Friday, May 27, 2016

USCG Clears Grounded Bulk Grain Carrier

By Mark Edward Nero

The Sparna, a 623-foot bulk grain carrier that suffered major damage when it briefly ran aground near Cathlamet on the Columbia River two months ago, was cleared this week to leave its mooring after undergoing temporary repairs.

On May 23, the Captain of the Port for Oregon & southern Washington canceled an order on the motor vessel, thus allowing the Sparna to leave its mooring at Kalama, Washington.

“We have inspected the Sparna and have approved the temporary repairs to make the vessel seaworthy,” Lt. Cmdr. Ben Russell, chief inspections department, Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Portland, said this week. “Our inspection team has monitored the planning and implementation of the repairs over the last two months. We are comfortable with the outcome and wish the crew of the Sparna a safe voyage across the Pacific Ocean.”

The original Captain of the Port order was put in place immediately after the grounding incident and required that the ship undergo emergency repairs to the hull before departing to a foreign shipyard for permanent repair. At the time of the incident, the Sparna was bound for Japan and fully loaded with grain as well as laden with 218,380 gallons of high sulfur fuel and 39,380 gallons of marine diesel, and was outbound.

It was heading west in the Columbia River with a river pilot still onboard when it ran into trouble around 12:15 a.m.

A boulder that was lodged inside the hull of the vessel during the incident was incased in steel and concrete and is still aboard the Sparna.

All repair work was completed to the satisfaction of the Coast Guard and the vessel’s flag state of Panama, according to the USCG.

POLA, Pasha Launching Zero Emissions Project

By Mark Edward Nero

Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals and the Port of Los Angeles said May 26 that they’re jointly launching the Green Omni Terminal Demonstration Project, a full-scale, real-time demonstration of zero and near-zero emission technologies at a working marine terminal.

At full build out, the Pasha terminal would be the world’s first marine terminal able to generate all of its energy needs from renewable sources, according to the port. The $26 million project is partly funded by a $14.5 million grant from the California Air Resources Board.

“This is a Wright Brothers moment,” Pasha Senior Vice President Jeffrey Burgin said. “We’re going to be the proving ground to change the paradigm of how large industrial facilities can run on clean energy.”

Project implementation begins in June with the final design and construction of a solar-powered microgrid. As part of the project, Pasha will integrate a fleet of new and retrofitted zero-emission electric vehicles and cargo-handling equipment into its terminal operations and demonstrate the latest generation of advanced technology for capturing ship emissions from vessels unable to plug into shore power at berth.

“It’s exciting to see a project with so many emerging zero or near-zero emission solutions for handling and moving freight,” Air Board Chair Mary Nichols said in a statement.

The project also features a microgrid that includes solar generation, battery storage and an energy management system to maximize usage.

The 40-acre terminal handles general, project and heavy-lift cargoes of all shapes and sizes, including break bulk commodities such as steel and containerized cargo, making it what the port calls “the ideal laboratory” for developing zero-emission solutions for many industries.

The project’s developmental fleet of zero-emission cargo handling equipment includes four electrified yard tractors, two high-tonnage forklifts, two drayage trucks and a top handler. Additionally, two wharf cranes will be upgraded with new electrical drives and control systems, and the project will demonstrate ShoreCat, the next generation of the METS-1 (Marine Exhaust Treatment System) for capturing at-berth vessel emissions without plugging into shore power.

METS-1, which was piloted at the Port of Los Angeles, is one of just two existing CARB-approved alternatives to shore power.

The comprehensive strategy is expected to reduce more than 3,200 tons per year of greenhouse gases and nearly 28 tons annually of diesel particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and other harmful emissions from operations at the port, equal to taking 14,100 cars off the road.

The total cost of the project is $26.6 million. Pasha has committed $11.4 million, in addition to serving as the demonstration site.

