Friday, May 15, 2015

Port of Seattle to Appeal Terminal 5 Decision

By Mark Edward Nero

At its May 12 meeting, the Port of Seattle Commission declared it would appeal a decision by the City of Seattle to block the lease between the port and Foss Maritime for the lease at Terminal 5.

The Commission’s action came eight days after Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle Department of Planning and Development said that an additional use permit is required for the proposed seasonal moorage of a drilling rig and accompanying tugboats.

Under the two-year lease, which was signed Feb. 9, Foss was given the right to short-term moorage and vessel operations along 50 acres at the port’s 156-acre Terminal 5, which is currently undergoing renovation.

Foss also would have been able to use the premises as a transport facility in which quantities of goods or container cargo are stored without undergoing any manufacturing process, are transferred to other carriers or are stored outdoors in order to transfer them to other locations.

On March 2 however, a coalition of five environmental groups filed a challenge against the port’s lease on the grounds that the lease would change the use of Terminal 5.

During its meeting, the Port of Seattle Commission voted to not just appeal the city’s rejection of the lease, but to ask Foss to abide by the current City of Seattle regulations, pending legal review.

“An appeal hearing provides a legal, structured format that acknowledges the seriousness of our concerns about changing long-standing permit requirements, and should not be viewed as hostile to the City of Seattle,” said Port Commission Co-President Stephanie Bowman. “We expect that this will also provide a fair and objective opportunity for all affected parties to participate. We will work with the City of Seattle to define ‘cargo,’ as maritime businesses need that certainty.”

Marine Carriers Receive Environmental Award

By Mark Edward Nero

Port Metro Vancouver, Canada’s largest seaport, on May 7 said it was honoring 12 shipping and four cruise lines with a Blue Circle Award for 2014.The Blue Circle Awards recognize marine carriers with the highest rate of participation in the port’s EcoAction Program.

EcoAction sets goals for air emissions reductions for ocean-going vessels that enter the port, and rewards those that excel in environmental stewardship. As part of the program, vessels are entitled to a discount of up to 47 percent on harbor dues by choosing a variety of eligible fuels, technology options and environmental management practices.

The 2014 Port Metro Vancouver Blue Circle Award recipients are: Celebrity Cruises; CMA CGM; Disney Cruise Line; Eukor Car Carriers Inc.; Grieg Star Shipping Canada; Hanjin Shipping; Hapag-Lloyd Canada; Holland America Line; Hyundai Merchant Marine; “K” Line; Maersk Line; Mitsui O.S.K Lines; Mediterranean Shipping Co.; Princess Cruises; Westwood Shipping Lines; and Yang Ming Shipping Canada.

“The Blue Circle Awards allow us to recognize and honor marine carriers that are committed to reducing air emissions by going above and beyond regulatory requirements,” Port Metro Vancouver President and CEO Robin Silvester said in a statement announcing the awards. “I congratulate the 2014 award recipients.”

POLA Police Chief Pleads Not Guilty to Alleged Scam

By Mark Edward Nero

The chief of the Port of Los Angeles police department on May 8 pleaded not guilty to federal charges of corruption and tax evasion.

Port Police Chief Ronald Jerome Boyd, 57, had just been named to his position at the port in January, and was indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles on April 30.

He is charged in a 16-count indictment that accuses him of corruption, lying to FBI agents and failing to file federal corporate tax returns for a private security company he created, as well as tax evasion.

He was placed on administrative leave by the port after being indicted, and his duties have been assumed by Deputy Port Police Chief Thomas Gazsi.

The alleged corruption scheme centers on a program called Portwatch, which was developed to provide information to the public and to allow citizens to report criminal activity at the port.

In 2011, Boyd and two business partners formed BDB Digital Communications, a company that entered into a revenue-sharing agreement with the unnamed company developing Portwatch. The parties involved with BDB intended to generate revenues by marketing and selling a similar app – called Metrowatch – to other government agencies.

