Friday, December 2, 2016

Seaport Alliance Sees Strongest Container Volumes in 4 Years

By Mark Edward Nero

Full load import and export volumes at the Northwest Seaport Alliance in October were the strongest for the month since 2012, according to newly released data.

Year to date, imports and exports for October continue to support a strong peak season for the NWSA, with an 11 percent increase and 16 percent increase, respectively.

To support the 2016 peak shipping season’s strong agricultural exports, the Seaport Alliance lengthened its extended gates program through Dec. 2. The main commodities moving through the gateway are hay, forest products and fruits and vegetables.

Year to date, full imports are up four percent to 1,134,829 TEUs, and full exports increased 13 percent to 802,343 TEUs. The year’s total container volumes are essentially flat through October, down less than 1 percent to 2,963,157 TEUs, according to port data.

While weak empty and domestic volumes continue to drag down overall container volume growth, domestic cargo tipped up in October with a 4.2 percent increase from the late run of seafood.

Year to date, domestic volumes have been down as Alaska struggles with a decrease in oil- and gas-related project activity due to low commodity prices. The month’s overall domestic volume showed a modest increase, however, due to additional sailings related to a rise in demobilization of Alaska’s stock, equipment and gear away from the area.

In other cargo news, breakbulk cargo is down 28 percent year to date to 152,075 metric tons as the global downturn in agricultural, mining and construction equipment and a strong US dollar impact volumes.

Also, log exports declined 27 percent year to date to 150,962 metric tons due to decreased demand in China and competition from New Zealand.

Autos fell 10 percent to 8,630 units for the month because of production issues as well as supply chain shifts. October’s container volumes are available at and the month’s cargo statistics can be found at

MarAd to Live Stream High-Power Battery Workshop

By Mark Edward Nero

The Maritime Administration, in cooperation with the American Bureau of Shipping, and the American Society for Testing and Materials, will live stream a Dec. 15 and Dec. 16 workshop on the use of high-power batteries in maritime transportation, and the deadline for registration is fast approaching.

The workshop’s purpose is to further objectives regarding the maritime industry’s exploration of alternative energy technologies for vessel propulsion and auxiliary systems, with a view toward greater efficiency, lower costs and reduced air emissions.

The workshop is open to the public, but attendees and online participants must register by email at Your email must indicate attendance type (in-person or online attendance) and provide the following information: Your full name, business affiliation, business address, telephone and email address. Non-US citizens participating in person must also provide their country of citizenship, date of birth, passport number, and passport expiration date.

Registration must be completed no later than Dec. 2.

The sessions will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Department of Transportation Conference Center, 1200 New Jersey Ave SE, Washington, DC 20590.

In-person participants can enter the Department of Transportation building at the intersection of New Jersey Avenue and M Street, Southeast, and will be required to pass through a security checkpoint. Due to security requirements, all attendees must bring a government-issued form of identification, such as a driver’s license, to ensure access to the building. Foreign national attendees must bring their passports with them.

Attendees are encouraged to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the meeting for processing through building security. For more information contact Tom Thompson at, or (202) 366-6045.

POSF, National Park Service Ink 30-Year Use Agreement

By Mark Edward Nero

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Nov. 29 unanimously endorsed an agreement between the Port of San Francisco and the National Park Service for a 30-year use contract, with two 10-year options for renewal to continue ferry operation to Alcatraz Island from Pier 31 1/2.

The approval helps bring to a close a multi-year process by the Park Service, port and City of San Francisco to identify a site for long-term Alcatraz ferry embarkation as well as develop and operate a welcome facility.

The port and Park Service worked together for years to identify a site for long-term ferry embarkation. The San Francisco Port Commission unanimously approved financial terms of the agreement in July. Final environmental compliance, leases with the Parks Conservancy and a future ferry concessioner will be forthcoming.

Under the agreement, the Park Service will select a ferry concessioner through a competitive bid process. The agreement also includes the addition of a third berth for increased ferry service to sites at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, including Alcatraz Island, which sees over 1.5 million visitors annually.

