Friday, June 3, 2016

Ruby Marine Buys Inland Barge Service

By Mark Edward Nero

Alaska-based Inland Barge Service, a small family owned and operated barge service that has been serving the Yukon River since 1994, has been bought out by another Alaska-based service, Ruby Marine, the companies revealed in late May.

The amount of the transaction was not disclosed.

Ruby Marine is expected to continue offering the same freight packaging and shipping services to customers that Inland Barge did. And while the companies have had a freight-sharing arrangement since Ruby Marine was launched in 2007, the financial implications of passing freight to someone else are now removed, according to Ruby Marine.

“There will be more flexibility now. I don’t have to worry about every ounce I am putting on my deck to pay my crew to satisfy my bills,” former Inland Barge owner Charley Hnilicka told Alaska Public Media regarding the sale. “Now everything is being pooled, so it will make it a lot easier to divvy up the freight.”

Inland Barge has already shut down its offices and merged them with those at the Ruby Marine location. Both facilities had been located in the central Alaska town of Nenana.

Kvichak Delivers Response Boat to NYPD

By Mark Edward Nero

Seattle-based Kvichak Marine Industries, a Vigor Industrial subsidiary, has delivered a 45-foot Response Boat - Medium C (RB-M C) to a long-time customer, the New York Police Department’s harbor unit.

The Kvichak RB-M C is the commercial variant of the Response Boat - Medium (RB-M), purpose built for the US Coast Guard. To date, 174 RB-Ms have been delivered to the Coast Guard. The vessel was designed by Kvichak in partnership with Camarc Design for high speed and high performance, including tactical handling and specialized mission capabilities.

The commercial variant offers more crew comfort and amenities than the RB-M but features the same exacting capabilities needed for maritime security.

Kvichak has built six RB-M Cs for three different police departments to date and is in active negotiations for more, at home and abroad, according to Vigor Business Development Manager Art Parker.

Key characteristics of the RB-M C include an overall length of 44 feet, 11 inches; an overall beam of 14 feet, seven inches, a three-foot draft; two Detroit Diesel 60 series engines; twin Disc MG5114SC marine gears; a top speed of 40 knots; and a 495-gallon fuel capacity.

Since its acquisition by Vigor in early 2015, Kvichak has steadily expanded both its production capabilities and its international footprint in high performance vessels.

“One of the most exciting aspects of our merger with Vigor has been joining forces with Oregon Iron Works, now Vigor Works,” said Kvichak co-founder Keith Whittemore, who is now Vigor’s executive vice president of business development. “Their Combatant Craft Medium (CCM) and Sealion I and II for the US Navy have earned great respect around the world.”

“Bringing our two highly specialized teams of designers, engineers and builders together has opened up a world of possibility, particularly in foreign military sales,” he said.

This is the fourth response boat delivered to the NYPD by Kvichak. The first three vessels were delivered in April 2010, August 2012 and April 2013, respectively.

SAFE Boats Delivers 2000th Craft

By Mark Edward Nero

Bremerton, Washington-based aluminum boats manufacturer SAFE Boats International has completed the first Coastal Interceptor Vessel (CIV) on contract from US Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations division.

A ceremony was held at SAFE Boats facilities on May 26 to name the vessel the Alexandria, as well as celebrate the vessel as SBI’s 2000th delivered craft. Attendees included Customs officials, Congressional staff members, local government officials and business people, and equipment suppliers.

The CIV is a 41-foot rugged, highly maneuverable vessel, capable of high-speed interceptions in close proximity to other vessels as well as open ocean speeds at well over 54 knots. It can be configured for a number of mission operations including pursuing suspect vessels for the purpose of boarding, searching, and when necessary, arresting violators and seizing the suspect vessel and contraband.

The vessel is a variant of the SAFE 41 Interceptor, a design currently in service with the Royal Bahamian Police, Royal Gibraltar Defense Forces, Colombian Navy and a number of private owners.

Following the acceptance of this first vessel, Air and Marine Operations said it intends to acquire up to 52 of the new CIVs to meet emerging Department of Homeland Security mission requirements. The contract, should all options be executed, is valued at over $48 million.

“SAFE Boats is honored to be delivering our milestone 2000th hull as the first Coastal Interceptor Vessel to US Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations,” company President and CEO Dennis Morris said in a statement. “This is the next phase in a longstanding relationship we have with CBP dating back to 2002, and we are optimistic that other international defense agencies will be interested in the vessel for similar mission requirements.”

NASSCO Wins $106 Million Navy Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

San Diego-based General Dynamics NASSCO has been awarded a $106 million contract by the US Navy for material and engineering support for the Expeditionary Mobile Base 5 (ESB-5), formerly known as the Mobile Landing Platform Afloat Forward Staging Base program.

The mobile base is a type of amphibious assault ship that serves as a floating base for amphibious operations and operates as a transfer point between large ships and small landing craft. The bases, which are designed to serve as a flexible platform, are a key element in the Navy’s airborne mine countermeasures mission. Each has accommodations for up to 250 personnel and a large helicopter flight deck.

In 2011, the Navy awarded NASSCO with a contract to design and build the first two ships in the newly created Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) program, the USNS Montford Point and USNS John Glenn. In 2012, the program expanded to a third MLP, reconfigured as an Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB), the USNS Lewis B. Puller. With the first three ships delivered, NASSCO is currently constructing the fourth ship in the program, the USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams.

