Friday, July 24, 2015

Puget Sound Pilots Hires New Director

By Mark Edward Nero

Linda Styrk, the Managing Director of the Port of Seattle’s Maritime Division, said July 21 that she has accepted a new position as Executive Director of the Puget Sound Pilots, which work with ship captains to safely direct vessels in and out of harbors and waterways.

Styrk is succeeding Walter Tabler, who has been the Pilots’ Executive Director and General Counsel the last 12 years. Tabler says he’s retiring in October, but plans to stay in the area and will be available for consulting.

“I am thrilled to be able to help advance the mission of the Puget Sound Pilots, who work every hour of every day to protect the safety of passengers, mariners, cargo and the environment in Puget Sound,” Styrk said in a statement. “I look forward to being an outspoken advocate for the maritime industry in my new role.”

Styrk joined the Port of Seattle in 2005 and previously held positions as Director of Container Marketing, General Manager of the Container Division, and Director of Strategic and Facilities Planning for the Seaport.

She graduated from the California Maritime Academy with a bachelor’s degree in Nautical Industrial Technology and before joining the port, spent almost 20 years with APL/Eagle Marine Services in a variety of roles.

Not only does Styrk hold a US Coast Guard Third Mate’s License, she is also married to a pilot who guides ships through the Northwest Passage to Alaska.

As managing director of the Port of Seattle’s maritime division, Styrk was instrumental in many achievements over the past decade, including a 10-year lease extension for Terminal 46; the Seattle Harbor Channel Deepening Project; the T-5 modernization project for mega ships; establishment of the Seaport Asset Stewardship Program; and advancement of the Northwest Seaport Alliance.

“We will always consider Linda a friend of the port and wish her success in her new position,” said Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick.

FMC Approves Seaport Alliance

By Mark Edward Nero

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) this week completed its competitive review and analysis of the Port of Seattle/Port of Tacoma Alliance Agreement and voted unanimously to allow the Northwest Seaport Alliance, as it’s commonly known, to become effective on July 23.

Under the alliance, which the two ports announced last October, Seattle and Tacoma plan to unify the management of their marine cargo terminals and related functions to attract more marine cargo to the region.

The Alliance authorizes the two ports to meet, discuss, and reach agreement on the management, use and operation of their marine cargo business, including joint business planning and marketing to further develop infrastructure and improve productivity. The agreement also authorizes establishment of a Port Development Authority (PDA), effective Aug. 1, to promote and assist economic development of the Alliance’s marine cargo operations.

The Commission said its decision to approve the agreement is based on a determination that the agreement isn’t likely to produce an unreasonable increase in transportation costs or an unreasonable reduction in transportation service under the Shipping Act.

With the Maritime Commission’s approval, the Alliance is now set to become the third-largest trade gateway in North America, behind the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the Port of New York/New Jersey.

“The Pacific Northwest is a key region for inbound and outbound United States cargo, moving cargo not only for the regional trade, but also cargo headed to destinations throughout the entire U.S. Midwest, and this Alliance will help the region remain competitive into the future,” FMC Chair Mario Cordero said.

Port Metro Vancouver Installing
More Shoreside Power

By Mark Edward Nero

The Canadian government has approved funding for the installation of shore power facilities for container vessels at two Port Metro Vancouver container terminals, the port revealed during a July 22 announcement.

“We are proud to be investing in shore power at Port Metro Vancouver’s Centerm and Deltaport container terminals,” Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Canada’s Minister of National Revenue, said. “Federal initiatives such as the Shore Power Technology for Ports Program will not only help the environment and improve our health, but will also position British Columbia’s trade sectors to take advantage of growth opportunities, increase revenues and create jobs.”

Shore power reduces port emissions by allowing vessels to draw power from the local electrical grid and thereby turn off their diesel engines while at berth. Port Metro Vancouver was the first port in Canada to implement shore power for cruise ships, and since 2009 more than 11,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions have been avoided, according to the port.

The total project funding is $12 million: $6 million from Transport Canada’s Shore Power Technology for Ports Program and $6 million from Port Metro Vancouver.

Additionally, $4.97 million – $2.485 million from Transport Canada, $2.485 million from Port Metro Vancouver – is to be used to install shore power technology at a berth at Global Container Terminal’s Deltaport terminal in Delta, B.C.

Also, another $7.3 million – $3.8 million from Port Metro Vancouver, $3.5 million from Transport Canada – is earmarked for the installation of shore power technology at a berth at DP World Vancouver’s Centerm Container terminal in Vancouver and necessary upgrades on nearby BC Hydro property.

Each ship connection to shore power is estimated to avoid greenhouse gas emissions of 75 tons. Both shore power operations are expected to be operational by March 31, 2017.

Oregon Senator Submits Anti-Artic Drilling Bill

By Mark Edward Nero

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) on July 16 announced the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act of 2015, legislation that would prevent any new or renewed leases for the exploration, development or production of oil, natural gas, or any other mineral in the Arctic planning area.

“A spill in the Arctic would be an environmental catastrophe of extraordinary proportions – and such a spill is inevitable if drilling proceeds,” Merkley said in a prepared statement. “The ecosystem in the Arctic is too fragile and the ability to respond to a spill in this region is nonexistent. Drilling in the Arctic Ocean is the height of irresponsibility. We need to put it off limits, permanently.”

