Thursday, August 13, 2015

Seattle Port Signs Historic Cruise Terminal Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Seattle has signed a historic 15-year lease with the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises that provides guarantees estimated to bring $73 million dollars of revenue to the port.

“This is a historic deal for the Port of Seattle,” the port’s CEO, Ted Fick, said. “A 15-year lease for a cruise terminal is unprecedented on the West Coast. Norwegian Cruise Line is showing real vision by investing in the economic growth of this region.”

As part of the deal, which was signed Aug. 11, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings will make tenant improvements to the Bell Street Cruise Terminal, estimated at $30 million, to expand the portion of the facilities used for processing cruise passengers.

Under the new lease, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings will manage the cruise operations at the terminal and have priority rights to the cruise vessel berth during the cruise season. The port will operate the facilities outside the cruise season.

The capital investment to complete the terminal improvements will be shared between the Port and NCLH. “We thank Norwegian Cruise Line for their commitment to Seattle and the Alaska cruise business,” port commissioner John Creighton said. “Cruise in Seattle means $440 million in annual economic impact for this region. This deal means more growth, which means more jobs.”

According to the port, the 15-year business commitment is estimated to generate more than $2 billion in total business revenue for the region, nearly 900 jobs, and more than $65 million in state and local taxes.

Seattle’s cruise business – currently leading all cruise homeports on the US West Coast in passenger volume – is responsible for more than 3,600 jobs, $441 million in annual business revenue and $17.2 million annually in state and local tax revenues. Each homeport vessel call generates $2.5 million for the local economy, according to the port.

“Seattle, with its incredible culinary offerings, luxurious accommodations and outstanding attractions, makes for an ideal homeport,” Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio said. “With primary use of the world-class facilities at Pier 66, we can further customize our guests’ pre- and post-cruise experience.”

Cruise Association President Quits

By Mark Edward Nero

After only about a month on the job, the president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association is parting ways with the organization.

Thomas Ostebo, who joined CLIA as President and CEO on July 6, has stepped down from the position, effective immediately, due to personal reasons, the cruise association revealed on Aug. 12.

“While it is unfortunate that Tom is departing CLIA, his desire to put his family first is a testament to his character, and we wish him the best in all his future endeavors,” Global CLIA Chairman Adam Goldstein, President and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said in a prepared statement announcing the surprise development.

Cindy D’Aoust, Executive Vice President of Membership and Operations, was named acting CEO and interim overseer of the management of global operations and the CLIA leadership teams until CLIA appoints a permanent CEO.

The new CEO will be the third in 2015 alone. Ostebo’s appointment followed the January 2015 departure of former CLIA President and CEO Christine Duffy who took over as president of Carnival Cruise Line on Feb. 1.

Ostebo came to CLIA from the US 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.

Crowley Awarded Vessel Management Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

Crowley Maritime Corp.’s global ship management group has been awarded a technical management contract with the U.S. government for six Military Sealift Command (MSC) Maritime Prepositioning Ships (MPS).

The Crowley contract covers five of MSC’s 14 Bobo Class ships: the M/V 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo, M/V Pfc. Dewayne T. Williams, M/V 1st Lt. Jack Lummus, M/C Sgt. William R. Button and M/V 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez – plus the USNS Gunnery Sgt. Fred W. Stockham.

Vessels in the Bobo Class are named after recipients of America’s highest military recognition, the Medal of Honor.

The ships are used to pre-position US Marine Corps vehicles, equipment and ammunition throughout the world. Pre-positioned ships in each squadron have sufficient equipment, supplies and ammunition to support about 17,000 personnel for 30 days, and are self-sustaining with cranes that enable them to unload their own cargo.

Services provided by Crowley include full turnkey operation and management of the fleet, including crewing and scheduled and unscheduled repair and dry-docking. The turnover phase is expected to begin in late September.

“Crowley is honored to have been selected,” said Crowley’s Mike Golonka, the company’s vice president of government services. “This contract is a perfect fit for Crowley.”

The Bobo Class is named in recognition of USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo, a Vietnam War hero who was killed while saving the lives of his fellow marines during an ambush in 1966. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Oakland Port Tackles Efficiency Measures

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Oakland officials say they have a plan to move cargo more efficiently at their gateway, and this week they received expert guidance in implementing the plan. A 30-member task force met the first week of August to prioritize efficiency measures.

The task force consists of shipping lines, marine terminal operators, cargo owners, harbor truckers and dockworkers.

They say they want, among other things: an end to vessel backlogs forcing some ships to temporarily anchor in San Francisco Bay instead of berthing; enough dockworkers, marine clerks and equipment to efficiently manage high volumes of containerized cargo; and extended hours and an appointment system to help harbor truckers get cargo in and out of Oakland quickly.

The port, for its part, said it’s ready to act.

A two-month old labor shortage is already being addressed in Oakland, port officials told the task force. About 150 dockworkers and 30 marine clerks are expected to join the workforce over the next two months. The port is also making significant progress in clearing out a backlog of delayed ships that developed during the labor shortage. Only five vessels were reported at anchor or outside the Golden Gate Bridge awaiting berths during the first week of August, down from a high of 13 the week before.

Next on the port’s list of initiatives: extended terminal hours. According to the port, a proposal for permanent Saturday operations is under review with the Federal Maritime Commission. The plan would lengthen the work week to six days in Oakland, easing congestion during peak weekday periods.

