Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bipartisan Icebreaker Construction Bill Introduced

By Mark Edward Nero

Two US senators said on May 19 that they’ve introduced legislation that would authorize the US Navy to build up to six icebreakers for use by the Coast Guard.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska authored the bill, known as the Icebreaker Recapitalization Act.

Under the legislation, the Coast Guard and Secretary of the Navy would, no later than six months after passage of the bill, be required to establish a process for the design and construction of the icebreakers, for use by the USCG.

The Coast Guard is the sole service responsible for icebreaking missions.

“Our legislation makes sure that the United States is able to protect our interests in the Arctic, and it gives the men and women in the Coast Guard and Navy the tools they need to do their jobs,” Cantwell said in a statement.

“From a military perspective, this is an imperative,” Murkowski said. “From an economic development viewpoint, it is a down-payment on an Arctic future. And as a scientific research opportunity, it opens up a new world of knowledge.”

Currently, the Coast Guard only has two operational icebreakers: Polar Star, a recently retrofitted heavy-duty vessel; and Healy, a medium-duty research vessel. A second heavy-duty icebreaker, the Polar Sea, is currently being considered for the scrap heap.

According to the Coast Guard High Latitude Study released to Congress in 2011, the United States needs six heavy duty and four medium icebreakers to meet the statutory and mission requirements of the Coast Guard and the Navy.

Any new icebreakers are estimated to cost over $1 billion each to build. Under the Cantwell-Murkowski bill, Congress would have to include funds in future spending bills to pay for the vessels.

Crowley Acquires Maritime Management Services

By Mark Edward Nero

Crowley Maritime on May 19 said that it is acquiring Maritime Management Services (MMS), a 10-year-old, Seattle-based company that specializes in crew management for offshore oil and gas vessels.

MMS offers crewmembers’ services such as visas, flag-state and immigration documentation; crewmember certifications, including Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STWC) and client or operational area requirements; logistics, administrative and travel support.

In addition to MMS’ Seattle headquarters, the organization also has a secondary location in Singapore.

“What sets MMS apart from others in the industry is their level of customer service and crewmember loyalty,” Mike Golonka, vice president of ship management for Crowley said. “Together Crowley Accord and MMS can offer total crewing solutions, from single hires and full crew management through complete technical management to the oil and gas industry.”

MMS was founded in 2005 and was acquired by Crowley following the unexpected death of former owner Trevor Stabbert. The group, comprised of eight employees, celebrated its 10th anniversary of service in April.

The addition of MMS to Crowley’s international ship management division, which provides commercial ship management as well as technical management and government contracting, is expected to further strengthen the company’s global reach in the ship management industry, and allows the company to service a wider variety of international and domestic customers.

Seaspan Marine Appoints New President

By Mark Edward Nero

Vancouver, British Columbia-based transportation company Seaspan Marine announced May 19 that Bart Reynolds has joined the company as president.

Reynolds joins Seaspan with more than 20 years of experience in positions of leadership and senior management, with the last 15 years consisting of positions in the offshore supply boat business in the United States, West Africa, the Mediterranean and Latin America.

He most recently served as Vice President, Americas at GulfMark Offshore, a company operating 72 offshore vessels in various markets around the world. Prior to that, he worked for offshore supply vessel company Tidewater Marine as an area manager.

Seaspan says that in his new role, Reynolds is expected to provide vision, leadership and direction for the company’s Marine Division. A significant part of his role, according to the company, will involve developing strategies and providing leadership around building exceptional customer relations, plus creating longstanding positive employee and union relationships.

In addition, Seaspan says, Reynolds will “promote and strengthen Seaspan Marine’s external reputation” through industry-wide representation and marine community involvement.

“We performed an exhaustive search across North America to find a leader with Bart’s world-class experience and track record of success, and I am thrilled to welcome him to the Seaspan family,” Seaspan CEO Jonathan Whitworth said.

Whatcom Waterway Clean-Up Contract Awarded

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Bellingham has awarded Tacoma-based American Construction Co. a $30.6 million contract to clean up the Whatcom Waterway on Bellingham’s downtown waterfront.

Construction is set to begin in August and be complete by mid-2016.

The Whatcom Waterway is contaminated by heavy industrial activities at Georgia-Pacific’s former chemical plant dating back to the 1960s. Cleaning up the Whatcom Waterway is expected to assist the port and City of Bellingham’s efforts to redevelop Bellingham’s downtown waterfront.

On the south side of the Whatcom Waterway near the Granary Building, new beaches formed under redevelopment would support public access and salmon recovery, while on the north side, new bulkheads, pilings and docks would support ongoing marine trade activities, including a barge terminal and boatyard.

“Cleaning up this legacy of industrial contamination will protect the environment, restore salmon habitat, improve public access, and allow us to reestablish the economic viability of the central waterfront for the next generation of uses,” port Environmental Director Mike Stoner said.

As part of the cleanup project, American Construction Co. is expected to remove 159,000 cubic yards of contaminated marine sediment; remove 263 tons of creosote-treated timber; remove concrete and asphalt rubble and other debris from 46,950 square feet of 
shoreline and intertidal areas; and open 4,300 square feet of shoreline and intertidal area by removing unused structures.

A second phase of work, to start at a later date, is expected to address contamination in the outer waterway and Aerated Stabilization Basin.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Activists Protest at Seattle Port

By Mark Edward Nero

An estimated 200 environmental activists marched to the entrance of Terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle the morning of May 18 to protest against proposed future Arctic drilling by Shell Oil Co.

Shell plans to use Seattle as a base to store and maintain rigs and other equipment as it resumes exploration and drilling this summer in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, an area it hasn’t drilled since 2012.

Under a two-year lease signed in February, Foss Maritime 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. Under the lease, Foss was expected to alter the terminal for the layberthing of Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet.

