Friday, June 10, 2016

Foss Christens 2nd Arctic Ocean Tug

By Mark Edward Nero

The second of three state-of-the-art Arctic Class tugs, the Denise Foss, was christened at the Foss Waterway Seaport in Tacoma on June 1.

The vessel, which was built at Foss’ Rainier, Oregon shipyard, is designed to operate in the extreme conditions of the far north. It’s expected to enter service this summer.

The Denise Foss is ice class D0, meaning the hulls are designed specifically for polar waters and are reinforced to maneuver in ice. She also has: a Caterpillar C280-8 main engine, which complies with the highest federal environmental standards; a Nautican propulsion system; and Reintjes reduction gears. Markey Machinery supplied the tow winch.

The tug has a bollard pull of 221,000 pounds and also incorporates several environmentally-focused designs and structural and technological upgrades, including:
  • Elimination of ballast tanks, so there is no chance of transporting invasive species;
  • Holding tanks for black and gray water to permit operations in no-discharge zones, such as parts of Alaska and California;
  • Hydraulic oil systems compatible with biodegradable oil;
  • Energy efficient LED lighting; and
  • High-energy absorption Schuyler fendering.

In his opening remarks during the ceremony, Foss COO John Parrott applauded the hard work and dedication of the people, designers and customers that made this project possible.

“The christening ceremony is our way of honoring our history,” Parrott said. “The boat sitting behind me represents our future.”

He also introduced Denise Tabbutt, the vessel's namesake and one of the three sisters who are primary shareholders of Saltchuk, Foss Maritime’s parent company.

Tabbutt both spoke at the event and also broke the ceremonial bottle of champagne across the tug’s hull.

“In order to stay relevant in a fast and ever changing world, it's important we remain committed to our shared values and continue looking for opportunities to better serve our customers,” Tabbutt said. “The Arctic Class tugs are the perfect example of this commitment.”

POLB Dedicates Advanced Fireboat

By Mark Edward Nero

A new fireboat was officially welcomed into service at the Port of Long Beach on June 8, representing what the port calls “a significant leap forward” in protecting its harbor and flow of trade.
In a dockside ceremony attended by roughly 100 invited guests, the fireboat Protector was dedicated in memory of Donald Domenic DiMarzo, a former Long Beach Fire Department captain.

DiMarzo served as a fire marshal aboard the USS Intrepid in the Pacific during World War II and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service for leading efforts to save the aircraft carrier after an attack that set it ablaze on Nov. 25, 1944.

Protector, built by Foss Shipyard in Seattle, is equipped with 10 water cannons capable of extinguishing fires in the harbor or on nearby land with more than 41,000 gallons per minute — four times the output of the existing fireboats. The boat can also shoot water the length of two football fields, and higher than a 20-story building, meaning firefighters can throw water or foam anywhere aboard the world’s largest container ships and oil tankers.

Protector and a second, still-under-construction boat, Vigilance, are replacing the port’s fireboats Challenger and Liberty, which began service in the late 1980s and were designed in an era where vessels carried 4,500 containers. The largest vessels calling in Long Beach now have a capacity of 18,000 containers, with even larger ships expected in the future.

The construction cost is $51.6 million for the two boats, including $18.5 million in grant funding from Homeland Security's Port Security Grant Program.

“These new fireboats are specifically designed for the big ship era,” Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said in a statement. “They’re amazing, state-of-the art machines built to protect the ships of today and tomorrow.”
The new, multi-mission fireboats can also assist with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. Other features include facilities for medical treatment, a command information center, boom deployment to contain spills and an onboard crane.

Protector is a major improvement in our emergency response capabilities, helping us to safeguard both the Port and our community,” Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzm├ín said.

In addition to the port and city fire department, the fireboat project team and partners include Foss Maritime Co., Jensen Maritime Consultants, Robert Allan Ltd., the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

Truck Replacement Program Scraps 200th Rig

By Mark Edward Nero

A Puget Sound incentive program that helps drayage truck owners purchase newer, lower-emission trucks to improve regional air quality recently replaced its 200th truck, the program announced June 6.

