Friday, September 30, 2016

Hanjin Crews Denied Shore Leave in US

By Mark Edward Nero

A UK-based transport union federation this week called the refusal of shore leave to seafarers on board Hanjin ships in Puget Sound and Southern California a denial of human rights.

The issue initially came up when a visit to the chartered vessel Hanjin Marine near the Port of Seattle by an International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) inspector to check on the crew’s welfare on Sept. 26 after they had waited three weeks for a berth.

The inspection revealed that, although the crew are being paid and there is two months’ food onboard, US Customs and Border Protection was refusing them shore leave.

“I phoned them several times and had others phone them but they still insisted that the crew was a possible threat to try and jump ship due to the Hanjin situation,” ITF inspector Jeff Engels explained. “ I countered with the fact that shore leave was a human right and that the seafarers should not be made to suffer due to the Hanjin situation. They still did not budge.”

“We understand that the last three Hanjin vessels that called in Southern California all had similar issues with shore leave. This is morally and legally unacceptable,” Paddy Crumlin, president and chair of the ITF dockworkers’ section said. “These are professional seafarers, working in a professional manner, carrying out all their tasks responsibly, and hoping that the situation with Hanjin will be rectified without the loss of jobs. Denying them an escape from their work environment is an abuse of humanity. The CBP needs to reconsider and fix this problem now.”

The ITF says it has had its inspectors visit Hanjin ships, unasked, in many countries, and that so far crews are being paid, hoping to retain their jobs, and are in good spirits.

“The only serious exception to this is in the USA where those crews are being refused their legal right to shore leave while in possession of a bona fide visa,” ITF seafarers’ section chair Dave Heindel said. “It is an additional stress at a stressful time, and frankly it’s indefensible.”

For it’s part, Customs issued a statement explaining that its officers have discretionary authority to determine if a foreign national crew member meets all admissibility requirements, including their intent to return to the vessel.

Crewmembers who are foreign nationals are typically granted special permission to disembark vessels in situations such as this, under Customs supervision for exigent circumstances, such as to seek medical attention, according to the statement.

“CBP closely monitors these situations, and vessels are authorized to receive supplies. CBP officers regularly conduct crew checks for humanitarian reasons,” the statement read in part. “CBP’s front-line employees perform their duties with professionalism and are mindful of the humanitarian aspects in their mission. CBP regularly meets with vessel captains and vessel owners to discuss current regulations and issues.”

NASSCO Delivers 4th Tanker to APT

By Mark Edward Nero

On Sept. 26, San Diego-based shipbuilder General Dynamics NASSCO delivered the fourth vessel in a series of five ECO-class product tankers under a contract with American Petroleum Tankers.

Bay State, a 610-foot-long, 50,000-deadweight-ton, LNG-conversion-ready product tanker with a 330,000-barrel cargo capacity, was delivered during a special signing ceremony at the NASSCO’s San Diego shipyard.

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

The first three ECO-Class ships, the Lone Star State, the Magnolia State, and the Garden State, are already in service. A keel laying ceremony for the fifth ECO Class tanker being built for APT, the Palmetto State, was conducted Sept. 23.

The construction and operation of the new tankers is aligned with the Jones Act, requiring that ships carrying cargo between US ports be built in US shipyards. NASSCO is the only major shipyard on the US West Coast conducting design, new construction and repair of commercial and US Navy ships. In the past decade, NASSCO delivered 28 oceangoing ships to government and commercial customers, including the world’s first LNG-powered containerships.

For its commercial work, NASSCO partners with South Korean shipbuilding company Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering for access to vessel design and shipbuilding technologies.

US Cutter Commissioning Date Set

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Coast Guard’s sixth national security cutter, Munro, is to be commissioned April 1, 2017, at the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal in Seattle, the USCG announced Sept. 26.

The cutter, which will be home-ported in Alameda, Calif., is named after the Coast Guard’s only Medal of Honor recipient, Signalman 1st Class Douglas A. Munro, a native of Cle Elum, Wash.

The national security cutters are replacing the Coast Guard’s aging 378-foot high endurance cutters, which have been in service since the 1960s. Each vessel is 418 feet long, has a 54-foot beam and displaces 4,500 tons at full load.

The cutters have a top speed of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 miles and endurance for 60- to 90-day patrol cycles. They also have automated weapons systems and advanced command and control systems that enhance the Coast Guard’s interoperability with its partners in the Defense and Homeland Security departments.

