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Friday, January 27, 2017

Port of Vancouver USA Picks New CEO

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Vancouver USA Board of Commissioners on Jan. 24 voted 2-1 to hire interim CEO Julianna Marler as the port’s permanent CEO/Executive Director.

“I deeply appreciate the commission’s support and the rigorous process they went through to select me as CEO,” Marler said. “The Port of Vancouver plays a significant role in building a strong, healthy and vibrant region, and I look forward leading the port into to a thriving future.”

Marler, who was appointed interim CEO by the board in May 2016, was one of three finalists for the position. The other two were current Port of Olympia Executive Director Edward Galligan, and Arthur Scheunemann, former President and CEO of the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County.

“We had three highly qualified candidates, and that made this a hard decision,” Commission President Brian Wolfe said. “I believe Julianna is best suited to take us forward and realize the vision this port has for connecting with the community and bringing economic benefit to our region.”

“Julianna was stacked up against the best of the industry and she’s the most qualified candidate,” Commission Vice President Eric LaBrant said. “I think this positions us well for moving forward with the vision this port has for its future.”

Commission Secretary Jerry Oliver cast the dissenting vote, but said he would support the CEO selected by the commission.

“I’m excited for what lies ahead and look forward to working with Ms. Marler to realize the opportunities that will mean so much to this port and the community,” Oliver said.

With the vote to hire Marler, the Board of Commissioners directed port Director of Human Resources Jonathan Eder to negotiate terms of employment, including salary, benefits and a start date, which must be approved by the commission.

The port said it expects to present this as an action item at the next regularly scheduled Board of Commissioners meeting, scheduled for Feb. 14.

If approved, she would replace ex-CEO Todd Coleman, who stepped down from the position in May 2016. Coleman, an engineer by trade, began his career with the port in 2001, when he was hired as facilities manager. After three promotions, he was named deputy executive director in 2005. He was appointed CEO in 2012 and said at the time that he intended to lead the port for just four years.

Matson Fined for Honolulu Molasses Spill

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Environmental Protection Agency has reached a settlement agreement with Matson Terminals Inc. regarding federal Clean Water Act violations relating to a September 2013 molasses spill into Honolulu Harbor, the EPA announced.

Matson has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $725,000, according to the EPA.

From Sept. 8 to Sept. 10, 2013, Matson spilled roughly 233,000 gallons of sugarcane molasses into Honolulu Harbor during ship-loading activities, the EPA said. The spill occurred from a section of pipe that the Hawaii Department of Transportation found was leaking in 2012, and reported to Matson.

The molasses discharge killed an estimated 25,000 fish in the harbor and damaged coral reefs in the area.

Matson no longer ships molasses from Honolulu Harbor after it reached an agreement with the state of Hawaii in 2015 to cease transporting molasses through Honolulu Harbor, remove the molasses distribution system, pay for re-growing corals that were damaged or destroyed, and reimburse related cleanup costs.

“Dockside facilities must ensure their operations do not pollute nearshore waters,” Alexis Strauss, the EPA’s acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest said in a statement. “The Honolulu Harbor spill affected marine life, coral reefs and kept residents and visitors from enjoying the city’s incomparable coastal environment.”

The EPA’s civil action followed a January 2015 criminal action taken by the US Attorney’s Office against Matson, in which Matson paid a $400,000 fine plus restitution of $600,000 after pleading guilty to criminal charges of unlawfully discharging molasses into Honolulu Harbor. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the restitution was divided equally between the Waikiki Aquarium to support coral reef programs and invasive algae cleanups and Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii to inspire local communities to care for coastlines through beach cleanups.

Oakland Port Launching Growth Initiative

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said Jan. 25 that the port expects to begin construction on nearly 750,000 square feet of warehousing this year, as well as raise the height of ship-to-shore cranes to load and unload bigger ships.

The work is intended to drive more containerized cargo volume through the Port of Oakland. Additionally, Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle has called on a 60-member port stakeholders task force for guidance.

“We want more cargo,” Lytle reportedly told his audience during a meeting at port headquarters. “But we need all of you at the table to make sure we do it right.”

It was the first 2017 meeting for the assembly of shipping lines, railroads, motor carriers, dockworkers, Customs officers and cargo owners. The Task Force came together 18 months ago to improve Oakland’s operating efficiency. Now it’s being asked to help refine operations in light of upcoming construction projects that will include:

• A 283,000-square-foot ‘Cool Port’ refrigerated warehouse scheduled to begin construction in March that could send an additional 30,000 containers full of chilled meat through Oakland annually;

• A 440,000-square-foot Seaport Logistics Complex warehouse that could break ground in late 2017; and

• Raising six cranes 26-feet higher beginning in April so they can reach containers stacked aboard the largest ships calling on North America.

