Friday, July 17, 2015

Hyundai Working on ‘Smart Ship’ Design

By Mark Edward Nero

The world has already seen ‘smart’ phones and ‘smart’ watches come into existence – could a ‘smart’ ship be next?

Shipbuilding company Hyundai Heavy Industries is collaborating with technology services company Accenture to design a ‘connected smart ship’ that could enable ship owners to better manage their fleets and achieve potential operational savings through digital technologies.

The connected smart ship is being developed using a combination of Hyundai Heavy Industries’ shipbuilding and manufacturing knowledge and Accenture’s digital and shipping industry experience.

“Through this collaboration with Accenture, our ambition is to lead innovation in ship operations, shipping and the port logistics sector,” said Moon-Kyoon Yoon, the Chief Operating Officer of the Shipbuilding Division of Hyundai Heavy Industries.

Using a network of sensors that would be built into new vessels, ship owners could capture a range of ship voyage information including location, weather, and ocean current data, as well as on-board equipment and cargo status data.

Also, by applying real-time analytics to new and historical fleet data and using data visualization technology to present the insights, Hyundai says, ship owners would be able to monitor their vessels’ status and condition in real-time to make data-driven decisions that support more efficient operations. Services are expected to include real-time alerts and warnings, predictive maintenance and more efficient scheduling.

“Our collaboration with Hyundai Heavy Industries utilizes our digital technology and deep industry experience to enable a traditional products company to adapt its business model, taking advantage of digital technologies like analytics,” Accenture Senior Managing Director Eric Schaeffer said.

Services to be offered to Hyundai Heavy Industries’ customers through the collaboration include administrative and user management services, and device management services to ensure all connected devices can be monitored and maintained remotely.

Hyundai and Accenture have given no timeline regarding when the first ‘smart’ ship could be built.

Federal Port Congestion Analysis Released

By Mark Edward Nero

The Federal Maritime Commission has released a report analyzing the causes of congestion at seaports across the US.

The 83-page staff report, entitled “US Container Port Congestion & Related International Supply Chain Issues: Causes, Consequences & Challenges,” addresses current and anticipated future challenges caused by congestion at US port gateways and comments on the causes and effects of congestion with the objective of facilitating further discussion on potential solutions.

It organizes and develops stakeholder discussion around six major themes that emerged at the 2014 FMC Port Forums held at major gateway ports: investment and planning; chassis availability and related issues; vessel and terminal operations; port drayage and truck turn-time; extended gate hours, PierPASS and congestion pricing; and collaboration and communication.

The forums were an opportunity for industry stakeholders to gather around the country to share their views on the causes, consequences and challenges surrounding congestion at ports and other parts of the intermodal system, as well as share ideas for possible solutions.

“International trade relies on our nation’s ports, therefore port congestion is a paramount question at the international supply chain level, and is not a solely domestic concern,” FMC Chair Mario Cordero said in a statement confirming the release of the report. “Infrastructure investment is at the core of the discussion, however other factors must be addressed in the near term to ensure an efficient and reliable international ocean transportation system and the relevant supply chain.”

The full report can be read and/or downloaded at

Monthly POLA Cargo Volumes Slip

By Mark Edward Nero

June 2015 containerized cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles decreased two percent compared to the same period last year. Los Angeles terminals handled a combined total of 721,802 TEUs last month, according to port data.

Imports decreased 3.65 percent, from 382,666 TEUs in June 2014 to 368,708 TEUs in June 2015. Additionally, exports declined 10.7 percent, from 160,823 TEUs in June 2014 to 143,549 TEUs in June 2015.

Combined, total loaded imports and exports dropped 5.75 percent, from 543,489 TEUs in June 2014 to 512,257 TEUs in June 2015. Factoring in empties, which increased 8.6 percent, the overall June 2015 volume of 721,802 TEUs was a decrease of 1.99 percent.

