Friday, June 19, 2015

Study: Panama Canal Could Divert 10 Percent of Cargo

By Mark Edward Nero

The expansion of the Panama Canal “will be the headline event in shipping in 2016” and is set to “reorient the landscape of the logistics industry and alter the decision-making calculus of the shippers that the canal serves,” according to a new study.

According to the research, which was conducted jointly by the Boston Consulting Group and logistics provider CH Robinson, as much as 10 percent of container traffic between East Asia and the US could shift from West Coast ports to East Coast ports by the year 2020.

According to a new study, the $5 billion expansion project will have profound effects once it’s complete.

“The larger ports on the West Coast will experience lower growth rates, altering the competitive balance between West Coast ports and East Coast ports,” the report states, although it also mentions that with global container flows rising, West Coast ports are still expected to handle more containers in the future they do currently.

West Coast ports currently receive two-thirds of container flows from East Asia, with much of that cargo moving by rail and truck as far east as the Ohio River Valley, about three-quarters of the way across the US But once post-Panamax vessels start passing through the expanded canal, the shipping dynamics will change, the report predicts.

In addition to diverting vessel traffic from East Asia away from the West Coast, the Canal’s expansion is also expected to shape the investment and routing decisions of rail and truck carriers, as well as magnify the trade-offs that shippers make between the cost and the speed of transportation, and potentially alter the location of distribution centers.

“There almost certainly will be a shift in the mix of West Coast versus East Coast traffic, and shippers and carriers should start preparing for that shift now,” the report states.

Pasha Launches LA-Hawaii Service

By Mark Edward Nero

Pasha Hawaii said June 18 that it has launched an LA-Hawaii Express vessel service, a direct service that offers two vessels that will call Los Angeles every Wednesday and arrive in Honolulu each Sunday.

Pasha says the three-and-a-half day transit will benefit shippers, who’ll be able to fill orders on the mainland early in the week and, with Pasha Hawaii’s LA-Hawaii Express Sunday arrival, will be able to have goods ready for a Monday morning delivery anywhere on Oahu.

Barge connections will link the LA-Hawaii Express service to all neighboring islands, with one to two days of additional transit, according to Pasha.

The LA-Hawaii Express complements Pasha’s California-Hawaii Express, which provides a weekly triangle service connecting Honolulu, Oakland and Los Angeles. One of the vessels in the LA-Hawaii Express rotation is the newly built Marjorie C, a combination container and roll-on/roll-off vessel.

“By offering two weekly sailings from Los Angeles to Honolulu, Pasha Hawaii gives manufacturers and retailers the opportunity to enjoy increased supply chain consistency and flexibility,” Pasha Hawaii President and CEO George Pasha IV said.

In addition to the LA-Hawaii Express and the California-Hawaii Express, Pasha Hawaii operates the M/V Jean Anne, a bi-weekly roll-on/roll-off vessel service between San Diego and Honolulu, Kahului and Hilo. The M/V Jean Anne’s heavy-duty ramp design enables the transportation of automobiles as well as oversize building materials, construction equipment, military equipment and industrial and commercial rolling stock.

POLB Sees Strongest May Volumes in Years

By Mark Edward Nero

Cargo volumes at the Port of Long Beach rose six percent in May 2015, making it the third consecutive month of growth, as well as the busiest month since October 2007 and the busiest May since 2006, according to newly released data.

A total of 635,250 TEUs of containerized cargo were moved through the port in May, according to the data, with imports numbered at 327,317 TEUs, a 4.8 percent increase from the same month last year.

Exports, on the other hand, decreased 7.4 percent to 135,855 TEUs, while the number of empty containers moved rose 22.6 percent to 172,078 TEUs.

Through the first five months of 2015, cargo is up 1.1 percent overall. For the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, volumes are up 0.8 percent so far, even though the number of loaded inbound containers moved was down 14 percent compared to the same eight-month period in the previous fiscal year.

The port partially attributes the rise in cargo volume to a stronger retail market. The port also says it is also attracting new services in order to boost cargo growth.

The latest monthly cargo numbers are available at and more details on the numbers can be found at

POLA Monthly Cargo Volumes Rise Slightly

By Mark Edward Nero

May 2015 containerized cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles were under one percent compared to the same period last year. According to newly released data, the port handled more than 694,000 TEUs during the month, compared to about 689,000 in May 2014.

The port’s overall May 2015 volumes of 694,791 TEUs represented an increase of 0.8 percent. The only substantive year-over-year gains were in the movement of empty containers, which increased 7.9 percent.

Imports decreased 0.8 percent, from 351,403 TEUs in May 2014 to 348,427 TEUs in May 2015. Exports declined 3.5 percent, from 158,473 TEUs in May 2014 to 152,917 TEUs last month.
Combined, total loaded imports and exports decreased 1.7 percent, from 509,876 TEUs in May 2014 to 501,344 TEUs in May 2015.

For the first five months of 2015, the POLA’s overall volumes – 3.18 million TEUs -- are down are percent compared to the same period in 2014, where 3.31 million containers were moved.
For the current fiscal year, which began in July, container movement is down a minor 0.05 percent compared to the same 11 months during FY 2014.

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

Monday, June 15, 2015

Carnival Corp. Orders 4 LNG Ships

By Mark Edward Nero

Pleasure cruise company Carnival Corp. announced June 15 it has signed a multi-billion dollar contract with German shipyard Meyer Werft to build four liquefied natural gas-powered cruise ships that, Carnival says, would have the largest guest capacity in the world.

Carnival says the four new ships will be the first in the cruise industry to use LNG in dual-powered hybrid engines to power the ship both in port and on the open sea. LNG would be stored onboard and used to generate 100 percent power at sea – producing another industry-first innovation for Carnival Corporation and its brands.

Using LNG to power the ships in port and at sea is expected to eliminate emissions of soot particles and sulfur oxides.

Carnival said two of the ships would be manufactured at Meyer Werft’s shipyard in Papenburg, Germany and the other two would be built at its Turku, Finland location.

“We are honored that Carnival Corp. has entrusted us with the implementation of this ambitious shipbuilding program, and we look forward to building these four magnificent ships,” Meyer Werft CEO Bernard Meyer said.

Each of the four next-generation ships would have a total capacity of 6,600 guests; over 5,000 lower berths; exceed 180,000 gross tons; and incorporate “an extensive number of guest-friendly features,” according to the cruise company.

Additional information about the ships, including which new ships will be added to each brand, would be made available at a later date, Carnival said.

“It will be exciting to see our shipbuilding team bring these new ships to life,” Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald said. “Every step of the way, our focus is on designing state-of-the-art ships that provide a vacation experience our guests will love, and we are putting all of our creative energy and resources into making sure we achieve that goal.”

NASSCO Delivers USNS Ship

By Mark Edward Nero

San Diego-based shipbuilder General Dynamics NASSCO on June 12 delivered the US Navy’s newest ship, the USNS Lewis B. Puller, the first purpose-built afloat forward staging base (AFSB) vessel.

The $135 million ship, which is 764 feet long (233 meters), has a beam of 164 feet (50 meters) and can reach a top speed of 15 knots, is named after late US Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller, the most decorated Marine in history.

“Today’s delivery of the USNS Lewis B. Puller to the US Navy symbolizes an immense culmination of efforts made by the hard-working men and women of the General Dynamics NASSCO shipbuilding team,” said Kevin Mooney, vice president of operations at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard.

Special modifications to the vessel include a 52,000 square-foot flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, repair spaces, magazines, mission planning spaces and accommodations for up to 250 personnel.

The ship is capable of supporting multiple missions including Air Mine Counter Measures (AMCM), counter-piracy operations, maritime security operations, humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions and Marine Corps crisis response. The ship’s also designed to support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters, and is expected to be upgraded to support MV-22 tilt rotor aircraft.

Construction on the Lewis B. Puller began in 2013. Earlier this year, NASSCO shipbuilders christened the ship with a ceremony at the company’s San Diego shipyard.

In December 2014, the US Navy awarded NASSCO a design-build contract for a Mobile Landing Platform to be configured as an Afloat Forward Staging Base, an assault ship serving as a floating base for amphibious operations.

Construction’s scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2015.

New Olympia Port Commissioner Appointed

By Mark Edward Nero

At a June 10 meeting, sitting Port of Olympia Commissioners George Barner and Bill McGregor appointed Commission candidate Michelle Morris to the vacant District 3 seat.

Morris is a principal in Olympia-based Sound Resource Management Group, Inc. Previously she served as executive director of Sustainable South Sound; was the founder/director of Thurston County Critical Areas Ordinance Coalition; founder/director of Concerned Citizens of Thurston County; and information analyst/global code of conduct for Levi Strauss & Co. in San Francisco.

She has a Bachelor of Arts in Finance and a Masters in Environmental Studies from Evergreen State College.

Former Commissioner Sue Gunn resigned from the District 3 seat April 1 due to personal health matters. She underwent heart surgery Dec. 18 and due to complications from it, missed several Commission meetings from last November to this past March.

By law, the Port Commission had 90 days to appoint someone to fill the vacancy. If the Commission failed to make a timely decision, the responsibility for the appointment would have shifted to the Thurston County Commission.

The District 3 seat is up for election again in the fall, and there were originally eight candidates for the position; the commissioner narrowed the field to the four who are not running in the fall general election to fill the remaining Sue Gunn’s unexpired term.

Barner and McGregor agreed that the voters should make the choice in that election, and that their appointment of a candidate could give that person an unfair “leg up” as an incumbent.

Oakland Port Has Busiest Month Since 2011

By Mark Edward Nero

May 2015 was the busiest month in nearly four years at the Port of Oakland, according to newly released data. The port revealed June 15 that it handled 213,260 cargo containers last month, the most since it reported volume of 216,276 containers in August 2011.

The total volume of import, export and empty containers was up 3.8 percent last month from May 2014, according to the data, making it the third straight month of year-over-year volume increases reported in Oakland.

“We’re seeing steady improvement – especially in import cargo,” said the port’s Maritime Director, John Driscoll. “Our job now is to accelerate the momentum.”

Loaded import container volume increased 4.5 percent in May from the same period a year ago, according to port data. Shipments of empty containers, which were heading back to their origins in Asia, were up 20 percent. The empty repositioning, according to Oakland, indicates that ports are still rebalancing containers dislocated by wintertime trade slowdowns.

Despite the gains, however, the overall export volume declined 5.6 percent in May, the port said, with the decrease being attributed to a strong dollar which makes U.S. exports more expensive. Nevertheless, export volume of 79,890 containers was the most in Oakland since last October.

Monthly cargo statistics are available at the Port of Oakland’s website: