Friday, July 8, 2016

Holland America Wins Seafarer of Year Award

By Mark Edward Nero

The captain and crew of Holland America Line’s Seattle-based cruise ship ms Veendam were named “Seafarer of the Year” at the 2016 Lloyd’s List North American Maritime Awards for the rescue of a pilot who ejected from his aircraft in the Pacific Ocean, Holland America said July 5.

The “Seafarer of the Year” award recognizes the skills, bravery and professionalism that seafarers demonstrate daily. On Jan. 25, 2015, Veendam rescued a pilot 225 miles off the coast of Maui, Hawaii, who had to ditch his single-engine aircraft after running out of fuel.

The plane had a parachute system and the pilot was able to safely escape into a life-raft where he was retrieved by Veendam.

Holland America Line received the award at a ceremony in New York. Lloyd’s List called Veendam’s award one of the “stand-out moments of the gala dinner.”

“Whenever the crew of a vessel are actively involved in a rescue it shows the capabilities and the humanity of the profession,” said Sander Wielemaker, an area manager for award sponsor DNV GL, an international certification body and classification society. “The master and crew, through coordination with the authorities, were able to save the life of the individual and no doubt add a moment of out-of-the-ordinary excitement for the passengers of the cruise ship.”

“To be honored for saving a life is both humbling and rewarding,” Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford said.

Holland America Line has said it participates in rescues at sea whenever called upon. Also in 2015, ms Zuiderdam rescued eight crewmembers from a sinking vessel in the Caribbean, while ms Zaandam came to the aid of seven stranded crewmembers at the Arctowski Polish research station at King George Island in Antarctica.

Also during the awards, Crowley Maritime was named ocean-going ship operator of the year, and the Alaska Prevention & Response Network received the “Safer, Cleaner Seas Award.”

The full list of awardees can be seen at

Vigor Delivers Tug to Harley Marine

By Mark Edward Nero

Vigor Marine’s Seattle shipyard recently delivered the Dale R. Lindsey, a 95-foot by 38-foot by 16-foot, 3,000 horsepower ATB Twin Screw Tug to Seattle-based Harley Marine Services.

This is the eleventh vessel built by Vigor for Harley Marine, a long-time customer. Two 83,000 bbl., double-hull ATB tank barges, Fight ALS and Fight Fanconi Anemia, were recently completed at the Portland, Oregon shipyard.

“Repeat business is one of the best compliments a builder can receive,” Vigor Executive VP of Business Development Keith Whittemore said in a statement. “Even better is when the confidence of our customers extends into new areas. Vigor has worked hard to expand its capabilities and has steadily grown from a barge builder to a construction portfolio that includes ferries in Seattle, Alaska and San Francisco, fishing vessels, fireboats, tugs, high performance crafts and now an ATB tug.”

Designed by Elliot Bay Design Group for primary operation in Alaska, the ATB tug utilizes an Articouple FRM-43M coupler system to pair with the 20,000-barrel oil barge, Petro Mariner. It features a raised aluminum pilothouse for optimal visibility built by Kvichak Marine.

“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Vigor, built on their ability to consistently deliver a quality product to serve the needs of our customers,” Harley Marine’s Harley Franco said. “Their knowledge of the unique construction needs of vessels operating in the demanding Alaskan environment will be an added benefit in helping us maintain our unswerving commitment to both safety and the environment in the communities we serve.”

Oakland Opens Near-Dock Rail Facility

By Mark Edward Nero

On July 7, the Port of Oakland welcomed the first train to use a new, $100 million near-dock rail facility located in the port’s Outer Harbor Intermodal Terminal area, the site of a former US Army base.

The new tracks were designed as part of a strategy to enhance the port’s intermodal capabilities: the port has said it wants to attract more discretionary cargo, which isn’t local to the region and can be shipped through any number of seaports in the United States, Canada or Mexico.