The revenue-sharing agreement was contingent upon Boyd’s assistance in securing the Portwatch contract for the company.

According to the US Attorney’s Office, Boyd faces multiple years in federal prison if convicted of the 16 counts against him.

BC Ferries Christens World’s Longest Cable Ferry

By Mark Edward Nero

British Columbia transportation service provider BC Ferries unveiled the name of its newest vessel, Baynes Sound Connector, at a special ceremony at Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards on May 8. The new cable ferry is expected to join the BC Ferries’ fleet on the Buckley Bay – Denman Island route later this summer.

BC Ferries’ newest ship is named after the specific geographic area in which it will operate. The name Baynes Sound Connector reflects the channel that the ferry will be crossing, following with marine tradition for most cable ferries around the world.

The vessel measures 78.5 meters (257.5 feet) and can accommodate 50 vehicles and 150 passengers and crew. The cable ferry will operate with one drive cable and two guide cables. With a crossing of about 1,900 meters (6,233 feet) it is, for now, the longest cable ferry in the world, capable of speeds of 8.5 knots with a normal service speed of 7.5 knots.

Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ President and CEO, called the christening “a special milestone” and thanked the Seaspan workers for producing “a fine vessel.”

“Seaspan has a deep-rooted and established relationship working with BC Ferries to build and repair ships for the people of British Columbia, and we are proud to construct, and officially christen its first-ever cable ferry,” Seaspan Shipyards President Brian Carter said.

The plan is for Baynes Sound Connector to be towed to Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island late May. In June and July, BC Ferries’ crews are scheduled to undergo training and familiarization on the cable ferry in preparation for passenger and vehicle service. After receiving certification from Transport Canada and classification society Lloyd’s Register, the cable ferry should enter service by late summer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

PNW Ports Unveil Seaport Alliance Details

By Mark Edward Nero

A draft version of the Seaports Alliance agreement between the ports of Tacoma and Seattle has been released, with both ports calling it a “key milestone” in the agreement’s formation.

The draft, which was released May 7, outlines The Northwest Seaport Alliance’s governance charter, management and financial structures, a transition plan and a business development strategy.

If approved by federal officials, the Northwest Seaport Alliance would unify the two ports’ marine cargo terminal investments, operations, planning and marketing in order to strengthen the Puget Sound gateway and attract more marine cargo to the region. “As the state’s two largest container ports, we recognize the value of trade to our state’s economy,” Port of Seattle Commission Co-President Stephanie Bowman said. “We are stronger together as we forge a new business model to add jobs and create economic opportunities.”

The Alliance is the outgrowth of talks held under the sanction and guidance of the Federal Maritime Commission, the independent federal agency responsible for regulating the U.S. international ocean transportation system.

While the ports would remain separate organizations that retain ownership of their respective assets, they would form a port development authority to manage the container, breakbulk, auto and some bulk terminals in Seattle and Tacoma.

However, the airport, cruise business, marinas, such as Fisherman’s Terminal, grain terminals and industrial real estate, like the Northwest Innovation Works and Puget Sound Energy facilities and Terminal 91 uplands, are expected to remain outside the Alliance.

The port development authority is to be jointly governed by the two port commissions.

“We intend to make our organizations stronger and more sustainable to better serve our customers, grow our regional economy and address unprecedented competition facing the shipping industry,” Port of Tacoma Commission President Don Johnson said.

The commissioners expect to hire John Wolfe, current Port of Tacoma chief executive officer, as the CEO of the Seaport Alliance following the Federal Maritime Commission’s expected approval of the agreement. Wolfe would lead both organizations through a transition period of up to five years before handing over his Port of Tacoma duties.

The two port commissions expect to consider submitting the final agreement to the Federal Maritime Commission at a joint public meeting June 5 at Auburn City Hall. Citizen and stakeholder public review of this agreement will be undertaken throughout May, building on the extensive outreach that has occurred since the proposal was announced last October. The draft agreement, information about public meetings, how to submit written comments and other related news are available on the Port of Tacoma and Port of Seattle websites.