In 2010, when BP’s Deepwater Horizon exploded and began to sink in the Gulf Coast, the nearest Coast Guard station was about 132 air miles away, in New Orleans. In contrast, Merkley pointed out, current proposals by Shell Oil to drill in the Chukchi Sea are over 900 air miles from the nearest Coast Guard station in Kodiak and over 1,200 miles from the nearest deep-water port in Dutch Harbor.

Merkley said that opening development on a new fossil fuel reservoir in the Arctic not only puts the natural resources, ecosystems, and the dependent communities at risk, it also contradicts the President’s Climate Action Plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions and reduce climate change.

Merkley’s bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Port of Coos Bay CEO Stepping Down

By Mark Edward Nero

After five years at the port and three years in his current position, Port of Coos Bay CEO David Koch is stepping away from the job at the end of July.

Koch originally came to the port as chief operating officer in October 2010 before being promoted to CEO in 2012.

“I told the commission when they hired me that I could get it (the port) so far, then it was important for me to step aside and hire a professional port manager to get in here, who has the experience,” Koch said in a statement explaining his imminent departure. “For me, it’s the recognition that it’s time for me to step aside and bring in that experienced port manager that can take us to that next level.”

Prior to joining Coos Bay, Koch was one of the port’s contract attorneys with the Stebbins & Coffey law firm. He was named the port’s interim CEO in December 2011, replacing Jeff Bishop, who resigned that November after seven years in the position in order to accept a position as city manager of an Oklahoma town.

Koch has an agreement to continue as a consultant for the port for 90 days after his departure, an arrangement that Bishop also had with the port after his 2011 resignation.

Koch’s departure means the port’s top two executive positions will soon be vacant; Chief Commercial Officer Martin Callery turned in his resignation last summer and, after originally planning to leave in January, is set to depart at the end of this month.

Callery has cited the port’s evolution and its shift from his focus of rail issues to maritime commerce among the reasons why he’s stepping down.

Washington Ferries Out for Emergency Repairs

By Mark Edward Nero

All available backup Washington State Ferries vessels have been called into service this week while two larger ferries are out for emergency repairs between Mon., July 20 and Wed., July 22.

The 202-vehicle ferry Puyallup is out of service for three days while crews inspect an engine that broke down June 20. Also, the 48-year-old Elwha is out of service for roughly four months for extensive repairs to a drive motor.

The 188-car Walla Walla is temporarily filling in for the Puyallup on the Seattle/Bainbridge route from July 20 to July 22.

“Adding two new Olympic-class vessels in the last year and a half allows us to call on our older ferries when we need them,” said Lynne Griffith, the Washington State Dept. of Transportation Assistant Secretary for Ferries. “Thanks to state lawmakers, we’ve got a third vessel under construction and plans for a fourth are in motion. In the meantime, the fleet is stretched thin.”

In order to maintain service across the entire system, Washington State Ferries has adjusted the sailing schedule and assigned the backup vessels Evergreen State, Tillikum and Hiyu to two routes.

The Edmonds/Kingston route is expanding from a two-boat schedule to a three-boat schedule. The 87-car Tillikum and Evergreen State will join the 188-car Spokane.

The Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth routes are shifting from a three-boat schedule to a two-boat schedule, with supplementary service provided by the 34-car Hiyu. The 124-car Issaquah and Cathlamet will also serve the route.

Customers traveling on the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route should expect longer-than-usual wait times, according to Washington State Ferries.

California Governor Orders Freight Efficiency Review

By Mark Edward Nero

California Governor Jerry Brown on July 16 issued an executive order calling for the development of an action plan that establishes “clear targets to improve freight efficiency, transition to zero-emission technologies, and increase competitiveness of California’s freight system.”

The plan, which is expected to be lead by the California State Transportation Agency, state Environmental Protection Agency and the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, is due by July 2016.

Under Brown’s orderthe action plan is required to identify state policies, programs, and investments to achieve the above-stated targets, and that the plan be informed by existing state agency strategies, as well as broad stakeholder input.

“It is further ordered that agencies under my direct executive authority cooperate in the implementation of this order, and it is requested that other public and private entities assist in its development and implementation as appropriate,” Brown stated.

To ensure progress towards a sustainable freight system, Brown stated, the various entities are to initiate work this year on freight pilot projects within California’s primary trade corridors that “integrate advanced technologies, alternative fuels, freight and fuel infrastructure and local economic development opportunities.”

California is the largest gateway for international trade and domestic commerce in the US; its freight transportation system is responsible for a third of the state’s economy and jobs.

POLB Monthly Cargo Numbers Fall

By Mark Edward Nero

Container cargo volume dipped in June at the Port of Long Beach, decreasing 4.4 percent compared to the same month last year, according to newly released data.

A total of 583,621 TEUs were moved through the port last month, according to the data.

Imports were recorded at 297,189 TEUs, a six percent decrease from June 2014, while exports dropped 8.4 percent to 128,223 TEUs. However, the number of empty containers being sent back overseas to be refilled with consumer goods rose 2.4 percent with 158,209 TEUs.

June 2014, the month against which last month is being compared, was a particularly busy time for the port, as shippers were preparing for the then-upcoming expiration of the longshore labor contract.

Through the first six months of calendar year 2015, Long Beach cargo numbers are essentially flat compared to the same period last year, up 0.1 percent overall. For the fiscal year to date, which began Oct. 1, container volumes are flat, with the port moving 5.03 million containers so far, virtually the same as the same nine-month period as in FY 2014.

Container volumes at California’s other two major container seaports, those in Los Angeles and Oakland, were down two percent and one percent respectively, in June.

The latest monthly Port of Long Beach cargo numbers and historical data are available at