The new tracks are part of a phased rail expansion. They consist of five manifest yard tracks and eight support yard tracks. Manifest yards are used for receiving rail cars that come from Class I railroads. Support yards are used for short-term storage. There are a total 39,000 linear feet of track. Warehouses and distribution centers are also envisioned on the former Army base.

The cargo on the inaugural train was originally destined for Canadian seaports. The 100-car locomotive carries agricultural products from Archer Daniels Midland Co. from the Midwestern United States and headed to Asia. The cargo is to be transferred from rail cars directly into containers by port tenant Capital River Group and delivered to the terminals for export.

The Port of Oakland says it has seen a growing market for agricultural products, especially from California’s Central and Salinas Valleys and the Midwest.

“The port envisioned a rail yard that would bring cargo through Oakland,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “This was made possible by maritime business partners such as Union Pacific Railroad and government funding partners.”

The rail yard was built using California state Trade Corridor Improvement Funds (TCIF) and federal transportation grants.

Alyeska Pipeline Service Chooses Tanker Escort Company

By Mark Edward Nero

Anchorage-based Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. has chosen maritime services company Edison Chouest Offshore to provide marine tanker escort and spill prevention and response support in Prince William Sound.

Edison Chouest Offshore, which is based in Louisiana but has a strong Alaska presence, takes over duties that were previously handled by Crowley Marine Services.

“We are honored to be the successful bidder, and appreciate the great responsibility,” ECO Alaska Senior Vice President and General Manager Rick Fox said.

Alyeska cited ECO’s safety record, in-depth experience and technical capability, management systems and equipment options as important considerations in its decision to issue the new contract.

“The scope of Alyeska’s SERVS contract matched both our capabilities and our desire to expand our work in Alaska. It’s a perfect fit for us,” Fox said.

ECO is a family-owned company founded in 1960. It operates a fleet of more than 200 vessels, ranging from 87 to over 360 feet in length.

The new contract, which includes the Valdez Narrows through Hinchinbrook Entrance, calls for a transition plan of about 24 months.

“Our commitment is to build the most experienced vessel operations team and shoreside operations and management personnel possible to fully protect Alaska,” Fox said. “We are also committed to hiring more Alaskans and to implement an aggressive Alaska Native hire and development program in Alaska and especially in and around Prince William Sound.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Rock Band Helps Dedicate Research Vessel

By Mark Edward Nero

Members of the iconic Seattle band Soundgarden joined King County, Washington executive Dow Constantine on June 29 to launch SoundGuardian, the county’s new environmental research vessel.

The new 48-foot vessel, which was built by local shipbuilder Kvichak Marine Industries, was named via a public contest. It replaces Liberty, an outdated vessel that has been in service since 1977.

SoundGuardian is to be used by field scientists at the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks to collect samples in Puget Sound, Lake Washington and the Duwamish River, as well as respond to environmental emergencies like illegal spills and dumping, toxic algae blooms, fish kills and beach erosion.

“We’re providing King County scientists with the equipment they need to monitor the quality of our water, quickly respond to emergencies, and study the effects of climate change,” said Constantine. “The work our researchers do in the field and on the water is critical to our quality of life, so it’s important that they have the right tools to get the job done.”

The county says the new twin-hull vessel is more fuel efficient and easier to navigate in choppy waters, something that’s critical during environmental emergencies. SoundGuardian is also expected to increase productivity by enabling field scientists to conduct more research in the same amount of time.

The Department of Natural Resources and Parks considered other options, including upgrading the existing vessel and renting a boat. The department determined that it would ultimately be less expensive to purchase a new vessel for about $2 million, using the same capital program that the Wastewater Treatment Division uses to purchase other equipment.

Soundgarden members Matt Cameron and Kim Thayil participated in the dedication ceremony on the Seattle Ship Canal.

NASSCO Awarded Navy Fleet Oilers Build Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

San Diego-based General Dynamics NASSCO has been awarded a contract by the US Navy for the detailed design and construction of the next generation of fleet oilers, the John Lewis-class (TAO-205), previously known as the TAO(X). The contract is for the construction of six ships.

The first ship of the program was funded in the fiscal year 2016 budget, allowing engineering and design work to begin immediately. The US Navy’s FY 2017 budget requests advance procurement for a second ship, with procurement expected to occur in FY 2018.

The oilers are designed to transfer fuel to US Navy surface ships operating at sea and will have the capacity to carry 156,000 barrels of oil, including the Navy’s new biofuels. They also offer a significant dry cargo capacity, aviation capability and will be able to reach a top speed of 20 knots.

“We are pleased to be building the next generation of oilers,” General Dynamics NASSCO and Bath Iron Works President Fred Harris said. “With this award, we will now proceed with engineering and design work.”

NASSCO has an extensive history of building ships for the US Navy; similar to the TAO-205 program, NASSCO shipbuilders recently completed a 14-ship T-AKE program.

Currently, the San Diego-based shipbuilder is under contract to construct its fourth Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) for the US Navy, the USNS Hershel Williams, and to procure long-lead time material and engineering support for a fifth ESB.

Oakland Survey: Night Gates Desirable

By Mark Edward Nero

A majority of shippers and those who move their cargo at the Port of Oakland believe that weeknight shifts are the best way to spread the workload, according to results of a new survey released July 1.
The port’s Efficiency Task Force, made up of a group of 35 port users, surveyed 1,271 port customers in June. They found that:
  • Seventy-eight percent of those responding wanted night gates – not Saturdays – to extend hours for cargo pick-up and delivery;
  • Sixty-two percent are already using night gates, and;
  • Users view nights as a way to beat the crowds on weekdays.

Oakland began experimenting with extended hours three months ago in response to concerns about crowding and cargo delays. By going to a second shift, long lines of trucks waiting at daytime gates have dwindled, but dayside transaction times inside terminals still remain high, according to the port.
That problem is expected to improve this month thanks to the introduction of an appointment system for drivers. Also, night operations now include import pick-ups, which could lure more drivers to the second shift. Surveyed customers told the port that import pick-ups will be essential to the success of a second shift.
The port financed the start-up of night gates with a $1.5 million subsidy fund. When the fund expired, the port approved a new $1.7 million subsidy, including a $200,000 increase to ensure extended gate operation continuity.
In addition to gate hours, the port also surveyed customers about a $30-per-container fee being charged to finance the extended hours. Forty-seven percent of those responding said a fee of $30 or less was reasonable, while 29 percent said they wanted no fee.
Those supporting a fee said that in return, terminal transaction times should be no more than one hour.

Tags: Port of Oakland, Efficiency Task Force, Oakland International Container Terminal

Three Confirmed to Federal Maritime Commission

By Mark Edward Nero

On June 29, the US Senate confirmed the nominations of three people to serve on the Federal Maritime Commission, the agency responsible for regulating the nation’s international ocean transport.

Those confirmed are Rebecca F. Dye, Michael A. Khouri and Daniel B. Maffei. Maffei is new to the Commission and is to serve a term that expires in 2017. Dye and Khouri, both of whom currently serve as Commissioners, were re-nominated by President Obama to serve in terms that last until 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Maffei, a native of upstate New York, served two non-consecutive terms in the US House of Representatives. His professional experience prior to being a member of Congress includes working as a journalist and a Congressional aide. He replaces Richard Lidinsky, who became a Commissioner in 2009 after along career in ports and shipping.

Dye has worked on maritime policy issues throughout her career, beginning with her service in the US Coast Guard. She subsequently held senior positions in the Maritime Administration and on the former House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, as well as the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure.

Khouri has broad experience in the maritime industry including service on marine vessels from deck crew to Pilot and Captain; and shoreside assignments in law, administration, marine operations and general management.

“Each of these individuals is not only committed to public service, they also take the core mission of the Commission seriously,” Federal Maritime Commission Chair Mario Cordero said in a statement. “The shipping industry is going through a period of significant change that dictates our close attention. As a body, we are going to have as much work to do as ever before, and I am grateful we have a full complement of Commissioners.”