Friday, April 15, 2016

Cruise Organization Sues Alaskan City

By Mark Edward Nero

The Cruise Lines International Association and its Alaska branch are suing the City of Juneau over the legality of taxes imposed on cruise passengers as a condition of their visit to Juneau and how the borough spends that money.

The legal challenge, which was filed April 12, is intended to resolve a longstanding disagreement between the cruise industry and the city regarding the interpretation of the US Constitution and federal restrictions on the use of passenger entry fee taxes.

At the crux of the case is millions of dollars in fees the city charged cruise passengers to help pay for the construction of a three acre, $10 million artificial island with a life-sized statue of a humpback whale.

Juneau collects $8 in fees from each cruise ship passenger, plus receives funds from a state charge of $5 per passenger. It adds up to millions of dollars for the city per year.

Cruise line passengers pay about 19 percent of all sales taxes generated in Juneau, according to the cruise association.

“The industry certainly does not have an issue with paying taxes or contributing to local services,” said John Binkley, president of CLIA Alaska. “However, the US Constitution is clear that per passenger entry fees are prohibited unless they meet a very narrow list of exceptions, none of which apply to this situation.”

CLIA Alaska says it has objected on numerous occasions to the artificial island project as well as other projects that “do not provide a direct benefit to the passengers paying for those projects and the vessel that transports them.”

If a community feels strongly about a particular project, sales taxes or other revenue sources are appropriate, CLIA said, but projects of general community benefit cannot be funded by one mode of transportation such as the per passenger entry fees.

Juneau has received more than $55 million in entry fee taxes in just the past four years. In addition to the artificial island project, the complaint lists a number of other expenditures over the years that do not meet the criteria mandated by law, including $22 million to fund Juneau general government operating expenses; $594,000 for the Juneau airport; and $447,000 for upgrades to a private dock that CLIA cruise vessels and passengers can’t use.

“Filing suit was a difficult decision for us,” Binkley said. “Juneau is a great port and a community of people who take excellent care of our guests. In turn, it’s important that we ensure that the fees our guests pay to visit Juneau are used in a responsible and legal way.”

A full version of the lawsuit can be seen at

NW Seaport Alliance Approves Terminal Upgrades

By Mark Edward Nero

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which is an operational partnership between the Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma, has approved $141 million worth of construction and cranes to dock two of the largest container ships simultaneously at Husky Terminal in the South Harbor.

The Alliance’s actions, which were taken on April 7, also include a 20-year lease extension, allowing Husky Terminal and Stevedoring to operate the terminal until 2046.

“This is a real historic moment for the alliance,” Port of Seattle Commission President John Creighton said during the meeting. “It’s the first major investment that the two commissions will be approving in our harbors and our gateway.”

The Husky Terminal upgrades include reconstruction of Pier 4 to align it with Pier 3, which would create a contiguous 2,960-foot berth, as well as the purchase of two more super-post-Panamax cranes to join two already ordered. The improvements would allow two 18,000-TEU ships to dock at the same time.

Plans for the reconstructed berth also include conduit for future shore power to allow ships to plug into electricity while at dock.

Construction is estimated to be done in 2018. Future planned Terminal 5 improvements in the North Harbor are currently under environmental review.

Port Metro Vancouver Renamed

By Mark Edward Nero

Canada’s largest port has a new name. The title “Port Metro Vancouver” was dropped on April 6 and replaced by “Port of Vancouver.”

The name change, according to the port, is intended to strengthen the port’s recognition with stakeholders and customers as well as provide clarity and distinction between the activities of the port authority and those of the greater port community.

The port says that feedback and research indicated the use of “Port Metro Vancouver” to refer to the port and the federal port authority created confusion. Internationally, the port is already widely referenced as the Port of Vancouver.

However, there’s already another Port of Vancouver: the deepwater port in Vancouver, Washington. That facility however, refers to itself as the Port of Vancouver USA, in order to avoid confusion with its much larger neighbor, located about 300 miles to the north.

In addition to the port being renamed, the port’s governing body is implementing the consistent use of its legal name, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, when referencing its activities or decisions.

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority was formed in 2008 when three regional port authorities – the Port of Vancouver, North Fraser Port Authority and Fraser River Port Authority -- were amalgamated.

POLA Has Record Quarterly Volumes

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Los Angeles said April 12 that through the first three months of 2016, it recorded the busiest first quarter in its 109-year history, and handled more than two million TEUs during the period.

The port’s overall volume of 2,030,982 TEUs in the first quarter of 2016 was an increase of 11.3 percent compared to last year, according to port data.

“Our first quarter growth is significant and encouraging,” Port of LA Executive Director Gene Seroka said. “The feedback we are receiving from cargo owners and exporters is that the port is delivering on speed, efficiency, cost and service.”

The news wasn’t all good for the POLA, however. Total volumes for March 2016 – imports and exports – registered at 612,863 TEUs, which was a drop of 22.6 percent compared to March 2015, when volumes surged after congestion issues were resolved.

Although March 2016 exports increased 9.5 percent to 159,362 TEUs, imports decreased 33.3 percent to 287,231 TEUs compared to the same month the previous year.

When you add in that empty container traffic dropped 22.8 percent to 166,269 TEUs, it results in a overall volume total of 612,863 TEUs last month.

For the fiscal year to date, LA volumes are up by over 176,000 units, a jump of 2.8 percent compared to the same nine-month period during FY 2015.

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Overall Volume Down, Exports Up at Oakland

By Mark Edward Nero

Total containerized cargo volume – imports, exports and empty containers – was down more than 14 percent at the Port of Oakland in March compared to the same month in 2015, according to newly released data. Exports, however, were up significantly during that period.

