Friday, May 20, 2016

Westwood Shipping Departs Portland Terminal

By Mark Edward Nero

Westwood Shipping Lines, which had been the sole carrier calling at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 6 over the past 10 months, announced in a letter to its customers this week that the company will no longer call on the terminal after May 21.

In its letter, Westwood Shipping, which had been calling on the terminal once a month, said the arrangement was no longer economically viable. Each call to Portland took about 150 containers of hay, grass seed, dried fruits, other mixed agricultural goods and paperboard for export to Japan.

Puyallup, Washington-based Westwood had called Terminal 6 with container service since July 2010. The port already had lost 95 percent of its container service in March 2015 after shippers Hanjin and Hapag-Lloyd pulled out due to a lingering labor dispute that had played a part of decreased productivity.

The carriers had complained it was taking too long to load and unload ships because of a three-year dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Terminal 6 operator ICTSI Oregon.

Westwood suspended service in April of last year, but returned with monthly export calls last July.

“While we are disappointed with this news, we also understand the underlying economics of the carrier industry are at play like over-capacity and exceptionally low rates. We are hopeful that Westwood will return to T-6 when market dynamics improve,” the port said in a May 18 statement, adding that it intended to focus on recruitment of new carrier service and assist shippers with access to markets.

Bulk, breakbulk and auto operations at terminals 2, 4, 5 and 6 are not impacted by Westwood Shipping’s departure, according to the port.

APM, ZPMC Sign Crane Extension Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

APM Terminals said May 13 that it has signed a contract for the enlargement of 10 STS cranes, including the raising of the overall height, and extension of the crane boom, to accommodate Ultra-Large Container Ships (ULCS) of up to 20,000-TEU capacity.

The contract was signed at a ceremony held at the APM Terminals Pier 400 facility at the Port of Los Angeles by representatives of APM Terminals and Shanghai-based ZPMC, which has been selected to perform the crane modifications on the terminal’s existing Noell STS cranes.

After the modifications designed by the original crane manufacturer, Terex-Noell, the 10 STS cranes are expected to become the tallest in the US Another feature of the upgraded cranes will be the installation of light-emitting diode (LED) illumination, which is expected to improve visibility and accuracy of the cranes’ associated Optical Character Recognition (OCR) programs, as well as reduce energy use by 60 percent compared with the previous conventional lighting system.

The contract signing came less than five months after the successful handling of the 18,000-TEU CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin at Pier 400 last December. It was the first call of a vessel of that size to any North American port.

When the Benjamin Franklin arrived at Los Angeles in the last week of December 2015, containers were stacked seven levels-high on-deck, reducing the effective vessel capacity to 15,000 TEUs during that call. While docked at APM Terminals Pier 400 between the morning of Dec. 26 and the evening of Dec. 29, about 1,500 longshore workers spent 56 hours loading and unloading 11,229 containers while employing a record nine STS cranes on the vessel at the same time.

The previous record for the largest vessel to call at the terminal prior to the Benjamin Franklin was the 15,000-TEU Maersk Edmondo, which had arrived only four days prior.

There are currently 37 ULCS of 18,000 TEU or more capacity in service in the global fleet, with another 72 vessels of between 18,000 and 21,000 TEU capacity on order.

Oakland Truckers’ App Goes Live

By Mark Edward Nero

A new mobile phone app developed for the Port of Oakland to aid harbor truckers is now live.

The DrayQ application is available at Apple and Google app stores at no charge, the port said May 18. The app tells drivers how long they’ll wait to enter marine terminal gates and how long transactions are taking. “There’s no more guesswork for truckers picking up or delivering cargo in Oakland,” port Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “Now they can plan their days with real-time information.”

DrayQ will display how long it takes to enter terminal gates, the port said, as well as calculate how long drivers must wait to complete transactions. The times will appear on mobile phone screens much like freeway drive-time signboards.

The new technology could fundamentally change seaport operations in two ways, one being that for the first time, truckers and dispatchers will have a precise measure of how long a terminal transaction takes. If it’s too long, drivers can plan around slow periods.

Secondly, cargo owners and terminal operators will now have accurate data to determine if containerized shipments are being efficiently processed. If they’re not, the data can help pinpoint where operational changes are needed.

