Friday, May 1, 2015

Island Tug & Barge Buys Crowley Vessel

By Mark Edward Nero

Crowley Marine Services has, for the second time, sold a “Point Class” vessel to Island Tug & Barge Co., shipbroker Marcon International said April 29. The sale of the ABS +A1, Towing, +AMS classed, 2,100 BHP shallow draft ocean towing/push tug Pt. Oliktok mirrors the transaction that Marcon brokered between the two parties for sister vessel Pt. Barrow in 2013.

A total of three “Point Class” sister-tugs were built to work in the Arctic, where Crowley needed vessels specifically designed to perform both ocean and coastal tows and push its 200-foot by 60-foot flat deck barges in shallow waters around Prudhoe Bay. The triple deck tugs were built in 1982 by the Dakota Creek Industries shipyard in Anacortes, Wash.

The tug measures 90 feet by 32 feet, with a depth of 11.2 feet and light draft of six feet. Normal operating draft is about 8.5 feet when loaded with about 60,000 gallons fuel, according to shipbroker Marcon International, which handled the transaction.

Also, Pt. Oliktok is powered by two CAT 3512 diesel engines, which provide about 2,110BHP to fixed pitch four-blade stainless steel propellers in Kort nozzles through Twin Disc 6.18:1 gears. Bollard pull is about 23.5 short tons. The tug is fitted with shaft brakes and was previously fitted with steering and flanking rudders, though the flanking rudders were removed by Crowley shortly after construction. Island Tug & Barge says it is considering reinstalling flanking rudders for added maneuverability.

Towing gear consists of a single drum Smatco winch with a capacity of about 1,900 feet' 1.75-inch wire, a hydraulic tow pin assembly aft and two hydraulic barge winches forward just aft of the vertical push knees.

SoCal Cargo Forecast: Slow Growth

By Mark Edward Nero

Experts from across the goods movement industry gave insight into the business April 29 during the 11th “Pulse of the Ports: Peak Season Forecast” event hosted by the Port of Long Beach. Some identified improvements in the US economy, slowing growth in the Asian economy and long-term trends in shipping as forces that shape the flow of cargo through the San Pedro Bay ports.

The annual event drew an estimated 600 people to the Long Beach Convention Center’s Pacific Ballroom to hear how current trends are expected to affect trade throughout the rest of 2015. This year’s session not only explored the cargo forecast, it also delved into the recent challenges of cargo movement and how the supply chain is evolving to cope with demands for higher efficiency and improved reliability.

“We bring all the parts of the supply chain together for Pulse of the Ports each year, and our speakers put all their issues and problems right on the table,” Long Beach Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond said. “It shows how the Port of Long Beach is taking a leadership role, as we improve the supply chain’s velocity, efficiency and sustainability.”

Dr. Walter Kemmsies, chief economist for Moffatt & Nichol, titled his talk “Outlook – Lots of Moving Parts” due to the mixed bag of forces that will shape trade this year. While the economy is not fully recovered, he said it’s been on the upswing and that this will likely continue and is expected to fuel increases in imports. Meanwhile, export growth is expected to be challenged due to a strong U.S. dollar and the increasing efficiency of overseas agriculture and other sectors.

Kemmsies also noted that while the global economic outlook is for slow growth at best, global markets are becoming more stable, which in the long run can fuel increased trade through U.S. ports.

Other panelists recounted challenges impacting the industry, such as equipment shortages and congestion. Increased transparency, improved coordination among stakeholders, and supply chain optimization were among the key goals listed for 2015 and beyond.

Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Mario Cordero echoed a sentiment expressed by many of the panelists when he predicted that most of the volume redirected during the recent labor negotiations would return to West Coast ports.

“The West Coast has had its challenges. Despite serious concerns and legitimate questions over the last few months, this is the place to be,” Cordero said.

An archived webcast of the event and speaker information are available at

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Port of Oakland Friday Day Shift Cancelled

By Mark Edward Nero

A rescheduled monthly labor meeting is suspending dayside operations at the Port of Oakland on May 1. The port said there are no vessel, yard or gate operations occurring during Friday’s first shift. Vessel loading and unloading are scheduled to resume with the second shift, beginning at 7 pm, the port added.

