Friday, March 4, 2016

ILWU Recognizes Foss, Others for Safety

By Mark Edward Nero

The International Longshore & Warehouse Union Marine Clerks Local 52 has recognized Foss Maritime, Shell Oil and Jones Stevedoring for the zero injuries that occurred at Terminal 5 between March 2015 and February 2016.

The first-ever safety award given by ILWU Local 52 was presented to Foss and partners Shell and Jones Stevedoring at the ILWU’s Annual Safety Banquet in SeaTac, Wash. on March 2.

“It's a real credit to the hard work of our dedicated Foss employees and also to our stevedore partner Jones Stevedoring, and to the trust of our customer, Shell,” Foss President & CEO Paul Stevens said in a statement.

Terminal 5 is the second largest terminal at the Port of Seattle. By the close of 2015 Foss had accumulated about 168,000 people hours at the terminal without an injury, according to union data.

“From the first day at Terminal 5, Foss, Shell and Jones worked hard to establish a safety culture that went above and beyond the normal safety practices on the waterfront,” Jones Stevedoring Vice President Rob Bohlman said.

“Local 52 members embrace being part of Foss’ Always Safe, Always Ready culture,” Max Vekich of the ILWU Local 52 Labor Relations Committee said in a letter announcing the award.

“It says an awful lot when your efforts are appreciated by those who are impacted the most, and when they see positive results from those efforts,” said Dale Snyder, vice president of Alaska Operations for Shell. “Well done Foss and your team.”

PPG Powering Whale Watching Vessel

By Mark Edward Nero

Vancouver, Washington-based marine engine company Pacific Power Group is powering a new custom-built vessel for whale watching with Volvo Penta engines, engine monitoring and throttle controls that’s expected to improve passengers’ experience.

PPG’s marine team is powering the Salish Sea Dream for Prince of Whales, a Vancouver-based company providing whale watching excursions. The vessel is being fitted with four Volvo Penta D13-700 Inboard turbo diesel engines that will each supply 700 HP at 2,300 RPM, providing faster acceleration and better ability to maintain high top speed.

PPG said the vessel’s Volvo Penta engines also offer the Salish Sea Dream dependability, low weight and fuel consumption, lower operating costs and the reliability demanded for tour operations. The company said the engines were also selected for their environmental benefits with low exhaust emissions, certified to US EPA Tier 3 commercial marine and IMO II standards.

Further environmental benefits, according to PPG, are a longer engine oil change interval of 1,000 hours, reducing oil usage and waste oil management in addition to significant cost savings for the operator.

Pacific Power Group said it also supplied Volvo Penta Electronic Vessel Controls (EVC) and throttle controls to complement the propulsion system.

The Salish Sea Dream is currently under construction at Armstrong Marine’s Port Angeles, Washington location. Gregory C. Marshall Naval Architects designed the vessel, which is expected to hold up to 94 passengers.

The Salish Sea Dream is expected to launch and be delivered in May 2016.

Air Pollution Down at POLB

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Long Beach said March 1 that shipping lines calling there last year cut thousands of tons of air pollution by voluntarily participating in the port’s Green Flag Program, which offers financial rewards for ships that reduce their speed near the harbor to decrease emissions.

The program, initiated 11 years ago as part of the port’s Green Port Policy, gives participants a Green Flag to celebrate their environmental accomplishments and dockage rate breaks to shipping lines slowing to 12 knots or less within 20 or 40 nautical miles of the port.

In 2015, 154 vessel operators met or exceeded the program’s required 90 percent participation rate at either 20 or 40 nautical miles.

Since 2005, the port has targeted emissions from ships, trucks, trains, harbor craft and yard equipment. As a result, diesel particulates are down 85 percent, smog-forming sulfur oxides are down 97 percent, nitrogen oxides are down 50 percent and greenhouse gases are down 21 percent, according to port data.

The Green Port Policy also includes other programs aimed at reducing vessel emissions, including the Green Ship Program to encourage newer vessels with cleaner engines to come to Long Beach.

