Friday, January 15, 2016

Port of Port Townsend Head Retiring

By Mark Edward Nero

Larry Crockett, who’s been the executive director of the Port of Port Townsend in Jefferson County, Wash. for nearly 17 years, has announced his retirement from the port, effective June 1.

“The time is right for me to step away,” he said in a Jan. 13 statement. “We have a stable commission in place, current port projects are well in hand, and we have sufficient time before the next budget cycle begins. This is a window of opportunity that I hope will allow the port to move forward with minimal impact. I’ll be 69 this summer, and I have some other adventures I want to try while I am still in good health.”

Commission President Peter Hanke noted that Crockett’s tenure was highly successful. “When Larry was hired in 1999, the port couldn’t pay its bills, and had to secure a line of credit just to meet cashflow,” Hanke said. “He and his staff have done an outstanding job of placing the Port on sound financial footing, which enables more than 400 marine trades jobs to flourish in an environment where other ports are struggling.”

The port’s executive director is responsible for all operations and lease negotiations with over 175 tenants and businesses, and leads a staff of 26 people that oversees operations of three marinas, boat yards, industrial parks and the Jefferson County International Airport.

Hanke said that the port commission will begin immediate discussions on a process to replace Crockett, who’s been the executive director of the port since April 1999.

Prior to that, Crockett served 30 years in the United States Army, retiring in February 1999 as a Colonel.

“The thing I miss most about the military was the fact that in 30 years of service, I felt that I was part of something larger than myself,” Crockett said. “I never thought I would get that feeling again after retiring. But I found that again at the Port of Port Townsend.”

Willard Marine Gets Patrol Boat Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

Anaheim-based boat builder Willard Marine has received an order to produce a 33-foot fiberglass harbor patrol boat for the Oceanside Police Department in San Diego County, Calif. based on the classic “Crystaliner” boat design.

The order marks the first Crystaliner to be purchased from Willard Marine since the company acquired the licensing and manufacture rights from Crystaliner, which folded in 2012.

“The Crystaliner platform is conducive to the multitude of activities our officers are involved in such as marine rescues to include vessel tows and dewatering, marine firefighting, harbor patrol and diving,” said Lt. Karen Laser of the Oceanside Police Department. “We are excited Willard Marine is reviving these designs, as their performance abilities are best suited for the variety of functions our marine community expects of us in our area of responsibility.”

Willard’s updated Crystaliner design includes new electronic systems, upgraded hull construction and new firefighting features. With a length of 33 feet and beam over 10 feet, it has large open deck space for search and rescue missions, law enforcement safety and firefighting operations.

The design also includes twin Yanmar 8LV-350 inboard diesel engines, making it capable of a cruising speed of 27 knots. The Oceanside craft will feature a Darley PSDE 125 single stage centrifugal fire pump producing over 1,250 gallons per minute at 150 psi.

The Oceanside Police Department currently patrols the coastal and offshore region of San Diego, Oceanside and parts of Orange County, with three Crystaliner vessels that have been in service 15 to 30 years.

“Crystaliner has been a staple of the law enforcement and surf and rescue departments along the Pacific coast for decades,” said Ulrich Gottschling, President and CEO at Willard Marine. “We are proud to offer the classic design and finish of a Crystaliner that many first responders are so passionate about while re-engineering them to perform reliably in the rigorous and demanding missions of today’s law enforcement professionals.”

Annual Oakland Cargo Volume Down 5 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

Overall cargo volume – imports, exports and empty containers – decreased 4.9 percent at the Port of Oakland in 2015, the port said Jan. 12, attributing the decline to an 11.5 percent year-over-year drop in containerized exports.

The decrease in exports, the port said, was primarily the result of continued strength in the US dollar, since the dollar’s relative value makes American goods more costly overseas.

But despite the overall annual volume decline, containerized import volume at the Port of Oakland in 2015 was essentially unchanged from 2014, according to statistics. The port said imports fell just 0.2 percent after dropping nearly 40 percent last January and February.

Oakland import volume plummeted in early 2015 during a West Coast contract dispute between dockworkers and waterfront employers. Since then, Oakland import volume has increased in eight of the past 10 months.

The import recovery indicates that cargo diverted during a waterfront labor impasse last winter has returned, the port said.

“This was no small achievement given the way the year started,” said Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll.

Regarding monthly cargo numbers, the port said that December 2015’s import volume decreased 6.3 percent from the same period a year ago, something the port said was not unexpected since a year ago, December import volumes had spiked due to cargo diversions from congested Southern California ports.

A complete look at Oakland’s 2015 cargo statistics is available on the port's website.

2016 Seattle Port Commissioner Officers Named

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Seattle welcomed its newest commissioner, Fred Felleman on Jan. 12 as he took the oath of office along with reelected Commissioner Courtney Gregoire at the latest port commission meeting. The commission officers for 2016 were also announced during the same meeting.

Commissioner John Creighton will serve as Commission President in 2016, while Commissioner Tom Albro will serve as Commission Vice President, Commissioner Stephanie Bowman will serve as Commission Secretary, and Commissioner Courtney Gregoire will serve as Assistant Secretary. Commissioner Felleman will be Commissioner-at-Large.

“It is truly an honor to be entrusted by the citizens of King County to represent them on the Seattle Port Commission,” Felleman said. “Having been part of the Seattle maritime community for two-and-a-half decades, I’m excited to bring my experience, knowledge, and deep love of Puget Sound to this organization.”

The Port of Seattle Commission has said that in 2016 it will remain focused on several issues, including: attracting opportunities for its cruise business, recapitalizing the North Pacific fishing fleet, making Terminal 5 ‘big ship ready,’ continuing environmental efforts port-wide, and pursuing further job growth through the port’s new Economic Development Department.

“We look forward to working with communities throughout King County and the state to attract more opportunities for economic development,” Commission President John Creighton said.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Anchorage Mayor: $290 Million Needed for Port

By Mark Edward Nero

In Jan. 7 address to a group of regional lawmakers, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz requested that a statewide bond package include $290 million for the city’s unfinished Port of Anchorage modernization project.

Berkowitz, who took office July 1, 2015, said he’s making the port the city’s sole priority in the upcoming state legislative session.

Berkowitz seeks affiliation with Alaska Gov. Bill Walker’s anticipated $500 million, two-year general obligation bond package to replace most of the state’s capital budget.

The bond package, which has not yet been introduced, would be on the November ballot, and Berkowitz said he would like to see the port package added to the bond compendium.

The port modernization project, which has been in the works for more than a decade, was overseen by the US Maritime Administration until the US Army Corps of Engineers took control in May 2012. The expansion was originally estimated to cost $360 million and was supposed to be finished by 2011.

Instead, cost estimates have jumped to about $1 billion and climbing, and completion isn’t expected for another decade. Engineering firm CH2M HILL now serves as expansion’s project manager.

In November 2014, then-Mayor Dan Sullivan revealed a concept plan for a Port of Anchorage overhaul to the Anchorage State Assembly. The concept, chosen by an evaluation committee, includes replacing Terminal 2 and Terminal 3, demolishing the current port administration building and constructing a new one elsewhere.

The plan also includes minimizing the investment in an extension at the port’s northern end, something that had been underway, and caused more than its share of problems, for years.
About 87 percent of Alaska residents are served in some way by products coming through the port, according to Anchorage officials.

Carnival Corp. Launching 4 New Cruise Ships

By Mark Edward Nero

To meet rising demand for cruise vacations, four of Carnival Corp.’s 10 brands are expected to add new ships in 2016, the company announced Jan. 6. The additions are part of the 17 ships scheduled for delivery for Carnival brand companies through 2020.