The port said it has notified shippers and harbor truckers of the schedule change, and that the temporary suspension isn’t expected to have lasting effect on port operations.

Waterfront employers okayed a longshore workers’ request to move their monthly meeting to May 1, according to the port. Monthly labor meetings are prescribed in the longshore contract with waterfront employers. The meetings are usually held on Thursday evenings, however local reports have indicated that longshore workers intend to participate in a demonstration Friday morning against police violence.

The Port of Oakland doesn’t employ longshore labor on the docks or manage its marine terminals, it leases terminal facilities to privately owned operating companies that contract with dock workers.

Updated information on the shift cancellation is available on the port’s blog, Port of Oakland Today.

LA, LB Ports Host Supply Chain Forum

By Mark Edward Nero

More than 100 cargo owners, trucking firm leaders, longshore labor, marine terminals and other goods movement industry stakeholders turned out last week for a joint meeting hosted by the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to gather input, insights and solutions focused on improving the performance of the supply chain.

The meeting, held at Long Beach City Hall and webcast live on April 22, was a follow up to a March session at the Port of Los Angeles where top executives from the neighboring ports started discussions on how to improve velocity and efficiency throughout the gateway’s supply chain.

“We are looking at not just improving this gateway,” Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup explained. “This is an effort to look at the entire supply chain – end to end. The new normal must be better than anything we’ve had in the past and that’s where we are headed with this supply chain optimization effort.”

The “supply chain optimization” process is an outgrowth of the amended discussion agreement recently approved by the Federal Maritime Commission, allowing the two ports to cooperate far more strategically on ways to prevent congestion and cargo delays.

At the April 22 meeting, speakers from across the industry spectrum said there is a need to contain costs, improve reliability and increase transparency with more data and better technology. The two port leaders proposed next steps to address these needs by selecting certain areas of supply chain optimization to concentrate on and work with representatives of industry, labor and the community to find solutions.

The deployment of larger ships, coupled with a new level of vessel-sharing dynamics created by carrier alliances, an imbalance of truck chassis and contract issues, contributed to the congestion issues faced this past fall and winter at many ports. The problems were especially severe at the San Pedro Bay ports due to the higher volumes of cargo that flow through the gateway.

“Our stakeholders have provided insightful feedback on ways we can work together to improve throughput and efficiency throughout the San Pedro Bay port complex,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said. “We’ve already seen a marked improvement in recent weeks, and the ideas discussed will help shape strategies moving forward.”

The archived webcast is available at (under Special Meetings and Events) and

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Truckers Picket Southern California Ports

By Mark Edward Nero

Truck drivers who haul goods to and from the ports in Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Diego began an “informational picket” the morning of April 27 in response to a long-simmering labor wages dispute involving the Teamsters and four Southern California drayage companies.

The four companies picketed during the day were Harbor Rail Transport, which is based near Los Angeles; Long Beach-based Intermodal Bridge Transport; Pacer Cartage, which has offices in San Diego and in Los Angeles County; and Pacific 9 Transportation, which has offices in the LA County cities of Carson and Long Beach.

The protest is the latest in a series of job actions that the truck drivers, supported by the Teamsters, have taken against harbor-area trucking firms. There was also a series of short-term strikes and pickets at the LA and Long Beach ports in 2013-14.

The truckers have contended that they should be classified as employees by the companies they work for, rather than independent contractors. The reclassification would possibly mean increased wages and health benefits. For years, the Teamsters union has worked to gain employee status for the drivers so they’d be eligible to join the union.

Of the estimated 500 drivers associated with the four companies, about 200 walked picket lines Monday morning and more were on hand during the afternoon for secondary picketing at port terminals.

Terminals at all three ports remained opened Monday morning, a point that Port of Long Beach Chief Executive Jon Slangerup wanted to make clear.

“Dockworkers have reported to work and truckers have been able to enter and exit the affected terminals without delay,” Slangerup said Monday morning about his port. “We do not expect that there will be any adverse impact to port terminals.”

The Harbor Trucking Association, which represents trucking companies near the ports, said last week when it was becoming clear when the possibility of picketing was rising, that the pickets would come at a “horrible” time, since some ports are still trying to dig out from a backlog of cargo containers built up last fall and winter during a labor dispute between terminal operators and longshore workers.

