Friday, February 12, 2016

Two Oakland Port Commissioners Appointed

By Mark Edward Nero

Local labor leader Andreas Cluver and long-time community organizer Arabella Martinez have been appointed to four-year terms on the seven-member Oakland Board of Port Commissioners. They joined the Board Feb. 11.

The Oakland City Council appointed Cluver and Martinez at its Feb. 2 meeting. They were nominated, and sworn in, by Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Cluver is Secretary-Treasurer of the Alameda County Building and Construction Trades Council, and Martinez is Vice-Chair of the Latino Community Foundation Board of Trustees.

“We are very pleased that Ms. Martinez and Mr. Cluver are joining the Board of Port Commissioners.” said Board President Earl S. Hamlin. “They both bring significant experience to the table that will help the Port realize its potential for Oakland and the region.”

Cluver is Secretary-Treasurer of the Alameda County Building Trades Council and worked in the labor movement for 16 years. He previously served as a business representative for the building trades in Alameda County as well as internationally in Southern Africa as a program director with the AFL-CIO.

Martinez was the founder and first CEO of the Unity Council, a community advocacy group in Oakland. After retiring from the Unity Council in 2005, she joined the Latino Community Foundation Board of Trustees, and in 2014, she became the LCF’s interim CEO to help build the Latino philanthropic institution in California.

Monthly POLB Container Volumes Up 24 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Long Beach kicked off the New Year by logging its seventh straight month of cargo increases, showing a 24.8 percent jump in container shipments in January over the same month last year, according to data released Feb. 10.

Port of Long Beach terminals moved 536,188 TEUs in January, according to the data, and imports were up 30.3 percent to 278,491 TEUs. Exports saw an increase of 8.4 percent to 106,739 container units, and empty containers that were filled with items for post-holiday sales were sent back overseas to be reloaded with goods rose 28.6 percent year over year, to 150,958 TEUs.

“We are encouraged by the strong start to the year, which stands in stark contrast to the congestion we faced a year ago,” Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said. “We are off to a solid start in 2016 and will continue to make the necessary strategic investments in capital, energy and innovative solutions to ensure that Long Beach remains the port of choice for international trade.”

For the fiscal year to date, Long Beach has moved 2.37 million TEUs, a nearly 10 percent jump over the 2.16 million TEUs that moved through the port during the same time period during the previous fiscal year. FY 2016 began for the port on Oct. 1.

Detailed information on the latest monthly cargo numbers can be found at

Oakland Monthly Cargo Volumes Rise 38 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

Total cargo volume – imports, exports and empty containers – rose 38.46 percent at the Port of Oakland in January 2016 compared to the same month last year, the port said Feb. 10.

The gains were propelled by containerized import volumes, which soared 75.76 percent last month from January 2015 totals, according to port data. Also, export volume jumped 16.83 percent in January from a year ago, the port said. It was the first increase in Oakland export volume since July 2015.

Oakland said it handled the equivalent of 77,637 twenty-foot import containers in January. That was the most since last August, the traditional start of peak shipping season.

The port offered two explanations for the double-digit cargo volume increases, one being that US importers were stocking shelves ahead of Lunar New Year factory shutdowns in Asia.

The other reason given was that Oakland volumes were deflated in January 2015 when West Coast ports were stymied by a protracted waterfront labor dispute that in part caused a decrease on productivity on the docks and led to shippers diverting cargo elsewhere.

Since a new waterfront labor contract was signed last spring, shippers have been re-establishing western supply routes.

“An increase in cargo volume is always welcome,” John Driscoll, the port’s maritime director, said. “But what this really shows is that we have recaptured the cargo that moved temporarily away from the West Coast a year ago.”

More information on Oakland’s monthly cargo statistics is available at

Vancouver USA Evaluating Potential HQ Site

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Vancouver USA said Feb. 9 that it is analyzing its Terminal 1 waterfront redevelopment as the potential site for its new headquarters.

During its Feb. 9 meeting, the port’s Board of Commissioners unanimously directed staff to begin evaluating a potential move to Terminal 1. Staff is expected to evaluate the waterfront site along with other options, including Centennial Industrial Park and port-owned property along Northwest Lower River Road, adjacent to Cadet Heating.

An upgrade is needed because port’s staff has doubled in size as business has grown and expanded. It has outgrown its current headquarters, which consists of four separate buildings. The main building, located at 3103 Northwest Lower River Road, has been added onto several times and has limited space and remodeling options.

The port said it hopes to build a modern facility that consolidates staff, facilitates better communication and teamwork, and improves connectivity with the community.

The port plans to be an anchor for a new 85,000 square-foot office building, occupying about 25,000 square feet on one or two floors.

“We want to be the tenant that anchors the first office building at Terminal 1, enabling other companies to locate there and attracting more employers and talent to Vancouver,” port CEO Todd Coleman said.

In accordance with board direction, staff is to report back to the commission and work with a developer to complete its waterfront design for submittal to the City of Vancouver. Approval from the city is required before the port can begin construction on the hotel and multiuse building.

Staff said it expects to complete its analysis and report back to the Board of Commissioners this fall.

Puget Sound Maritime Achievement Award

By Mark Edward Nero

The 2016 Puget Sound Maritime Achievement Award Selection Committee is accepting nominations for this year’s award to be announced at the Seattle Propeller Club’s May Maritime Festival breakfast.

Nominations must be received by April 14, 2016 and may be e-mailed to Nominations should include specific achievements of the candidate, particularly those impacting the Puget Sound maritime community, and a brief biography of the nominee. Industry segments represented by past recipients include steamship lines and agents, shipyards, tug and barge operators, marine architects, passenger and fishing vessel operators, port authorities, stevedores, and organized labor. Several paragraphs about the nominee are sufficient.

