Friday, September 25, 2015

Aker Selling Stake in Crowley Joint Venture

By Mark Edward Nero

Aker Philadelphia Shipyard said Sept. 23 that it has entered into agreements with a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corp. for the buyout of Aker’s interest in a joint venture with Crowley Maritime Corp. related to the operation and chartering of four 50,000-dwt product tankers.

The transaction, Aker says, is based on an enterprise value of $150 million per vessel, or $600 million total. All four vessels subject to the transaction are now under construction.

The deliveries of all four vessels are expected to occur between the third quarter of 2015 and the third quarter of 2016.
Aker says they will make an investment in the vessels during their construction, but will no longer maintain the previously planned long-term investment in the vessels post-delivery, which was expected to be about $110 million in the aggregate.

“This transaction is an important part of (Aker’s) plan to divest its shipping investments and realize the value created for shareholders,” company Chairman Kristian Rokke said in a statement. “We are proud of what we have accomplished together with Crowley under the joint venture and look forward to serving both Crowley and Marathon Petroleum as shipbuilders into the future.”

In addition to the four tankers subject to the transaction, Aker has also begun construction of the first two of four additional 50,000-dwt tankers for a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Inc., which are planned for delivery between November 2016 and November 2017. The shipyard also has contracts for two 3,600-TEU containerships for Matson Navigation Co. which are scheduled for delivery in 2018.

1 Killed in POLB Industrial Accident

By Mark Edward Nero

A truck driver was killed at the Port of Long Beach on Sept. 16 when he was seemingly run over by a trailer he’d recently unlatched from a tractor.

The victim has been identified as William Vasquez, a 26-year-old Los Angeles resident.

At about 8:47 a.m. on Sept. 16, Long Beach Port Police officers responded to a report of an industrial accident at 700 Pier A Way. Upon their arrival, the officers say, they found the victim down on the asphalt next to a trailer and about 30 feet behind a 2009 Sterling 3-axle tractor.

The Long Beach Fire Department also responded and pronounced the victim dead at the scene.

According to police, an investigation revealed that the victim got out of his tractor without setting the emergency brake and without putting it in park. Vasquez, who police say was on his cell phone at the time, attempted to unlatch the trailer and the trailer slowly began to roll forward, striking the victim, who was then run over by the trailer.

Vasquez, who worked as an independent contract truck driver for Signal Hill-based California Multimodal, had been a truck driver for about three years, according to his family.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating the incident.

Nichols Bros. Building New Tugs for Kirby

By Mark Edward Nero

Freeland, Washington-based Nichols Brothers Boat Builders said Sept. 23 that it has signed a construction security agreement with Kirby Offshore Marine to build two new 120-foot by 35-foot by 19-foot twin-screw tugboats for use in tow operations.

Kirby Offshore Marine, a Houston-based operator of coastal tank barges and towing vessels, has a presence in numerous US cities, including Seattle, Anchorage and Honolulu.

Each tugboat is designed to be powered by two Caterpillar 3516C main engines, each providing 2,447 bhp at 1,600 rpm, with Reintjes reduction gears turning two Nautican fixed-pitched propellers with fixed nozzles.

The vessels will also have two C7.1 Caterpillar generators for electrical service. Selected deck machinery includes one TESD-34 Markey tow winch, one CEW-60 Markey electric capstan, and one Smith Berger tow pin, according to Nichols Bros. Also according to the company, keels are to be laid for both vessels this fall, with delivery of the first vessel scheduled for May 2017 and delivery of the second set for November 2017.

The tugs will carry an ABS load line, compliant with the US Coast Guard, as required at delivery. Jensen Maritime Consultants of Seattle is providing the ABS class and functional design for the tugboats.

Nichols Brothers is also currently building two 136-foot by 44-foot by 19-foot, 10,000-HP ATBs for Kirby Offshore Marine. Earlier this month, Nichols used a new track and dolly system for the launch of the Nancy Peterkin, the first of the two ATB boats under construction for Kirby.

Port of Camas-Washougal Names New Board Member

By Mark Edward Nero

John Spencer, a former city administrator for the city of North Bonneville, Wash., was officially selected on Sept. 22 to become the third member of the Port of Camas-Washougal Port Commission.

“I am honored and committed to doing something good with it,” Spencer said of his appointment after the commission meeting. Spencer was selected for the position by the incumbent board members after about a month-long process during which a handful of serious candidates were interviewed.

He will finish the term of former Commissioner Mark Lampton, who died of lung cancer on Aug. 3 at the age of 69. Lampton’s second, four-year term was to expire in late 2017.

Spencer, who was North Bonneville’s city administrator from June 2010 to August 2013, is expected to join the three-member panel on Oct. 6. He has not said whether he plans to run again for the seat once it is up for election again in two years. Since August 2013, Spencer has been a finance and management consultant with Pulse Consulting, a Camas-based business that specializes in government and medical management and business administrative services.

He also has recently served as managing consultant for the Cannabis Corner, a small, government-owned marijuana store just off state Highway 14 in North Bonneville that generated a substantial amount of national media attention when it first opened its doors in March.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

ILWU Opposing Oakland Coal Exports

By Mark Edward Nero

Longshore workers and marine clerks who move cargo at the Oakland and San Francisco seaports have rejected a developer’s plan to export coal through the former Oakland Army Base.

International Longshore and Warehouse Union elected officials said Sept. 18 that coal is an “undesirable, low-value cargo” and a “broken promise” on the part of the developer, and that longshore workers stand by community members in opposition to the plan, which would potentially bring nine million tons of coal passing through their neighborhoods on trains each year.

The rank and file members of ILWU Local 10 and ILWU Local 34 were the members that voted to oppose the handling of coal at the site.

“When the developers of the project were seeking tax money and public support to develop the Oakland Army Base, they talked about exporting cargoes like grain and potash,” ILWU Local 34 President Sean Farley said. “They made a ‘no coal’ promise to workers, the community and elected officials, and they need to make good on that promise. Waterfront space is in short supply on the West Coast, and it would be a mistake to lock Oakland into a decades-long lease with a coal industry that many say is dying. Coal proposals have failed up and down the West Coast, and Oakland shouldn’t become the dumping ground for dirty, low value cargoes that no one else wants.”

After the Oakland City Council granted the California Capital and Investment Group (CCIG) the right to develop the former Army base adjacent to the Port of Oakland, CCIG planned to build the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal (OBOT) on the site.

The OBOT is expected to be completed in 2017 and handle up to nine million tons of commodities a year – including 4.5 billion tons of coal – brought in by rail and loaded onto ships bound for other countries, according to the terminal’s builder and operator. The terminal’s legal representation contends that coal is one of many commodities city officials knew might be exported from the facility when they agreed to the development.

Monday, September 21, 2015

BC Ferries Sea Trials

By Mark Edward Nero

BC Ferries, which provides ferry service along coastal British Columbia, has two of its vessels conducting sea trials in the Saanich Inlet from Sept. 21 to 24 in order to demonstrate the vessels’ performance for three shipyards bidding on the mid-life upgrades.

The Spirit of Vancouver Island and Spirit of British Columbia are scheduled to undergo upgrades that include conversion to dual-fuel so the ferries can operate on liquefied natural gas.

Both vessels are undergoing two days of sea trials to demonstrate the operational profiles of the ships including vessel maneuverability, acceleration and speed. The trials are to provide the shipyards with data on control system parameters as well as peak power loads in variable weather, tide or current conditions.

“This is an important step in the bidding process for the shipyards so they can measure and verify vessel performance to provide the optimal propulsive machinery arrangements they submit as part of their bids,” Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Engineering, explained.

The three shipyards bidding on the project are Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards, Remontowa SA of Poland and Fincantieri of Italy. Over the next three months, BC Ferries says, it will negotiate with the three proponents to select the final bidder and award a contract for the Spirit Class mid- life upgrades and conversions in early 2016.

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, and the Spirit of Vancouver Island to follow the next year, from the fall of 2018 through the spring of 2019.

In order to accommodate the sea trials, the Coastal Celebration is replacing the Spirit of Vancouver Island on September 21 and 22. On September 23 and 24, the Queen of New Westminster fills in for the Spirit of British Columbia.

Puget Sound Ports Up Again

By Mark Edward Nero

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which is a marine cargo operating partnership between the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, said Sept. 17 that its container volumes grew for the sixth straight month in August, improving nearly 15 percent compared to August 2014.

The increase is significant, the ports say, because shipping season hit early last year as shippers sought to avoid possible West Coast labor disruptions during contract negotiations. Last month’s volumes hint at the beginning of 2015’s peak season.

Full containerized imports and empty containerized exports continued to fuel the growth, according to data. Imports improved five percent year to date to 946,390 TEUs, while exports increased eight percent to 849,597 TEUs.

Domestic volumes remained stable last month and were up two percent year to date to 607,780 TEUs. More than 2.4 million TEUs have crossed Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma docks year to date, a five percent increase, according to data.

In other year-to-date cargo news: breakbulk volumes continued to stabilize at the ports and were up less than one percent to 180,616 metric tons; nearly 130,000 auto imports have arrived through August, a seven percent increase; and grain volumes have continued to decline, and are down 18 percent to 3.7 million metric tons through the first eight months of the year.

Additional information about the ports’ year-to-date volumes can be seen at

Port of Oakland Makes Dredging Progress

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Oakland said Sept. 21 that it is nearly a third of the way through its annual maintenance dredging program for 2015 and that by November it plans to scoop 185,000 cubic yards of sediment from 17 deep-water shipping berths. The goal of the $3.7 million project: maintain 50-foot depths so container ships aren’t stuck in the mud.

“This is one of the least glamorous, but most important jobs a port authority has every year,” the port’s Director of Engineering, Chris Chan, said. “Few ports nationwide have the deep-water capability to berth the biggest container vessels, so we need to continually protect that advantage.”

Vessels capable of carrying up to 14,000 TEUs berth at Oakland, among the largest ships calling US ports. Berths and approach channels must be 50 feet deep to accommodate them.

The port said it has dredged 45,000 cubic yards of material from six berths since dredging began in August, and that it will clear another 140,000 yards of material from 11 additional berths.

Dredging season is restricted to this time period to protect endangered fish and fowl. Sediment dredged from Oakland berths is being deposited at the Montezuma Wetlands on Suisun Bay. The 2,400-acre marsh is being restored as a shorebird habitat.