The project plans call for phasing in the new infrastructure and technology by the end of 2016, with zero and near-zero emission equipment subject to the same duty cycles of conventional cargo handling equipment. Data collection and analysis to track energy efficiency improvements and cost savings are expected to take place over the next two years.

POLB Approves Port-Wide Labor Agreement

By Mark Edward Nero

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners on May 23 approved a plan to expand the port’s use of locally hired, disadvantaged and veteran workers for more than $700 million in construction projects.

The five-year project labor agreement with the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council covers $717 million in port infrastructure projects including rail improvements, terminal redevelopment and public safety buildings.

Under the pact, at least 40 percent of the work on port construction projects must be done by local residents living in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Fifteen percent must be performed by disadvantaged workers and 10 percent by military veterans.

The agreement also encourages apprenticeship and training programs, and establishes hiring programs such as job fairs near project sites.

“This agreement ensures ample, well-qualified workers on Port projects and is a win-win for our city and region,” Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzm├ín said.

The new PLA builds on the port’s existing labor pacts affecting $1.6 billion in construction projects and resulting in more than 5,300 local jobs during the past five years.

The existing pacts cover the Middle Harbor terminal modernization and Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement projects. Up to 15 percent of those hired for Middle Harbor construction and 26 percent of Gerald Desmond Bridge construction were disadvantaged workers or apprentices with less than 15 percent of the apprenticeship hours required to graduate to journey level.

“It’s good policy to invest in local workers when we’re making these upgrades to enhance our competitiveness in the global market,” Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said.

USCG Seeks Columbia River Analysis Input

By Mark Edward Nero

US Coast Guard officials said May 23 that they’re seeking public comment while conducting a waterways analysis and management system review of the upper Columbia River from Vancouver, Washington, to the Bonneville Pools in the vicinity of Hood River.

Officials are seeking information from local mariners to validate the adequacy of the existing aids to navigation system, gain a better understanding of the uses of the waterway and general safety issues in the area before the comment deadline of Aug. 31.

Information collected from this survey is to be used to see what can be done to enhance safe navigation of the waterway and to anticipate and plan for future budgeting requirements.

The survey is available on the Coast Guard 13th District’s Waterways Analysis Management Study website at

Surveys can be mailed to: Commander, Marine Safety Unit Portland, ATTN: Chief Petty Officer Brian Berryhill, 6767 N. Basin Ave., Portland, Ore. 97217.

Surveys can also be faxed to (503) 240-2586, or they can also be scanned and e-mailed to d13-smb-MSUPortland

For more information about the waterways management process, contact Chief Petty Officer Brian Berryhill at (503) 240-9305 or by email at

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

NASSCO Delivers 2nd APT Tanker

By Mark Edward Nero

On May 19, San Diego-based General Dynamics NASSCO commemorated the delivery of ECO Class tanker Magnolia State to longtime customer American Petroleum Tankers, making it the fifth ship NASSCO shipbuilders have delivered in the past eight months.

It was a week earlier, on May 12, that the Magnolia State returned to the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard following a week of successful tests and trials at sea.

The Magnolia State is the second of a five-tanker contract between NASSCO and APT, which calls for the design and construction of five 50,000 deadweight ton, LNG conversion-ready product carriers with a 330,000 barrel cargo capacity.

The 610-foot-long tankers are equipped with a new “ECO” design, which provides a 33 percent fuel efficiency improvement compared to product tankers built only a few years ago.

The ships were designed by DSEC, a subsidiary of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering of South Korea. The design incorporates improved fuel efficiency concepts through several features, and will also have dual-fuel-capable auxiliary engines and the ability to accommodate future installation of an LNG fuel-gas system.

The construction and operation of the new ECO Class tankers are aligned with the Jones Act, requiring that ships carrying cargo between US ports be built in US shipyards. The Magnolia State, along with others in the ECO Class, are the first in the Jones Act fleet to obtain a PMA-Plus notation from the American Bureau of Shipping, representing compliance with one of the highest standards of human factors in engineering design.