The port also encourages vessel operators to use shore power, or “cold ironing,” which reduces air pollution by enabling ships to tap into landside electricity while at berth instead of running diesel fueled engines to run crucial systems.

“Our voluntary environmental initiatives have led to dramatic improvements in air quality,” Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said. “We have surpassed our clean air goals for 2014 and nearly all of them for 2023. We continue to aspire to be the world’s first zero emissions port.”

An overview of the Green Flag incentive program and 2015 statistics are available at

New Panama Canal Locks Tested

By Mark Edward Nero

The Panama Canal has announced that Grupo Unidos por el Canal, the consortium responsible for the design and construction of the Third Set of Locks Project, has successfully completed testing of the reinforcements in sill no. 3 of the CocolĂ­ locks.

GUPC technical personnel, the designers and Panama Canal Authority specialists monitored the testing process, which consisted of gradually raising the water behind the lock gate to the level in which the seepage was first detected in sill no. 3 last year.

The Panama Canal Authority revealed last September that during stress testing of new locks for the Panama Canal, water seepage was found in a specific area of the new Pacific Ocean-side locks in a section separating the middle and lower chambers.

The localized seepage was determined to be the result of insufficient steel reinforcement in the area that was subjected to stress from extreme condition testing. After examination of all the other sills in both lock complexes, GUPC stated that in addition to reinforcing the sill that presented the issue, it would also reinforce the sills in the first two sets of locks as a preventative measure, even though the sills have not presented any issue.

Later, the testing was inspected by a team of independent experts, professors and structural engineers from the Technological University of Panama, all of whom expressed satisfaction with the final results, the Panama Canal Authority said in mid-February.

Currently, the Authority said, the project manager is testing the electromechanical components necessary for the expanded Canal to operate.

The $5 billion Panama Canal expansion is expected to allow post-Panamax ships to travel through the canal en route to East Coast terminals, thereby bypassing the US West Coast.

Less than four percent remains to complete the overall project, according to the Authority; an inauguration is planned for later this year.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

18,000 TEU Ship Arrives in Seattle

By Mark Edward Nero

The largest cargo ship to visit the United States, the CMA CMG Benjamin Franklin, arrived at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 18 for the first time on Feb. 29, a few days after making its first-ever voyage to the Port of Long Beach.

The Benjamin Franklin has capacity for 18,000 TEUs, which is more than double the cargo of most container ships calling at terminals in Puget Sound. If laid end-to-end, 18,000 TEUs would stretch from Tacoma to Everett, a distance of about 68 miles. At 1,310 feet long and 177 feet wide, the Benjamin Franklin is longer than two Space Needles or five Boeing 747s placed along its length.

At the Port of Long Beach, the Benjamin Franklin visited SSA Marine’s Pacific Container Terminal from Feb. 18-24, loading and offloading almost 13,000 containers.

The vessel made its maiden voyage to the United States last December. It called at the Port of Los Angeles on Dec. 26 and the Port of Oakland on Dec. 31, making it the largest container ship of this capacity ever to call at any port in the United States. It returned to Oakland Feb. 25.

The vessel, operated by France-based shipping line CMA CGM, is the world’s 10th largest containership, at 399.2 meters (about 1,310 feet) by 54 meters (177 feet). It was launched from a Chinese shipyard in November and delivered Dec. 4.

Mega-ships like the Benjamin Franklin are entering the trans-Pacific trade sooner than expected, as shipping lines seek increased economies of scale to reduce operating costs and environmental impact. Last fall, the Seattle-Tacoma port complex welcomed two 11,400-TEU vessels, the CMA CGM Callisto and CMA CGM Cassiopea. Also, 10,000-TEU ships call regularly in the complex’s North and South harbors.

Washington Companies Complete Ship Transaction

By Mark Edward Nero

 Family owned, Seattle-based shipping company Coastal Transportation has announced the delivery of its new vessel, the M/V Coastal Standard, which was built by Anacortes, Washington-based Dakota Creek Industries shipyard.

The Coastal Standard is the first brand-new, US-built/US-flagged vessel to enter the Western Alaska trade in more than 20 years, according to Coastal Transportation.

