Friday, September 16, 2016

Prince Rupert Could Gain New Terminal

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Prince Rupert announced Sept. 14 that it has signed a feasibility assessment agreement with Seattle-based marine and rail terminal operator SSA Marine and its subsidiary, Western Stevedoring, to explore the viability of a breakbulk and bulk import/export terminal at the port.

The feasibility assessment agreement gives SSA Marine/Western Stevedoring the opportunity to further identify the viability of demand in the market. An environmental assessment of the site would be required if the feasibility assessment substantiates the terminal’s potential.

The south shore of Kaien Island has been identified as a suitable site for an 80-hectare terminal development, near existing bulk terminals on Ridley Island.

“Ongoing cargo diversification is one of the highest priorities for the Port of Prince Rupert, and the potential for the return of breakbulk and general cargoes capacity to the Port of Prince Rupert represents a clear response to growing market demand in Western Canada,” Port of Prince Rupert President & CEO Don Krusel said in the announcement. “We are pleased to be working with SSA Marine and Western Stevedoring.”

The port hasn’t had a breakbulk and general cargoes facility since the conversion of Fairview Terminal to a container terminal in 2007. Establishing a new breakbulk and bulk terminal could restore capacity for handling the types of goods and modes of transport the Prince Rupert says is being requested by US, Canadian and regional shippers.

In addition to increasing cargo diversity, the addition of a breakbulk and bulk terminal could provide capacity for breakbulk forest products, steel, project cargo, bulk specialty agricultural products, bulk mineral concentrates and automobiles.

Port officials have also said the terminal project might give Canadian exporters and importers flexibility in shipping mode to complement Prince Rupert’s container and bulk terminals.

A new breakbulk and bulk terminal would benefit from key strengths, such as the port’s safe harbor and proximity to Asian markets, according to Western Stevedoring President Brad Eshleman.
“We are excited at the prospect of building on – and expanding – that success,” he said.

Asian Shipping Route Adds Oakland Port

By Mark Edward Nero

A transpacific shipping route that links Asia and the US is adding weekly Port of Oakland stops, starting in November. Oakland is becoming the sixth stop in the service operated by three Asian shipping lines, the port revealed Sept. 13.

Seven ships from the three ocean carriers are deployed on the service, with each having the capacity to carry between 8,000 and 9,000 twenty-foot containers. The vessels will make weekly calls at the port’s Oakland International Container Terminal starting Nov. 6.

The service, known as the Calco-C, connects ports in Vietnam, China and California. It’s expected to bring an additional 50 vessel arrivals to Oakland annually and that, according to the port, could increase its cargo volume by as much as 30,000 20-foot-containers a year.

The port handled the equivalent of 2.28 million 20-foot containers last year.

“We’re pleased to be joining this service,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “It’s testament to the vibrant market we serve, and strengthens our role as a key gateway in the transpacific container trade.”

The port said the service gives shippers more opportunity to import finished Asian goods, such as apparel and consumer electronics, and that exporters can gain new routes to Asia for commodities, such as California agricultural products.

Other ports in the Calco-C service include Cai Mep in Vietnam; Xiamen, Yantian and Nansha in China; and the Port of Long Beach. The service is operated by Tokyo-based “K” Line; Wan Hai Lines of Taiwan; and Singapore’s Pacific International Lines.

APM Raises Tallest Port Crane

By Mark Edward Nero

The first of 10 ship-to-shore cranes at APM Terminals’ Port of Los Angeles facility has been raised 33 feet (10 meters) at Pier 400, making it the tallest port crane in North America, the terminal operator said Sept. 14.

The crane is expected to be ready for vessel operations in the next few months, according to APM.
The Los Angeles crane extension project is a $40 million investment, according to APM Terminals CEO Kim Fejfer. The project is designed to prepare for regular Ultra-Large Container Vessel (ULCV) calls in the trans-Pacific trade lanes, carrying up to 20,000 TEUs per vessel. Prior to the upgrade, the largest ships that could be served were vessels carrying an average of 13,000 TEUs.