“These projects are game-changers for the Port of Oakland,” Driscoll said. “They give us growth potential for the next 20 years.”

Task force members have said they’re working on new efficiency measures to prepare for Oakland’s growth, including a common online portal to transact business with all four of the port’s marine terminals and refined metrics to gauge transaction times.

Companies Lauded for Slowing Down in Santa Barbara Channel

By Mark Edward Nero

Participants in an initiative to cut air pollution and protect whales have announced results from the 2016 voluntary incentive program and publicly recognized 10 shipping companies that participated, reducing speeds in the Santa Barbara Channel region to 12 knots or less.

The program, which started July 1 and ended Nov. 15, 2016, saw the following shipping companies participate in the 2016 vessel speed reduction incentive program: CMA CGM, Evergreen, Hamburg Sud, Hapag Lloyd, Holland, K Line, Maersk, MOL, NYK Line and Yang Ming.

A recognition ceremony took place recently at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council meeting in Santa Barbara, located about 95 miles north of Los Angeles.

The program was a collaborative effort by the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, NOAA’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Ventura County Air Pollution Control District, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and Volgenau Foundation.

Automatic identification system data for ship speeds in the program verified that more than 80 percent of the enrolled transits were successful in reducing speeds to 12 knots or less, and transits were successful in achieving an additional bonus incentive for slowing to 10 knots or less. The program reduced more than 27 tons of emissions of nitrogen oxides and more than 1,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases.

Ships account for more than 50 percent of NOx emissions in Santa Barbara County and over 25 percent of NOx emissions in Ventura County. Ship strikes are also a major threat to recovering endangered and threatened whale populations, including blue, humpback, and fin whales. Slowing ship speeds reduces air pollution and has been shown to reduce the risk of fatal strikes on whales.

“With two of the busiest ports in the world, thousands of vessels travel through the Santa Barbara Channel and the Channel Island National Marine Sanctuary. These vessels pose collision threats to large whales,” explained Kris Sarri, president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

Incentives ranged from $1,500 to $2,500 depending on historical speeds in the program area. Additional incentives up to $1,250 were available for ships that slow to 10 knots or less; submit detailed whale sightings reports; and demonstrate that schedules were adjusted so that the ships did not need to speed up elsewhere along the route.

The partners said they’re now working on identifying funding sources for a 2017 VSR incentive program, expected to start June 1.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Historic Battleship Plugs in at Port of LA

By Mark Edward Nero

The battleship USS Iowa, which now sits as a floating museum at the Port of Los Angeles, on Jan. 23 unveiled a new and permanent educational exhibit coinciding with the vessel becoming the latest vessel to plug into clean, electric shore-side power at the port.

AMP – alternative maritime power – technology allows vessels to shut down their diesel engines while at berth and plug into clean shore-side power to run on-board systems. The Iowa’s operational systems previously ran on a diesel generator.

The new exhibit on the wharf steps from the entry ramp onto the battleship Iowa is a joint project of the Battleship IOWA, Cavotec and the port. The exhibit, which includes heavy-duty AMP cables and connectors, celebrates the technology’s success, its widespread adoption at ports worldwide over the past decade, and the stakeholders who helped make AMP a viable alternative for container and cruise ships calling at the port.

Ships are the heaviest pollution contributors in seaborne trade, accounting for about half of all port-related pollution in San Pedro Bay. Plugging a ship into shore-side power for a 24-hour period achieves the same air quality improvements as taking 33,000 cars off the road, according to the POLA.

The port first used AMP in 2004, three years before the California Air Resources Board began requiring container, cruise and refrigerated cargo ships to use AMP or an equivalent technology. International standards for shore-side power connections were put into place in 2012.

“The Port of Los Angeles made history as the birthplace of electric shore-side power technology for container ships,” Iowa museum President and CEO Jonathan Williams said. “So it’s fitting that a historical icon like the Battleship IOWA will house an exhibit where the public can learn about AMP.”

Harley Marine Announces Names of Under-Construction Tug-and-Barge Units

By Mark Edward Nero

On Jan. 20, Seattle-based Harley Marine Services announced the naming of its two new articulated tug and barge (ATB) units now under construction at Gunderson Marine and Conrad Shipyard.

The vessels include two 80,000-barrel barges being built at Gunderson Marine in Portland, Ore. and two 116-foot tugs under construction at Louisiana-based Conrad Shipyard.

On the first unit, the tug will be named ONECURE and the barge ONEDREAM. The names are said to have a very personal meaning to company Chairman and CEO Harley Franco, as he honors his lifelong friends, Larry and Sherry Benaroya, of the Benaroya Research Foundation, for the work they’ve done fighting diabetes in the Pacific Northwest.

Harley Marine Services has been a longtime supporter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in its effort to fight Type 1 Diabetes, and the name ONEDREAM is derived from Seattle’s Dream Gala fundraiser. ONEDREAM will be propelled by ONECURE, which aspires for a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.