The port is also finalizing plans with equipment providers to ensure any chassis can be used by any trucker. By fall, the truck trailers that haul containers over the road will be made available from a common pool.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Accu-Steer Acquired by Kobelt

By Mark Edward Nero

British Columbia-based Kobelt Manufacturing has acquired Accu-Steer Inc., a Bellingham, Washington-based company that builds a range of hydraulic steering actuators for commercial vessels and pleasure craft.

Kobelt is expected to retain the Accu-Steer brand, but Accu-Steer will be physically relocated into the current Kobelt manufacturing facility in Surrey, Canada, Kobelt said Aug. 6.

The Accu-Steer dealer network will remain intact but direct factory support will be provided from the Kobelt facility in Surrey.

Accu-Steer branded products will be distributed and serviced through Kobelt’s global network, which operates in 60 countries.

Kobelt CEO David Bockhold, says the acquisition of Accu-Steer and its product line will fill “some gaps in our current Kobelt product line” and that by packaging the hydraulic power steering unit into a complete steering package, Kobelt improves its ability to provide complete steering solutions for the commercial and pleasure markets.

“In addition to steering packages, we can also integrate our propulsion controls and our Keypower (Equipment) thrusters and stabilization systems to deliver solutions for all aspects of vessel motion control,” he said. “With both Accu-Steer as well as our recent acquisition of (Canadian boating equipment manufacturer) Keypower, we are responding to customer demand for one company to take responsibility for the integration of multiple systems.”

Accu-Steer President Bill Pulse, who cofounded the company with Paul Barber in 1993, said the synergies between the two Kobelt and Accu-Steer product lines make the companies “a natural fit.”

“Kobelt’s goal is to provide comprehensive systems to their customers and the Accu-Steer product line enables them to achieve this goal and better service the customer. We are very excited about the future for these combined product lines,” he said.

Vancouver USA Settles Document Lawsuit

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Vancouver USA on Aug. 5 settled a lawsuit that contended a version of a Vancouver Energy lease provided by the port in response to a public records request was excessively redacted.

As part of the settlement agreement, the port lifted all but three redactions on the lease document and paid $45,000 to limit further legal costs.

Vancouver Energy is a partnership between oil refiner Tesoro Corp. and transport firm Savage Companies. In April 2013, the companies announced a plan to build a major terminal for receiving oil by rail and transferring it to ships, which would take it to West Coast refineries.

The Clark County Natural Resources Council filed the lawsuit after it received a heavily redacted document from the port in response to a May 2014 public records request.

Under the settlement, the plaintiff has agreed to waive all statutory penalties and will dismiss their claim with prejudice, meaning the claim can’t be resurrected against the port in the future.

In a statement, the port said it provided the redacted copy in May 2014 “to protect information that, if made public, ran a high risk of harming the port’s ability to compete and generate economic benefit for the community.”

“It’s now been two years since the Vancouver Energy lease was first approved,” port CEO Todd Coleman said. “We’re now at a point where we feel releasing this information is important for transparency, and poses little risk to the port’s ability to remain competitive.”

The 429-page Vancouver Energy lease can be seen at

1st Seagoing Electric Catamaran in the Works

By Mark Edward Nero

The first seagoing electric powered passenger vessel in the US is set to launch in Juneau, Alaska by the summer of 2016, according to it’s developer, a renewable energy and technology company.

The E/V Tongass Rain is a 50-foot, 47-passenger catamaran designed for eco-education and whale watching tours. Its primary fuel source, according to Juneau-based Tongass Rain Electric Cruise (TREC), will be “rain” delivered to the boat via a hydroelectric power grid and stored in a bank of lithium batteries.

The zero emission vessel is currently under review by the United States Coast Guard for approvals, and is scheduled for construction from November 2015 to April 2016, with operations planned to start in Juneau, Alaska next May.

TREC commissioned naval architect Scott Jutson of Vancouver-based Jutson Marine to design the E/V Tongass Rain, which would be the first of potentially five electric boats. The hull of the craft has been certified by the Coast Guard for 150 nautical miles “for safe harbor” in six-and-a-half-foot seas at 12 knots, according to TREC. Once the propulsion system gets the green light, construction is slated to take place at Armstrong Marine in Port Angeles, Wash.

Hueneme Port Sets Annual Cargo Record

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Hueneme, a deepwater harbor in Ventura County, California, has set a record for annual cargo traffic, according to port data.

For the fiscal year that ended June 30, cargo traffic was up 9.5 percent year-over-year at 1.57 million metric tons, according to the data, with auto exports and produce imports being among the more in-demand commodities.

Part of the reason for the increase, according to the port, is the diversion of cargo to Hueneme from other Southern California ports, particularly those in Long Beach and Los Angeles, which suffered slight business losses during months of congestion that coincided with then-ongoing talks between organized labor and management on a new contract.

“Smaller niche ports tend to survive these situations better than the larger ports,” Hueneme CEO Kristin Decas said of the congestion problems in February. “The way I look at it is we’re helping industry because they can’t get into the bigger ports.”

The Port of Hueneme says it managed to increase business during the first quarter of the year because of the labor dispute and attracted more ships than normal by offering up space for the storage and processing of perishable commodities, particularly bananas.

The port handled a total of 655,643 metric tons of bananas in the past 12 months, according to data. The amount of produce traversing the port’s docks was up five percent compared to the previous fiscal year, data shows.