Friday, February 3, 2017

Port of Seattle CEO Fick Resigns

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick suddenly resigned from the position on Feb. 1 after less than two-and-a-half years on the job, and nearly eight months before his three-year contract was set to expire.

“I have come to realize that my talents and strengths are best suited to the private sector, where I plan to return,” Fick stated in his resignation letter.

Fick’s departure came days after he was placed on administrative leave while undergoing a performance review by the five-member Port of Seattle Commission. Neither the impetus for the review or details of it have been publicly stated.

During a special Feb. 2 meeting, the Port Commission accepted Fick’s resignation and appointed Chief Operating Officer Dave Soike interim CEO.

“We accept the resignation of Ted Fick, and acknowledge his desire to return to the private sector,” Commission President Tom Albro said in a prepared statement. “We are currently working through the details of his departure and will defer further comment until those details are resolved.”

Fick came to the port in September 2014 after he was hired to replace outgoing CEO Tay Yoshitani, who was retiring from the job after being with the port since 2007.

Prior to the Port of Seattle, Fick spent many years working in the Puget Sound region’s manufacturing and industrial community, beginning at his family’s Tacoma-based company, Fick Foundry, from 1977 to 1983. Then, from 1983 to 2000 he worked for PACCAR, one of the Pacific Northwest’s primary manufacturers, and held leadership positions within both PACCAR and its Kenworth division.

He’s also been employed by Ingersoll Rand Ltd. (2004-2007) and Polar Corp. Inc. (2009-2013), among other companies.

Soike, who had already been running the port while Fick was on administrative leave, has been with the port in various roles since 1980, beginning as a junior engineer. Just this past March, he had been named by Fick to the newly-created position of Chief Operating Officer.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

MSC, Hyundai Complete Purchase of Total Terminal Intl. Assets

By Mark Edward Nero

Hyundai Merchant Marine and Mediterranean Shipping Co. have finalized the purchase of Hanjin Shipping’s interests in Total Terminals International, which operates facilities at the seaports in Long Beach and Seattle.

Hanjin put the interests up for grabs following its filing for bankruptcy last summer. Hanjin, previously the world’s seventh largest container carrier, filed for receivership last August after losing the support of financial institutions that had been providing it credit.

Under the acquisition, MSC subsidiary Terminal Investment Ltd. assumes 80 percent, and Hyundai Merchant Marine receives the other 20 percent, of all of Hanjin’s equity and shareholder loans in both TTI and an associated terminal equipment leasing company, Hanjin TEC.

“Our focus throughout the acquisition consultation has been, and will continue to be, rebuilding the business and servicing the needs of our affiliated shipping line MSC, its 2M partner Maersk, and our new joint venture partner HMM,” TIL President Alistair Baillie said in a statement.

With its purchase of Hanjin’s 54 percent stake in TTI, MSC became the sole owner of the terminal operator. Hyundai and MSC jointly submitted an offer for the share in TTI in late 2016, however, Hyundai later decided to pull out of the joint bid in favor of a minority stake in the operator.

POLA Launches Video Spotlight Series

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Los Angeles is spotlighting some of its stakeholders, from community members to small businesses to major corporations, in a new video series it calls “1 in 9.”

The video shorts give a glimpse into the reach and impact of the San Pedro Bay port complex, with each episode showcasing the profession of one individual in a particular geographical area, and his or her connection to the port.

The premiere featured an interview with Jane Skeeter, Founder, President and CEO of UltraGlas, an architectural designer and manufacturer of specialty glass in Chatsworth, Calif.

The video series, the port has said, is an effort to raise awareness about how regional jobs and businesses are connected to trade through San Pedro Bay. The name “1 in 9” is a play on the statistic that one in nine jobs in the greater Los Angeles region is connected to the San Pedro Bay port complex.

The 1 in 9 series highlights the different careers and industries supported by trade through the port and surrounding five-county region.

“The San Pedro Bay port complex is a job and business generator for the entire Southern California region,” Port of LA Executive Director Gene Seroka said. “This series gives viewers a better idea about the scope of employment and the impact the port has well beyond Los Angeles.”

The series, which was created and produced by the port’s in-house communications team, is designed for the web and social media, and is also expected to air on area television stations, with new episodes added monthly.

In addition to the port’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, “1 in 9” episodes are also available on the port’s website at

Port of Vancouver USA Launching Lecture Series

By Mark Edward Nero

If you’ve ever wondered how soybeans from North Dakota make it all the way to China, what it’s like to be a river pilot or what the wooden structures in the Columbia River are and how they help vessels of all kinds safely navigate the river, then you’ll soon be able to find out.

The Port of Vancouver USA is launching a lecture series featuring industry experts who’ll share knowledge, personal experiences and fascinating facts about how railroads and the maritime industry work, how products move by road, river and rail, and how ports connect people to the global marketplace.

The Port of Vancouver USA 2017 lecture series takes place from 6:30 pm to 8 pm Feb. 13 and 23 at the port’s Terminal 1 Gulls Nest Conference Room, 100 Columbia St., Vancouver.