Oakland port terminals saw a total of 178,947 TEUs in March 2016, a 14.6-percent decline compared to the same month last year.

The port says the decrease is due in part to the fact that Oakland’s March 2015 volumes were unusually high. It was March 2015 when the floodgates opened at West Coast ports following a protracted waterfront contract dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore & Warehouse Union.

The port also said that last month’s volume was limited by a seasonal post-Lunar New Year slowdown in imports from Asia.

But despite the sharp monthly decrease, total volume is up nearly 19 percent so far in 2016, according to port data, and containerized export volume is up 19.9 percent so far over 2015.

The port saw 558,241 TEUs combined during the first three months of 2016, an 18.9-percent jump over the same period last year.

March 2016 exports were up 9.9 percent, the third-straight monthly increase in Oakland.
Port officials attributed the gains to a recent decline in the strength of the dollar. US goods are more affordable overseas when the dollar’s value declines. Export volume declined at the Port of Oakland during most of 2015.

“It’s too soon to declare this a trend, but we’re encouraged by recent signs,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said of the strong outgoing container figures. “Exports are a critical component of our business.”

BC Ferries Sells Surplus Vessel

By Mark Edward Nero

After a competitive bidding process, BC Ferries has sold the 52 year-old M/V Tenaka to Lady Rose Marine Services of Port Alberni, British Columbia, BC Ferries said April 11.

The 43-meter (141-foot) M/V Tenaka was built in 1964 at Victoria Machinery Depot, and accommodates up to 24 vehicles and 100 passengers and crew. The vessel primarily serviced the Quadra Island – Cortes Island route and last sailed in the fleet in December 2014.

Lady Rose Marine Services is expected to take possession of the vessel in mid-May and after they conduct a drydock and maintenance period, they intend to put the vessel into service by the end of this year, providing passenger and freight service from the Alberni Inlet.

“When retiring vessels from our fleet, our first preference is always to find a buyer who will use the ship for continued commercial operation so we are pleased that the M/V Tenaka will continue to operate right here in British Columbia,” BC Ferries Vice President of Engineering Mark Wilson said.

Lady Rose Marine Services, which has been in business for more than 70 years, provides passenger and freight service from the Alberni Inlet to Bamfield and Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

“With the acquisition of the M/V Tenaka, we will continue to be the biggest tourism operator in Port Alberni employing local staff and supporting local businesses,” Lady Rose Marine Services owner Mike Surrell said.

BC Ferries declined to disclose the price it received for the M/V Tenaka, citing the upcoming sale of two other ferries that are to be retired soon. The company said it needs to “protect the competitive bid processes for those sales and maximize the price received” for the ships.

POLA, LB Execs Join Federal Committee

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka and Port of Long Beach Chief Executive Jon Slangerup have been appointed by US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to the federal Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness (ASCC).

The ACSCC is tasked with advising the Secretary of Commerce, Department of Transportation and other US agencies on supply chain issues that affect the international competitiveness of US businesses.

Seroka and Slangerup are among 11 new appointees to the committee, and the only two based on the West Coast.

“I’m honored to represent the Port of Los Angeles and our stakeholders as we determine best practices to increase US exports,” Seroka said. “Our work on supply chain optimization over the past year in the San Pedro Bay port complex will add valuable insights to this committee’s efforts.”

Other new members of the ACSCC include: Jaqueline Faseler, Global Supply Chain Sustainability Director for The Dow Chemical Company of Midland, MI; Jonathan Gold, Vice President, Supply Chain and Customs Policy for National Retail Federation in Washington, DC; Walter Kemmsies, Chief Economist for Moffat & Nichol of New York, NY; Houston Mason, Director of Distribution with McCormick and Co. of Hunt Valley, MD; and Elizabeth Ogard, President of Prime Focus in De Pere, WI.

Also joining the committee are: Bethann Rooney, Deputy Director of the Port Commerce Department for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Yossi Sheffi, Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Transportation and Logistics in Cambridge, MA; Prem William, Vice President SCI Solutions and Operations for HAVI Global Solutions in Downers Grove, IL; and Melzana Wilson, Vice President of Compliance for Mallory Alexander International Logistics in Memphis, TN.

The ACSCC, which now has 45 members, provides Obama administration officials with a series of recommendations related to developing US freight policy and plans.

Glosten Names New President

By Mark Edward Nero

Seattle-based consulting naval architecture and marine engineering consultancy Glosten on April 7 announced the appointment of longtime employee John Springer as the company’s president.
Springer, who is Glosten’s fifth president since the firm’s founding in 1958, will have direct responsibility for strategic growth, business direction and client service.

Springer has thus far spent 29 years with the firm. He managed Glosten’s Naval Architecture Group from 1996 to 2003, served as operations director from 2004 to 2009, and most recently served on the executive management team.

“I’m honored to serve Glosten in this new role of shaping the firm’s growth in the coming years,” he said in a prepared statement, “and I am so very fortunate to have the incredible foundation … to build on.”

Springer takes over the role from Glosten’s fourth president, John “Jay” Edgar.

“Leading Glosten has been a rewarding opportunity,” said Edgar, who is now Glosten’s Director of Research and Development. “I’m pleased to support John and the entire Glosten team as we reach new heights in delivering excellence to our clients.”

Glosten, founded in 1958, specializes in naval architecture, ocean engineering & analysis, marine engineering, electrical engineering, and detail/production design.

Last year, Glosten acquired Noise Control Engineering, an acoustical and structural engineering consultancy specializing in noise and vibration measurement and control for marine, industrial, commercial and military applications.