The Seaport Truck Scrappage and Replacements for Air in Puget Sound 2 (ScRAPS 2) is a joint program of the Northwest Seaport Alliance and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to reduce diesel particulate emissions in the region.

ScRAPS 2 encourages owners to replace trucks with engines manufactured between 1994 and 2006 with newer models built to meet updated US Environmental Protection Agency standards.

The program reimburses eligible truck owners for part of the cost of a new truck and demolishes and recycles the older model at local vehicle recycling facilities. Truck owners who buy a truck with a model year 2010 engine or newer receive as much as $27,000 in return; a truck with a model year 2007 to 2009 engine yields up to $20,000.

Launched in May 2014, the program was expanded earlier this month to make it easier to qualify for trucks primarily serving the NWSA’s South Harbor. Now 200 trips to either the North or South harbor qualifies truck owners for the incentive program.

The program supports the Seaport Alliance’s Clean Truck Program target for all port-bound trucks to have model year 2007 or newer engines by Jan. 1, 2018. Trucks with engines built after 2007 emit 10 times less particulate pollution than older ones.

The Seaport Alliance and Clean Air Agency estimate that taking 200 older trucks off Puget Sound roads could result in an annual reduction of nine tons of diesel particulates and 114 tons of oxides of nitrogen.

The program, which says it has enough money to replace an additional 125 trucks, is funded by a handful of federal agencies as well as the Washington State Department of Ecology and the Northwest Seaport Alliance, which is comprised of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.
About 2,500 trucks visit Seattle and Tacoma marine terminals each day.

Oakland Experiencing Export Resurgence

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Oakland said June 9 that it is experiencing a containerized export rally.

The port reports that export volume increased 5.1 percent in May over the same period a year ago, making it the fifth-straight month of export gains in Oakland, and the highest volume in 17 months.

Port data indicates that Oakland shipped the equivalent of 83,969 loaded 20-foot export containers last month, the most since October 2014 when it shipped 86,065 TEUs. A slightly weaker dollar overseas has contributed to the export rally, the port said. As the dollar’s value declines, US goods become more affordable in other countries.

“Export cargo is critical to our success,” Maritime Director John Driscoll said, “so naturally we’re encouraged by what we’ve seen so far in 2016.”

Oakland cargo volume traditionally has been weighted more toward exports than imports. Exports accounted for 52 percent of Oakland’s loaded container volume through the first five months of 2016, the port reported.

Year-to-date, Oakland export volume has increased 13.6 percent over 2015. Import volume is also up, increasing 12.3 percent so far this year, according to data. May imports increased three percent from the same month last year.

The port’s total container volume is up 8.4 percent so far in 2016, with total volume including loaded import and export containers as well as empty containers.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Cruise Ship Crashes Into Dock

By Mark Edward Nero

The cruise ship Celebrity Infinity allided with the no. 3 berth at the cruise ship dock in Ketchikan, Alaska on the afternoon of June 3, according to the US Coast Guard, which is investigating the incident.

No injuries to passengers or crewmembers were reported, but the ship sustained minor damage, including a several-foot gash in the hull. The berth also sustained minor damage, including to at least two of its three mooring dolphins.

The damage to the Celebrity Cruises vessel was welded the same day and the ship was allowed to leave for its final destination, Vancouver, British Columbia.

“The Coast Guard is grateful no one was injured as a result of this accident,” Lt. Dianna Robinson, the command duty officer at Coast Guard Sector Juneau, said in a statement. “Our personnel are working to determine the cause of this accident and will work with local partners to ensure the continued safety of those using the cruise ship docks.”

The ship’s pilot notified watch standers at the Sector Juneau command center after the accident, which occurred between 2 and 2:30 pm.

The Celebrity Infinity, which was inaugurated in March 2001, is a 91,000-ton cruise ship with a length of 965 feet and a beam of 105 feet. It has a occupancy capacity of 2,170 people.

Weather on scene was reported to be gusting at 45-miles per hour and the weather may have played a part in the accident. An investigation into the incident is ongoing, according to Coast Guard spokesman Shawn Eggert.

A two-minute video of the allision that was recorded by an eyewitness can be seen at

Oakland Makes Night Gates Permanent

By Mark Edward Nero

After a successful trial run, the Port of Oakland’s busiest marine terminal says that night gate hours are here to stay.