Feel free to contact Rich Berkowitz at (206) 443-1738 with any questions about the award nomination.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Containership Detained at Port of Tacoma

By Mark Edward Nero

On Feb. 4, US Coast Guard reports officers from Sector Puget Sound discovered significant safety violations during an inspection of the 685-foot Liberian-flagged container ship Westwood Robson at the Husky Terminal in the Port of Tacoma.

The vessel, which is managed by Germany’s Hammonia Reederei, and crew are required to remain in port until deficiencies have been corrected to the satisfaction of Coast Guard inspectors.

The Coast Guard says that during the inspection, Port State Control examiners observed excessive oil in the bilge holding area, oil-soaked lagging present throughout machinery spaces and clogged oil drains, creating a significant risk of fire.

Also, mechanical issues included deteriorated fittings that contributed to oil and coolant leaks as well as inoperable oil purifiers.

“We are continuing to monitor the Westwood Robson after discovering safety violations, and working with the crew and appropriate authorities to ensure that the issues found are corrected before the ship resumes operations,” said Capt. Thomas Griffitts, deputy commander of Sector Puget Sound.
During a Port State Control exam, the Coast Guard conducts an extensive inspection of onboard systems, including fire protection, life saving, machinery, navigation, and pollution control. Examiners also assess the crew's ability to respond to emergencies.

A vessel determined to be in violation of standards can be detained and required to remain in port until it can proceed without presenting a danger to the crew or an unreasonable threat of harm to the maritime environment.

Port of NY/NJ Sets Cargo Volume Record

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of New York and New Jersey exceeded its previous record for annual cargo volumes in 2015 by more than 10 percent, the Port Authority revealed Feb. 8.

The port handled 6.37 million TEUs last year, an increase of 10.4 percent over 2014, when the previous annual record was established.

NY/NJ was busiest on the East Coast last year with nearly 30 percent of the total market share. It was also the third-busiest port in the US in 2015, after the Port of Los Angeles (eight million TEUs) and Port of Long Beach (seven million TEUs).

NY/NJ said its 2015 increase in port activity was fueled by an 8.4 percent jump in import loaded containers, going from 2.94 million imported TEUs in 2014 to 3.21 million TEUs in 2015.

According to data, China was the port’s the top import country last year, with 1.01 million import TEUs, followed by India with 196,956 import TEUs and Germany with 189,622 import TEUs. The top import commodities are furniture, apparel and clothing, and machinery parts.

There were reported 2,251 vessel calls at NY/NJ in 2015, down 7.4 percent from 2014. The port attributes the fewer vessel calls to much of the cargo arriving on larger ships.

ExpressRail, the Port Authority’s ship-to-rail system serving New York and New Jersey marine terminals, also set a new record in 2015, handling 522,244 containers, an increase of 12.2 percent over 2014, the previous best year for rail activity.

The port also reported a 21.5 percent increase in vehicles handled in the port last year – from 392,704 vehicles handled in 2014 to 477,170 handled in 2015.

Vigor Wins $14 Million USNS Overhaul Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

Portland-based Vigor Marine has been awarded a $13.99 million contract for a 45-calendar day shipyard availability for the regular overhaul and drydocking of the USNS Amelia Earhart.

Work is expected to include clean and gas free tanks, voids, cofferdams and spaces, flight deck non-skid renewal, salt water ballast tank preservation, main engine overhaul, main diesel generator inspection and cleaning, annual lifeboat certification, galley and laundry ventilation system cleaning, docking and undocking, propeller shaft and stern tube inspections, bow thruster propeller polishing, sea valve replacement, and underwater hull cleaning and painting.

The contract includes options, which, if exercised, would bring the total contract value to $14.29 million.

Work is scheduled to be performed in Portland, and is expected to be completed by May 15.

The USNS Amelia Earhart, which was launched in April 2008, is a 689-foot long (210 meters) 16,446-dwt vessel and has a top speed of 20 knots. It is designed to deliver ammunition, food, fuel and other dry cargo to US and allied warships at sea.

It typically carries a crew of 124 civil service mariners and, at times has an additional complement of military personnel, as well as two helicopters.

Rise in Incorrectly Declared Dangerous Goods

By Mark Edward Nero

Global shipping company Hapag-Lloyd said Feb. 8 that it registered considerably more incorrectly declared dangerous goods in 2015 than it did in 2014.

A special safety software program developed jointly by Hapag-Lloyd’s IT and dangerous goods experts identified 4,314 incorrectly declared dangerous goods cases last year, an increase of 65 percent on the previous year’s figure of 2,620 cases.

Hapag-Lloyd’s dangerous goods experts looked into more than 236,000 suspicious cases picked up by the safety software in 2015, as opposed to more than 162,000 in 2014, an increase of about 46 percent.

Hapag-Lloyd’s Watchdog is a special safety software that continuously checks cargo data to identify anything conspicuous.

Ken Rohlmann, head of Hapag-Lloyd’s dangerous goods department, said there are two reasons behind the sharp increase.

“Firstly, the volume of cargo shipped by Hapag-Lloyd increased considerably last year due to the company’s merger with CSAV’s container business. Secondly, there was a sharp rise in (safety software) findings following the devastating dangerous goods explosion in the port of Tianjin in mid-August,” he said.

Many ports drastically tightened their dangerous goods guidelines in the wake of the incident; some even prohibited dangerous goods from being processed at all.