Flood waters and landslides caused large amounts of debris to flow in the river systems causing potential problems with maritime traffic.

“My job as a captain of the port is to ensure safety throughout the maritime infrastructure and part of that is to sometimes close the lanes of traffic that mariners use,” said Capt. Dan Travers, commander Sector Columbia River and captain of the port for all ports in Oregon and southwest Washington. “The storms that we all experienced over the last several days have made it dangerous for mariners to transit in and out of our many rivers due to severe sea conditions and debris.”

As of Dec. 14, the maritime entrances were still closed to all recreational and uninspected passenger vessels, according to the Portland branch of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.

Foss, TOTE Maritime Alaska Name New Execs

By Mark Edward Nero

TOTE Maritime Alaska announced Dec. 8 that Michael Noone will assume the role of president of the company on Jan. 1, 2016. He takes the place of John Parrott, who is joining TOTE’s sister company, Foss Maritime, as its Chief Operating Officer.

“We thank John Parrott for his many contributions, accomplishments and leadership for TOTE Maritime Alaska,” said TOTE President & CEO Anthony Chiarello. “We wish him well in his new role at Foss and look forward to TOTE’s continued success under Mike’s capable leadership.”

Parrott was TOTE Maritime Alaska president for the past six years. He began at TOTE Maritime in 1992 as the Chief Mate of the SS Northern Lights, and in 1994 he came ashore, and later became the General Manager for Sea Star Stevedore, which manages the loading, discharge and terminal operations for TOTE Maritime.

In 2002, Parrott returned to TOTE Maritime as the Alaska General Manager, where he was later promoted to Vice President/GM, then VP of Commercial before being named President of TOTE Maritime Alaska in 2009.

In his new role as Foss’ COO, Parrott will be responsible for overseeing key operating divisions, developing and delivering on strategic plans, and optimizing day-to-day operations through implementation of best practices throughout the organization.

Noone joined TOTE Maritime Alaska as Chief Operating Officer in August 2013, and brought with him 28 years of experience in the shipping and logistics field. As COO, he has been responsible for creating strategic and operating plans for sales, pricing and operations for the company.

Oakland Monthly Imports Up 8.7 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

November’s containerized import volume at the Port of Oakland jumped 8.7 percent from the same month a year ago, the port reported Dec. 11. It was the eighth such increase at the port in the past nine months.

The port speculated that healthy consumer demand might have been behind November’s import increase. Containerized trade volume typically slows at year-end as retailers complete holiday inventory buildups.

Despite the encouraging import volumes however, total container volume – imports, exports and empty containers – declined 0.3 percent last month compared to November 2014, according to port data.

The drop was cased in part by a whopping 24.3 percent decline in the number of empty containers imported during the month. The number of full containers exported dropped also month-over-month, but only 1.5 percent compared to November 2014.

The export volume decline, according to the port is attributed in part to weaker demand in China for US goods.

The port said that its import volume for the first 11 months of 2015 is up 0.4 percent from last year, and termed the performance significant in light of a nearly 40 percent volume decline last winter.

“We’re finishing the year much stronger than we started,” Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “Our goal now is to keep the momentum up heading into 2016.”

Complete 2015 cargo statistics for the port are available at http://portofoakland.com/maritime/containerstats.aspx.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Nichols Bros. Wins Expedition Ships Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders has signed agreements to build two US-flagged coastal vessels for expedition cruises and adventure travel company Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Lindblad said Dec. 8.

The new 100-guest vessels are to be built at the Nichols Bros. shipyard on Whidbey Island in Washington State. The first ship is scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of 2017, while the second is scheduled to for delivery in the second quarter of 2018.

The agreements are for Nichols Brothers to construct the two newbuild vessels at a purchase price of $48 million and $46.8 million, respectively, payable monthly based on the value of the work performed.

Jensen Maritime is serving as the naval architect on the project, with interior design work provided by Tillberg Design International. Construction of the vessels is expected to begin this month.

“We are pleased to be working with Nichols Brothers in Washington state on this project given their long history in shipbuilding, including having built our current US-flagged ships, the National Geographic Sea Lion and National Geographic Sea Bird,” Lindblad President and CEO Sven Lindblad said.

“This is an important milestone in the company's history as we enter the 50th anniversary of the birth of expedition travel begun by my father, Lars-Eric Lindblad, with the first laymen expedition to Antarctica in 1966,” Lindblad added.

