Friday, September 18, 2015

POLB Completes $93 Million Rail Project

By Mark Edward Nero

On Sept. 16, Port of Long Beach officials held a ceremony to celebrate completion of a $93 million rail project that the port says is vital for improving its efficiency and sustainability of cargo movement as shipment volumes increase.

The so-called “Green Port Gateway” project – funded in part with state and federal transportation dollars – was approved for construction in late 2012 and was completed earlier this year. The project realigned a critical rail pathway to relieve a bottleneck, allowing port terminals to increase their use of on-dock rail, decreasing truck traffic and air pollution. The upgrades will serve the port’s southeast portion, including the new Middle Harbor terminal.

Overall, nearly six miles of new track was laid. The work included adding a third rail line under Ocean Boulevard, along with new retaining walls, utility line modifications and roadway improvements. Every on-dock rail train eliminates up to 750 truck trips from regional roadways.

“The Green Port Gateway shows the Port of Long Beach’s commitment to moving trade in an environmentally responsible way,” Board of Harbor Commissioners President Lori Ann Guzm├ín said.

The California State Transportation Agency, California Transportation Commission and CalTrans helped with $23.1 million from the state’s trade corridor improvement fund. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Maritime Administration assisted with $17 million.

Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said the Green Port Gateway is a key part of building the “Port of the Future.”

“This project will enable us to reach our goal of moving 35 percent of containerized cargo via on-dock rail this decade,” Slangerup said. “It will also support our long-range ambition to eventually move 50 percent of our goods directly from terminals by train.”

The port is planning $1 billion in rail projects over the next decade as part of a broader modernization program to strengthen the Port’s competitiveness and reduce port-related impacts to the environment. Compared to trucks, trains emit a third fewer greenhouse gases.

Nichols Bros. Launches ATB Tug

By Mark Edward Nero

Freeland, Washington-based Nichols Brothers Boat Builders used a new track and dolly system this month for the launch of the Nancy Peterkin, the first of two 136-foot by 44-foot by 19-foot sister ATB tug boats under construction for Kirby Offshore Marine.

The sister ATB tug, the Tina Pyne, is scheduled for launch in December.

The new launch system, Nichols Brothers said Sept. 14, significantly increases the displacement and draft of the vessels the shipyard can haul and launch in the future. Currently, the shipbuilder is engineering rigid buoyancy tanks to affix to the side of the launch frame, eliminating the need for the floating cranes in the future.

The new track and dolly system was specifically developed by Engineering Heavy Service for vessels over 1,000 tons.

It’s a development of a system that’s been used multiple times for transferring the Washington State Ferry 144 car ferry superstructures fabricated at Nichols Brothers onto a barge for transport to assembly with the hull.

A launch system developed by Engineering Heavy Service moved the ATB from the shipyard to the launch ramp. General Construction provided two floating cranes to assist in the final lifting of the vessel, shuttling it to deeper water.

The vessel was towed to Everett, Washington for lightship, stability testing and fuel transfer. Following this, the tug will be towed to Nichols Brothers outfitting pier in Langley, Wash. for final outfitting, dock and sea trials before its final delivery.

Totem Ocean Trailer Express Unifies Brand Names

By Mark Edward Nero

Totem Ocean Trailer Express on Sept. 17 announced a shift within its operating companies. Sea Star Line, which serves Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, and Totem Ocean Trailer Express, serving the Alaska market, will now be known collectively as TOTE Maritime.

Both companies provide infrastructure and cargo to Alaska and Puerto Rico and are market leaders. Sea Star Line has delivered goods to Puerto Rico for more than 30 years with twice-weekly reliable service that is responsible for goods traveling from the US to the island.

Totem Ocean Trailer Express also provides twice-weekly service to Alaska and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

“This is an exciting time, not just for our company but for the industry as a whole,” Totem Ocean Trailer Express President John Parrott said.

Both companies are switching their vessels to run on natural gas: Totem Ocean is expected to begin the conversion of its first ship to natural gas later this fall.

“This is a key component of the TOTE LNG strategy and is a reflection of our commitment to the island and the communities we serve,” Sea Star Line President Tim Nolan said. “The shift to TOTE Maritime enables us to highlight the changes we are making nationally.”

TOTE Maritime is part of the TOTE family of companies, which also includes TOTE Services, a leading-edge ship management company that specializes in natural gas projects and technical services for both government and commercial vessels.

Former Port of Long Beach Employee Named FMC Advisor

By Mark Edward Nero

Carl Kemp, who formerly worked in the Port of Long Beach’s Office of Government Affairs, has been named the Federal Maritime Commission’s Senior Advisor for Legislative and Public Affairs, Commission Chair Mario Cordero said Sept. 8.

This position will report directly to the Chairman and will coordinate all legislative and public affairs within all divisions of the Federal Maritime Commission.

Kemp has 20 years of experience in government and public affairs. He created the Office of Government Affairs and Communication in the City of Long Beach, and went on to create the Office of Government Affairs at the Port of Long Beach. He’s been in private practice the last eight years, with specific experience in maritime issues at the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports.

Kemp holds a B.A and MPA (Master of Public Administration) from California State University Long Beach, where he served two terms as student body president.

“As the premiere agency overseeing international ocean transportation, it is critically important that we have a position dedicated to working with local, state and federal legislative bodies,” Cordero said in a prepared statement. “Carl brings a wealth of knowledge from his prior roles in creating legislative and public affairs programs. He and this position are great additions to our already hardworking, dedicated and effective FMC team.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Foreign Ro/Ro Detained in Tacoma by USCG

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Coast Guard said on Sept. 11 that it has detained the motor vessel Pegasus Highway in the Port of Tacoma due to safety deficiencies. The car carrier vessel is being required to remain in port until the deficiencies are rectified.

