Thursday, April 23, 2015

BAE Signs 20-Year Ship Repair Deal

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of San Francisco Port Commission and BAE Systems have agreed to a new 20-year lease agreement for maritime ship repair that both sides say is expected to sustain San Francisco’s long tradition of shipbuilding and repair.

BAE Systems San Francisco Ship Repair currently leases the port’s Pier 70 shipyard and two floating dry docks. At its March 24 meeting, the San Francisco Port Commission unanimously approved a new long-term lease with BAE that, among other things:

• Establishes a 20-year lease term beginning April 1, 2015, with two five-year extension options.

• Institutes a system of rent credits that will incentivize investments in the port-owned equipment and buildings, revitalize these assets, and eliminate or reduce port liability.

• Sets up a shared dredging fund between the port, BAE Systems, and the Army Corps of Engineers, that can deepen the publicly accessible channel at the entrance to the shipyard and lead the way for federal maintenance dredging in the future.

• Sets up an agreement between the port and BAE Systems for pursuing possible funding opportunities for the replacement of the port’s post-Panamax dry dock No. 2.

“We proudly continue one of San Francisco’s oldest maritime traditions, a tradition that has been creating and maintaining quality maritime jobs for more than a century,” Port of SF Executive Director Monique Moyer announced. “This agreement fortifies our alliance to sustain this industry for decades to come.”

The shipyard is located at Pier 70 at the foot of Potrero Hill. Ships have been built and repaired in and around the area for over 150 years.

DOJ Clears Horizon Lines Acquisition

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Department of Justice has cleared The Pasha Group’s acquisition of the Hawaii trade-lane business of Horizon Lines Inc., which paves the way for an anticipated final closing before the end of the second quarter, Pasha Group revealed April 23.

Horizon announced in November 2014 that it has agreed to sell its Hawaii operations to the Pasha Group for $141.5 million.

Upon closing, Pasha Hawaii, a wholly owned subsidiary of the family-owned global logistics company, is expected to assume operations for all of Horizon’s Hawaii business, including Horizon’s four U.S.-flag containerships in the Hawaii trade lane.

In addition to the ships, The Pasha Group is also acquiring Horizon subsidiaries Hawaii Stevedores Inc.; the California-based operations of Sea-Logix LLC, which provides trucking and warehousing services; and Sunrise Operations, a subsidiary that includes Horizon’s vessels and Hawaii-based employees.

Pasha says that after the sale closes, it expects to partner with Crowley Maritime to provide ship management of the vessels and crew through Crowley subsidiary Marine Transport Management Inc.

In becoming part of Pasha, Horizon’s Hawaii business will operate alongside Pasha Hawaii’s existing operations.

“We are excited for the opportunity to welcome Horizon’s Hawaii family of employees to the Pasha team,” President and CEO George Pasha IV said. “I am confident that the combination of our two businesses will allow us to more effectively serve our new expanded customer base.”

Pasha has said it plans to make significant upgrades to the Horizon fleet, that environmental responsibility and stewardship “will continue to be a major part of Pasha Hawaii’s culture and vessel operations,” and that the company plans to stay actively involved with local charities and organizations.

Seattle Pilot Project: Polluted Runoff Reduced

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Seattle and environmental groups said April 22 that results from a year-old pilot project have shown a reduced amount of polluted runoff reaching Puget Sound.

The research/demonstration project, called Moving Green Infrastructure, is part of growing efforts to reduce the amount of polluted runoff reaching Puget Sound, which is estimated to receive between 14 and 94 million pounds of toxic pollutants every year.

Two Dumpster-sized steel containers dubbed “Splash Boxxes” were installed at Terminal 91, with results gathered every four weeks. These boxes are a blend of rain garden and cistern, two practices referred to as low impact development, or LID.

Moving Green Infrastructure tests the water quality performance of two stormwater treatment techniques: a large “rain garden in a box” and a special soil mix with local, volcanic sands. Water quality from a roof in an industrial port area is being tested before and after going through the boxes to see how these two techniques perform.

After eight months of sampling, zinc levels are 1,000 times lower at the box output than the roof input after going through the soil and plants in the boxes, according to the project’s lead, Alessandra Zuin of environmental consulting company Gealogica LLC.

Information from the study is expected to help shed light on the potential for these bioretention planter boxes to improve water quality of polluted runoff in commercial/industrial areas and whether soil mixes used in rain gardens and bioswales could be improved.

The study is in partnership with King Conservation District, Sustainable Seattle, Gealogica LLC, and Splash Boxx LLC.

“We’re excited to see these dramatic results in the past year of this pilot program,” Port of Seattle Environmental and Planning Director Stephanie Jones Stebbins said. “Reducing levels of zinc from stormwater run-off is one of our toughest challenges.”

Crowley Receives FMC Earth Day Award

By Mark Edward Nero

Crowley Maritime Corp. was honored April 21 with the 2015 Federal Maritime Commission Chairman’s Earth Day Award in recognition of the organization’s companywide environmental stewardship initiatives.

The FMC Chairman’s Earth Day Award is given annually and highlights technologies, programs or practices of the maritime transportation industry that, through efficiency or innovation, benefit the environment.

This year’s announcement was made during a Professional Environmental Management Association luncheon held in Seal Beach, Calif. FMC Chairman Mario Cordero is expected to present a plaque commemorating the award to Crowley during a future recognition ceremony in Washington DC.

“Crowley has been chosen for its broad commitment to active environmental efforts across their lines of business and throughout the company,” Cordero said.

Crowley’s efforts have included ordering two new LNG powered ships; participation in the spill protection program of the State of Washington’s Department of Ecology; and membership in the Trident Alliance, a coalition of ship owners advocating robust enforcement of fuel sulfur restrictions.

“We understand how our jobs may impact the environment and also what we can do to minimize those impacts,” Crowley Vice President Charlie Nalen said. “Taking the initiative to reduce negative impact not only helps the environment, but also is in the best interest of our customers, the communities in which we work and our employees.”

The Earth Day Award looks to emphasize efforts that provide a reduction in environmental harm, emissions or pollutants, and increase public awareness of the maritime transportation industry’s work to protect the environment.

Recent past winners of the award include the CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, the Port of Long Beach, Maersk Line and the Port of Los Angeles.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

USCG Creates Safety Zones Around Arctic Drillers

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Coast Guard 13th District commander, in conjunction with the Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound captain of the port, has established temporary safety zones associated with Arctic drilling and support vessels in Puget Sound from April 15 through June 30.

A 500-yard safety zone is in place around the Noble Discoverer, Blue Marlin, Polar Pioneer, Aiviq and other Arctic drilling-related vessels while underway. A 100-yard safety zone will be in place around the vessels while moored or anchored.

The zones are necessary, according to the Coast Guard, to allow “maximum use of the waterway by all users consistent with safe navigation,” and to ensure mariners aren’t injured by deep-draft and support vessels that have maneuvering characteristics that they might not be familiar with.

The Coast Guard has also established an associated “Voluntary First Amendment Area,” a regulated navigation area in Elliott Bay that was developed following discussions with several special interest groups. The area is one where the Coast Guard recommends – but does not require – those desiring to express their views on Arctic drilling to assemble.

Regional and national environmental groups in recent weeks have come out strongly against any Arctic drilling equipment being housed in Puget Sound.

“Whether intentional or unintentional, interference with deep-draft and other vessels, particularly those with limited ability to maneuver, has the potential to result in collision, grounding, serious injury, death or pollution in the highly sensitive ecosystem of Puget Sound,” the USCG said in an April 16 statement announcing and explaining the restrictions. “The safety zones provide ample space for any vessel to operate near during their transit without disrupting their safe navigation.”

The signed temporary final rule establishing the safety zones and Voluntary First Amendment Area will be published in the Federal Register at

Vigor Delivers 3 Barges to Foss

By Mark Edward Nero

Vigor Industrial’s Tacoma shipyard has delivered three 60-by-24-by-15.5-foot breasting barges to Foss Maritime. The barge system is planned be used to moor Shell’s drill rigs at Terminal 5 in Seattle, where the company is scheduled to ready its fleet for Arctic drilling this summer.

The project was completed in less than two months.

“We are so pleased that our Tacoma shipyard is now building new vessels,” Vigor Fab sales manager Bryan Nichols said. “Over the years, Tacoma teams have earned a stellar reputation for quality commercial ship repair and major refits. Adding newbuilds to its résumé increases our capacity in the region.”

In the last few years, Vigor Tacoma shipyard has completed a number of major refits including midbody extensions for two Coastal Transportation vessels. Vigor teams added 164 tons of steel to the freight carrier Coastal Progress, increasing its length by 46 feet. Similar work was later done on its sister ship, Coastal Nomad. The F/V Pacific Ram, owned by Trident Seafoods, also chose Tacoma for a major refit.

Sponsoning added five feet to each side of the catcher and a new bulbous bow was installed for added efficiency. Its fish hold capacity was increased by 35 percent and its seakeeping and stability improved.

“This was a logical next step,” Nichols said of the newbuilds’ construction. “Our goal has been to create facilities that fill the needs of different types of customers.”

Puget Sound Container Volumes Surge

By Mark Edward Nero

Robust import volumes pushed March container volumes at the ports of Tacoma and Seattle up 21 percent over the same month a year ago, according to newly-released data.

The ports handled a combined 361,951 TEUs last month, making March the busiest month since September 2014, according to data released on April 17.

March 2015 was the first full month since the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore & Warehouse Union announced a tentative five-year contract. In the months before the agreement, productivity had slid significantly, with each side blaming the other for the congestion.

The labor agreement was reached at the end of February.

The ports say they expect volumes to remain higher than normal in the coming months as vessels return to normal service schedules and manufacturers in Asia work to clear excess inventory.

Through the first three months of the year, container volumes grew a combined three percent at the ports to 822,969 TEUs, compared to 802,517 containers during the same period last year.

The ports saw a total of 10 million metric tons of cargo last month, a 9.1 percent jump over March 2014, according to data.

In other cargo news, log exports fell 41 percent year to date, something the ports attribute to a slowing Chinese economy; and breakbulk cargo grew 10 percent, which the ports says is due to the strength of farm equipment exports.

Ex-Bremerton Port CEO Running for Commission

By Mark Edward Nero

Former Port of Bremerton CEO Cary Bozeman has announced he’s running for a seat on Bremerton’s three-person Port Commission. He’s seeking the District 1 seat currently held by Roger Zabinski. Zabinski, whose term expires Dec. 31, is not seeking re-election.

“My priorities as a port commissioner will be to work to recruit new good-paying jobs to our community and to retain the Navy-based civil service jobs that are the backbone of our economy,” Bozeman stated in an April 8 news release. “We also must secure the state funding needed to support our ferry system so we can have more runs and better boats. I also believe port districts can be major participants in providing quality recreational facilities in our port communities.”

In addition to being the Port of Bremerton’s former CEO, Bozeman was also elected to two terms as mayor of Bremerton. He left the position in 2009 after seven-and-a-half years to take the port CEO job. He then left the port in December 2011 after two-and-a-half years. He said his departure from public work was due to health problems, specifically a condition called atrial fibrillation which causes an abnormal heart rhythm.

In his news release, however, Bozeman said he has never felt better and that his health issues are behind him.