Some key features of the new vessels include:
• Fifty cabins, 22 with balconies and eight that can be configured into four adjoining cabins for families.
• A fleet of sea kayaks, paddle boards, and specially designed landing craft, all geared to get guests out and into the places being explored.
• A fully equipped fitness room and a wellness spa.
• State-of-the-art expedition technology, including a remotely operated vehicle, video microscope, and a hydrophone and bow-cam designed for immediate bow deployment to hear and film, for instance, humpback whale vocalizations and see bow-riding dolphins.
• Full warm and cold water diving gear and underwater cameras for the undersea specialist to bring back rare imagery of the undersea world.

Lindblad had previously signed a non-binding letter of intent with Nichols Brothers for the newbuilds and paid a $4 million non-refundable slot fee during the third quarter of 2015 to reserve the shipyard’s capacity, which will be charged against the second vessel’s cost.

DOE: 100 New US LNG Ships Needed

By Mark Edward Nero

The United States is expected to change from a net importer of natural gas to a net exporter in the next five years, and transport of the full output capacity of under construction US liquefaction facilities will require about 100 or more American-built liquefied natural gas carriers, according to the US Government Accountability Office.

“Based on the current capacity of US shipyards we spoke with, building 100 carriers would likely take more than 30 years, with employment in US shipyards increasing somewhat or becoming more stable,” the GAO stated in its report, which was released Dec. 3.

Five large-scale US liquefaction facilities necessary for conversion of natural gas to LNG are under construction with a projected capacity to export more than 12 percent of US natural gas production in 2020.

The proposed requirement to transport exports of LNG via US-built and US-flagged carriers could expand employment for US mariners and shipbuilders if it doesn’t reduce the expected demand for US LNG.

According to representatives of US mariner groups, between 4,000 and 5,200 mariners would be needed to operate the estimated 100 LNG carriers needed to transport the five US facilities’ full capacity of LNG once the five are fully operational.

However, the GAO said it was told by several stakeholders that implementing the proposed requirement could prompt customers to attempt to modify, renegotiate, or terminate their existing contracts for liquefaction.

Maritime industry representatives told the government that US carriers would cost about two to three times as much as similar carriers built in Korean shipyards and would be more expensive to operate.

Based on GAO analysis, these costs would increase the cost of transporting LNG from the United States, decrease the competitiveness of US LNG in the world market, and may, in turn, reduce demand for US LNG.

Additionally, limited availability of US carriers in the early years of construction could decrease the amount of LNG that could be exported from the United States for a period of time, leading customers to seek alternate sources.

Currently operating LNG carriers are nearly all foreign built and operated. LNG carriers have not been built in the United States since before 1980, and no LNG carriers are currently registered under the US flag.

The full GAO report, titled “Implications of Using US Liquefied-Natural-Gas Carriers for Exports,” can be read or downloaded at the Accountability Office website: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-16-104.

5th Straight Month of Cargo Gains at POLB

By Mark Edward Nero

Strong cargo volume continued at the Port of Long Beach in November with 6.6 percent growth in container trade over the same month last year, according to newly released data.

It was the fifth straight month of increases and enough cargo to rack up the second-busiest November in its 104-year history, the port said.

A total of 619,699 TEUs moved through port terminals last month. Imports were up 4.3 percent to 306,654 containers, while exports fell four percent to 124,717 containers. The number of empty TEUs shipped was 188,328, a 19.5 percent increase over November 2015.

“Thanks to our industry partners, we have had consistent gains throughout 2015 and are on track to move more than seven million TEUs this year,” Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said. “Retailers have reported a modest but healthy holiday season, which keeps us busy and the economy growing.”

The port said it believes that upcoming post-holiday sales planned by retailers across the country drove the port’s strong cargo numbers, as retailers heavily stocked their shelves a few months ago and are now shipping the empty containers back overseas to manufacturers to be refilled.

The National Retail Federation reported October sales were the highest in three months. The Toy Industry Association reported healthy sales figures up by 6.2 percent, an increase of $1 billion. Toy sales were driven by the “Star Wars” and “Minions” movies, whose toys came through the POLB.

Based on current projections for December, Long Beach expects to surpass seven million TEUs in 2015, which would be only the third time in its 104-year history. The other two times were in 2006 and 2007, when the Port of Long Beach reached 7.29 million and 7.31 million containers, respectively. Through 11 months of 2015, the Port was 5.5 percent ahead of the same period last year, and that’s despite the first quarter of the calendar year being negatively affected by congestion that hindered container movement on the docks.

More details on the cargo numbers are available at www.polb.com/stats.

Moody's: US Ports Stable in 2016

By Mark Edward Nero

The outlook for the US ports industry is stable for 2016 on the expectation of continued economic growth and a steady rise in US container volume, Moody’s Investors Service says in its annual ports outlook.