An exam team from Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound conducted a routine port state and international ship and port facility security exam aboard the Pegasus Highway, a 590-foot, Panamanian-flagged roll-on/roll-off vessel, on Sept. 9.

During the exam, the Coast Guard inspected fire protection, lifesaving, machinery, navigation and pollution control systems and also assessed the crew’s ability to respond to onboard emergencies.

While aboard the 21-year-old vessel, the Coast Guard discovered multiple areas that did not meet international regulations, the most severe of which involved a fire detection system that was found to be inoperable. Without a properly functioning fire detection system, a fire on a deck carrying vehicles could have burned without the crew receiving an early warning.

Vessels determined to be substandard during inspections are subject to a detention and must remain in port until it can proceed to sea without presenting a danger to persons on board or without presenting an unreasonable threat of harm to the marine environment.

“We will continue to work with the vessel's crew to ensure the deficiencies are corrected and the vessel is safe to resume trade,” said Cmdr. Matt Edwards, chief of prevention at Sector Puget Sound.

Harley Marine Receives 2nd Enhanced Tug

By Mark Edward Nero

A second “enhanced” RAmparts 2400 Z-drive tractor tug is now in service with Harley Marine Services in Seattle. The Lela Franco, named in honor of the wife of HMS founder Harley Franco, is a sister ship to the Michelle Sloan delivered earlier this year.

Both tugs were designed by Robert Allan Ltd. and built at shipbuilder Diversified Marine Inc.’s Portland, Oregon shipyard.

The Lela Franco is the sixth tractor tug HMS has added to its fleet in under two years. Like its twin sister the Michelle Sloan, it’s an enhancement of HMS tugs the Tim Quigg and John Quigg, built in 2004 also by Diversified Marine. The enhanced designs developed by Robert Allan Ltd. feature a wider hull, increased bollard pull performance, improved crew accommodations and a modified skeg.

Particulars of the Lela Franco include an overall length of 80 feet; molded beam of 36 feet; molded hull depth of six feet and eight inches; a maximum draft of 17 feet, five inches; and a weight of greater than 200 gross tons.

On trials, the vessel achieved an average bollard pull ahead of 69.0 short tons and a maximum of 71.3 short tons. Astern, the average bollard pull was 65.4 short tons and maximum was 67.4 short tons. The free running speed ahead was 12.5 knots.

The vessel has been outfitted for a normal operating crew of two, with accommodations for up to six persons. The Master’s cabin is located on the main deck, with two additional double crew cabins located on the lower accommodation deck. There is also a galley and mess room located on the main deck.

The deck machinery comprises a Markey DEPC-48 render-recover type ship assist hawser winch on the bow, spooled with 500 feet of nine-inch line, and a Markey DEPC-32 towing winch aft with a capacity of 250 feet of 6-1/2 inch line.

Oakland Monthly Cargo Up 15 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Oakland said Sept. 14 that imports jumped 15 percent in August compared to 2014 totals, making it the sixth-consecutive month of gains ahead of the traditional autumn pre-holiday cargo surge.

The port cites the figures as proof that its containerized import volume keeps growing as peak shipping season nears.

“We’re building momentum before the peak,” Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “It’s an indication that the season could be a good one; but more importantly, it’s a sign that customers are counting on the Port of Oakland to deliver.”

Overall container volume in August – imports, exports and empty boxes – was up six percent to 216,911 TEUs compared to the same month last year, according to port data.

Although the port’s year-to-date total volume is 1.5 million TEUs, which is down 4.8 percent from a year ago, it still represents a significant recovery from the double-digit volume declines that occurred last winter.

Imports have led Oakland’s volume rebound. The port imported the equivalent of 82,492 full containers last month, the most since March when the port’s import rally began. Import growth has been continuous since the Feb. 20 tentative settlement of a West Coast waterfront labor dispute.

Also according to the port, an increase in longshore labor on the waterfront is helping to absorb volume growth. About 150 more dockworkers are being deployed at Oakland’s five marine terminals. With the additional labor, the port has cleared a summer backlog of ships waiting to berth.
The port’s full cargo statistics for August are available at

POLA Monthly Cargo Volumes Up Nearly 4%

By Mark Edward Nero

Containerized cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles increased nearly four percent in August 2015 compared to the same period last year, according to newly released data from the port.

The POLA handled a total of 786,677 TEUs last month, compared to 757,702 in August 2014. It was the strongest August performance since 2006, when 790,726 TEUs moved through the port complex.

“The numbers are strong indicators that our terminal operators, longshore labor and supply chain partners are adjusting to the new industry dynamics of carrier alliances, deploying larger ships and delivering higher container volumes per call,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka explained.

Imports increased 6.3 percent during the month, rising from 383,551 TEUs in August 2014 to 407,804 TEUs in August 2015. However, exports declined 14 percent, from 168,248 TEUs in August 2014 to 143,936 TEUs in August 2015.

Factoring in empties, which increased 14 percent, overall the August 2015 volume of 786,677 represented an increase of 3.8 percent.

However, for the first eight months of 2015, the port’s overall volume of 5.3 million TEUs is down 2.5 percent compared to the same period in 2014. Fiscal year 2016 volumes are up just 0.7 percent from the same time period during the FY 2015, according to port data.

Current and historical data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles is available at