Additionally, the use agreement includes the operation of enhanced services for visitors. The acre-sized, open-air waterfront plaza is to be reconfigured and fully dedicated to visitors.

All service vehicles are to be moved inside Pier 31, which is closed to the public.

To avoid disrupting ferry service to Alcatraz Island, Piers 31-33 are expected to be transformed in phases over five years.

“Alcatraz is an important and historic attraction that brings over a million people to our waterfront each year,” Port of San Francisco Executive Director Elaine Forbes said. “I’m proud that with our partners we have created a new agreement that will create more open space for families and enhance the visitor experience on our waterfront, bringing people back again and again.”

The Park Service says it will complete the plan’s Environmental Impact Statement in the spring.

Seaport Alliance Welcomes Largest Single-Deck Log Ship

By Mark Edward Nero

The Olive Bay, reputed to be the world’s largest single-deck bulk/log carrier, arrived at the Northwest Seaport Alliance’s West Hylebos log terminal in Tacoma recently, its first call taking place on Nov. 22.

The terminal, operated by Seattle-based Merrill & Ring Forest Products, welcomed Pacific Basin Shipping’s Olive Bay, which is the largest ship in the Chinese log business to call the West Coast.

Built in 2015 specifically to carry logs, the ship is 650 feet long (190 meters) and 105 feet wide (32 meters). It can hold up to eight million board feet of logs, significantly more than the five million-board-foot capacity of most log ships to call at Tacoma.

The Olive Bay was also expected to stop in Port Angeles before heading back to China.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance is a marine cargo operating partnership of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma under which the two Puget Sound ports share resources.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

NTSB: Improper Fuel Line Fitting Caused Ship Fire Near Seattle

By Mark Edward Nero

A fire that occurred aboard a containership not long after it left the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 46 last December was likely caused by an improperly installed fitting on a fuel line, according to a new report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The fire broke out at around 5 a.m. local time on Dec. 8, 2015 in auxiliary engine room no. 1 on board the containership Gunde Maersk shortly after the vessel departed Terminal 46 in Seattle.

The fire was quickly extinguished by the vessel’s high-pressure water mist system, but as a result of the fire damage, the vessel lost propulsion and required tugboats to return to its berth.

Damage to the vessel was estimated at $380,000, but no environmental damage was reported, and none of the 23 crewmembers were injured during the incident.

After review, the National Transportation Safety Board on Nov. 3 released a report determining that the probable cause of the fire aboard the Gunde Maersk was an improperly installed fitting on a fuel line supplying a fuel injector pump for auxiliary engine no. 1.

The cause is believed to date back to Nov. 25, 2015 when the Gunde Maersk switched from using heavy fuel oil to ultra-low sulfur marine gas oil as it entered the North American waters en route to the Port of Long Beach.

Soon after the switch, the vessel’s auxiliary engines – three 4,667-horsepower eight-cylinder Caterpillar engines, each directly coupled to a ship’s electrical generator – began leaking fuel.

To repair the leaks, the crew of the Gunde Maersk replaced O-rings throughout each engine’s fuel system.

The Gunde Maersk departed Long Beach on Dec. 1 and arrived at Seattle’s Terminal 46 berth 37 on Dec. 7. At 5 a.m. on Dec. 8, the containership got under way from its berth en route to Busan, South Korea. A few minutes later, the fire broke out.

Investigators determined that the fire was caused by fuel leaking from a dislodged 1.5-inch-diameter O-ring in the fuel supply line. The source of ignition was most likely fuel spraying and flowing onto the exhaust side of the engine between the cylinder covers.

The NTSB’s full accident report can be read at

Marcon Brokers Sale of Crowley Icebreaker

By Mark Edward Nero

Coupeville, Washington-based vessel broker Marcon International is reporting the sale of the 205-foot by 90-foot by 15-foot-deep former ice-strengthened, icebreaker/cargo barge Arctic Endeavor from Crowley Marine Services of Seattle to Alaska-based mining company Tagiuk LLC.