“Ports – US: 2016 Outlook – Container Volume Growth Supports Stable Outlook,” was released by the investment service Dec. 10. The outlook reflects Moody’s expectations for the fundamental business conditions in the industry over the next 12 to 18 months.

“We expect US container volume to grow three percent to four percent in 2016,” Moody’s analyst Moses Kopmar said. “Although weaker global demand and a strong U.S. dollar have weakened export activity, the US is a net importer with an improving economy, which we believe will support US consumption and drive cargo demand at US ports.”

Moody’s macroeconomic board predicts the US economy will grow two-to-three percent in 2015 and 2016; US container volume typically tracks closely with economic growth.

Additionally, shipping costs are near their lowest levels in recent years, a result of both overcapacity in the container market and low fuel costs.

“Overcapacity in the container market continues to depress freight rates, as supply growth outpaces demand growth,” Kopmar said. “While capacity is tighter for landside freight transport, such as truck and rail, competition and excess capacity have pushed down spot rates in these markets as well.”

Despite expectations of container volume growth, several factors temper Moody’s outlook. Among them is a significant build-up of business inventories than began in late 2014 and increased in 2015, which boosted container volume growth this year. As a result, Moody’s anticipates container volume growth will moderate in 2016.

The report’s part of a series of outlooks on a wide variety of sectors globally published by Moody’s. It’s available to Moody’s subscribers at


Other reports in the series can be found at www.moodys.com/2016outlooks.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Obama Signs FAST Act Into Law

By Mark Edward Nero

On Dec. 4, 2015, President Obama signed into law H.R. 22, also known as the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act),” $305 billion legislation that authorizes budgetary resources for surface transportation programs for fiscal years 2016-2020.

The US Senate and House of Representatives approved the bill just hours before President Obama signed it.

The FAST Act provides $6.3 billion for the new National Highway Freight Program, which will now provide dedicated formula funding to states for freight projects, including 1,400 miles of connections with ports and other intermodal facilities.

The legislation also funds $4.5 billion for the Nationally and Significant Freight and Highway Projects program, including $500 million for multi-modal freight projects and a $450 million ‘carve-out’ for projects ranging from $5 million to $100 million.

In a statement, Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) applauded the government’s actions.

“The FAST Act is a major achievement, and not just for seaports and the freight community,” he said. “Passenger mobility will also be improved through congestion relief with the FAST Act provisions that fund and promote more efficient goods movement mobility. These provisions will enhance our international competitiveness in the global economy.”

The legislation also converts the Surface Transportation Program (STP) to a block grant program, maximizing the flexibility of STP for state and local governments, and increases the amount of STP funding distributed to local governments from 50 percent to 55 percent over the life of the bill.

Additionally, the Act expands eligibility for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program by allowing states to use National Highway Performance Program, STP block grant and NSFHP funds to pay the subsidy and administrative costs associated with providing TIFIA credit assistance.

NASSCO Delivers American Petroleum Tanker

By Mark Edward Nero

On Dec. 4, San Diego-based General Dynamics NASSCO delivered the company’s first “ECO Class” tanker, the Lone Star State, to American Petroleum Tankers.

The vessel is the first of a five-tanker contract between NASSCO and American Petroleum, which calls for the design and construction of five 50,000 deadweight-ton, LNG-conversion-ready product tankers with a 330,000 barrel cargo capacity.

The ships were designed by DSEC, a subsidiary of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering of South Korea. The design incorporates fuel efficiency concepts through several features, including a G-series MAN Diesel & Turbo ME slow-speed main engine and an optimized hull form.

The tankers will also have the ability to accommodate future installation of an LNG fuel-gas system.
The 610-foot-long tankers are a new design offering improved fuel efficiency and the latest environmental protection features including a ballast water treatment system.

“The delivery of this new vessel symbolizes the future of American shipping: innovative, cost-effective, and green, General Dynamics NASSCO President Fred Harris said. “The Lone Star State, along with the four others we are currently building for APT, will be among the most fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly tankers – anywhere in the world.”

The tankers, Harris said, are 33 percent more fuel-efficient than five previous tankers built by NASSCO for American Petroleum between 2007-2010.

Since the cut of the first piece of steel, local dignitaries have been involved in the build process of the tanker.

In September 2014, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer signaled the start of construction, citing it as “a great example of innovative technology” and a “symbol of jobs and opportunity.” In March 2015, Faulconer’s wife Katherine laid the keel. Two months ago, NASSCO shipbuilders christened the vessel.

