Thursday, January 19, 2017

Seaspan Appoints New Marine Operations VP

By Mark Edward Nero

North Vancouver, BC-based marine transport company Seaspan has appointed Director of Operations Paul Hilder to the position of Vice President, Marine Operations, the company said Jan. 10.

In his new role on Seaspan’s senior leadership team, Hilder will be accountable for overseeing the operational efficiency and safety of all vessels and marine crews.

Working in collaboration with port captains, dispatch and the regulatory and compliance departments, Hilder will also oversee and monitor ongoing operational and training issues to reduce potential risks and liabilities to the company.

Hilder re-joined Seaspan Marine as Director of Operations in February 2016. Prior to that, he worked at Seabridge Marine Services in its International Chartering and Operations divisions where he specialized in heavy lift project cargoes and semi-submersible jobs. In that role, he also managed all new build deliveries and specialized in marine transports.

From 2008 to 2012, he was a vessel operations project supervisor with Seaspan. And, from 2005 to 2008 he was back at Seabridge Marine as Operations Manager.

“Paul has over 30 years’ experience in marine operations and is an invaluable part of the team,” Seaspan Marine President Bart Reynolds said in a statement. “I’m very happy he’s back in the Seaspan fold and look forward to working with him.”

AAPA Looks to ‘Maximize’ Number of Cruise Guests

By Mark Edward Nero

Maximizing the number of cruise guests and ensuring they have a favorable cruise experience are among the key topics to be addressed at the American Association of Port Authorities’ 2017 Cruise Seminar, set for Feb. 14-15 in San Diego.

Updates on the state of the cruise industry, environmental-related issues and port security, along with a 2.5-hour “Shorex Experience” to discover San Diego as a cruise guest does during a port-of-call, are also on tap for participants.

“While the networking opportunities are reason enough to attend this program, the caliber of speakers and business program content make it all the more worthwhile,” said Susan Monteverde, the AAPA’s vice president of government relations and liaison to AAPA’s Cruise Committee.

“For the many professionals who work in the cruise industry at ports, there’s nothing like getting together with their industry colleagues to learn new and innovative ideas, and avoid ‘re-creating the wheel’ in addressing industry issues,” she said.

In addition to port authority leaders from the US, Mexico and Canada, prominent speakers from several major cruise lines, the US Environmental Protection Agency, US Customs and Border Protection and Mexico’s Office of Tourism are scheduled to speak.

More information about AAPA’s Cruise Awards is available at More information about the agenda for the AAPA’s 2017 Cruise Seminar is available at

POLB Selling 5.6 Acre Land Parcel

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Long Beach is selling a 5.6-acre parking lot in downtown Long Beach.

The port bough the parcel in 2011 while it was in discussions to buy a downtown building for use as a headquarters. The parcel’s located behind the One World Trade Center building and the Hilton Hotel.

Because the property’s owned by a government agency, there’s no assessed value, but the last sale before the port bought the property was $18 million in 2005.

With the next port headquarters being built at the new Long Beach Civic Center, also in the downtown area, port commissioners determined now was the right time to test the market for a sale of the 5.6-acre lot, Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzmán said.

“We’re committed to getting a competitive price for the property,” Guzmán said. “But as a public agency, diligence demands we also consider other factors such as the track record of the developer and its ability to deliver on a vision that is good for downtown Long Beach.”

The port has said that proceeds from a sale would go into its general fund. The property listing can be at

Seattle Port Commission Chooses New Leaders

By Mark Edward Nero

On Jan. 17, the Port of Seattle Commission elected its officers for 2017, and Commissioner Tom Albro was chosen as the five-member body’s president, while Commissioner Courtney Gregoire will serve as vice president.

Commissioner Stephanie Bowman will serve as secretary, Commissioner Fred Felleman will serve as assistant secretary, and Commissioner John Creighton will be commissioner-at-large.

“It’s my privilege to serve as commission president,” Albro, who was first elected to the Port Commission in 2010, said. “I believe in servant leadership – the call of a leader to serve those who elected them. So my approach will be to help us all do our best and work effectively together. I look forward to the year ahead, which I’m sure will be busy.”