On March 2 however, a coalition of five environmental groups filed a challenge against the port’s lease. And on May 4, the Seattle Department of Planning and Development released a report concluding that an additional use permit is required for the proposed seasonal moorage of the Polar Pioneer drilling rig and accompanying tugboats.

The Port of Seattle Commission on May 12 voted to appeal the city’s ruling but also asked Foss to abide by the current City of Seattle regulations, pending legal review. A Shell spokesman, however, said the oil company intends to move ahead with its plans to dock two rigs at the port despite the permit questions and protests.

A timeline of when Arctic exploration would resume was not yet known, he said.

The 30-year-old Polar Pioneer, which Shell plans to use to drill off Alaska’s northwest coast this summer, arrived in Seattle May 14. Two days later, hundreds of protesters in kayaks, small boats and other vessels turned out a “Paddle in Seattle” protest.

Protesters have said they’re worried about the risk of oil spill in the Arctic as well as the effects of burning fossil fuels on climate change.

Bulk Carrier Again Detained in PNW

By Mark Edward Nero

For the second time in six months, the bulk cargo carrier vessel Ikan Sudip has been detained at a port in the Pacific Northwest for safety violations. On May 16, the US Coast Guard detained the 600-foot, Panamanian-flagged motor vessel after significant environmental and safety violations were found during an inspection in Astoria.

Back in November 2014, the 11-year-old vessel was detained in Longview, Washington by the Coast Guard after inspectors found extensive disrepair of various piping systems in the machinery spaces as well as deteriorated and inoperable fire hoses on the vessel.

Vessel inspectors from the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Portland discovered the latest discrepancies during an inspection of the vessel.

“The Ikan Sudip’s safety and environmental conditions posed an unacceptable threat to our waterways,” said Capt. Dan Travers, Coast Guard Sector Columbia River Commanding Officer and captain of the port for Oregon and Southern Washington. “We are focused on ensuring that all issues are corrected by fixing the discrepancies and removing the risks found on board the vessel."

While inbound to US waters on May 11, the vessel experienced two separate fuel related propulsion losses within 24 hours, which completely disabled the vessel at sea.

After regaining minimal propulsion with temporary repairs, the captain of the port expelled the vessel from US waters and prohibited its re-entry until the main engine’s fuel system was properly repaired.

Vessel crewmembers and propulsion machinery technicians corrected the fuel system issues on May 16, and the vessel was allowed to enter the Columbia River while under escort by a towing vessel. Inspectors boarded the vessel while it was anchored in Astoria and conducted a safety and security inspection where they identified multiple equipment discrepancies and environmental violations, including a failure to use engineering procedures required by US and international law, which guide the vessel’s crew through fuel management and vessel propulsion requirements.

Other discrepancies were a lack of crew familiarity with emergency rescue drills, deficient structural fire boundary doors designed to prevent the spread of a fire and inoperable lifesaving equipment. Severe corrosion was also found throughout the vessel's machinery piping systems.

The Coast Guard says its vessel inspectors are working with the Ikan Sudip’s flag state, vessel owner EikoKisen Co. Ltd., the vessel’s managing company, and the vessel’s crew to make the essential repairs.

“Only after the vessel crew corrects its deficient safety management system and critical vessel equipment will we allow it to return to commercial service,” Travers said.

Ikan Sudip, a bulk carrier, is scheduled to load potash in Portland and is expected to depart for Brazil after the safety violations have been corrected.

Long Beach Container Cargo Rebounding

By Mark Edward Nero

Container cargo flow through the Port of Long Beach increased nearly eight percent last month compared to the same month last year, leading to the busiest April in nine years, according to newly released data.

A total of 614,860 TEUs of containerized cargo moved through the port in April, a 7.9 percent jump from the same month in 2014. Imports reached 317,376 TEUs during the month, a 7.3 percent increase from last year.

Although exports fell 6.1 percent to 137,546 TEUs, empty containers surged 25.3 percent to 159,938 TEUs, according to the data.

In April, the terminals continued working through the backlog left over from the winter’s congestion in San Pedro Bay. By the end of the month, no more container ships were waiting at anchor to come into the Port of Long Beach.

Through the first four months of 2015, Long Beach cargo numbers are essentially flat compared to the same period last year, down 0.3 percent overall, mostly due to congestion issues during January and February.

For the fiscal year to date, Long Beach has moved 3.81 million TEUs, a 0.1 percent drop from the 3.82 million TEUs port terminals saw during the same seven-month period in FY 2014.

The latest monthly cargo numbers are available at

More details on the cargo numbers can be found at

POLA Monthly Container Volume Slips

By Mark Edward Nero

Containerized cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles decreased 6.1 percent in April 2015 compared to the same period last year, according to newly released data.

The port handled a total of 662,973 TEUs last month compared to 702,036 in April 2014.

The port partially attributes the decline to a “particularly robust” April 2014, when importers advanced inventory due to concerns about labor negotiations later in the year.

Imports dropped 9.9 percent, from 364,126 TEUs in April 2014 to 328,140 TEUs in April 2015. Also, exports declined 15.8 percent, from 172,945 TEUs in April 2014 to 145,655 TEUs in April 2015.

Combined, total loaded imports and exports decreased 11.8 percent, from 537,071 TEUs in April 2014 to 473,796 TEUs in April 2015. Factoring in empties, which increased 12 percent, overall April 2015 volume of 662,973 TEUs was a drop of 6.1 percent from April 2014.

For the first four months of 2015, the port’s overall volume of 2.48 million TEUs represents a slide of 5.3 percent compared to the same period in 2014; for the fiscal year, which began in July, volumes are down just 0.14 percent.

Current and historical data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles may be found at: