Friday, January 22, 2016

Ports America Closing Oakland Terminal

By Mark Edward Nero

Ports America, the largest stevedore and terminal operating company in the United States, says it is closing its Port of Oakland terminal in March.

Ports America said Jan. 19 that it intends to terminate its 50-year lease at Oakland’s Outer Harbor terminal for “business reasons,” according to the port. Although Ports America has said it would continue with business as usual for 30 days, vessel and cargo-handling operations are expected to cease after that, then the terminal itself will close down within 60 days.

Outer Harbor Terminal personnel “will be coordinating closely with equipment suppliers and other vendors as it continues to provide vessel services for 30 days and then take an additional 30 days to transition out of the terminal,” Ports America said in a prepared statement.

Port of Oakland officials have promised to keep cargo moving efficiently after Ports America leaves and that vessels would be rerouted to adjacent terminals after the shutdown occurs.

“We’re disappointed that Ports America is leaving,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said, “but we're in advanced discussions with our maritime partners here to prevent disruption to the Oakland business.”

Oakland said it expects Ports America to meet all of its lease obligations until the two sides agree on an orderly transition of the property. The port added that it has engaged in prolonged discussions with Ports America about the operator's future in Oakland, but that the decision to terminate the lease was made unilaterally by Ports America.

The port also tried to put a positive spin on the news, stating that the departure of Ports America provides two significant opportunities: ships and cargo can be redirected to Oakland’s other marine terminals which have excess capacity; and the port can find what it calls “new, better uses,” for Ports America Outer Harbor Terminal, which is the second largest terminal at Oakland.

Options for the land could include uses unrelated to containerized cargo operations, the port said. That would be new for Oakland, which has been home exclusively to container ships since the 1960s.

Outer Harbor is one of five marine terminals leased to private operators by the Port of Oakland. More than 2,000 ships, most from Asia, berth at the terminals each year. The terminals load and unload containerized cargo transported by the vessels. More than two million containers move annually through the port.

Foss, Others Launching Marine Engineering Program

By Mark Edward Nero

To help combat a shortage of licensed marine engineers in the industry, Foss Maritime has announced a partnership to establish the curriculum for a new marine engineering apprenticeship program, and to sponsor several applicants each year.

Seattle Central College, Seattle Maritime Academy, the Maritime Institute of Technology & Graduate Studies-Pacific Maritime Institute and the Workboat Academy have received a $5 million American Apprenticeship Innovation Grant from the US Department of Labor to help build the new apprenticeship program.

Foss officers will train and assess the apprentices according to the standards required by the United States Coast Guard for tasks needed toward a USCG license.

“This partnership exists to respond to the growing need for more trained marine engineers,” said Scott Merritt, Foss’ senior vice president of harbor services. “Working together, we aim to train hundreds, if not thousands, of new apprentices in the maritime and advanced manufacturing fields.”

Through the grant, more 150 engineers are expected to be trained over the next five years, both in Seattle and Baltimore. The engineering program’s expected to mirror Workboat Academy’s deck apprenticeship, now in its 10th year. Engineering cadets will blend time in the classroom with simulation, and apply this knowledge to real work aboard vessels. The candidate’s license would depend on the type of partner company vessels and the routes where cadets gain sea time as an apprentice.

The American maritime industry has experienced a lack of licensed marine engineers, a shortage that’s expected to increase when new requirements requiring structured onboard training for all trainee engineers take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

The new requirements were created by 2010 Manila Amendments to the International Maritime Organization’s Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers. When they go into effect, the US fleet is expected to lack licensed engineers and the capacity to properly train and certify engineers to participate in global maritime trade.

“Foss knows we need to help build a pipeline to develop the engineers we will need in the years to come,” Merritt said. “We're pleased to have this opportunity to develop the curriculum and training for the next generation of marine engineers.”

Prince Rupert Opens Community Investment Funds

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Prince Rupert announced Jan. 13 that the application period is now open for its 2016 Community Investment Fund. Under the fund, the port earmarks a portion of its annual income to provide financial support for projects or initiatives in the Prince Rupert region that enhance quality of life or contribute to a lasting community legacy.