The timing of the commissioning announcement coincided with an annual memorial service for Munro that took place Sept. 27 in Cle Elum. Munro died on Guadalcanal Sept. 27, 1942, after volunteering to evacuate a detachment of US Marines during the battle with Japanese forces holding the Pacific island.

Each year on Sept. 27, more than 100 Coast Guard men and women, along with representatives from the Seattle area chapters of the Coast Guard Warrant Officer Associations, the Chief Petty Officers Association and the Coast Guard Combat Veterans Association, gather to honor the sacrifice and memory of Munro.

Oakland Not Affected by Wider Canal

By Mark Edward Nero

Bigger ships may be using the newly widened Panama Canal, but apparently, they’re not bypassing the Port of Oakland to get there. The wider canal locks have thus far not dented the port’s business in the 90 days since they opened, the port said Sept. 27.

According to port data, Oakland vessel traffic has actually increased since the expanded Canal debuted June 28. The trend counters earlier warnings that larger ships would detour around the US West Coast given Panama access.

Oakland said it received 310 vessel calls in July and August combined, compared to 276 vessels over the same two months in 2015, meaning the port’s vessel traffic has increased 12 percent year-over-year since the Canal expanded.

Oakland’s cargo volume has also increased, according to the data. The port said July and August were two of its three busiest months this year for container handling. It said there’s been no sign of cargo attrition due to the Panama Canal.

“Our customers need an Oakland gateway – not one thousands of miles away,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “Our job now is to keep them here with good service.”

The port said it’s not insulated from Panama’s competitive threat, but declared that it has advantages making cargo migration to the canal unlikely, including local market concentration and export orientation.

Much of the nation’s import cargo is discharged at Southern California ports, then transported east by rail. The Panama Canal provides an alternative to those gateways: direct access to US East Coast ports.

But more than 80 percent of containerized imports discharged in Oakland remain in Northern California or Nevada. That cargo wouldn’t benefit from a Panama Canal option. Also, half of Oakland’s cargo is containerized exports, and the Oakland route is among the shortest to Asia on the US West Coast.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Foss, Maritime Academy Partnering on Training

By Mark Edward Nero

Foss Maritime said Sept. 21 that it has entered into a four-year agreement with the Seattle Maritime Academy to support their new training facility, which includes a state-of-the-art engine room simulator, a full mission bridge simulator and a computer simulation training laboratory.

Foss’ mariners will have access to the new simulators, along with the customized professional development training offered by Seattle Maritime Academy, to support upgrading or renew licensing and learn new skills.

“When it comes to avoiding accidents, there are three things that really help: practice, practice, and practice,” Foss senior vice president Scott Merritt said. “Having as much time as possible on a simulator is an excellent way for mariners to build their skills and confidence in vessel handling, navigation, and equipment handling.”

The new facility will also prepare students new to the industry for maritime careers, with professional/technical programs in Maritime Engineering Technology and Marine Deck Technology.

“This partnership is a continuation of a strong relationship that also includes successfully placing SMA students with Foss for internships, where they receive at-sea and real world experience, while acquiring the required sea time to upgrading their credentials,” Seattle Maritime Academy Director/Associate Dean Sarah Scherer said.

Foss, like other companies in the maritime industry, is experiencing increasing demand for skilled mariners as many of our employees near retirement, Foss’ Vice President of Human Resources, Darlene Crowder, said.

“We are excited to have a high quality program here in Seattle to train the next generation of mariners,” Crowder said.

The Seattle Maritime Building 1, encompassing 24,000 square feet in two floors, is to be christened during an opening ceremony on Oct. 6.

Crowley Awards 4 California Students Scholarships

By Mark Edward Nero

Crowley Maritime Corp. presented four California Maritime Academy students with scholarships during the Containerization and Intermodal Institute’s Connie Awards dinner Sept. 20 in Long Beach, Calif.

Maritime Academy students Christiana Harrell, Bonnie Claire Muchnick, Taylor Sullivan and Alex Yorkman were presented the Thomas B. Crowley Sr. Memorial Scholarships by Crowley marine personnel recruiter Jenny Terpenning during the event.

The scholarships help to further educational opportunities for students who are chosen based on their academic performance, financial need and interest in pursuing a career at sea after graduation.

Harrell, a sophomore from Big Bear City, Calif., is pursuing a degree in marine transportation with a minor in marine science. She said she plans to sail after graduation.