“If they want to be a part of the real solution perhaps they should suspend these efforts until we get closer to a normal flow of cargo in the San Pedro Bay,” Trucking Association Executive Director Weston LaBar said. “We don't want to put any more jobs in our region in jeopardy.”

The Teamsters did not initially make it clear how long the picketing would last, but previous demonstrations at the LA and Long Beach ports lasted anywhere from one to three days.

Safety Violations Lead to Bulker Detainment

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Coast Guard on April 24 detained the 738-foot bulk carrier vessel Kind Seas after significant safety violations were found during an inspection in Kalama, Washington.

According to the USCG, vessel inspectors from the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Portland discovered the discrepancies during a routine inspection of the Marshall Islands-flagged vessel, which was built in 1998.

The safety violations were related to a complete failure of the emergency generator, which provides power to emergency equipment including the emergency firefighting pump system. Other discrepancies include deficient structural fire boundary doors designed to prevent the spread of a fire, inoperable bilge pumps critical to removing excess water and waste oil accumulation in engine compartments and inoperable lifesaving communication equipment.

“The deficiencies were determined to pose significant risk to the vessel’s crew and the marine environment indicating that the vessel is unfit to proceed to sea,” said Capt. Patrick Ropp, commanding officer and officer in charge of marine inspection at MSU Portland.

The USCG says vessel inspectors are working with the vessel’s crew, owner, and managing company, as well as the Kind Seas’ flag state and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai, the vessel’s classification society responsible for certificating vessel construction and engineering, to make essential repairs.
The Kind Seas, owned by Fairplay Maritime Ltd., is a bulk carrier that loaded corn and wheat in Kalama. It is expected to depart for Japan after the safety violations have been corrected.

Vigor Lands Vessel Overhaul Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

Portland-based Vigor Marine has been awarded an $8.73 million contract for a 55-day overhaul and drydocking availability of the USNS Guadalupe, a fleet replenishment oiler for the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command.

Planned work on the vessel includes: port main engine overhaul; docking, undocking, and underwater hull cleaning and painting; and cargo tank preservation. The agreement also includes options that, if exercised, would bring the total contract value to $9.17 million.

The USNS Guadalupe is a 677-foot-long underway replenishment oiler that was launched in October 1991. Its primary mission is providing fuel to Navy ships at sea and jet fuel to aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers.

All work is expected to be performed in Portland, with an August 1 deadline for completion. Fiscal year 2015 Navy operation and maintenance funds in the amount of $9,177,702 are obligated at the time of award.

This isn’t the first time Vigor has been awarded a contract to work on the vessel. In March 2014, the company secured a $6.87 million contract for two months of maintenance work on the then-23-year-old Navy ship.

USCG, WDOE Plan Seattle Spill Preparedness Seminar

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Coast Guard and Washington Department of Ecology plan to host a spill preparedness conference May 20-21 at the Jackson Federal Building in Seattle.

The two-day seminar is being presented as an opportunity to discuss the latest in spill-recovery theory and technology. The sessions focus on topics including remote oil sensing technology, sinking oils, software tools and best practices.

“In the response business, there is no room for complacency,” said Capt. Robert Pearce, chief of response, Coast Guard 13th District. “Knowing about the latest game-changing technology is important. Opportunities are everywhere. We need to continue to identify them.”

Scheduled topics and speakers include:
  • “Subsurface Oil Detection and Mapping on Shoreline, Shallow Water and Inland Spills,” with Dr. Ed Owens, principal, Coastal Consultants Ltd.
  • “Sinking Oil/The Tank Barge DBL-152 Response: Lessons Learned,” with Jim Elliott of T&T Bisso.
  • “System Performance Considerations for Controlled Burning and Dispersants, Including Cold Climate Operations,” with Dean Dale of GENWEST and Al Allen of Spiltec.
  • “Developments in Interactive Digital Situation Status and Common Operating Picture Display Processes, featuring Fred LeJeune of ConocoPhillips.
  • “New Capabilities in Aerial Remote Sensing for Real-time Tactical Use During Oil Spills,” with Dr. Jan Svejkovsky of Ocean Imaging.

Seat reservations can be made by completing an RSVP request at:
For more information, contact or