Oakland International Container Terminal announced June 6 that it will continue night operations even after a port subsidy expires this month. What’s more, OICT said it would offer full – not partial – operations at night.

The decision means that thousands of harbor truckers can continue moving Oakland cargo outside busier daytime hours. The terminal plans to open night gates to harbor drivers Monday through Thursday.

With full operations, they’ll be able to drive off loaded import containers at night for the first time. Import pick-ups, the most time-consuming and labor-intensive terminal activity, had been restricted to dayside operations.

Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said that thousands of cargo transactions have migrated to nighttime thanks to Oakland International Container Terminal.

“It’s imperative that we continue with extended hours to expand the workday and improve cargo flow,” Driscoll said.

OICT introduced night gates two months ago, aided by a $1.5 million Port of Oakland subsidy program. Once the subsidy ends, the terminal says, it will weigh a $30 flat-fee on all loaded import and export containers.

The fee would finance the costs of night operations – principally for additional labor, the terminal said, with the amount remaining constant regardless of container size. It will be levied on both day and night container moves.

The terminal has promised to review the night-gate program – including fees – after 90 days.
“No one likes fees,” Driscoll said. “But we think there’s tremendous value in easing daytime crowding and in offering full service at night when drivers can get in and out of port quickly.”

Expanded night operations could lead motor carriers to eliminate surcharges assessed for waiting at terminals, according to the port. Those fees are levied on cargo owners but could become outmoded if night gates continue to speed up operations.

Seattle Icebreaker Heads to Alaska for Summer

By Mark Edward Nero

On June 7, the crew of Coast Guard cutter Healy departed its homeport at the US Coast Guard base on the downtown Seattle waterfront for a four-month deployment to the Arctic Ocean to carry out scientific research.

The Healy crew is set to conduct three missions focusing on the biology, chemistry, geology and physics of the Arctic Ocean and its ecosystems, as well as perform multi-beam sonar mapping of the Extended Continental Shelf.

For the first mission, the crew will work with 46 researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and University of Alaska-Anchorage to assess the biological diversity of the Chukchi Sea.

The team of scientists will use what the Coast Guard says is cutting-edge technology to identify and document the species living in the inadequately understood region.

The crew will also deploy an array of acoustic bottom moorings in support of researchers from Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the Office of Naval Research. The moorings will collect data on how climate change and decreased ice coverage is affecting the Arctic Ocean.

In the third mission, researchers from the University of New Hampshire will use multi-beam sonar mapping and bottom dredging in the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean to further support the demarcation of the Extended Continental Shelf.

This is the 10th ECS cruise for Healy. The vessel, built in 1999, is the nation’s largest high-latitude icebreaker at 420 feet long. It has a permanent crew of 87 and is capable of other operations such as search and rescue, ship escort, environmental protection and the enforcement of laws and treaties in the polar regions.

Seattle Names Environment, Sustainability Director

By Mark Edward Nero

After an extensive national search, the Port of Seattle has promoted longtime employee Elizabeth Leavitt to lead its work protecting and enhancing the environment, the port announced June 3.
The Senior Director for Environment and Sustainability is a newly created position leading a center of expertise that consolidates environmental, sustainability and planning functions.

Among the job’s responsibilities: the management of the port’s Environment and Sustainability department; management of the port’s vision for environmental efforts and sustainable operations including emissions reductions and estuary and soil remediation.

As the appointee to the position, Leavitt will report to the port’s Chief Operating Officer and will serve on the CEO’s executive leadership team.

Leavitt has worked for the port for more than 26 years, initially as a senior environmental program manager and, for the past seven years, as the director of aviation planning and environmental programs.

During her tenure, she has worked on projects at virtually all Port properties and facilities, from Shilshole Bay Marina to Sea-Tac Airport.

“It is impressive that, within the large candidate pool, the port’s own staff provided excellent people who rose to the top,” port COO Dave Soike said in a statement announcing Leavitt’s promotion.
Leavitt holds a bachelor’s degree in wildlife resource management from West Virginia University and is past chair of the Airport Council – International World Environment Standing Committee.