The construction and operation of the five new tankers are aligned with the Jones Act, which requires that ships carrying cargo between US ports be built in US shipyards.

Vigor Awarded $8.9 Million Dry Dock Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

Portland-based Vigor Marine has been awarded an $8.93 million contract for 56-calendar-day shipyard availability for the overhaul and dry docking of the USNS Yukon, the US Dept. of Defense revealed Dec. 3.

The USNS Yukon is an underway replenishment oiler launched in February 1993 that supports other US Navy vessels. It has a listed length of 677 feet, a beam of 97 feet, five inches and a draft of 35 feet. The vessel is listed at 31,200 deadweight tons.

The vessel entered non-commissioned US Navy service in 1994 under the control of the Military Sealift Command and serves in the United States Pacific Fleet.

Work is expected to include: general services for ship, clean and gas free tanks void and cofferdams and spaces; port and starboard cargo tanks preservation; center cargo tank preservation; close survey inspection; main deck overhead preservation; main house preservation; main engine exhaust insulation replacement; lifeboat repair and maintenance; reefer container installation; and underwater hull preservation.

The contract includes options, which, if exercised, would bring the total contract value to $9.78 million. Work will be performed in Portland, and is expected to be complete by March 2, 2016. If options are exercised, work could continue through March 12, according to the US Defense Dept.

CLIA: 24 Million Cruise Passengers in 2016

By Mark Edward Nero

Nearly 24 million cruise passengers are expected to sail in 2016, an increase from the estimated 23 million people who took a cruise in 2015 and the 22.1 million passengers of 2014, according to a report released Dec. 1 by the Cruise Lines International Association.

The number of projected passengers is a significant jump from the 15 million passengers 10 years prior, according to CLIA’s 2016 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook.

According to the outlook, CLIA member cruise lines are scheduled to debut 27 new ocean, river and specialty ships in 2016, for a total investment of more than $6.5 billion in new ocean vessels alone. Travel agents are also experiencing a higher demand for cruise travel, according to the outlook. Eight out of ten CLIA member travel agents said they’re expecting a sales increase in 2016 over this year.

“In an effort to make cruising the best overall vacation experience available, the industry is continuing to evolve,” Acting CLIA CEO Cindy D’Aoust said in a prepared statement. “By creating unique ships, new experiences and access to destinations around the world, the evolution, appeal and value of cruise travel continues to drive the overall growth of the industry.”

Cruise industry expenditures generated nearly $120 billion in total output worldwide last year, supporting 939,232 full-time equivalent employees who earned $39.3 billion in income in 2014, according to CLIA.

Among the current trends cited in the outlook are the growing popularity of river cruises; a 34 percent annual passenger volume growth rate in Asia; and an increase in overnight stays at ports of call.
More information on the outlook can be found at http://www.cruising.org/docs/default-source/press-room-research/clia_sotci_infog_2016.pdf

Friday, December 4, 2015

Upriver Container Shuttle Launches

By Mark Edward Nero

Container barge service returned to the upper Columbia and Snake rivers this week with the launch of the Upriver Container Barge-Rail Shuttle. The first barge loaded at the Port of Lewiston and got underway Dec. 3.

The shuttle is expected to help importers and exporters in Eastern Washington, Oregon and Idaho move containerized agricultural products to markets in Asia. An informal partnership including Northwest Container Service, Tidewater Barge and the ports of Morrow, Lewiston and Portland helped facilitate the return of the service.

The service helps to fill the void that emerged with the withdrawal of Hanjin and Hapag-Lloyd’s weekly transpacific service at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 6. After the withdrawals, container barge service on the Columbia-Snake River system and the container terminal in Lewiston, Idaho shut down.

The new service addresses key issues driving up the cost of transportation in the wake of losing direct carrier service at Terminal 6 in Portland earlier this year, including loss of barge service, container availability and cost of trucking to Puget Sound ports. The planning for the return of container barge service started in summer 2015, and required commitments from multiple transportation providers and key exporting companies to make the service viable.

Empty containers began arriving at the Port of Lewiston in October, were filled with agricultural and paper commodities from Idaho and Washington, and are to be barged to the Port of Morrow in Boardman, Oregon. The barge service is expected to continue carrying empties up river and return full every two weeks.

In Boardman, the commodities will be combined with Oregon agricultural and paper products and taken by train to the Northwest Container Service yard in Portland. From there, containers will either remain in Portland for export on Westwood Shipping vessels, or continue by rail to seaports in Seattle and Tacoma.

The project is the outgrowth of work the Port of Portland and the State of Oregon took on with shipping companies across the state to find alternate routes to market until weekly transpacific container service resumes at Terminal 6. The port contributed $51,000 in seed money to kick-start the shuttle project.