The ship entered service to Alaska on Feb. 17, replacing two 50-plus year-old vessels.

The Coastal Standard measures 242 feet long with a beam of 54 feet and a refrigerated cargo capacity of 120,000 cubic feet.

Vessel owner Coastal Transportation operates a fleet of cargo vessels sailing from Seattle to ports throughout Western Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, delivering cargo such as construction equipment and fishing supplies.

The vessel’s design, completed by NaviForm Consulting & Research of Vancouver, British Columbia, incorporates entirely enclosed cargo holds, which are accessed through a waterproof door in the hull’s port side. This prevents rain and snow from entering cargo areas, and increases cargo-handling efficiency.

Palletized cargo is loaded and offloaded by forklifts on an elevator that connects the upper and lower cargo areas as well as the main deck.

The molded hull, which was designed for fuel efficiency, incorporates a bulbous bow and a canoe stern, and is fitted with a high-efficiency rudder. The vessel is powered by a 3,084 horsepower C280-8 Tier 2 Caterpillar engine, which enables a service speed of 14 knots.

Delivery from Dakota Creek Industries to Coastal Transportation took place Feb. 5.

BNSF Investing $220 Million in Washington Infrastructure

By Mark Edward Nero

BNSF Railway has announced that its 2016 capital expenditure program in Washington will be nearly $220 million.

The Washington state plan, which BNSF revealed Feb. 16, focuses on maintenance projects to help ensure BNSF continues to operate a safe, reliable network and that also “reflects the success BNSF has had in adding capacity in prior years to support customer demand.”

The largest component of this year’s capital plan for the state is for replacing and upgrading rail, rail ties and ballast, which are the main components for the tracks on which BNSF trains operate.

Regular maintenance of the railroad allows BNSF to keep its network infrastructure in optimal condition and reduces the need for unscheduled service work that can slow down the BNSF rail network and reduce capacity.

Freight rail is considered vital to Washington, where nearly 40 percent of all jobs in the state are tied to international trade.

BNSF’s maintenance program in Washington includes more than 1,260 miles of track surfacing and/or undercutting work, the replacement of nearly 70 miles of rail and close to 243,000 ties, as well as signal upgrades for federally mandated positive train control (PTC).

2016 capital projects in the state also include continuing the replacement of the Washougal River bridge in Camas and follow more than $550 million invested by BNSF in its network in Washington over the past three years.

The 2016 planned capital investments in the state are part of BNSF’s $4.3 billion network-wide capital expenditure program announced in January. These investments include $2.8 billion to replace and maintain core network and related assets, about $500 million on expansion and efficiency projects, $300 million for continued implementation of PTC and more than $600 million for locomotives, freight cars and other equipment acquisitions.

San Diego Port Completes Land Exchange

By Mark Edward Nero

The California State Lands Commission and Port of San Diego have closed escrow on a land exchange where the port traded about 35 acres within the Harbor District of the Chula Vista Bayfront for about 97 acres within the environmentally sensitive Sweetwater District of the Chula Vista Bayfront.

Escrow closed Feb. 18.

The land exchange shifts high-density residential land uses away from the Sweetwater District, which is adjacent to the National Wildlife Refuge and the Living Coast Discovery Center, to the centrally located Harbor District. In addition, part of the 97-acre site will be dedicated to a 400-foot-wide buffer between the RV Park and National Wildlife Refuge.

The land exchange is part of the ongoing redevelopment of the Chula Vista Bayfront, gradually replacing former industrial sites with new development providing a balance of jobs, environmental buffers, housing and recreation.

The port site is designated for a park, some commercial development, and an RV park.

“The public trust lands obtained by the Port of San Diego in this exchange will provide a critical buffer that protects habitat while enhancing public access to an underutilized waterfront,” said California Controller Betty Yee, the state’s chief fiscal officer. “This is a win for the environment, for community residents, and for the local economy.”

“The land exchange is an integral component of the Chula Vista Bayfront because it places residential uses where they are most appropriate,” said Ann Moore, who represents the City of Chula Vista on the seven-member Board of Port Commissioners. “The future residential project will serve as an economic catalyst for the overall bayfront.”