The PMA-Plus notation is created to facilitate safe access to vessel structure and spaces in ways that are rooted in the fundamentals of human ergonomics.

Bulk Carrier Loses Propulsion in SF Bay

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Coast Guard on May 20 helped assist a bulk carrier vessel after the ship experienced a loss of propulsion at 10:20 a.m., about five miles offshore from Daly City, California.

The Singapore-flagged bulk carrier Ultra Lascar lost propulsion while operating offshore inbound for the San Francisco Bay. For a time, the vessel was anchored about three miles offshore from Daly City where it awaited the arrival of two assist tugs, which then met a third tug prior to proceeding to an anchorage in San Francisco Bay.

With the Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Parks Service, and several state and local response agencies monitoring the situation, the carrier was eventually able to make its way from San Francisco to the nearby Port of Stockton on the afternoon of May 22, and was still moored there as of May 23.

The vessel was carrying a cargo of salt, bound for delivery to the Port of Stockton, plus about 161,000 gallons of fuel oil onboard, which is used as fuel for the engine.

The Ultra Lascar, which was built in 2015, has an overall length of 79 meters (259 feet), a beam of 30 meters (98 feet), and a gross tonnage of 22,600.

The cause of the power loss is under investigation.

Comment Period Opens for Seattle Terminal Project

By Mark Edward Nero

The 30-day public comment period opened May 23 for the Northwest Seaport Alliance’s proposed modifications to marine cargo facilities at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5.

The proposed modifications include berth deepening, dock strengthening and power upgrades to handle larger cranes.

“The Northwest Seaport Alliance needs to make Terminal 5 ‘big ship ready’ to remain competitive in today’s global economy,” Alliance co-chair and Port of Tacoma Commission President Connie Bacon said. The Northwest Seaport Alliance is a marine cargo operating partnership of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma governed jointly by the commissions of the two ports.

The Port of Seattle, as lead agency under the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA), is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement on the project.

The environmental review will evaluate potential impacts to earth, air, water, plants, animals, energy and natural resources, environmental health, noise, aesthetics – including light and glare, historic and cultural resources, transportation and public services.

“Modernizing Terminal 5 will allow us to keep good paying middle class jobs in our region,” NWSA co-chair and Port of Seattle Commission President John Creighton said. “We encourage the public to weigh in over the next 30 days with their comments about the proposed improvements.” Public comments on the Draft EIS are being accepted from May 23 to June 21. For tips on commenting, visit the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Citizen’s Guide to SEPA Review and Commenting at: The Draft EIS is available online at three locations:;; and

For more information on the proposed improvements and to comment online, visit Comments can also be emailed to

MarAd Looking to Expedite Mariner Certifications

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Maritime Administration says it’s working with the Coast Guard to certify sea service veterans as credentialed merchant mariners in an attempt to address a personnel shortfall that Maritime Administrator Paul Jaenichen has called a top priority.

This “military to mariner” program is a Coast Guard certification program that takes Coast Guard, Navy and Military Sealift Command veterans with watch-standing experience and helps pave the way for a merchant mariner career. Given their extensive training and at-sea experience, veterans should get credit for the standards and certifications in watchkeeping which the Coast Guard tests you to in order to be able to get your credential,” Jaenichen said May 16 at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space Exposition 2016.

“We’re moving in a direction where we could combine the training that you get in the military so that once you are out as a veteran, if you decide not to stay, you have an opportunity to get a merchant mariner credential and be able to help us on the mariner side,” he said.

This expedited credentialing process would be a boon for MarAd, which says it would be barely able to meet Defense Department surge needs today and may not be able to meet those needs in the near future.

“I would say that the sealift fleet is at a tipping point. The United States’ presence in the maritime domain is currently at the lowest level in our history,” Jaenichen said, noting there are only 79 US-flagged ships participating in international trade – a 25 percent drop from just three years ago.

The decline of the US fleet meant a loss of jobs – 2,300 jobs out of a 12,000-job industry, Jaenichen said.