For the first six months of 2015, overall volumes (3.9 million TEUs) were down 3.67 percent compared to the same period in 2014.

For the current fiscal year, which began July 1, LA’s cargo volumes are down 0.23 percent, falling from 8.20 million TEUs last FY to 8.19 million TEUs during the same 11-month period this fiscal year.

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

Oakland Cargo Volumes Dip Slightly

By Mark Edward Nero

There was good news and bad news for the Port of Oakland in June 2015, as containerized import volume increased in June for the fourth straight month at the port, while exports and overall volumes were down.

The port said July 14 that it handled the equivalent of 75,780 loaded 20-foot import containers last month, an increase of 2.61 percent from June 2014. Oakland import volume has exceeded the previous year’s total in every month since March.

However, export volume declined 7.56 percent in June from the previous year’s total, according to port data.

Overall volume in Oakland – including loaded and empty containers – declined one percent in June compared to the same month last year, the port reported.

The port shipped the equivalent of 50,000 empty 20-foot containers back to their origin points last month, which was a decline of about 4,300 empties from May 2015 totals.

It’s an indication, according to the port, that containers are beginning to balance globally after bunching at US ports last winter.

For the calendar year to date, Oakland has moved just more than 1 million 20-foot equivalent units, a 7.6 increase from the same six months in calendar year 2014.

Current and historical data regarding the Port of Oakland’s container volumes can be seen at

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Washington Legislature Approves Transport Package

By Mark Edward Nero

With the passage of two final bills in the House of Representatives on July 10, the Washington State Legislature has completed work on a 16-year, $16.2 billion statewide transportation package that includes $1.85 billion for the Puget Sound Gateway.

The package covers completion of State Route 167, which the state began planning in the 1970s and started construction in the 1980s, only to see it stall in the 1990s. Washington ports, business and community leaders have long advocated for funding to complete SR 167 in Pierce County, as well as State Route 509 in King County, which is also supported in the package.

The Washington State Department of Transportation estimates a completed SR 167 could fuel job growth to the tune of $10.1 billion.

“Washington farmers, manufacturers and businesses of all sizes need an efficient transportation system to reach global markets,” Port of Seattle Commission co-President Courtney Gregoire said in a prepared statement. “This package means jobs and economic development across our state, and we thank our senators and legislators for recognizing the need to invest in transportation infrastructure.”

According to studies commissioned by the Port of Seattle and cities of SeaTac and Des Moines, the completion of SR 509 allows for development of more than five million square feet of office, retail and commercial space totaling nearly $700 million in new construction.

The transportation package also included a number of other investments to move cargo faster to and from the ports, including improvements on Interstate 5 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and on Interstate 90 in Snoqualmie Pass. In total, the state is investing nearly $3.25 billion in projects servicing the Puget Sound gateway.

Gov. Jay Inslee, who submitted the transportation investment package in December, has scheduled a bill signing ceremony for the bill, set for 3:30 pm Wed., July 15 at the University of Washington’s Conibear Shellhouse, 3896 Walla Walla Rd, Seattle. No RSVP is necessary.

Oakland Port Adding 400 Dockworkers

By Mark Edward Nero

Faced with a buildup of ships and cargo caused in part by a shortage of labor, the Port of Oakland has taken steps to bring in about 400 additional dockworkers, the port revealed July 10.

Additional hires are expected to be phased into the workforce through September, the port said, to handle the cargo buildup and clear out a backlog of vessels anchored in San Francisco Bay.

“We’re not operating with the speed and efficiency our customers deserve right now,” Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “Additional longshore labor is an important first step in getting back on track.”

In addition to adding new workers, waterfront employers and the longshore union have agreed to train and promote 100 current workers. That would expand the workforce available to fill positions requiring greater skill and experience.

The port doesn’t directly hire longshore labor; that task is managed by the marine terminal operators that lease their facilities from the port.

