Friday, January 6, 2017

Puglia Engineering Buys BAE San Francisco Shipyard

By Mark Edward Nero

BAE Systems said Jan. 2 that it has completed the sale of its San Francisco Ship Repair business to Puglia Engineering, a Tacoma, Washington-based vessel repair company operating two shipyards in Washington State and one near Oakland.

The sum of the transaction was not disclosed.

The San Francisco yard offers maintenance, alteration and repair services to cruise liners from Alaskan and Mexican trade routes, trans-Alaska pipeline tankers, military support vessels, local bay traffic, bulk carriers and container ships.

“We believe this divestiture is in the best interests of the San Francisco shipyard employees and both companies, as it will better position the San Francisco Ship Repair business with a parent company that has access to broader markets,” said Erwin Bieber, President of BAE Systems’ Platforms & Services sector.

Puglia Engineering operates shipyards in Tacoma, Washington; Bellingham, Washington and Alameda, California, near Oakland.

BAE Systems provides ship repair, maintenance, modernization, conversion, and overhaul services for the US Navy, other government agencies and select commercial customers, and operates six full-service shipyards in Alabama, California, Florida, Hawaii and Virginia.

Port of Portland Sues Chemical Company Over Contaminants

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Portland on Jan. 4 filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Oregon against multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology company Monsanto for what the port calls widespread chemical contamination impacting port properties.

Monsanto was the sole manufacturer of polychlorinated biphenyl, an organic chlorine compound commonly known as PCBs, from 1935 until they were banned by the federal government in 1979.

Despite the ban, they remain in the environment, and are associated with extensive human health impacts, including cancer and damage to immune, reproductive and endocrine systems.

PCBs were widely used in industrial and commercial businesses and are found in paint and caulk, in electric transformers and capacitors, in wire and cable coatings, and in coolants, sealants and lubricants.

PCBs are the primary contaminants driving cleanup in the Lower Willamette River and the Portland Harbor Superfund site. The Port of Portland says it has invested millions of dollars studying the legacy contamination in and along the Willamette River and Portland Harbor. However, the port says the impact of PCB contamination is broader than the Superfund site, including McBride Slough at Portland International Airport.

The Port of Portland claims to have evidence that Monsanto became aware of how toxic and dangerous PCBs were while they manufactured their PCB containing products, and that they concealed that information.

“Any decision to conceal facts about human health should have consequences,” Curtis Robinhold, the Port of Portland’s deputy executive director, said. “Monsanto reaped huge profits from the manufacture and sale of PCBs, and it is entirely appropriate for those faced with the cost of cleaning up this contamination to hold them accountable.” The US District Court case number is 17-cv-00015. The port is represented by the law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C. and Gomez Trial Attorneys, which also represent the cities of Portland, Seattle, Spokane, Wash., San Jose, Calif., Oakland, Berkeley, Calif., Long Beach, Calif., San Diego, and the State of Washington.

Vigor Delivers Catamaran Research Vessel

By Mark Edward Nero

The California Department of Water Resources in late December commissioned a new research vessel, the Sentinel, as a replacement for the San Carlos, which had been monitoring water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and upper San Francisco Estuary since 1976.

The construction project began in February 2015, and the vessel was launched by Seattle-based builder Vigor Industrial in October 2016. Sea trials have been occurring since the launch.

The Sentinel is a floating laboratory whose mission is to protect water quality. The DWR has said the research vessel plays a critical role helping to meet water quality objectives and the mandated requirements of biological opinions issued by the courts to guide water quality issues in the Delta.

The Sentinel was named by DWR Director Mark W. Cowin, who retired at the end of 2016 after a 36-year career with the department. Cowin named the vessel to honor the late Laura King Moon, DWR’s former Chief Deputy Director who died in 2015.

“Laura King Moon worked tirelessly as a guardian of California’s water supply and its environment,” Cowin said.

The Sentinel replaces the San Carlos, which for 40 years gathered information that informed water quality analysis, biological opinions and State Water Project (SWP) decisions.

