Friday, February 19, 2016

Canadian Shipbuilders Slam Tug Leasing Proposal

By Mark Edward Nero

Canada’s shipbuilding industry is expressing concerns over recent reports that the Canadian government may lease foreign-built tugboats rather than build replacement tugs for the Royal Canadian Navy domestically.

“Canada’s shipbuilding and maritime industry is fully capable of supplying all of Canada’s shipbuilding needs,” Shipbuilding Association of Canada President Peter William Cairns said Feb. 16. “In the current economic climate, when the priority should be to put Canadians back to work, the Canadian government mustn’t use Canadian tax dollars to support foreign shipyards.”

Under the previous federal administration’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, Canada’s smaller shipyards were supposed to build small vessels, like tugboats. However, last November reports of escalating costs associated with the program resulted in the administration of the country’s newly elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, saying that the entire strategy would be re-evaluated.

“While everyone agrees that major reforms are needed to ensure that the government gets the type and number of ships it needs at a reasonable price and on time, buying foreign-built ships does nothing to help build a strong Canadian maritime industry and puts Canadian jobs at risk,” said Cairns, a former vice admiral.

The Shipbuilding Association of Canada represents Canadian shipyards, marine equipment suppliers, commercial ship operators, ship designers, marine engineering firms and major marine defense industry suppliers and has been the voice of the Canadian marine industry for over 25 years.

Jensen Completes Work on Fishing Vessel Conversion

By Mark Edward Nero

Seattle-based naval architecture and marine engineering company Jensen Maritime has completed engineering services for the conversion of a 170-foot long, 40-foot wide, fishing vessel for Global Seas and Patti Marine Enterprises, the company said Feb. 17.

The vessel, now named Defender, underwent significant conversion to make her the first fish pumping vessel in the Global Seas fleet, including structural and mechanical work.

Because the vessel was being converted from fishing herring and mackerel on the East Coast to fishing pollock on the West Coast, a new fish pumping system was installed on the stern and a new full forward, sheltered fish distribution room was constructed for protection during the fish sorting process.

Both changes, according to Jensen, make the vessel better suited for the operations and weather of her new Alaska fishing assignment.

Structural work included a stern extension, bulbous bow with refurbishing of the thruster, whale back bow cover for the refurbished anchor windlass, an anti-roll tank, aft decks and bulwarks.

Mechanical work included rebuilding the main engines and generators and installation of new propellers, nozzles and a rudder system. Also, electrical systems and wiring received substantial upgrades and reworks by the shipyard along with sandblasting, water blasting, deep cleaning, and re-coating.

Once the work was completed, a renaming ceremony took place to change the vessel from Western Venture to Defender. The vessel was then re-launched and christened. Sea trials are scheduled for March, just prior to the 5,200-mile trek to Seattle for final delivery back to Global Seas in time for B season fishing in the Bering Sea.

Port Metro Vancouver Annual Volumes Steady

By Mark Edward Nero

Newly released 2015 year-end statistics from Canada’s largest seaport, Port Metro Vancouver, show that overall volumes remained steady at 138 million tons of cargo last year, as sectors experiencing declines were offset by others that hit new records.

Data released Feb. 18 show there was a five percent jump in volume for a new record of 3.1 million TEUs. Cargo shipped in containers at the port showed substantial growth due to increased trade with Asia.

Also according to the data, this is the port’s third consecutive year of strong cargo volumes, with new records set in the container, potash, grain and agri-product sectors.

Grain and agri-product exports increased by eight percent over 2014 to 25.1 million metric tons, and potash exports were 8.7 million metric tons, up 15.6 percent from the prior year.

“These strong and consistent cargo volumes through Port Metro Vancouver demonstrate the diversification of the port and the Canadian economy,” Port Metro Vancouver President and CEO Robin Silvester said in a written statement.

The port’s volumes of bulk specialty crops – lentils and pulses – reached 3.5 million metric tons last year, an increase of 20 percent, with growth in exports to India and China.

There was a decline in breakbulk metal imports (construction steel and fabricated components) during the second half of 2015, but with volumes of 1.4 million metric tons, 2015 remained the second highest year for metals on record.

Foreign forest product exports (logs, lumber, woodchips, woodpulp) ended the year at 10.9 million metric tons, a slight decrease from 2014. Coal volumes were down eight percent, mainly due to reduced demand from China and lower thermal coal exports from the United States.

Port Metro Vancouver is North America’s third busiest seaport, after the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach.

Northwest Seaports Experience Volume Gains

By Mark Edward Nero

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, a marine cargo operating partnership between the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, says that through the first month of 2016, container volumes through the Puget Sound gateway grew nearly 17 percent to 257,349 TEUs.

The alliance also reports that its international container volumes climbed 25 percent in January compared to the same month a year ago.

According to data, the ports’ full containerized imports grew 33 percent to 108,441 TEUs, while full exports improved 16 percent to 65,430 TEUs. The ports say the rise in volumes indicate shippers have returned to the Pacific Northwest following port congestion early last year during contract negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association.

Despite the gains in international shipping, domestic container volumes continued to decline in January, falling nearly 13 percent to 44,799 TEUs, something the Seaport Alliance says is partially due to the Alaska economy continuing to struggle due to falling oil production and prices, and to much of the ports’ Hawaii-bound cargo now moving through Southern California following the sale of Horizon Lines’ Hawaii business last year.

The declines in breakbulk cargo and auto imports were expected due to seasonal volume fluctuations, according to the Seaport Alliance. Both breakbulk and auto imports are expected to grow in 2016, the ports say.