The shuttle is expected to be self-sustaining by the second full month of service. Once established, rail service from Boardman is expected to increase to weekly as additional importers and exporters participate in the program.

Currently, Westwood Shipping provides monthly container service from T-6 to Asia. To accommodate other exporters, Northwest Container Service increased rail service from Portland to Puget Sound Ports.

“We appreciate this kind of ‘out of the box’ thinking from all parties involved, providing a partial solution to shipping challenges while we continue working to recruit critical new transpacific service,” Port of Portland Executive Director Bill Wyatt said.

According to the port, the Portland region cargo market of 336,000 TEUs has the potential to support two weekly non-competing, transpacific container carriers. The port recently began targeted outreach to four target carriers that can serve Oregon’s key international markets, Japan, China, and Korea.

Fire Disables Cruise Ship Near Hawaii

By Mark Edward Nero

A fire in the engine room resulted in a Princess Cruises ship losing power Nov. 30 during a voyage from San Francisco to Hawaii.

The cruise ship Grand Princess, carrying 2,592 passengers and 1,095 crew, was in the middle of a 15-day Hawaii cruise that departed San Francisco Nov. 25.

“A propulsion circuit breaker in the ship’s aft electrical switchboard suffered a significant failure, resulting in smoke and a small fire,” the Los Angeles County-based cruise line explained in a statement.

“The incident was isolated but did cause a power outage resulting in the temporary use of emergency lighting and limited air conditioning for a short time,” Princess Cruises said.

The crew was able to extinguish the fire and restart the engine. Power was later restored and no injuries were reported.

The Grand Princess was 20 miles off the coast of Hilo, Hawaii at the time of the incident. All 2,592 passengers aboard the vessel were accounted for, along with 1,095 crewmembers.

Princess Cruises subsequently cancelled the vessel’s port calls to the Hawaiian islands of Kaui and Maui in order to return to San Francisco as scheduled on Dec. 10.

“While there is no impact to maneuverability or safety, the ship cannot attain maximum speed therefore we must adjust the future itinerary,” the company explained.

The Grand Princess, built in 1998, is a 951-foot long vessel weighing 109,000 gross tons. It has a height of 201 feet, a beam of 118 feet and can travel at a speed of up to 22.5 knots.

Port of Oakland Retrofitting Giant Cranes

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Oakland said Nov. 30 that it’s raising four massive gantry cranes 26-feet higher to span modern megaships. The $13.95 million project, scheduled to begin in April, is meant to increase Oakland’s capacity to handle giant container vessels.

The taller cranes, located at Oakland International Container Terminal, will be able to reach 141 feet above the dock and will have the height to load and unload ships with capacity up to 14,000 20-foot containers, which are currently the largest vessels calling in the US.

“The big ships come here on a regular basis,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll explained. “This equips us to take on more of them as shipping lines continue to scale up.”

The four 13-year-old cranes each weigh 1,380 tons and are to be supported by jacking frames while their legs are cut away and replaced with new, longer ones. The legs will be fabricated by Shanghai-based ZPMC, manufacturer of the cranes. It will take 10 to 12 weeks to lift each crane, according to the port.

The cranes can lift as much as 65 tons of containerized cargo, and once they’re heightened, they’ll be able to reach three rows of containers higher on a ship.

There are 33 cranes at the port’s five marine terminals, eight of which are tall enough to reach atop the biggest ships in Oakland. The port said it is lifting additional cranes with an eye toward the future of global trade, because more ocean carriers are building big ships to gain economies of scale in transporting containerized cargo.

Panama Canal Authority: Leaks Fixed Next Month

By Mark Edward Nero

Repairs of leaks detected in the newly constructed third set of locks of the long-awaited Panama Canal expansion are expected to be completed in January, the contractor overseeing the project said Nov. 28.

During a joint press conference with the Panama Canal Authority, contractor Grupo Unidos por el Canal said that ongoing work to reinforce the sills in the new locks should be complete by the end of next month.

As part of its remaining work, Grupo Unidos por el Canal is conducting inspections and reinforcements of each individual sill. It also plans to continue the electromechanical testing on the filling and emptying systems of the new locks.

The additional work became required after stress testing of new locks for the Panama Canal revealed water seepage in a specific area of the new Pacific Ocean-side locks in a section that separates the middle chamber and lower chamber.

Despite the setback, the expansion project has now reached 95 percent completion, according to the Canal Authority, and work continues in other areas of the project.