The second ATB unit is being named with a nod to Harley Marine Services corporate culture. The tugboat is being named TODD E PROPHET after Harley Marine Services’ Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and the barge is being named ALL ABOARD FOR A CURE.

Todd Prophet, who has been a company leader for 19 years, has battled lung cancer. The companion barge ALL ABOARD FOR A CURE, speaks to Harley Marine’s mission to give back to the community, the company has said, whether fighting to end cancer, cystic fibrosis or diabetes.

The tugs are 116 feet long with a beam of 36 feet. Each is equipped with two GE Tier 4 propulsion engines, for a total of about 4,560 horsepower, and two John Deere, Tier 3 generators. The engines reduce NOx and particulate matter and are each equipped with a Markey tow winch and bow and stern fendering.

The barges are 430 feet long with a beam of 76 feet with a carrying capacity of 80,000 barrels. Their state-of-the-art Nitrogen Gas Generators inject Nitrogen into all cargo compartments maintaining an inert or “oxygen deficient” environment which exponentially increases the safety of the barge.

The ATBs will be coupled utilizing Articouple pins to connect the tugs to the barges. These connections create one unit which functions like a tanker ensuring more stability under tow.

“The vessels will exceed all regulatory, internal, and customers’ expectations,” Harley Marine said in a statement.

Oakland Port: Trade Transformed by Local Growers

By Mark Edward Nero

Agricultural export tonnage has grown a stunning 233 percent at the Port of Oakland in the last five years, resulting in a transformation of the port’s trade profile into a leading gateway to Asia – especially for California growers.

That was the message delivered Jan. 20 by a port executive to members of the California Trucking Association.

“Agricultural commodities now account for 53 percent of our total export tonnage,” Oakland port Business Development Manager Beth Frisher told motor carriers at their annual membership meeting last week in Monterey, Calif. “And California growers are producing the lion’s share of that amount.”

Frisher said that in 2016, farm exports shipped from Oakland totaled 3.9 million metric tons, which was up from 1.2 million metric tons in 2012. She added that California producers accounted for 70 percent of agricultural exports last year.

She listed three reasons for the surge in farm exports:

• Asia’s growing middle class is clamoring for high-quality US farm products.

• Oakland is the last West Coast port of call before ships head back to Asia. That means perishables spend less time on the ocean if they’re loaded in Oakland, which extends shelf life.

• Oakland is the closest port for growers in the Sacramento, San Joaquin, Salinas and Napa valleys who export to Asia.

Fruits and nuts are the leading agricultural commodity shipped from Oakland, Frisher said, followed by meats, beverages and spirits, including California wines.

Japan, China and South Korea are the top three trading partners for Oakland’s agricultural exports, according to data.

Oakland reported a 10.5 percent increase in total export volume last year, with exports accounting for 53 percent of the port’s overall containerized cargo volume, and imports accounting for the rest. Oakland is one of just a few US ports weighted more heavily toward exports.

In her remarks, Frisher said 2017 could be another year of export growth – especially in agricultural commodities. Heavy rains this winter have eased five years of drought, she said. The result should be bountiful harvests next fall.

Seaport Alliance: Annual Container Volumes Reach a 9-Year High

By Mark Edward Nero

In 2016, the Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma handled a combined 3.61 million TEUs for the year, an increase of more than two percent from 2015 volumes.

The maritime operations of the two ports are collectively known as the Northwest Seaport Alliance.

Full imports for the year were up six percent to 1.39 million TEUs and full exports increased 13 percent to 984,274 TEUs, according to Seaport Alliance data.

Domestic volumes saw a slight dip in 2016 as Alaska struggled with a decline in oil- and gas-related project activity due to low commodity prices. Domestic volumes decreased 1.5 percent for the year.

December’s full import volumes recorded their highest for the month over the last five years. Following a solid November for full international imports and exports, the Seaport Alliance had another strong month in December, with 14 percent and six percent increases, respectively, compared with December 2015, data show.

Regarding other cargo, breakbulk was down 23 percent for the year to 181,372 metric tons as the Seaport Alliance said that global downturn in agricultural, mining and construction equipment, and a strong US dollar impacted volumes.

Log exports declined 25 percent for the year to 176,928 metric tons due to what the Alliance said was decreased demand in China and competition from New Zealand.

Auto units fell 10 percent to 165,687 units for year, with the cause blamed on production issues as well as supply chain shifts.

The ports container volumes for last month can be seen at https://www.nwseaportalliance.com/sites/default/files/seaport_alliance_full_mty_by_month_2015vs16_1.pdf, while December 2016 cargo statistics can be seen at https://www.nwseaportalliance.com/sites/default/files/seaport-alliance-5-year_history-12_dec.pdf