In combination with funding from other businesses, community groups and government agencies, the Community Investment Fund enables millions of dollars in local improvement projects.

“The ability to partner with local organizations and provide new services and equipment that benefits thousands of people every year is something we cherish as an organization,” Port of Prince Rupert Community Relations Manager Maynard Angus said. “We look forward to growing our list of partners even further in 2016.”

Since its inception in 2009, the Community Investment Fund has enabled more than 30 projects worth more than $4 million in capital costs, with the port’s contributions to these projects exceeding $2.5 million. Among the projects the port has helped fund are a new dedicated search and rescue vessel for Royal Canada Marine Search and Rescue, Station 64 Prince Rupert and a new stage floor, plus roof repairs, for the Lester Centre for the Arts.

In 2015 alone, the port says, it contributed over $680,000 to community-driven initiatives.

In order for projects to be considered for funding, they must meet a list of prescribed criteria, including demonstrating a meaningful and wide-reaching impact for broad portion of the community they are located. For detailed information about project requirements, submission guidelines and more information on past beneficiaries of the Community Investment Fund, visit

Carnival Cruise Lines Wins Readers’ Choice Awards

By Mark Edward Nero

Carnival Cruise Line has taken top honors in two categories in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards, earning accolades for “Best Cruise Line” and “Best Cruise Ship For Dining” (Carnival Breeze).

The awards were based on nominations from a team of cruise industry experts and the winners were determined by an online vote by USA Today readers.

Carnival earned “Best Cruise Line” honors for its vacation experience, which offers a variety of onboard features and facilities, including the “Seuss at Sea” program in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, spas, and comedy shows at the Punchliner Comedy Club.

Carnival Breeze was named “Best Cruise Ship For Dining” based on a wide range of culinary options, including sushi, a steakhouse, a family-style Italian restaurant, and hand-crafted burgers and fries at Guy’s Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri.

“Receiving this recognition is a wonderful validation of all the hard work our shipboard and shoreside teams put into providing our guests with fun, memorable vacations,” said Carnival Cruises President Christine Duffy. “We would also like to thank our travel agent partners for their support in sharing the myriad benefits and exceptional value of cruise vacations with their clients,” she added.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

POLB: Annual TEUs Up 5 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

Propelled by six consecutive months of rising cargo volumes in the final two quarters of 2015, the Port of Long Beach says it recovered from systemic congestion and cargo diversion in the first quarter to deliver one of its strongest results on record last year.

For only the third time in its 105-year history, Long Beach topped seven million TEUs during the year, according to newly-released data.

Cargo volume climbed 5.4 percent in 2015 compared to 2014, as the Southern California seaport and its industry partners transformed the challenges of congestion at the start of last year into a scene of free-flowing cargo and record setting months.

In December, the port achieved 5.1 percent overall growth, compared to December 2014. Imports increased seven percent to 296,002 TEUs, while exports fell 4.1 percent to 126,118 TEUs. The number of empty containers moved rose 9.5 percent to 174,328 units during the month.

For calendar year 2015, a total of 7,192,066 TEUs moved through the harbor. Imports rose 3.1 percent to 3,625,263 TEUs, while exports dropped 4.9 percent to 1,525,560. Empty containers rose 20.2 percent to 2,041,243 TEUs.

Playing a big part in the growth were record cargo volumes achieved at Long Beach during July and August, resulting in the port’s biggest quarter in its history: more than two million TEUs moved through the port in the third quarter.

“We’re gratified to see the business growth – we worked diligently over these past 12 months to recover from a very challenging start to the year, resulting in record volume and productivity gains and the strong and steady return of diverted cargo,” Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said. “We credit terminal operators, labor, shipping lines, cargo owners and our local community with pulling together to turn things around.”

Slangerup is expected to present more information about the port’s 2015 accomplishments and plans for 2016 during the annual State of the Port address, scheduled for Thurs., Jan. 21.

More information about the event can be found at More details on the cargo numbers is available at

Study: Port Development Could Mean 5,000 Jobs

By Mark Edward Nero

On Jan. 11, the Port of Prince Rupert released a study projecting that when fully realized, its development plan could generate almost 5,000 new jobs in northern British Columbia directly related to port activity.