The $5 billion Panama Canal expansion is expected to allow post-Panamax ships to travel through the canal en route to East Coast terminals, thereby bypassing the US West Coast. It was initially scheduled to be complete in 2014 to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the opening of the existing canal, but snafus have delayed the completion by two years so far.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

TOTE Cargo Ship Loses, Regains Power

By Mark Edward Nero

A TOTE Maritime cargo ship that lost power and went adrift about 50 miles off the coast of British Columbia in late November is now back underway.

The US-flagged M/V North Star lost power the morning of Nov. 24 while en route to BC from Anchorage, Alaska. However, after spending much of the day working on the problem, crew members managed to fix the issues by 10 pm the same day, and the vessel was able to resume its voyage under its own power without aid from the Canadian Coast Guard, which had been dispatched to the cargo ship.

The 839-foot ro/ro M/V North Star is a former fleet mate of the 790-foot container carrier El Faro, which sank Oct. 1 when its propulsion system failed as it encountered hurricane-force winds and waves east of the Bahamas. A total of 33 crewmembers were killed.

The 15-year-old M/V North Star is one of two US-flagged, Orca-class roll-on/roll-off cargo ships operated by TOTE Maritime Alaska. It serves the Jones Act Tacoma, Washington to Anchorage, Alaska route.

In late 2013, TOTE signed a contract with Finnish corporation Wärtsilä for the conversion of the M/V North Star and its sister ship, the Midnight Sun, to run on LNG. The conversions, expected to be among the largest ever undertaken in North America, have been delayed at least a year due to the El Faro incident, TOTE Maritime President John Parrott said in November.

Oakland Port Testing Night, Weekend Hours

By Mark Edward Nero

Despite a plan by the Port of Oakland to open all gates for night and Saturday hours not yet being approved by the Federal Maritime Commission, one port terminal has already moved forward with a trial version of the program at one of its terminals.

Oakland International Container Terminal, the port’s largest facility, said it is testing increased hours of operations for specific transactions. So far, extended gate transactions have included empty container returns and pick-ups and loaded container export drop-offs.

Specialized import pick-ups known as ‘one stop free-flow delivery’ have also been part of the trial program.

The trial basis program, an experiment to accelerate containerized trade flow, precedes a port-wide plan for Saturday operations that was announced last August and that the port expects to put in place in the first quarter of 2016.

“This is a service for all customers and drayage companies that can utilize the transactions,” Oakland International Container Terminal General Manager Jim Rice said. “We know this may not fit everyone’s business needs, but it has a positive impact on the overall flow of transactions during the day. We will continue to operate night and weekend gates if the demand is there.”

Under the off-hours program – which began the first week of November – drivers receive weekly broadcasts from the terminal advising them of the dates and times for the extended gates. Transaction types may vary depending on the demand.

The Port of Oakland says it has among the highest concentrations of truck transactions-per-gate at any West Coast port, including those in Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The marine terminals are working on a collaborative plan to open permanent Saturday gates for all transactions in 2016. Under the program, which has been dubbed “OakPass” and is modeled after the PierPass program at the Los Angeles-Long Beach ports complex, Oakland terminal operators would charge container fees during peak hours.

The plan’s currently under review by the Federal Maritime Commission.

Nicaraguan Canal Construction Delayed

By Mark Edward Nero

The developer hired by the Nicaraguan government to build an alternative to the Panama Canal, Hong Kong-based infrastructure development firm HKND Group, says it needs another year before it can begin constructing the $50 billion project.

The developer, which originally was to begin construction by late 2015, recently said that it needs more time to “fine-tune” the project, the International Business Times reported in late November. HKND was granted the exclusive right to build the canal in 2013.

As the name implies, the Nicaragua Canal is a proposed waterway through Nicaragua to connect the Pacific Ocean with Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The 130-mile waterway is expected to take up to 11 years to complete.

It was in June 2013 that the Nicaraguan legislature approved an exclusive commercial agreement with HKND to advance the Nicaragua Canal and Development Project.

The canal is designed to accommodate container vessels up to 25,000 TEUs, super tankers of 320,000 deadweight tons and bulk carriers of 400,000 dwt. The planned project includes the construction of two ports, a free-trade zone and an international airport.

Growth in East-West trade and ship sizes could eventually lead to $1.4 trillion in total goods value transiting the combined Nicaragua and Panama canals, HKND says its own commercial analysis has found.

Seattle Port Approves 2016 Budget

By Mark Edward Nero

On Nov. 24, the Port of Seattle Commission approved its 2016 budget, which includes an estimated $583.4 million in operating revenues and $335.4 million in operating expenses. The budgeted net operating income before depreciation is $248.0 million.