The Sentinel’s characteristics, according to the CDWR, include:

• Length – 60 feet
• Beam – 24 feet
• Draft – Three feet, six inches
• Weight – 36 tons
• Engines – twin Cummins QSB 6.7 conventional propulsion – 419 HP
• Speed – 20 knots
• 14-foot work skiff with 30 HP motor
• Lab Area – 266 square feet
• Aft deck work area – 337 square feet
• Three 3,300-pound-capacity cranes

Vancouver USA Rail Trench Wins International Award

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Vancouver USA has won an IHS Dredging and Port Construction Innovation Award for a project creating new rail entrance into the port.

The port said Jan. 4 that its trench project was selected over projects at Port Miami and DP World London Gateway to win this prestigious industry award, which was presented at a ceremony in London.

The Vancouver USA trench is a new east-west rail entrance that eliminates conflicts with north-south rail traffic by bringing trains under the 1908 Columbia River railroad bridge.

The structure, which is watertight and sits atop more than 410 steel pilings embedded in the river’s north bank, is the cornerstone of the port’s $275 million West Vancouver Freight Access project.

The WVFA project is a concerted effort by the port to invest in its freight rail infrastructure. It consists of 21 individual projects to improve the ability to move freight not only through the port but also along the BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad mainlines connecting the Pacific Northwest to major rail hubs throughout North America.

In selecting the trench as a winner in its category, the HIS judges called the trench “an innovative and interesting method of both design and construction,” and noted that it “resulted in more capacity, fewer delays and used innovative techniques.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of our project and the hard work of everyone involved,” port interim CEO Julianna Marler said. “This is a very unique and innovative structure with benefits that stretch far beyond the port’s borders.” The trench was completed in August 2015.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

FMC Penalizes San Francisco NVOCC for Rates Scheme

By Mark Edward

The Federal Maritime Commission has fined a South San Francisco-based Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier for alleged violations of Maritime Commission regulations and the Shipping Act.

The company penalized is licensed NVOCC Worldwide Container Transfer Corp., known as WCT. It was alleged that WCT obtained ocean transportation at less than applicable rates and charges by improperly accessing service contracts to which it was not a signatory, in addition to providing service in the liner trade that was not in accordance with the rates and charges in its published tariffs.

It was also alleged that both WCT and a partnering ocean freight forwarder, U-Ocean USA Corp., also located in South San Francisco, operated without a Qualifying Individual – defined as an active partner or corporate officer – for a period of over a year in violation of Commission regulations.

The two companies have made a joint payment of $220,000 in civil penalties, according to the Maritime Commission.

The fines were part of a total of $962,500 in civil penalties announced by the Maritime Commission in mid-December. The FMC said the agreements were reached with one vessel-operating common carrier and nine ocean transportation intermediaries, both non-vessel-operating common carriers and ocean freight forwarders.

The agreed penalties resulted from investigations conducted by the Commission’s area representatives in Seattle, Houston and New York, as well as by Washington DC headquarters staff.

The accused parties, which included companies based in Texas, Hong Kong, South Korea and China, settled and agreed to penalties, but were not required to admit to violations of the Shipping Act or Maritime Commission regulations.

“Through the investigative and enforcement efforts which have given rise to these agreements, the Commission strives to address past violations, as well as to deter similar conduct throughout the industry,” Maritime Commission Chair Mario Cordero said in a statement announcing the penalties.

NASSCO Christens 3rd “ECO Class” Tanker

By Mark Edward Nero

General Dynamics NASSCO has christened the Liberty, the third ECO Class tanker under contract with Florida-based customer SEA-Vista LLC.

On Dec. 17, Debora Denning, wife of SEACOR vice president Tom Denning, christened the ship with the traditional break of a champagne bottle on the side of the hull.

The 610-foot-long, 50,000 deadweight ton, LNG-conversion-ready ECO Class tanker is designed for fuel efficiency, and NASSCO has said it symbolizes the emerging direction of the shipping industry in the U.S. toward cleaner modes of transporting product.

The ship’s advanced “ECO” design achieves 33 percent increased fuel efficiency through several features, including a G-series MAN ME slow-speed main engine and an optimized hull form.

