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Friday, June 17, 2016

POLA Has Busiest May in its History

By Mark Edward Nero

Overall cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles increased nearly 11 percent in May compared to the same period last year, marking the busiest May in the Port’s 109-year history, the port revealed June 15.

Total volumes registered at more than 770,00 TEUs, with container growth of 8.7 percent for the first five months of 2016 compared to last year.

May loaded imports increased 15 percent to 400,765 TEUs, and loaded exports rose 6.3 percent to 162,487 TEUs. Along with a 7.1 percent rise in empty containers, overall May container volumes were 770,409 TEUs.

Through May, total 2016 cargo volumes are 3,457,569 TEUs, an increase of 8.7 percent compared to the same five-month period in 2015.

For fiscal year 2016, which began last July, the Port of Los Angeles has seen a 3.28 percent rise in container traffic compared to the same 11-month period in FY 2015, according to port data. Port terminals saw 7.71 million containers during the past 11 months, compared with 7.46 million in FY 2015.

“The strong growth both on the import and export side is encouraging as we continue to explore ways to improve supply chain efficiencies,” port Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a prepared statement. “The unwavering efforts of our supply chain partners, including organized labor, has had a significant impact on our success.”

Current and past data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles is available at http://www.portoflosangeles.org/maritime/stats.asp

Port Angeles Interviewing Executive Director Finalists

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Port Angeles Board of Commissioners is currently interviewing four high-profile applicants for the position of executive director. The candidates are in Port Angeles for two days of interviews on June 16 and 17.

The four finalists for the position are:
Karen Goschen, who has been the interim executive director at the port since the start of the year; James Kuntz, the former executive director of Port of Walla Walla; Robert Uptagrafft, CEO and executive director of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Association; and David Walter, who’s a partner in Kingsway Consulting and a former DuPont Corp. executive.

The four are vying to replace Ken O’Halloren, who retired from the job in December 2015. He was hired permanently for the role in March of 2014, after being the interim executive director since October 2013. Prior to that, spent near a quarter of a century as CEO of the Port of Longview.

The Port Angeles port commission is expected to meet in executive session for candidate interviews on June 17.

On June 16, the Port Commission held public interviews from noon to 5 PM at the port’s public meeting room, during which the public was able to submit questions for the candidates. A 90-minute public reception for the candidates followed the interviews in the Olympic Board Room at the Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles.

POLB Monthly Cargo Volumes Flat

By Mark Edward Nero

Container cargo numbers improved slightly at the Port of Long Beach in May, rising 0.8 percent compared to the same month last year when the docks were still busily catching up after several months of congestion, the port revealed June 14.

But even with a less than one percent gain, Long Beach’s cargo volumes hovered near all-time peak levels, and May’s 640,566 TEUs qualified the month as the second-busiest May in the Port’s 105-year history.

Imports were up one percent to 330,639 TEUs last month, exports were up two percent to 138,594 TEUs, and empties were flat at 171,333 TEUs, off just 0.4 percent compared to the same month last year, according to port data.

The year-to-date total is down 1.5 percent compared to the first five months of 2015.

The port has said its numbers are in line with trends observed by the National Retail Federation, which reports that inventories remain high for US stores and warehouses, muting demand for oceangoing trade.

The NRF has noted that year-over-year comparisons to 2015 are difficult to make, given the unusual patterns last year when the industry ramped up activity following the congestion at the start of that year.

For the fiscal year to date, POLB terminals have moved 4.51 million TEUs, a 1.4 percent bump over the 4.45 millions TEUs during FY 2015. The port’s fiscal year begins each October.

The latest monthly cargo volumes and more details on the cargo numbers are available at www.polb.com/stats

Seaspan CEO Named Vancouver Exec of Year

By Mark Edward Nero

Marine services company Seaspan announced June 13 that Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Whitworth has been named 2016 British Columbia CEO of the Year by news publication Business in Vancouver.

Each year Business in Vancouver and its partners seek nominations for British Columbia’s most outstanding business people in private and public sector companies to honor them for their achievements.

Seaspan’s Whitworth has been named the winner of this year’s Enterprise Category, the largest of all the awards. The category is open to companies with annual revenues of $500 million and above.

Upon arriving with Seaspan in 2009, Whitworth has helped transform the 130-year old company by modernizing its fleet and facilities, maturing its operations to meet international standards, and investing in technology to drive efficiency.

In addition, the Government of Canada formed a partnership with Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards in October 2011 to build non-combat vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy.
Vancouver Shipyards is expected to build up to 17 vessels, worth $7.3 billion Canadian, over the next 10 to 15 years.

“Thanks to his past history as an officer in the Merchant Marine, Jonathan is one of few vessel owners/shipyard leaders in North America who has sailed at sea and commanded a vessel,” Seaspan Chairman Kyle Washington said. “His unique experience, combined with a highly strategic approach and passion for the industry has enabled him to focus on the tactical steps to safely and efficiently run a multi-dimensional company such as Seaspan.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

BC Ferries Christens 2 New Vessels

By Mark Edward Nero

BC Ferries, the Province of British Columbia’s service provider responsible for ferry service, held an official naming ceremony recently for two vessels at Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A. in Gdansk, Poland.

The Salish Eagle and Salish Raven were both christened on June 3, and will be fuelled by natural gas.

Using natural gas for the vessels is expected to result in the reduction of an estimated 9,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, the same as taking about 1,900 passenger vehicles off the road annually. Also, since natural gas is cheaper than marine diesel, operating costs are expected to be reduced.

The 107-meter (351-foot) ferries can carry 145 vehicles and up to 600 passengers and crew. There are two car decks and each ferry has a service speed of 15.5 knots. The service life of each vessel is about 40 years.

The first of three under-construction vessels, the Salish Orca, is planned to arrive in B.C. by the end of this year. The Salish Eagle is expected to arrive early in 2017, while the Salish Raven is expected in the spring of 2017. All three ferries are planned to be in operation in the summer of 2017, with the Salish Orca sailing the Comox–Powell River route, and the Salish Eagle and Salish Raven providing service to the Southern Gulf Islands.

The vessel sponsor for the Salish Eagle is Michelle Letourneau, currently a Master on the routes serving the Southern Gulf Islands. The sponsor for the Salish Raven is Jodi Gaudet, Chief Engineer on the M/V Quinsam, which operates on the Nanaimo-Gabriola Island route. Both women have worked in the marine industry for the past 20 years.

“This ceremony marks a major milestone in the construction of our three new Salish- Class vessels as they each take another step closer to entering our fleet,” BC Ferries President and CEO Mike Corrigan said. “These vessels, named after the Coast Salish people and the Salish Sea, represent British Columbia’s rich coastal culture and heritage, and will serve coastal communities for many years to come.”

COSCO Vessel to Make Panama History

By Mark Edward Nero

On June 11, the container vessel COSCO Shipping Panama set sail from the Greek Port of Piraeus on its way to Panama to make history. The Neopanamax vessel is to make the inaugural transit of the expanded Panama Canal on June 26 after a 14-day journey.

COSCO Shipping Panama, a new containership that was launched in January, is 984 feet (300 meters) in length and 157 feet (48.25 meters) in beam, and has a container carrying capacity of 9,472 TEUs.

Originally to be named Andronikos, the vessel was renamed by China’s COSCO Shipping to pay respect to the people of Panama and for the honor of the inaugural transit. The ship was selected during a draw for the inaugural transit through the expanded waterway.

The vessel happens to have been built by Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries, the same company that constructed the valves that control the flow of water through the new locks of the Canal.

Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano met with COSCO Shipping Panama’s Captain Jude Rodrigues and crewmembers prior to the ship’s departure.