DrayQ was developed for the port by Virginia-based contractor Leidos. It relies on Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi technology to measure truckers’ progress through the port. The app anonymously tracks every truck in the port whose driver carries a cell phone. Leidos officials, who were at marine terminals introducing harbor truckers to the app this week, said their goal is to have 3,000 drivers download it by June.

Seattle-Tacoma Monthly Container Volumes Flat

By Mark Edward Nero

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which is made up of the port of Seattle and Tacoma, says that strong export volumes through last month hint at a better 2016 outlook than predicted, with full containerized exports up 15 percent year to date in April.

Both full containerized exports and imports posted seven percent gains last month compared to April 2015. The April numbers mark the first month-over-month comparison that doesn’t reflect cargo volumes impacted by last year’s contract negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

However, for the year to date, the Puget Sound gateway’s container volumes are flat at 1.08 million TEUs, a 0.1 percent drop from the same four months in 2015. Full exports are up 15 percent year to date to 310,099 TEUs, and full imports are flat at 415,407 TEUs.

Empty container volumes are down 16 percent year to date, and domestic volumes continue to lag due a weaker Alaskan economy.

Auto imports continue to be a bright spot for non-container cargo, up nearly nine percent year to date in April to 62,113 units. Breakbulk cargo’s down 36 percent year to date to 61,097 metric tons, with the Alliance saying the dip reflects slowing economic growth in China and the impact of lower oil prices.

Monthly container volumes for the Seaport Alliance are available at and a five-year cargo volume history can be found at

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Jensen Designs High Performance Tractor Tug

By Mark Edward Nero

Seattle-based naval architecture and marine engineering firm Jensen Maritime has designed a new high performance tractor tug for Vessel Chartering that features some of the first Tier IV engines meeting higher federal air emissions standards among US tugboats.

The multipurpose tractor tug, which is being built by JT Marine of Vancouver, Washington, was jointly developed by San Francisco-based Vessel Chartering and Jensen, a subsidiary of Crowley Maritime, Crowley said May 4.

The 110-foot long vessel is designed to have the ship assist and escort capabilities of smaller harbor tugs, while featuring the improved towing performance and increased range of larger ocean-going tugs. Also, the escort capability was enhanced to provide support for assisting large, 18,000-TEU containerships due to an increased future demand in West Coast ports. The design offers the flexibility to support ship escorts, assists and towing.

The engines are designed to meet the federal Tier IV standard, which incorporate the emissions-reducing performance requirements by the US Environmental Protection Agency. To meet the requirements, the two engines on this vessel use systems that clean exhaust gases after they have left the engines. This is the third tugboat designed by Jensen Maritime with engines meeting the Tier IV requirement.

The tug was also designed without any ballast tanks, thereby eliminating the need for ballast water discharge and the potential transfer of invasive species. Instead of ballast tanks, the tug will transfer fuel, as necessary, in order to maintain proper trim.

The 40-foot wide vessel is to be powered by a pair of 3,385-horsepower Caterpillar 3516 Tier IV engines. With an electrically powered, double drum tow winch aft by Rapp USA and an electrically powered hawser winch forward by Markey Machinery as deck machinery, the vessel will be capable of a 93-to-95 short-ton bollard pull. Both winches’ electrical power will remove any chance of a hydraulic oil spill on deck.

The tug is designed to carry up to 123,000 gallons of fuel, 4,300 gallons of fresh water, and up to 4,500 gallons of urea, which is used for treatment of the main engine exhausts in order to meet Tier IV emissions requirements. A water maker is being installed for potable water when out at sea, and a large pilot house will provide all-around visibility. The deckhouse has an open feel with a large mess and lounge area along with accommodations for a 10-person crew.

The tug’s planned for delivery in the second quarter of 2017 to Vessel Chartering, a wholly owned division of San Francisco-based tanker escort and assist company Baydelta Navigation.

Cleaner Ferry Exhaust System Developed

By Mark Edward Nero

Vancouver, Washington-based engine and services provider Pacific Power Group has engineered a propulsion system with an exhaust treatment system for two new San Francisco Water Emergency Transportation Authority ferries that the engine supplier expects to be the cleanest-operating passenger ferries in the US.