More data regarding the ports’ January 2016 volumes can be found at

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

42 Rescued After Fishing Vessel Fire Near Hawaii

By Mark Edward Nero

Forty-two people were rescued last week after abandoning a fishing vessel that caught fire Feb. 10 about 1,800 miles south of the Hawaiian Islands, according to the US Coast Guard.

The 42 crewmembers aboard the 258-foot US-flagged fishing vessel abandoned ship at 10 a.m. local time into two life rafts, three workboats and one skiff.

Crewmembers later successfully dewatered the 40-year-old fishing vessel, the American Eagle, using equipment dropped by an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point.

The American Eagle’s captain later reported the fire extinguished and the vessel to be in stable condition. A team of nine was able to restart the generator, reestablish electricity and maintain communication, while the remaining 33 crewmembers were successfully recovered from their life rafts, workboats and skiff by the Fong Seong 888, a Tuvalu-flagged oil tanker.

In the aftermath of the incident, the Fong Seong 888 remained on-scene to provide additional support, according to the USCG, and American Eagle’s sister ship, American Victory, arrived early this week to relieve the Fong Seong 888.

Thirty crewmembers are currently aboard the fishing vessel cleaning and assessing damage caused after the fire broke out, according to the USCG’s Honolulu-based 14th District headquarters.

Foss VP Receives Diversity Award

By Mark Edward Nero

Foss Maritime’s Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer, Lam Nguyen-Bull, has been named 2016 Diversity Champion by the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 2016 Corporate Counsel Awards committee.

The annual awards honor attorneys who are helping drive business throughout the region, highlight outstanding work and emphasize the value the professionals bring to their organizations.

Nguyen-Bull’s award recognizes her for efforts in supporting diversity in the community, maritime industry and the legal profession.

Nguyen-Bull, who is based in Seattle, leads Foss Maritime’s Legal and Risk Management Group, providing counsel on legal issues and business strategies and practices. She also heads the company’s ethics and compliance programs that work to safeguard Foss’ values and reputation.

She came to Foss from parent company Saltchuk, where she served as Associate General Counsel and Compliance Officer.

“Lam’s dedication to inclusiveness and her involvement is impressive,” said Paul Stevens, President and Chief Executive Officer of Foss. “I’m glad to see her recognized for her tireless efforts and proud to have her on our executive team.”

“I’m flattered by the recognition,” Nguyen-Bull said. “This is such an honor for me, but the real recognition should go to the extraordinary mentors and programs I’ve had the benefit of working with. Here at Foss, I've been really lucky to be involved in the Saltchuk Women’s Leadership Initiative, a program personally sponsored by the three sisters who are Saltchuk’s majority shareholders and championed by senior executives from all around the Saltchuk companies.”

POLA Has Busiest January in Its History

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Los Angeles handled over 704,000 TEUs in January 2016, an increase of 33 percent compared to January 2015. It was the busiest January in the port’s 109-year history.

January 2016 imports surged 41.6 percent to 367,208 TEUs compared to the previous year. Exports increased 1.5 percent to 126,240 TEUs in January, while total loaded imports of 493,449 TEUs increased 28.6 percent compared to the previous year. Empty containers increased 44 percent to 210,949 TEUs.

Combined, January overall volumes totaled 704,398 TEUs, a 33 percent increase compared to last year.

“Record January volumes is a very encouraging way to start 2016, particularly after the slow start that West Coast ports experienced last year,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said. “As cargo owners replenish their inventories after the holiday season, our terminals and supply chain partners continue to demonstrate progress in moving larger container volumes per ship call, and we are grateful for the work they’ve done in recent months to increase supply chain efficiencies and optimization.”

Regarding fiscal year volumes, they’re up about three percent compared to the corresponding period in FY 2015. Thus far, the port has seen 4.96 million TEUs since the July 1 beginning of the fiscal year, compared with 4.81 million units during the same seven-month period in FY 2015.

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

Oakland Establishes Cargo Transition Plan

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Oakland Commissioners have authorized spending up to $1.5 million to open night and weekend marine terminal gates. The funds are for increased access hours for harbor truck drivers at the terminals, which began Feb. 13.

The governing Board of Port Commissioners approved the spending plan, called the Transition Assistance Program, on Feb. 11.

Added hours are central to plans for redistributing cargo when one of five Oakland marine terminals closes. Outer Harbor Terminals, formerly known as Ports America Outer Harbor, has filed for bankruptcy and is leaving the Port of Oakland.

The terminal is expected to cease vessel operations March 31.

“Extending terminal gate hours is an important way to improve cargo flow through the Port,” said John Driscoll, the Port’s Maritime Director. “It’s also crucial as we make the transition from five to four active terminals.”

Port officials say the Transition Assistance Program will help smooth the process when Outer Harbor Terminals exits Oakland. The port plans to redirect ships and cargo from Outer Harbor Terminal to adjacent terminals.

Extended hours are expected to get truckers through terminal gates faster and help the terminals absorb added volume, the port said. Night and weekend gates are also expected to aid harbor truckers by allowing them to avoid peak weekday hours at terminals for certain transactions.

Thousands of drivers enter the port each week to pick up or drop off cargo containers between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Until now, weekends have usually been restricted to vessel and container yard operations.

The port said its program will provide funding to eligible terminal operators for up to 12 weeks. To be eligible, operators must meet criteria that include signing a formal agreement to extend gate hours; providing an operating plan for extended-hour gates; and getting harbor truckers in-and-out of terminals within 75 minutes to ensure smooth cargo flow.

The port said it would reimburse terminal operators up to 50 percent of the cost of operating extended-hour gates. It added that it would cap the reimbursement at $10,000 for each gate shift. The port has also said it will provide reimbursement for up to five extended-hour shifts per week during the 12-week program.

Truckers, or the cargo owners they drive for, won’t be charged for extended-hour gates, according to the port.