Also, the total capital budget for 2016 is $408.4 million and the five-year capital improvement program is $2.23 billion, which the port said in a statement reflects its “continuing commitment to investing in the development, expansion, and renewal of port facilities that support regional economic activity.”

“This is not a status-quo budget,” Port CEO Ted Fick explained. “This is a growth-oriented budget so we can spur the regional economy, expand opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses, increase family-wage jobs, help people acquire skills to move up the career ladder, and protect our environment.”

The 2016 budget includes funding major improvements to the Pier 66 cruise terminal. Under a public-private partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line, the cost to renovate the interior of the terminal to accommodate more passengers and improve mobility along Alaskan Way is being shared.

In 2015, the port saw a nine percent increase in cruise passengers this year over 2014, making it a record year with 898,032 passengers sailing via Seattle. Estimates indicate that 2016 will see another 6.8 percent increase.

Each homeported cruise ship that calls at one of the port’s two cruise terminals generates about $2.5 million to the local economy.

The port’s 2016 budget also assumes a levy amount of $72 million, a reduction of $1 million from 2015; the port had held the levy amount constant the past four years adjusting the levy rate downward as property values increased. A typical King County single-family homeowner is expected to pay $82 per year to fund the port in 2016.

An overview of the budget can be seen at http://www.portseattle.org/About/Financial-Info/Budget/Pages/default.aspx

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

BC Ferries Receives Vessel from Seaspan

By Mark Edward Nero

BC Ferries, the contract service provider responsible for ferry service along coastal British Columbia, has officially taken ownership of a new cable ferry, the Baynes Sound Connector. The vessel’s title was transferred from Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards in mid-November.

According to BC Ferries, the new cable ferry met or exceeded all contract specifications, during rigorous acceptance trials and testing conducted by Seaspan, including speed and lower fuel consumption compared to the Quinitsa, the vessel currently in service on the route.

“We are very pleased with the new cable ferry’s performance,” BC Ferries’ President and CEO Mike Corrigan said. “In operational trials, the vessel exceeded its maximum design speed of 8.5 knots fully loaded, achieving a speed of 8.7 knots, with crossing times consistent with the Quinitsa.”

“All speeds have been achieved on the designed one engine operation, and the second engine is there for complete redundancy,” Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Engineering, explained. “The horsepower of one engine is approximately 490, compared to the Quinitsa, which has four engines at 475 horsepower each.”

The trials indicated significantly lower fuel consumption than the current vessel, he added.

BC Ferries says it will now conduct crew training and familiarization over the next eight weeks as the company prepares for full operational service. The Baynes Sound Connector is expected to be in full operational service in early February 2016. BC Ferries says passengers will continue to be served by the Quinitsa until the Baynes Sound Connector goes into service.

SAFE Boats Awarded Interceptor Vessel Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

Bremerton, Washington-based high performance aluminum boat builder SAFE Boats International has been selected by the Colombian Navy/Coast Guard to build its new Type-F Riverine Interceptor Vessel.

Under the contract, SAFE Boats will provide the Colombian Navy/Coast Guard with a state-of-the-art, shallow draft, aluminum high speed intercept vessel designed to provide tactical mobility and support in opposed riverine and littoral environments.

The vessel will perform missions of offensive patrolling, combat drug trafficking, piracy, arms and explosives smuggling and conduct vessel-to-vessel boarding operations to insure the security of commercial shipping lines within Colombia.

The SAFE Boats design has twin Yamaha outboard engines, a tropical climate retractable canopy, forward and aft machine gun mount foundations and a 10 person seating capacity, including shock mitigating seats by SHOXS for five crew members.

The Type-F Riverine Interceptor is air deployable by fixed wing, rotary wing and commercial mover. It’s built with a maximum speed of 37-plus knots and 200-nautical mile range, and has capabilities in austere shallow water environments.

“The Colombian Coast Guard currently has over 20 SAFE Boats in service,” revealed John Hotz, SAFE’s director of sales for Latin America and the Caribbean. “We have worked very close with the Colombian military to understand just how aggressive and remote their missions can be and to develop a boat that will significantly enhance their patrol and interdiction capabilities on the large rivers of Colombia.”

Moose Boats Delivers Police Catamaran

By Mark Edward Nero

Moose Boats, a vessel designer and manufacturer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, has delivered a M2-35 catamaran patrol boat to the Placer County Sheriff's Office in Carnelian Bay, Calif.

The new Marine 6, a 35-foot all-aluminum catamaran vessel with a beam of 13 feet and draft of 34 feet, will replace the Placer County Sheriff's former Marine 6, a 28 foot aluminum monohull vessel which has been in service since 1988.

Propulsion of the new vessel is provided by twin Yamaha 350-horsepower four stroke outboard engines that give the vessel a top speed of 42 knots at 6,200 feet above sea level on Lake Tahoe and 45 knots at sea level.

Also, the cabin interior is outfitted to facilitate emergency medical services and has an enclosed head, a small galley and a work surface.

Other dimensions and equipment include a range of 240 nautical miles; fuel capacity of 240 gallons; and a cruising speed of 30 knots.

The Placer County Sheriff says it utilized California Division of Boating and Waterways funding to assist in the purchase of the vessel, which will have wide ranging duties, including year-round patrol on Lake Tahoe.

“The Marine 6 crew’s primary responsibilities include enforcement of state and federal maritime law and California penal and vehicle codes,” the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “Commonly, you will find the crew conducting boating under the influence investigations, vessel collision investigations and less often, death investigations.”

The crew can also be called to assist with search and rescue operations, locate missing or overdue boaters, provide medical aid and transport, and assist vessels in distress: sinking, mechanical failure, etc., according to the Sheriff’s Office.

POLB Modifying Storage Fee Policy

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Long Beach revealed Nov. 20 that in order to increase the speed of cargo moving out of its terminals, it is considering reducing the amount of time import containers can be stored for free on the docks.

Since 2005, the length of time containers can stay on the dock – known as “free time” – has been four days. Beyond that, terminals are charged storage fees. Port officials are proposing changing free time to six shifts – the equivalent of as few as three days – in order to encourage terminals to more consistently operate at night and move imports off the docks faster.

With larger vessels calling on the port regularly, there are more containers at terminals, which inhibits the ability of workers to deliver containers quickly and efficiently.

“Truckers have told us their containers are not always accessible because of fewer evening shifts, and terminal operators want to clear space in their yards while giving their customers enough time to get their cargo,” Port of Long Beach Chief Commercial Officer Dr. Noel Hacegaba explained.

The port says that in the coming weeks, staff will work with all stakeholders to develop a final plan that will be proposed to the Board of Harbor Commissioners for consideration.

“When containers stack up in terminals, it leads to extra handling that makes the process slower for longshore workers, the shippers that depend on them, truckers who move the goods, and ultimately the consumer,” Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said. “This approach will keep the system more fluid and help avoid congestion.”

Friday, November 20, 2015

Paper: America Vulnerable to Maritime Coercion

By Mark Edward Nero

While China continues to expand both its naval sea power and its fleet of merchant vessels, the United States has adopted an ‘abandon ship’ policy towards the merchant maritime industry, according to the authors of a new paper on maritime security.

The paper, entitled “Sea Strangulation: How the United States Has Become Vulnerable to Chinese Maritime Coercion,” was released Nov. 19. It highlights the perceived defense risks of a reduced American merchant fleet and the need to improve its capability.

The authors are Capt. Carl Schuster, former Director of Operations at the US Joint Intelligence Center Pacific, and Dr. Patrick Bratton, Associate Professor of Political Science at Hawai’i Pacific University.

In their 28-page document, Bratton and Schuster state that China has the potential to implement a strategy the authors call “Sea Strangulation,” cutting off the supply of critical military and civilian goods.

“China’s growing commercial and military sea power are carefully planned to support one another, giving China the ability to control – or even halt – shipping of essential goods by other nations,” the paper reads in part. “China could severely damage the US economy, threaten our allies, hold our military hostage and deny critical supplies to Americans in locations such as Hawai’i without firing a single shot.” Currently, nearly 30 percent of global trade passes through the South China Sea.

The authors state that in the event of a military conflict with a hostile nation, America’s reliance on foreign-flagged vessels in commercial shipping could become its Achilles’ heel.

If the US were forced to rely on foreign-flagged ships to supply US troops, other nations could refuse to carry such goods, or a growing naval power such as China could blockade crucial supplies for US military forces, Bratton and Schuster speculate.

They also argue that the US should not weaken the Jones Act, which requires US-flagged ships be used to deliver goods between US ports; and that America should strengthen – and possibly expand – the US Merchant Marine.

With a renewed commercial shipping capacity, the US can control its own destiny, they say, but by contrast, an over-dependence on flag of convenience ships belonging to China or other nations “could be worse than inconvenient.”

It could, the authors state, lead to “severe hardships for those who live and serve under the flag of the United States.”

The full paper can be seen at http://www.hpu.edu/CHSS/History/DeptNews/SeaStrangulation11_171.pdf#Read.