Using a model derived from project proposals and land use plans, the forecast quantifies the potential growth of the port’s economic impact through 2025 and beyond. The model makes assumptions for capital investments, average employment levels and wages.

The full buildout of the Port of Prince Rupert’s planned infrastructure and terminals is predicted potentially to generate incremental economic impacts, including:
  • An increase of 4,780 full-time equivalent jobs directly related to port activity.
  • $310 million annually in additional wages.
  • $59 million annually in additional local municipal taxes for the City of Prince Rupert and the District of Port Edward.
  • $400 million annually in additional Gross Domestic Product for Canada.

In addition to the economic benefits of planned infrastructure and terminals, construction could provide as many as 26,000 person-years of employment, $1.7 billion in wages and more than $2 billion in GDP, according to the study.

The Port of Prince Rupert’s development plan promotes the port’s growth into a diversified and sustainable global trade gateway in a manner that would minimize operations congestion, limit community conflict with industrial land use, and mitigate marine and environmental impacts.

Current and proposed developments on port lands at Fairview Container Terminal, the Ridley Island Industrial Site and Lelu Island have the potential to create an integrated platform for shipping with the capacity to transport over 100 million tons of cargo annually, according to the port.

“The vision of Prince Rupert as a leading North American trade gateway builds on our strengths and our track record,” said Don Krusel, President & CEO of the Port of Prince Rupert. “The question is, can we achieve it? We believe we can.”

Canadian Provinces Ink Maritime Training Deal

By Mark Edward Nero

On Jan. 13, the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Nova Scotia signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at strengthening workforce cooperation, including innovation and training in the shipbuilding and industrial marine industries.

The two provinces said in an announcement that the agreement positions them to work together “to innovate trades training in the shipbuilding and industrial marine industries, improving outcomes for apprentices and the sector overall.”

Under the deal, British Columbia and Nova Scotia are expected to share labor market information such as workforce demand projections, initiatives to support sector-based workforce planning and best practices in labor market data analysis.

“Shipbuilding and marine industries are important to the economies of both our coastal provinces,” British Columbia Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Shirley Bond said in a statement announcing the agreement. “We will continue to work with government and industry partners to align and improve apprenticeship training across Canada.”

“We share a strong shipbuilding industry,” added Karen Casey, Nova Scotia’s acting Minister of Labor and Advanced Education. “We need to take advantage of this and work together to help grow our two provinces’ economies. This partnership helps our businesses to build their export capacity and take full advantage of spin-off opportunities coming out of the industry.”

Key commitments identified in the MOU include: sharing and leveraging best practices in trades training, including the evaluation of training models in the shipbuilding and industrial marine industries; and assessing and evaluating the training delivery models for marine sector trades training and jointly develop and implement identified new models as appropriate in the shipbuilding and industrial marine industries.

The agreement also calls for promoting youth participation in trades training in the shipbuilding and industrial marine industries.

POLA Annual TEUs Fall Slightly

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Los Angeles moved a total of 8,160,457 TEUs in calendar year 2015, a decrease of 2.1 percent from the 8.34 million TEUs the port saw in 2014, but up from the 7.9 million TEUs shipped in 2013.

“I’m pleased that the Port of Los Angeles has surpassed the 8-million TEU threshold for the fifth time in our history,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a prepared statement. “Despite the soft start to the year, our terminals, labor force and supply chain stakeholders rebounded strongly. With bigger ships and the ongoing work to increase supply chain efficiencies, we look forward to building on this momentum in 2016.”

In December, total cargo volumes were 626,276 TEUs, a decrease of 4.9 percent compared to the same period last year. December 2015 imports dropped 4.5 percent to 321,407 TEUs compared to the previous year. Exports fell 13.7 percent to 131,239 TEUs in December. A cargo terminal was offline for several weeks in December in order to install new software, which was the primary reason for the drop in December cargo.

For the fiscal year, which began July 1, cargo volumes are down about 0.7 percent, according to port data. Port terminals moved 4.25 million TEUs, compared to 4.28 million during the previous six-month period.

Current and past data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles may be found at: