Friday, May 29, 2015

Shipping Co. Fined for Alaska Waste Dump

By Mark Edward Nero

German shipping company AML Ship Management GMBH (AMLSM), was sentenced in federal court May 27 to pay $800,000 in fines and community service payments for violating clean water and pollution prevention laws by intentionally discharging 4,500 gallons of oily bilge water into the ocean off the coast of Alaska and then presenting false records to the US Coast Guard.

AMLSM was also ordered to implement a comprehensive environmental compliance plan and was placed on probation for three years. During the term of probation, AML is subject to a heightened level of scrutiny, including warrantless searches of its vessels and places of business based upon a reasonable suspicion that it is violating the law. Of the total payment, AMLSM will pay $675,000 in criminal fines and $125,000 in community restitution. The community restitution payment will go to the Alaska SeaLife Center to be used for projects and research that have a nexus to the oil pollution crime committed.

AMLSM is the operator of the M/V City of Tokyo, a 28-year-old, 603-foot vehicle carrier vessel that operates under the flag of the Republic of Liberia.

On or about Aug. 29, 2014, AMLSM knowingly discharged oily bilge water into the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone off the coast of Alaska. AMLSM admitted in court that while the City of Tokyo was about 165 nautical miles south of the Aleutian Islands, the chief engineer used an illegal pump system to knowingly discharge about 4,500 gallons of oily bilge water directly overboard.

The illegal pump system allowed the vessel’s crew to discharge oily bilge water from the bilge holding tank directly overboard without processing it through the required pollution prevention equipment. The overboard discharge created a sheen in the water off the stern of the vessel.

AMLSM and Chief Engineer Nicolas Sassin were charged in separate cases filed in both the District of Alaska and the District of Oregon. The Oregon charges against AML were transferred to Alaska, and the Alaska charges against Sassin were transferred to Oregon.

On May 22, the vessel’s chief engineer, Nicolas Sassin, was sentenced to five months of home confinement followed by five years of probation.

SoCal Ports Form Supply Chain Working Group

By Mark Edward Nero

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have created working groups focusing on peak operations and terminal optimization to develop ways to strengthen the competitiveness of the San Pedro Bay port complex.

Participants in seven issue-specific working groups will be drawn from goods movement industry stakeholders, including shipping lines, cargo owners, labor, railroads, trucking interests, equipment owners and more, the ports announced May 27.

The Peak Season 2015 working group will be the first to meet – in early June – kicking off a series of intensive sessions. The job of the first working group will be to drill down on this year’s peak demand needs at the port complex, the ports say.

The mission of the supply chain optimization effort overall is to build upon the economic benefits the port complex provides to the region.

The seven announced working groups are: Peak Season 2015, Container Terminal Optimization, Chassis, Off-dock Solutions, Key Performance Indicators/Data Solutions, Intermodal Rail, and Drayage.

The ports’ supply chain optimization effort is a result of an agreement approved by the Federal Maritime Commission earlier this year allowing the neighboring ports to discuss new efficiencies and other improvements that would improve their business competitiveness, environmental sustainability and security.

In April, the ports hosted a joint meeting in Long Beach drawing dozens of industry representatives to weigh in on their most pressing needs. The Supply Chain Optimization Steering Committee – comprised of port leaders – has been reaching out to stakeholders across the industry for participants for the seven working groups, starting with the Peak Season 2015 working group.

In addition, the ports say they plan to convene advisory groups of additional environmental, industry, community and government stakeholders to be asked for input on proposals put forth by the working groups.

Grays Harbor Signs Harbor Improvement Agreement

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Grays Harbor signed a project partnership agreement for a harbor navigation improvement project on May 26 at the US Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District Headquarters.
The Grays Harbor Navigation Improvement Project plans to deepen about 14.5 miles of the 27.5-mile channel from the currently maintained depth of -36 feet to the fully authorized depth of -38 feet. The deepening would occur from the South Reach upstream to Cow Point Reach where the port’s Terminal 4 is located.

The project’s purpose is to improve the efficiency of deep-draft vessel navigation in Grays Harbor. The port and Army Corps of Engineers say the project is needed to alleviate large vessel restrictions imposed by the insufficient channel depths. Ship transportation in the existing upstream channel is limited by depth, they say.

Port commissioners Jack Thompson and Stan Pinnick, port Executive Director Gary Nelson and International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 24 President Mike Brown were joined by US Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash) and Col. John G. Buck, Commander of the Seattle District USACE, for the ceremonial signing of the agreement, which allows the project to begin construction this fall.

“Grays Harbor provides an important link between United States products and international markets,” Nelson said. “This project directly supports hundreds of family-wage jobs and ensures our position to serve our diverse users well into the future.”

Vancouver Cruise Terminal Kiosks Automated

By Mark Edward Nero

Port Metro Vancouver has unveiled a first: 10 automated passport control kiosks at the Canada Place Cruise Terminal aimed at increasing cruise passenger processing rates through the US Customs area prior to embarking on a cruise from Canada to Alaska. “With this launch, Port Metro Vancouver’s cruise terminal has become the first worldwide to utilize automated passport control technology for US bound passengers,” Peter Xotta, Port Metro Vancouver’s vice president of planning and operations said.

Eligible passengers include US and Canadian passport holders and US permanent residents. The service is available without pre-registration and at no cost to the user.

Travellers can proceed directly to a self-service kiosk in the United States Customs and Border Protection processing area at Port Metro Vancouver, follow the on-screen instructions to scan their passport and answer customs declaration questions, then receive a receipt confirming their information and continue to a US Customs officer to finalize processing.

With this increased efficiency, cruise passengers leaving from Port Metro Vancouver are expected to experience shorter wait times, less congestion and faster customs processing times.

“US Customs and Border Protection continues to assess and adjust its processes where appropriate and collaboratively work with the tourism industry,” US Customs and Border Protection Deputy Director, Kurry Pastilong said. “The recent evolution of APC for cruise ship passengers is just one more way that the agency is striving to ease the flow of passengers without sacrificing core mission requirements.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

PMA, ILWU Ratify Labor Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

Three months after a tentative agreement was reached, the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore & Warehouse Union have each finally ratified a new five-year contract.

82 percent of ILWU members voted in favor of approving the new agreement, the union said May 22. The previous contract was ratified in 2008 with a vote of 75 percent in favor.

The voting results were certified by the ILWU’s Coast Balloting Committee, which was chosen by Coast Longshore Caucus delegates elected from each of the 29 West Coast ports.

The agreement, which was announced in February, came together after nine months of occasionally contentious talks.

“The negotiations for this contract were some of the longest and most difficult in our recent history,” ILWU International President Robert McEllrath said.

The contract, which is retroactive to July 1, 2014, runs through June 30, 2019. It was also approved earlier this month by most of the 71 companies that make up the PMA.

Neither side has provided many details on the agreement, but according to the ILWU, the contract protects about 20,000 jobs in West Coast port communities, maintains health benefits, improves wages, pensions and job safety protections; limits job outsourcing, and provides an improved job dispute resolution system.

“This contract provides an important framework for the hard work ahead to overcome new competitive challenges and to continue to position the West Coast ports as destinations of choice for shippers worldwide,” PMA President and CEO Jim McKenna said. “From San Diego to Bellingham, these ports have long been the primary gateways for cargo coming into and leaving the United States, and our interests are aligned in ensuring they can effectively, and efficiently, handle the capacity growth that drives economies and jobs.”

Ex-Admiral to Head Cruise Lines Association

By Mark Edward Nero

Thomas P. Ostebo is joining the Cruise Lines International Association as President and Chief Executive Officer effective July 6, the organization said May 20.

His appointment follows the January 2015 departure of former CLIA President and Chief Executive Officer Christine Duffy.

Ostebo, who was selected by CLIA’s Global Executive Committee, is expected to oversee CLIA operations both domestically and internationally, working directly with his senior leadership team to execute the organization’s vision.

Ostebo has more than 30 years of experience leading large and complex organizations. He joins CLIA from the United States Coast Guard, where he served as a Rear Admiral. Most recently, he was Director of Strategic Management for the USCG, where he supported strategy and budget policy. He also served as Commander for the Coast Guard 17th District.

“Tom brings years of outstanding maritime and strategic business leadership experience to this important position that leads the cruise industry’s global association.” Global CLIA Chairman, Adam Goldstein said.

In his new role, Ostebo will lead CLIA’s work to help all its members succeed and unify, represent, advocate and promote the common interests of the global cruise industry. He’ll be located at CLIA global headquarters in Washington D.C., and work with CLIA’s 15 offices across the globe, including those in Alaska and elsewhere in North America.

“This appointment is a perfect next step in my career as it allows me to leverage my experiences and passions, from leading large complex teams to advocating for marine resources,” Ostebo said.

Naming Contest Open for 3 Ferries

By Mark Edward Nero

British Columbia-based BC Ferries, which is introducing three new intermediate class ferries into its fleet in the coming year, has announced a contest to name the vessels.

BC Ferries’ customers and employees can submit proposed names for the new ferries, and names will be shortlisted by a panel of judges comprised of representatives from local media, ferry advisory committees and BC Ferries’ employees.

The contest is open from May 19–June 9; customers have a chance to win more than $500 in ferry travel if the name they enter is chosen.

“This is a chance to leave a lasting legacy in coastal communities in British Columbia,” Corrine Storey, BC Ferries’ Vice-President of Customer Services said in a statement announcing the contest.

Names of BC Ferries’ vessels follow a specific protocol: the first part of the name refers to the class of vessel, such as “Coastal,” while the second part of the name is descriptive, such as “Celebration,” “Inspiration” and “Renaissance.”

The naming contest is to create a name for the class of vessel, as well as a descriptive name for each of the three new ferries.

Names submissions are required by the company to: reflect BC Ferries and the coastal communities it serves; appeal to both residents and visitors; be gender neutral; not be geography specific or reference an individual or event; not contain symbols or accent marks; and not contain words currently used within a BC Ferries vessel name or vessel class name.
To enter name ideas into the contest, or view complete contest rules and prize information, visit

MARAD Funding Vessel Emissions, Energy Projects

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Maritime Administration is making about $2 million in federal funding available to help fund projects that support vessel emissions reductions and alternative energy.

The funding is being made available under two separate requests for applications. One is focused on exhaust gas cleaning demonstration projects on US-flagged vessels that remove pollutants from the stacks of ships and other marine vessels.

Estimated funding for the program is $750,000. Closing date for applications is July 19.

The other request for applications focuses on projects that demonstrate vessel emissions reductions through the use of alternative fuels or energy sources such as LNG or fuel cells, and improvements in vessel energy efficiency through use of conservation technology and practices.

Estimated funding is $1.3 million, with a closing date for applications set for June 11.

The agency said it intends to use the results of the data demonstration projects to support further work related to air emissions reduction and alternative energy research and o assess the public benefit of possible incentives to encourage adoption of emissions reduction and alternative energy in the maritime sector.

Additional information about these requests for applications can be found on the US government grants website:|Department%20of%20Transportation