Muchnick, a senior from Oakland, Calif., is seeking a bachelor’s degree in marine transportation. As part of her Maritime Academy commercial cruise experience, she spent the summer sailing on Crowley’s tanker Florida on a route between Texas and Louisiana. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career at sea.

Sullivan, from Sanger, Calif., is a senior marine transportation student who is also pursuing a pre-law minor. Sullivan completed her commercial cruise last summer onboard the Crowley-managed Horizon Alliance. She plans to continue her education and earn her Master’s license upon graduation. Sullivan, who is on the Dean’s List and President’s List at the Maritime Academy, said she plans to pursue a career at sea.

Yorkman, from Whidbey Island, Wash., who is scheduled to graduate in 2018, is pursuing a marine engineering technology major and a marine science minor.

He sailed aboard the Crowley-managed Horizon Pacific for his commercial cruise earlier this year. He said he plans to pursue a career on a research vessel upon graduation.

The Thomas B. Crowley Sr. Memorial Scholarship Program was established in 1994 by Chairman and CEO Tom Crowley Jr. in honor of his father, who led the company before passing away in 1994.

Since 1984, Crowley has given more than $3 million dollars in scholarship funding to more than 1,000 students, and also donated more than $2 million over the years to support other educational programs.

Oakland Port Now Accepting Hanjin Empties

By Mark Edward Nero

A potential supply chain meltdown resulting from Hanjin Shipping’s insolvency has been averted at the Port of Oakland. The port said Sept. 21 that it will receive empty containers owned by the ocean carrier, which filed for bankruptcy protection Aug. 31.

The announcement means cargo owners and truckers won’t have to find storage space for the unwanted boxes after they’re emptied, and that empties can be removed from chassis, thereby freeing up equipment to transport new loads.

Storage space is needed across the globe because Hanjin is not accepting empty containers on its vessels.

“With this move, we can at least eliminate the worry about storage and prevent a potentially crippling chassis shortage,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said.

Empty Hanjin-owned containers can be returned to the port’s Roundhouse property on Middle Harbor Road. The site is adjacent to Oakland International Container Terminal, where Hanjin ships are loaded and unloaded.

The port said containers identified by the prefix HJCU will be received, but that truckers should contact Hanjin to ensure that the empty containers are Hanjin-owned and not leased.

The port said the terminal will process empties and remove them from chassis. Drivers are then required to return the chassis through the main gates at Oakland International Container Terminal. Harbor truck drivers can return Hanjin-owned boxes between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.

Hanjin’s receivership filing has disrupted the global supply chain, with many of the carrier’s ships becoming stranded at sea, forbidden to berth at ports. Two Hanjin ships have arrived in Oakland to discharge cargo since the filing was announced.

Oakland said operations haven’t been hampered by Hanjin’s predicament, but that the empty container problem threatened to inhibit cargo flow in and out of the port, until the newly designated storage property averted that potential outcome.

Harley Marine to Receive Environmental Award

By Mark Edward Nero

Harley Marine Services has been named the corporate recipient of the North American Marine Environment Protection Association 2016 Marine Environment Protection Awards.

The NAMEPA Marine Environment Protection Award is given in recognition of an individual or organization’s efforts in environmental stewardship, exemplified by a commitment to a program which has specific objectives set for environmental performance and improvement, and which is innovative and goes beyond minimum environmental compliance.

Eligible candidates include members of the commercial maritime industry, government agencies, educational organizations, associations and individuals. Submissions are judged by the organization’s board of directors against the criteria behind the award.

The awards will be presented at NAMEPA’s Awards Dinner, set for Oct. 27 at Pier A in New York City. The dinner caps the North American World Maritime Day conference.

“We are thrilled and honored to win this award. We take great pride in the work we have done to cultivate the best environmental stewardship possible. Harley Franco, our founder and chairman’s original vision and commitment for environmental stewardship has been clear from the inception of the company,” Harley Marine Services Vice President of Quality/Risk Management Deborah Franco said. “Our programs involve every component and entity of Harley Marine’s family of companies. Every individual has an opportunity to truly make a difference and take pride in the results.”

Other recipients of NAMEPA’s 2016 awards include the National Ocean Council for government agencies; Ocean Conservancy for nonprofits; Maritime Academy Charter School of Philadelphia for maritime education; OBOCS’ onboard oil containment system for innovations; NOAA’s chemical aquatic fate and effects database for environmental products; and the North American Maritime Ministry Association for seafarers’ foundations.

The late US Rep. Helen Delich Bentley is to receive a special posthumous lifetime achievement award.