The extra help is necessary for multiple reasons, according to the port, including that its containerized cargo volume is trending upward; the number of vessels arriving in Oakland has also grown, with the port often berthing 10 ships a day.

Also playing a factor, according to the port, is that some ships are anchored in the Bay two days waiting for short-staffed terminals to clear vessels from berths; and that more auto carrier vessels and cruise ships are calling at Bay Area ports putting further strain on the longshore labor pool.

The labor shortage has lengthened the time ships spend loading and unloading by as much as a day. It has also added time to the delivery of cargo at final destination. The port anticipates that cargo and vessel delays should ease by the end of July and that it is in discussions with waterfront labor and management on further measures to accelerate cargo operations.

Vancouver Shipyards Shortlisted for Ferry Upgrades

By Mark Edward Nero

BC Ferries, the government-contracted service provider of ferry service along coastal British Columbia, said July 9 that it has shortlisted three shipyards, including one in British Columbia, for its Spirit-class vessels’ midlife upgrades, including conversion to dual fuel so they can operate on liquefied natural gas.

Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards, Remontowa SA of Poland and Fincantieri of Italy were shortlisted from the five shipyards that responded to BC Ferries' request-for-proposals process. More than 20 national and international shipyards expressed interest in the initial stages of the procurement process.

BC Ferries said it would negotiate with the three proponents over the next three to five months to select the final bidder.

Originally, BC Ferries was planning the midlife upgrade (MLU) and LNG conversion for the Spirit of Vancouver Island to occur in the fall of 2016 through the spring of 2017 and that of the Spirit of British Columbia the following year.

However, BC Ferries says it is deferring the project for a year to ensure sufficient equipment procurement lead times, detailed engineering and necessary regulatory approvals, and perform additional financial due diligence. The one-year deferral is expected to allow BC Ferries to obtain even more technical clarity and commercial certainty, while regaining program schedule contingency.

“Due to the complexity of this major project, we need more time for engineering design to ensure we meet our own high standards for delivering major capital projects on time and on budget,” BC Ferries’ vice president of engineering, Mark Wilson, explained.

BC Ferries plans for the Spirit of British Columbia to be the first ship through the MLU and LNG conversion process and commence actual conversion from the fall of 2017 through the spring of 2018. The Spirit of Vancouver Island is expected to follow from the fall of 2018 through the spring of 2019.

BC Ferries said it expects to award a contract for the Spirit-class midlife upgrades and conversions to the successful bidder by late fall of this year.

First Female American Cruise Ship Capt. Named

By Mark Edward Nero

For the first time in the cruise industry, an American female will take the helm of a mega-ton cruise ship later this year.

Beginning in August, San Francisco native Kate McCue, 37, will command Celebrity Summit – a 91,000-ton, 965-foot ship in the Celebrity Cruises fleet, sailing between the eastern United States and Bermuda. As Captain, she’ll be responsible for the safe navigation of the ship and the onboard experience of its 2,158 guests and 952 crewmembers.

Celebrity Cruises, which operates a fleet of 10 ships, says it promoted McCue to captain based on her 15 years of successful experience and leadership in the maritime industry. During her tenure, McCue has managed ship logistics while sailing worldwide itineraries, including the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, Europe, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean and along the Panama Canal.

Kate McCue's appointment follows that of Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, who was named President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises in December 2014.

“Of all the great moments throughout my career, this is at the top of my list,” Lutoff-Perlo said. “I am both honored that Kate accepted this position, and proud of the way our team continues to transform the way people think about Celebrity, and about cruising in general.”

A graduate of California State University's California Maritime Academy, Captain McCue has held a variety of roles in the maritime industry, beginning as a cadet and deck officer, then working through a series of successively more responsible positions to her most recent role as Master Mariner with Royal Caribbean International.

“Becoming the first female American captain of a cruise ship has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember,” McCue said in a statement. “The honor is amplified by being the first at a company like Celebrity Cruises.”