Commissioners also thanked outgoing president John Creighton for his service during his one-year term.

In 2016, Creighton and the port launched progressively innovative programs aimed at directly improving opportunities for industries and communities, while improving regional quality of life. Key accomplishments in 2016 included providing more than $1 million in Economic Development Partnership and Tourism Development awards to help 31 King County cities and 13 Washington State tourism groups; and funding assistance for state and local roads that ease congestion and improve freight movement.

The port also tripled the number of internships offered via partnerships with related employers; and completed the environmental review to redevelop Terminal 5 and make it big-ship ready in partnership with the Northwest Seaport Alliance. In 2017, the port says it plans additional environmental and economic development initiatives, particularly those focused on reducing carbon emissions, improving quality of life in communities near the airport, and connecting more people to port-related careers.

In its 2017 budget, the Commission authorized more than $45 million in environmental initiatives and projects; $3.9 million in workforce development programs to provide more internships and job-training programs; $1.7 million to promote, support and expand regional tourism initiatives; and $1 million in grants to cities in King County to support their economic development initiatives.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Port of Portland CEO Wyatt Retiring

By Mark Edward Nero

On Jan. 11, Port of Portland Executive Director Bill Wyatt formally announced that after more than a decade and a half leading the port, he’s retiring on June 30.

“It has been an enormous privilege to have served the port for the past 16 years,” Wyatt said in a statement. “I believe the port has never been in a stronger position to address opportunities and challenges than it is today,” he said. “I will leave in June knowing the future is bright for this organization.”

Wyatt was selected to lead the port in 2001 and he began work just weeks after the September 11 attacks. Prior to his appointment, Wyatt served as Chief of Staff to former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber for seven years, preceded by six years as President of the Oregon Business Council, and five years as Executive Director of the Association for Portland Progress, which at the time was Portland’s downtown development association.

A native Oregonian, Wyatt served as a state representative from the Astoria area from 1974–1977. The port has already launched a search for a new executive director and has hired Orange County, Calif.-based executive search firm McDermott and Bull to conduct the process.

As part of that process, the port commission is expected to adopt a job profile and search criteria and then finalize the search process during its Feb. 8 regular public meeting.

In the spring, candidates are to be interviewed by an advisory group, and a Port Commission executive session would be held to interview finalists.

The commission could then approve and hire a candidate during a public meeting by the time of Wyatt’s departure in June.

Annual POLB Cargo Dips Nearly 6 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Long Beach says that its terminals moved nearly 6.8 million containers in 2016, making it the port’s fifth best year ever. However, the overall cargo numbers declined 5.8 percent last year compared to 2015, the data show.

The port attributes the decline to “industry headwinds” and challenges that included a major customer declaring bankruptcy.

Long Beach says it was negatively impacted by new ocean carrier alliances and the August, 2016 bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping, a South Korean company and former majority stakeholder at the port’s 381-acre Pier T container terminal — Long Beach’s largest.

A total of 6,775,171 TEUs moved through the port’s docks in 2016. Imports totaled 3,442,575 TEUs, down five percent, but exports were up 0.3 percent to 1,529,497 units. Empty containers were down 11.7 percent to 1,803,098 TEUs.

By comparison, cargo volumes at the adjacent Port of Los Angeles reached 8.85 million TEUs in 2016, making it the busiest cargo year ever for a port in North America, according to POLA data.

In December, Long Beach cargo was eight percent lower compared to the same month in 2015. Imports decreased 8.2 percent to 271,599 twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, last month, while exports fell 2.5 percent to 122,933 TEUs, and empties fell 11.4 percent to 154,397 TEUs.

Although the loss of Hanjin had an immediate negative effect, by year’s end the port’s harbor commission had approved an agreement for a subsidiary of Mediterranean Shipping Co., one of the world’s largest container ship operators, to take sole control of the long-term lease at Pier T, helping set things back on track.

“As the new year starts, we’re grateful to be able to put the Hanjin bankruptcy behind us,” POLB Interim Chief Executive Duane Kenagy said. “At the same time, MSC’s quick interest in Pier T once it became available shows the facility’s value to the industry.”

Kenagy became interim CEO in September, following the sudden departure of then-CEO Jon Slangerup who left to become chairman and chief executive officer of a Canada-based aviation technology company.

“Last year was turbulent, with numerous ocean carrier mergers and other changes,” Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzmán said in a statement. “Now we have one of the largest ocean carriers in the world as a major partner and we’re well positioned to rebound in 2017. While the industry strives for equilibrium, Long Beach will continue be a reliable port of entry and continue to provide the fastest, most efficient services for trade from the Far East.”

Long Beach’s latest monthly cargo numbers and more detailed information are available at and

Oakland Port Head: Growth is the Theme in 2017

By Mark Edward Nero

Analysts are projecting three-to-four percent cargo volume growth for West Coast ports in 2017, but the Port of Oakland plans to outperform that prediction, the port’s executive director said during his annual State of the Port speech on Jan. 12.

Executive Director Chris Lytle spoke to an invited audience of about 250 people during his annual address in Jack London Square. The audience included Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

It was a year ago that the Port of Oakland faced the bankruptcy of its second-largest marine terminal tenant, Ports America. Now, Lytle said, Oakland faces a new year fortified by record earnings and cargo volume over the last 12 months.

“I have to tell you, this feels a whole lot better,” Lytle said. “We’re on a bit of a roll.”

He then rattled off record-breaking performances at the port during the past year, including loaded containerized cargo volume at the port, as well as an all-time high of $338 million in operating revenue for fiscal year 2016.

Lytle also said the port reported a 98 percent drop in truck diesel emissions, improving air quality in nearby neighborhoods.

The port’s progress is gratifying, given where it began 2016, Lytle said. A year ago, Ports America, Oakland’s second-largest terminal operator, declared bankruptcy and departed. The port responded by consolidating container business into four remaining terminals. The move resulted in Oakland retaining all of the bankrupt terminal’s cargo, and actually growing loaded container volume 7.6 percent. “We’re healthy, and we want to keep it that way,” Lytle said.

There’s still work to do if Oakland wants to grow its influence as a global trade gateway, he said. Operating performance improved in 2016, he said, but has to get better. He also said Oakland needs to increase its containerized import volume to match strong export growth.

“Our marine terminals are investing, modernizing, improving,” he said. “We’ve done a very good job in preparing for the future.”

Lytle said continued growth would be the port’s theme in 2017.

A groundbreaking is likely in February on a 300,000-square-foot Cool Port, a cold storage and transfer facility that could process up to 30,000 containers of beef and pork annually.

POLB to Hold Public Meeting on Rail Study

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Long Beach says it’s holding a public hearing this week to gather input on a draft environmental study for a proposal that would increase the use of on-dock trains, moving cargo more efficiently while making operations more sustainable.

The hearing on the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18 at the port’s interim administrative offices, 4801 Airport Plaza Dr., Long Beach.

The EIR, which was released in December, analyzes the impacts of the proposed development, and the mitigation measures that would be used to address those impacts.

Thirty minutes before the hearing, at 5:30 p.m., the port hosts a public open house providing educational displays and information regarding its overall rail strategy.

The proposed Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility could, according to the port, shift more cargo to on-dock rail, where containers are placed directly on trains at marine terminals, significantly reducing trips by trucks throughout the region.

No trucks would visit the facility; instead, smaller train segments would be brought to the facility and joined together into a full-sized train.

The rail yard would be operated by Pacific Harbor Line, which provides short haul rail transportation switching services, railroad track maintenance and train dispatching services under contract to the port.

A project fact sheet, the draft EIR and a video about the proposed facility are all available at

The port is receiving comment on the study through Feb. 13. Comments can be made in person at the public hearing or sent in writing to Heather Tomley, Director of Environmental Planning, 4801 Airport Plaza Dr., Long Beach, CA 90815 or