The 3,029-mtdw barge was built in 1982 by Gunderson Bros. of Portland, Oregon to support resupply sailings to ports in the Arctic while being pushed by two 2,100-HP “Point-Class” tugs. The barge was unique in having a wide spoon-shaped bow, tapering aft from 90 feet at its widest point at frame 25, a tapered hull under the waterline and a reinforced ice step.

The Arctic Endeavor was converted in 1999 by Duwamish Shipyard to an ABS +A1, ice classed, double-hull oil response barge for use in the Beaufort Sea, northeast of Deadhorse, Alaska.

The barge was laid up in Puget Sound at the time of the sale.

New owners have renamed the barge Tagiuk Provider, and are promptly returning her to Alaska from whence she came, according to Marcon.

Marcon says it has brokered more than 100 sales and purchase on behalf of Crowley over the last 30 years, since the 1986 sale of their 132-foot by 32-foot by 12-foot supply boat Gulf Mariner, which had previously been employed in Cook Inlet, Alaska servicing offshore drilling platforms.

Marcon says it has concluded a total of 16 sales and charters in 2016, including three ocean deck barges. Three 5,000-HP+ twin screw and ASD tugs continue to be fixed on previously arranged long-term charters in the US and Latin America.

Several additional sales are pending, according to the company.

BC Ferries’ 1st LNG Vessel on its Way from Poland

By Mark Edward Nero

BC Ferries’ Salish Orca, the first of three new Salish-class vessels, is on its way to British Columbia. The vessel departed Gdansk, Poland on Nov. 22 for a 10,440-nautical mile journey that is expected to take 45 to 55 days, depending on weather.

“This is an exciting day for BC Ferries as our newest ship, Salish Orca, is one step closer to joining our fleet,” BC Ferries’ President and CEO Mike Corrigan said in a statement. “We look forward to introducing a new ship into service for our passengers on the Northern Sunshine Coast.”

The journey is expected to include stops for refueling in the Canary Islands and Panama after transiting the Panama Canal and sailing up the west coast of North America to British Columbia.

BC Ferries is expected to take final acceptance and ownership of Salish Orca upon final inspection once the vessel arrives in British Columbia. Remontowa Shipbuilding SA of Poland has contracted with a professional international ship delivery specialist. Some of BC Ferries’ crewmembers are on various legs of the voyage for training and familiarization.

The vessel, which is BC Ferries’ first natural-gas-powered vessel, is scheduled to arrive in Canada in January for crew training and familiarization. After public open houses in Powell River and Comox, the ship is scheduled to start service on that route in the spring of 2017.

Those wishing to track the ship’s progress including course, position and speed, can do so at

NASSCO Shipyard President Retiring; Successor Named

By Mark Edward Nero

Frederick J. Harris, president of both General Dynamics’ NASSCO and Bath Iron Works shipyards, is to retire at the end of 2016. And as a result, new heads of both companies have been named.

Kevin M. Graney has been appointed as president of San Diego-based NASSCO and elected a vice president of the corporation, while Dirk A. Lesko has also been elected a vice president of the corporation and appointed president of Maine-based Bath Iron Works.

Graney, 52, was appointed vice president and general manager of NASSCO in November 2013. He previously held leadership positions in operations, programs and engineering. He joined NASSCO in 2006 from General Dynamics Electric Boat, where he started working in 1995. Graney is a US Navy submarine veteran.

Both appointments are effective Jan. 1, 2017, following Harris’ retirement.

“Dirk and Kevin are seasoned leaders with proven track records of managing complex shipbuilding projects and driving continuous improvement at every level of their business,” General Dynamics Executive Vice President John P. Casey said.

“Both have worked for General Dynamics for more than 20 years and they have the right management and operations experience to ensure these shipyards are positioned for the future.”

In announcing Harris’ retirement, Casey said that throughout his extensive career with General Dynamics, Harris made significant contributions to the U.S. Navy’s shipbuilding programs.

“I want to thank Fred for his commitment to shipbuilding and outstanding service to our company and employees,” Casey said. “We wish him well in retirement.”