Pasha Hawaii Places New Vessel Into Service

By Mark Edward Nero

Honolulu-based Pasha Hawaii announced May 7 that the M/V Marjorie C had arrived to begin her maiden voyage from her homeport of Honolulu to the Port of San Diego and back.

The Marjorie C is a combination container/roll-on/roll-off vessel representing a total $200 million commitment from the company into the Jones Act trade. The ship is named in honor of Pasha Hawaii’s President and CEO George Pasha, IV's grandmother, Marjorie Catherine Ryan.

Marjorie C represents the second ship built for Pasha Hawaii by VT Halter Marine, using a design by Uljanik Shipyard in Croatia. In addition to being equipped with the latest technologies to reduce environmental impact, the 692-foot vessel has a 350 metric-ton ramp; has the capacity to carry 1,400 TEUs; can transport up to 1,100 vehicles; and can accommodate all sizes and types of containers and rolling cargo. She also has onboard cranes, which allows Pasha Hawaii to call ports and handle containers without onshore gantry cranes.

“After more than three and a half years of planning and construction, we are pleased to unveil a ship that has been designed to not only accommodate the varying needs of our customers, but a vessel that minimizes our carbon footprint through extensive fuel consumption efficiencies and other green technologies,” George Pasha IV said. “With the addition of Marjorie C, we can now offer customers increased service and capacity between the West Coast and Hawaii trade lane on vessels providing superior reliability and cargo protection.”

Pasha Hawaii is a wholly owned subsidiary of family-owned global logistics and transportation company The Pasha Group.

General Dynamics NASSCO Begins Tanker Construction

By Mark Edward Nero

General Dynamics NASSCO held a steel cutting ceremony May 8 to signal the start of construction of a fourth tanker being built for American Petroleum Tankers at NASSCO’s San Diego shipyard.

US Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) helped signal the beginning of construction by pressing a button to cut the first piece of steel.

As part of a five-tanker contract, the new ECO tankers solidify an agreement between General Dynamics NASSCO and American Petroleum Tankers to design, build and operate energy efficient and fuel-saving products.

The construction and operation of the new vessels are aligned with the Jones Act, which requires ships carrying cargo between U.S. ports to be built, crewed and owned by U.S. citizens.

Each of the five 50,000 deadweight ton product carriers to be constructed by NASSCO will be LNG-conversion ready and will carry 330,000 barrels of cargo. The tankers are designed to be more energy efficient and incorporate environmental protection features, including a ballast water treatment system.

“These Jones Act-qualified tankers are some of the most energy-efficient, fuel-saving and cost-effective tankers in the world,” General Dynamics NASSCO Vice President and General Manager Kevin Graney said.

NASSCO began construction on the first tanker under the current five-tanker contract in September 2014.

“We look forward to taking delivery of another highly fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly vessel,” American Petroleum Tankers Rob Kurz said.

Port of Oakland Container Volumes Rise Again

By Mark Edward Nero

Containerized cargo volume at the Port of Oakland was up for the second straight month in April, according to newly released data. The port revealed May 11 that its total volume – imports, exports and empty containers – rose 1.7 percent last month compared to April 2014.

That followed an 8.1 percent increase in March, and shows continued improvement from declines of 30 percent and 31 percent in January and February of this year.

Oakland’s import business also continued to rebound in April. According to port data, the volume of loaded import containers it handled last month rose 3.1 percent over 2014. That followed a whopping 39.4 percent increase in March.

Container volumes fell during the last quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 due to cargo congestion and related issues at most major West Coast ports.

“We’re moving out of the slack winter season and working to gain momentum,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “We want to drive additional cargo through Oakland as the peak shipping season arrives.”

The cargo traffic news wasn’t all good for Oakland in April, however: the port also said Oakland export cargo declined 12.9 percent last month, and attributed the slump to the continued strength of the US dollar, which makes American goods costlier overseas and contributes to a widening US trade gap.