The Liberty is part of an eight-tanker program for two separate customers.

In 2016, NASSCO shipbuilders processed more than 60,000 tons of steel and delivered a record of six ships, including the first two ECO Class tankers for SEA-Vista LLC – the Independence and the Constitution.

“It’s been a busy and historic year for NASSCO,” company Vice President and General Manager Kevin Graney said.

NASSCO is the only major shipyard on the American West Coast conducting design, new construction and repair of commercial and US Navy ships. In the past decade, the company delivered 30 ocean-going ships to government and commercial customers – including the world’s first LNG-powered containerships.

Marcon Reaches 1 Million HP Brokered Mark

By Mark Edward Nero

Coupeville, Washington-based shipbroker Marcon Intl. said Dec. 28 that it has passed the one million horsepower mark in brokered sales.

With 2016’s latest and the second sale of the 7,200-HP tug Jimmy Smith to private US West Coast buyers, Marcon has over the past 35 years brokered 322 tugs for sale or charter totaling 1,005,657 HP, the company has said.

The 150-foot by 40.1-foot twin screw Jimmy Smith was built in 1976 by Equitable Shipyards of Madisonville, Louisiana to ABS +A1, Towing Service, Ice Class C, +AMS class as Hull 1667, the Gulf Commander.

The tug, according to Marcon, is powered by twin EMD 20-645E7A diesels with Reintjes WAV 4800 5:1 gears and 144” by 144” 4-blade fixed pitch props on 12-inch shafts in kort nozzles, plus is fitted with a 535-HP bow thruster to enhance maneuverability.

She has a bollard of 103 short tons and free running speed of about 11 to 13 knots on 220 to 330 gph. Her 221,400-gallon fuel capacity give the tug a range of about 11,070 nautical miles at 11 knots. Towing gear consists of an Intercon DD 250 double drum side-by-side tow winch with a wire capacity of about 4,000’ and 2,000’ of 2-inch wire, stern roller and Intercon tow pins.

The Jimmy Smith was one of two sister offshore anchor-handling tugs built for Gulf Mississippi Marine, which later became Gulf Fleet Marine of Houston, Texas in 1978 and Zapata Gulf Marine Service in 1985. Tidewater, Inc. acquired the tug in their 1992 acquisition of Zapata Gulf.

In 2002, Marcon brokered the sale of the tug, then known as Gulf Commander, from Tidewater to Honolulu-based Smith Maritime/Hawaiian Inter-island Towing and tug was renamed Jimmy Smith after the company’s founder.

K-Sea Transportation of New Jersey inherited the Jimmy Smith in 2007 when it acquired Smith Maritime. Four years later Kirby Corp. of Houston, Texas completed acquisition of K-Sea Transportation Partners and its fleet of 58 tank barges and 63 tugs including the Jimmy Smith.

The Jimmy Smith was laid up in fresh water at the time of the recent sale.

Marcon International reported 19 sales and charters concluded in 2016, and several more sales are pending, the company has said.

Port of Redwood City Dredging Project Completed

By Mark Edward Nero

Maintenance dredging of the Port of Redwood City’s shipping channel has been completed, thus restoring the channel to its authorized depth of minus-30 feet for the first time in almost two years, the port said in late December.

Maintaining the full depth allows ocean carriers to bring in fuller and more economic loads of cargo needed for construction in the San Francisco Bay/Silicon Valley area, while also facilitating the recycling of scrap metal by exporting to Asia.

The bigger Panamax ships serving the Port of Redwood City and the construction of roads and buildings in the region, require a dependably dredged channel to assure efficient operation.

Dredging, which was performed under the auspices of the US Army Corps of Engineers, was complete in mid-December.

Maintaining and improving America’s marine navigation network is the responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers, utilizing funds generated by the Harbor Maintenance Tax paid by importers.

Each year the Corps of Engineers and US Congress determine how to allocate these limited funds among the hundreds of navigation projects nationwide.

The port says that in 2016, US Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco) were instrumental in helping secure $7.9 million in funding for the just completed channel dredging.