NASSCO says its procurement of long lead-time materials is expected to be completed by March 2017.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Oakland Terminal Making Appointments Mandatory

By Mark Edward Nero

Oakland International Container Terminal announced May 27 that beginning June 6, it is making appointments mandatory for most containerized import pick-ups, meaning harbor truckers usually won’t be able to drive loaded boxes off without a reservation.

The terminal said its goal is to shorten lines at terminal gates while speeding up cargo delivery to customers. “We applaud this move,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “This is the largest marine terminal in Oakland and they’re taking all possible steps to improve trade flow.”

The terminal said it will require appointments for drivers picking up containers from import delivery lanes, which are rows of containers discharged from ships and stacked to await collection. The boxes are lifted from stacks and loaded on trucks by rubber-tired gantry cranes. The process is the most time consuming at ocean shipping terminals.

Mandatory import reservations will be an extension of the terminal’s existing appointment system, OICT said. Appointments to enter terminal gates are already available.

OICT said appointments will eliminate long lines of drivers waiting for imports on a first-come, first-serve basis. The terminal handles 67 percent of the containerized cargo shipped through Oakland. It releases about 1,000 import loads daily.

The terminal said it won’t require appointments for other transactions such as empty container return. Appointments also won’t be required for three unique types of import pick-ups:

• Peel-offs, which enable drivers to take the first container from a stack of imports all intended for the same customer;

• Dray-offs, which are imports transported to a nearby facility and available for pick-up around the clock, and;

• Pre-mounted loads, which are import containers affixed to chassis and ready for immediate hauling over the road.

Appointments are the most recent effort to improve cargo flow at the Port of Oakland. Two months ago, OICT began operating night and Saturday gates, and since then has added staff, purchased additional cargo-handling equipment and opened a new yard exclusively for empty containers.

Vancouver Shipyards Lands Science Vessels Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards has signed a $35 million contract with the Canadian division of global technology company Thales regarding the electronic systems for the construction of three Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard, Seaspan and Thales both announced May 26.

Thales in Canada is responsible for the selection, procurement and integration of the electronic systems and equipment on the vessels being constructed, including radar, communications, bridge and mission systems.

“Seaspan is full-steam ahead on the production and delivery of its first two National Shipbuilding Strategy Non-Combat vessels, and we are pleased and excited to partner with Thales’ world-class team of experts,” Seaspan Shipyards President Brian Carter said in a statement.

Seaspan on March 29 announced the start of production on the second of the three OFSVs. According to Thales, progress continues on the first OFSV with 37 of 37 blocks currently under construction. Thales has been under contract for the initial phases of the OFSV project since 2013, and is also under contract with Seaspan for initial phases of the Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel (OOSV) for the CCG and the Joint Support Ships (JSS) for the Royal Canadian Navy.

The three Canadian Coast Guard science vessels are scheduled to be delivered before the end of 2017.

NASSCO Hosts Tanker Keel Laying Ceremony

By Mark Edward Nero

On May 26, San Diego-based General Dynamics NASSCO hosted a keel laying ceremony for the Liberty, which is the second of three ECO Class tankers due under a construction contract with Florida-based vessel operator SEA-Vista LLC.

The Liberty is a 610-foot, 50,000 deadweight-ton, LNG-conversion-ready product tanker with a 330,000-barrel cargo capacity. During the ceremony, three representatives of SEA-Vista – Tom Denning, Ed Hoffman, and Tom Sofyanos – all welded their initials into the keel of the ship.

SEA-Vista is a partnership between SEACOR Holdings and Avista Capital Partners. Once delivered, the tanker will be operated by Florida-based Seabulk Tankers.

The new ECO Class design symbolizes the emerging direction of the shipping industry in the US toward cleaner, more fuel-efficient modes of transporting product.

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. Construction on the Liberty began in October 2015. In April, NASSCO delivered the first of the three SEA-Vista vessels, Independence, which like the Liberty, is a 610-foot, 50,000-deadweight-ton, LNG-conversion-ready product tanker with a 330,000-barrel capacity. Construction of the vessel began in November 2014.

Seattle Port Bringing Aboard Dozens of Interns

By Mark Edward Nero

Ninety high school students will have a chance to get a jump start on their careers this summer as part of the Port of Seattle’s high school internship program. Seventy teens will work at port facilities, while another 20 will work with private manufacturing and maritime-related employers on or near the docks.

“Internships can pave the way for a young person’s career path,” said Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-Renton). “We want to encourage them to get experience in the maritime and manufacturing sector.”

The port is asking local businesses to contribute by hiring the 20 interns for the summer. Students from the Career-Technical Education programs at Seattle’s Rainier Beach and Cleveland High Schools will be recruited.

“We’ve heard a lot about the shrinking middle class, so the port is stepping up our efforts to support family-wage jobs and to make sure there is a pipeline of trained workers for these kinds of high-demand, high-skill jobs,” port Commissioner Tom Albro explained.

The port is working with the City of Seattle’s Youth Employment Initiative to fill almost half of the available internships. A dozen of those interns will be taught how to design and build SharePoint solutions to solve business problems, according to the port.

Also among the opportunities being offered to the student interns are jobs within the Seattle’s Marine Maintenance Department.