PPG said May 9 that third-party independent emissions tests completed at its Kent, Washington location in January show that the system’s emissions are believed to be lower than any currently operating passenger ferry in the US. The MTU engines are certified to EPA Tier 3 marine emission levels and with the added exhaust after-treatment system, EPA Tier 4 Final level performance is achieved without the use of diesel particulate filters.

The independent emissions tests were conducted and verified by Infowedge and the University of California at Riverside Center for Environmental Research and Technology.

PPG’s custom-engineered solution focused on the operating conditions with the greatest emissions outputs with a high priority on vessel operational reliability and keeping weight and space claim to a minimum. The system could eliminate an estimated 10 tons of NOx, PM and CO emissions annually through the use of selective catalytic reduction and diesel oxidation catalyst technologies.

The complete propulsion system includes two MTU 12V4000M64 1,950-hp engines and ZF 7600 reduction gears. MTU Series 4000 engines provide clean-running operation that helps lower the ferries’ emissions output. The Series 4000 engines also offer increased safety, lower fuel consumption and greater reliability for the commercial passenger vessels.

PPG said its engineers worked with Vigor Industrial’s Kvichak Marine Industries to develop a system that physically fits the vessel design, meets weight goals and provides easy installation and maintenance for the Water Emergency Transportation Authority.

The ferries will replace two of WETA’s 12-vessel fleet that are nearing the end of their expected 25-year life. Each vessel will be able to carry about 400 passengers and operate at about 27 knots.

Designed by Incat Crowther, each will be a 135-by-38-foot all-aluminum catamaran. The ferries are currently under construction at Vigor’s Kvichak shipyard and are expected to be in service by the summer of 2017.

Monthly POLB Volumes Down 22 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Long Beach container cargo volumes decreased significantly last month compared to the same month in 2015, after lower-than-expected consumer spending in recent months.

Total container cargo volume was down 22.1 percent compared to April 2015.

The port moved a total of 478,842 TEUs last month according to its data, including 247,316 TEUs in imports, while exports totaled 112,805 TEUs.

Empty containers, which are returned overseas to be refilled with imports, were down 25.8 percent to 118,721 TEUs, according to the port’s data, which was released May 13.

Through the first four months of 2016, cargo volume was down 2.2 percent, reflecting slowing economic growth nationally. US GDP was up 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 followed by 2016 first quarter GDP growth of only 0.5 percent.

“Economic conditions today are very volatile, but we remain confident in our long-term prospects,” noted Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzm├ín. “The Port of Long Beach is preparing for economic uncertainty by carefully reviewing our budget and looking for savings at every opportunity. While we still have significant modernization projects planned for the next 10 years, the pace of the projects will be determined by the health of the economy.” The port says the numbers decline reflects shifts in evolving vessel alliances that have shifted ship deployments. “The additional berthing choices offered by vessel alliances are dispersing cargo across more terminals and ports,” Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said. “These volume shifts will continue to occur as newly formed alliances take shape.”

Details on the latest and past cargo numbers are available at

Monthly POLA Container Volumes Flat

By Mark Edward Nero

Despite a slight drop in monthly volume for April, overall cargo volume for the first four months of 2016 was up eight percent compared to 2015 at the Port of Los Angeles, according to data.

“We’re encouraged that shippers and supply chain decision makers continue to show confidence in the Port of Los Angeles,” POLA Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a statement. “While the pace of global trade and US retailer imports has eased recently, our work and progress on supply chain optimization has put the Port of Los Angeles on track to drive market opportunities.”

Total April 2016 volumes registered at 656,177 TEUs, a decrease of one percent compared to the same month in 2015. April loaded imports increased 4.7 percent to 343,574 TEUs and loaded exports fell one percent to 144,103 TEUs.

However, total loaded TEUs increased 2.9 percent to 487,677 TEUs. When factoring in a decrease of 10.9 percent in the movement of empty containers, overall April container volumes were 656,177 TEUs.

During the first quarter of calendar year 2016, the port moved 2.68 million TEUs, an eight percent jump over the 2.48 million units shipped during the same four-month period last year.

So far during the current fiscal year, which began July 1, LA has seen 6.9 million units, a 2.5 percent jump from the 6.77 million TEUs during the same 10 month period in FY 2015.

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