APM Terminals Pier 400 Los Angeles operates a total of 14 STS cranes. The 10 retro-fitted cranes will enable handling vessels that have a beam of 23-containers wide, and stacked ten containers high above deck.

An additional feature of the upgraded cranes is the installation of light-emitting diode (LED) illumination to improve operator visibility and accuracy of the cranes’ optical character recognition (OCR) programs. The cranes are expected to use 60 percent less energy than conventional lighting systems.

The 484-acre APM Terminals Pier 400 Los Angeles terminal, which opened in 2002, is one of the largest proprietary terminals in the world. Its throughput was 2.48 million TEUs last year, about 16 percent of the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex’s combined 2015 throughput of 15.3 million TEUs.

A time-lapsed video of the crane being raised at APM Terminals Pier 400 Los Angeles can be seen at

Monthly POLB Cargo Volumes Down

By Mark Edward Nero

August 2016 exports surged 14.8 percent through the Port of Long Beach compared to the same month in 2015, but lower imports drove overall volumes down, according to newly released data.

Harbor terminals moved 641,029 TEUs in August, an 8.9 percent year-over-year decrease, according to port data released Sept. 15. Of those TEUs, 321,625 were import containers, down 10.2 percent from the same month last year.

Exports numbered 159,247 TEUs last month, while empties accounted for 160,157 containers, 22.5 percent fewer than August 2015. That month, however, set an all-time record for Port of Long Beach cargo.

The port says that one factor impacting its container volumes is that currently, shipping lines are continuing to consolidate service routes to optimize vessel utilization during the holiday peak season and in anticipation of the new, planned ocean carrier alliances.

Another factor cited was that domestic retail inventories remain high even as strong consumer spending continues to power the nation’s economy.

For the calendar year, overall cargo volumes are down 2.9 percent at Long Beach, compared to the first eight months of 2015. For the current fiscal year, which began last October, total container volumes are down half of one percent compared to the same 11 months in FY 2015, according to data.

The port’s latest monthly cargo numbers are available at, while more detailed cargo numbers can be found at

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

BC Ferries Vessel Prepping for LNG Conversion

By Mark Edward Nero

BC Ferries, the service provider responsible for ferry service along coastal British Columbia, has temporarily removed Spirit of British Columbia from service so it can undergo engineering and maintenance work as well as sea trials in preparation for its mid-life upgrade and fuel conversion to operate on liquefied natural gas.

The ferry was taken out of service Sept. 7 and is scheduled to remain out through Sept. 15. The Coastal Renaissance is temporarily replacing the Spirit of British Columbia on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route.

On Sept. 10 and 11, the Spirit of British Columbia was in Saanich Inlet to perform sea trials in order to complete various vessel performance tests and to verify the operational profile of the vessel.

Spirit of British Columbia, built in 1993, is a 547-foot long, 11,600-ton vessel that can carry up to 2,100 people, including crew, and can travel at a top speed of 19.5 knots.

The vessel is scheduled to undergo a mid-life upgrade and natural gas conversion process at Remontowa Ship Repair SA in Poland from the fall of 2017 through the spring of 2018. Its sister vessel, the Spirit of Vancouver Island, is expected to undergo the same process the following year, from the fall of 2018 through the spring of 2019.

In March 2016, Remontowa Ship Repair received a $140 million contract to upgrade the two Spirit-Class ferries to dual fuel so they can operate on LNG.

Blue North Christens Cutting Edge Fishing Vessel

By Mark Edward Nero

On Sept. 9, Blue North, a Seattle-based fishing, trading and boat-building company, christened the F/V Blue North, a fishing vessel that the company calls “the most modern, low-impact and innovative vessel to ever enter the North Pacific fishing fleet.”

The F/V Blue North has been designed with new technologies to improve the quality of harvested seafood and working conditions for fishermen and reduce its environmental impact. For example, all water and waste on the vessel is captured and treated, with nothing left behind to contaminate the ocean.

Also, a state-of-the-art engine-cooling and heat recovery system recycles water used to cool the ship’s engines, and repurposes the captured heat for creating potable water, creating hot water and heating the ship.

These features mean less fuel is required to heat the vessel and no wastewater is placed in the ocean. Engine power is monitored by a smart grid that detects electrical loads and appropriately distributes energy for maximum efficiency.

“We spared no expense when it comes to the features we included on the F/V Blue North that reduce environmental impact,” Blue North President and CEO Kenny Down said. “Not only are these practices more cost-effective, we believe that protecting our resources and environment is critical to the planet and the fishing industry.”

In addition to its new ecologically sound features, the vessel has been designed to improve working conditions for the crew. All fishing gear is inside and hauled through an interior opening in the vessel known as a “moon pool” – so that fishermen aren’t exposed to unpredictable weather and associated risks of fishing in the Bering Sea. Elevator and conveyor systems reduce the work of loading and unloading ship supplies and seafood products. Also, auto freezers eliminate the task of manually loading and unloading freezer trays.

The F/V Blue North also includes a system designed to ensure more humane harvesting of seafood: a hook-and-line fishing system ensures one fish is handled at a time, and fish on the lines are pulled into the moon pool at the center of the boat. Fish are only out of water for a few seconds before being stunned, processed and frozen on board. Hooks are removed after stunning to reduce stress to the fish.

“Stunning creates a better-tasting, more nutritious and better-quality product,” Down explained. "Research has shown that reducing stress before processing produces higher quality and healthier food for consumers, and we believe it's also a more humane way to treat the fish.”

Blue North has a long history of sustainable practices. The company's primary product, wild Alaska line-caught cod, comes from the first commercial cod fishery to be certified by the Marine Stewardship Council; this cod is designated a “Best Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

Search Suspended for Overboard Cruise Ship Worker

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Coast Guard and the Alaska State Troopers say they’ve suspended the search for a missing 25-year-old woman who went overboard while on the Norwegian Cruise Line ship Norwegian Pearl the morning of Sept. 8.

The crew of Norwegian Pearl reported the woman, who was a crewmember aboard the vessel, went into the water while the vessel was transiting the 90-mile Lynn Canal in southeast Alaska.

“We searched extensively with the Alaska State Troopers with multiple aircraft and surface resources for more than 42 hours,” the Coast Guard Sector Juneau command duty officer, Petty Officer 1st Class Blake Fleming, said Sept. 9. “After saturating a search area of 340 square miles in Lynn Canal with 13 different search patterns, we made the difficult decision to suspend the search after our combined efforts were not able to locate her.”

The 17th Coast Guard District command center coordinated the search, which included Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter crews, Coast Guard Station Ketchikan response boat crews, the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Liberty and Alaska State Trooper fixed-wing aircraft and response boat crews.

The search is suspended pending any further developments, according to the USCG. The woman’s identity has not been revealed.

Norwegian Pearl, which has a capacity of 2,394 passengers and 1,099 crew, sails one-week Alaska cruises out of Seattle from early May through late September each year.

BNSF Offering New PNW Intermodal Service

By Mark Edward Nero

Beginning Sept. 12, BNSF Railway began offering intermodal customers a new service option to move freight between the Pacific Northwest and Texas.

Shippers moving commodities and a wide range of consumer goods between Seattle or Portland, Oregon Dallas/Fort Worth can reduce their transit times by up to two days, BNSF says, compared to rail transit time options currently in the marketplace.

This new service is comparable in speed to single-driver, over-the-road options, according to BNSF.

The new service option is the first of multiple new routes that BNSF says will be announced and rolled out over the next year.

“By leveraging underutilized capacity in the central section of BNSF’s network, this new service option means that BNSF will offer expedited service for customers who wish to have their shipments arrive in Dallas/Fort Worth on the morning of the fifth transit day,” the company said in a statement.

From BNSF’s intermodal facility located near Fort Worth, Texas, customers can reach the major Texas or Oklahoma markets with a short-haul trucking option to move containers and trailers for dry or refrigerated goods, the rail company said.

Traffic along the route will run Monday through Friday in both directions, with the route including a refueling option along the way for refrigerated equipment carrying temperature-sensitive gear.