“I had transited the Panama Canal many times before and it has been a great experience, but being the master of the first vessel to transit the expanded Canal is an experience of a century,” Rodrigues said. “The Panama Canal Expansion is a major event on itself and a milestone in global history.”

During the inauguration, COSCO Shipping Panama will transit Agua Clara Locks on the Atlantic side during the early morning and Cocoli Locks in the afternoon. The regular schedule of transits through the Expanded Canal will follow the next day, June 27.

“Over a hundred years ago, the SS Ancon made history as the first vessel to transit the Panama Canal,” Administrator Quijano said. “In a few weeks, COSCO Shipping Panama, the Panama Canal, and the people of Panama will change the face of global shipping and international commerce.”

The Panama Canal Expansion Program is the largest construction project undertaken in the waterway since its opening in 1914. Construction to double the waterway’s cargo capacity began in 2007.

Foss Expands Portland Terminal Services

By Mark Edward Nero

Foss Maritime has expanded services offered at its Portland terminal and dispatch center, which is now called the Foss Maritime Center. The new services include a 24-hour call center with fleet monitoring and weather service capabilities.

The Foss Maritime Center opened June 1 to support Foss’ international fleet of tugs and marine assets, as well as the maritime fleets of sister companies TOTE and Tropical Shipping.

The expansion, which is the result of a collaboration of Saltchuk companies served by the maritime center, included a renovation of Foss’ Portland offices located on the shores of the Columbia River, and the addition of staff trained to improve safety and situational awareness of global maritime fleets.

While vessel masters remain the final authority on all operational decisions, Maritime Center staff are specially trained to use multiple information sources to keep mariners and those who support them ahead of potential hazards, provide actionable information to support decision making, and be a first point of contact for mariners when they initiate shoreside contact.

Features of the Foss Maritime Center include:
  • A 24/7 watchstander call center staffed by professional mariners. The call center will have the ability to immediately see a vessel’s location, it’s route and the prevailing weather conditions.
  • Fleet monitoring to collect information through automated situational alerting and Watch Stander observation.
  • Weather monitoring via enhanced weather tools for information, monitoring and rerouting support.

“The Foss Maritime Center allows us to standardize and enhance support for the Saltchuk family of companies,” Foss Maritime President & CEO Paul Stevens said. “We’re taking state of the art technology and pairing it with our own experienced and dedicated staff.”

POLA Adopts Billion Dollar Budget

By Mark Edward Nero

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners has approved a $1.17 billion fiscal year 2016-17 annual budget for the Port of Los Angeles, a 5.7 percent increase over the current budget.

The port says the newly approved budget’s projected gains are largely due to anticipated growth in cargo volumes and related shipping service revenues. Cargo volumes have been on the upswing since service levels returned to normal during the first half of 2015, following a period of congestion coinciding with labor contract negotiations. Implementation of a chassis pool program by the port’s three major chassis providers and supply chain optimization efforts also have showed positive results in terms of cargo velocity.

The port has said this is expected to continue in FY 2016-17, with cargo volumes projected to grow by 1.9 percent over the prior year budget to about 8.5 million TEUs annually.

The budget also includes operating expenses of $249 million, a 3.6 percent increase over the previous year, driven primarily by increases in salaries and benefits and a reduction in capitalized expenditures; and $452.8 million in operating receipts, a mechanism for funding day-to-day port operations.

The port’s 2016-17 $146.1 million capital improvement plan anticipates a 24 percent decrease relative to the prior year budget. Completed projects in FY 2015-16 included the TraPac Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, TraPac terminal buildings and main gate, the John S. Gibson Intersection/Northbound Interstate-110 ramp access improvements, as well as Interstate-110/State Route 47 connector improvements.

Key terminal projects budgeted to continue in FY 2016-17 include TraPac backland improvements, Yusen Terminals, berth redevelopment, electrical infrastructure at the World Cruise Center, wharf rehabilitation at the WWL Vehicle Services terminal and wharf improvements at the port’s liquid bulk terminals.