The four new ships scheduled to join Carnival Corp.’s fleet of 99 ships in 2016 are:

  • Holland America Line’s ms Koningsdam, with delivery expected in April 2016. The 99,500-gt Koningsdam is currently under construction at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard in Italy.
  • Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista, with delivery expected in April 2016. The largest ship in the Carnival fleet, Carnival Vista will measure 133,500 tons, 1,055 feet long and have a guest capacity of 3,954. Carnival Vista is scheduled to enter service on May 1, initially sailing from Europe and repositioning to Miami in November to launch year-round Caribbean service.
  • AIDA Cruises’ AIDAprima. Official delivery date expected in April 2016. The AIDAprima will be the newest flagship for AIDA Cruises, with 1,643 cabins at 124,100 gross tons.
  • Seabourn Cruise Line’s Seabourn Encore. Official delivery date expected is in December 2016 for the Seabourn Encore. The 40,350-gross ton ship is being configured with one additional deck and new expanded public areas, and is expected to carry up to 600 guests, based on double occupancy.

Retailers Oppose Free Time Reduction Proposal

By Mark Edward Nero

The National Retail Federation on Jan. 7 sent a letter to the Port of Long Beach expressing concerns about the port’s plan to reduce the amount of time import containers can be stored for free on the docks.

Since 2005, the length of time containers can stay on the dock – known as “free time” – has been four days. Beyond that, terminals are charged storage fees. Port officials said last October that they’re proposing changing free time to six shifts – the equivalent of as few as three days – in order to encourage terminals to more consistently operate at night and move imports off the docks faster.

The National Retail Federation’s letter, which was addressed to the POLB CEO Jon Slangerup and Chief Commercial Officer Noel Hacegaba, was signed by NRF Supply Chain & Customs Vice President Jonathan Gold. In the three-page missive, Gold said that the NRF applauded the port’s efforts to reduce congestion on the docks, but that it wanted to express its concerns about the plan.

“Unfortunately we do not believe that reducing free time from four days (essentially eight shifts) to just six shifts (three days) on its own will address the ongoing congestion and throughput issues,” the letter stated. “Reducing free time as proposed will only lead to additional congestion and operational issues, and most importantly potentially additional costs to NRF members by way of demurrage.”

Gold argues that without uniform shifts across the terminals, determining the last free day will become a manual process, and that this will render the current automated systems being used to determine the last free day “useless,” because different terminals will have different shifts that change weekly, the importer will be required to manually manage the last free day for each container and bear the repercussions that this manual environment will produce.

“The proposed calculation based on shifts could lead to more congestion in the ports because of the uncertainty over the last free day,” Gold wrote. “This uncertainty will lead to missed container pick-ups, resulting in more containers trapped at the terminal.”

Among his proposed solutions to congestion: an increase in terminal operating capacity, lanes and gates to support increased and improved daily throughput.

A more balanced proposal, he wrote, would address the actual congestion issues happening within the terminals. We would like to see the terminals sharing in the financial responsibility for said congestion by, among other things, paying drivers for their wait time at the docks.

The port says that staffers are working with stakeholders to develop a final plan on the free time reduction that will be sent to its harbor commission for consideration later this year.

Harley Marine Acquires 10 Vessels

By Mark Edward Nero

Marine transport provider Harley Marine Services said Jan. 7 that it has acquired certain offshore assets of Louisiana-based Enterprise Marine Services, including six double hull petroleum barges and four tugboats.

Harley Marine also said that it’s acquiring “the expertise and knowledge of current Enterprise employees associated with these assets,” in order to make the transition as smooth and seamless as possible as the vessels are incorporated into the Harley Marine fleet.

The acquired assets are to be used in current operations to strengthen market presence and support long-term customer demand and growth, the company said.

“The acquisition strengthens our market presence and allows us to grow with our customers’ needs,” Harley Marine Services Chairman and CEO Harley Franco said.

Harley Marine has operations along the West Coast, including Alaska, New York Harbor and the US Gulf Coast.

Services provided by the company include the transportation and storage of petroleum products, ship assist and escort, the transportation of general cargo and rescue towing.