The Feb. 13 lecture features Columbia River pilot Capt. Paul Amos and Pacific Northwest Waterways Association Executive Director Kristin Meira.

Capt. Amos will share his knowledge and firsthand experiences in the tug and barge industry, and towing vessels on the Columbia, Snake and Willamette rivers. Meira will discuss the importance of a reliable, efficient and sustainable river system to our way of life in the Pacific Northwest.

The Feb. 23 lecture features Port of Vancouver USA Director of Operations Todd Krout and Rail Manager Wayne Harner, who will share their knowledge of rail infrastructure, safety, cargo movement, railroad jobs and railcar types typically seen in Southwest Washington.

The first two lectures are just the first of several the port plans in 2017 on a variety of topics. Seats are limited and those interested in attending are encouraged to sign up early. To register, call (360) 693-3611 or email

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

POLB Extends Rail Facility Comments Deadline by a Month

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Long Beach has extended by a month the comment period on a draft report studying a proposed rail support facility that would increase the use of on-dock trains, moving cargo more efficiently while making operations more sustainable.

The previous deadline was Feb. 13, but the public is now invited to submit written comments through March 13.

Also, an additional public hearing has been scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15 at Tepechi Restaurant, 1430 Santa Fe Ave., in Long Beach. The port has already hosted two public hearings on the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility: one on Jan. 11 and another on Jan. 18.

The proposed Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility could 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 railyard 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. Pacific Harbor Line has converted its entire fleet to “clean” diesel locomotives that reduce air pollution and save fuel.

A project fact sheet, the draft EIR and a video about the proposed on-dock rail support facility are available at

Also, comments can be made in person at the Feb. 15 public hearing or sent in writing to Heather Tomley, Director of Environmental Planning, 4801 Airport Plaza Drive, Long Beach, CA 90815 or

New Maritime Threat Advisory System Established

By Mark Edward Nero

A group of US maritime and intelligence agencies have devised a new US Maritime Advisory System that they say establishes a single federal process to expeditiously provide maritime threat information to maritime industry stakeholders, including vessels at sea.

The US Maritime Administration, in partnership with the US Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Transportation, and Homeland Security, as well as the intelligence community, and maritime industry stakeholders played a part in the development of the system.

MarAd says that the new US Maritime Advisory System streamlines, consolidates and replaces maritime threat information previously disseminated in three separate government agency instruments: Special Warnings, MarAd Advisories, and global maritime security related Marine Safety Information Bulletins.

This new system establishes for the first time, a single, whole-of-government maritime security notification mechanism, and represents the most significant update to the issuance of U.S. government maritime security alerts and advisories since 1939, according to MarAd.

Vigor, Maritime Works Team Up for Worker Training Initiative

By Mark Edward Nero

On Jan. 26, Vigor, Alaska’s largest shipbuilder and ship repair company, and Anchorage-based workforce development organization Maritime Works jointly announced plans for a training program aimed at developing an advanced manufacturing workforce comprised of Alaska residents.

The initiative, called Advancing Alaskan Workers, is aimed at combatting the high turnover rates seen at the Ketchikan shipyard and elsewhere that result when non-Alaskans are recruited to fill the critical skills gap in the state.

Vigor and Maritime Works say the project will offer structured on-the-job training, leading to industry-recognized credentials and family wage careers.

“This is key to providing sustainable opportunities for Alaskans in the Ketchikan workforce as well as providing Vigor’s current workforce a path for upgrading skills, advancing to leadership positions and higher earnings,” Maritime Works spokeswoman Cari-Ann Carty said.

Carty is the Executive Director of the Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium (APICC), an industry backed nonprofit, which serves as staff and fiscal agent for Maritime Works.

In 2016, Vigor employed 191 people at the Ketchikan Shipyard, up substantially from just 21 employees in 1994. With large contracts to build two Alaska-class ferries for the Alaska Marine Highway System – and other large projects forecasted for the future – Vigor and Maritime Works are taking steps to build a skilled local workforce to meet the demand.

“The maritime sector holds great promise for the future of our state,” Vigor’s shipyard development director, Doug Ward said. “To realize that promise we must have a stable, best-in-class Alaska resident workforce which will enable us to win more contracts and in turn provide a steady flow of work for our community.”

NASSCO Begins Construction of Navy Expeditionary Ship

By Mark Edward Nero

On Jan. 25, San Diego-based General Dynamics NASSCO began construction of a fifth ship for the US Navy’s Expeditionary Transfer Dock (ESD)/Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) program, formerly known as Mobile Landing Platforms.

The new ship, ESB 5, is the latest to be added to a contract between NASSCO and the US Navy that originally called for two Expeditionary Transfer Docks: USNS Montford Point (T-ESD 1) and USNS John Glenn (T-ESD 2).

The newest ESB is designed to provide advanced flexibility and capability for sea-to-shore missions. It includes a 52,000 square-foot flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, repair spaces, magazines, mission planning spaces and accommodations for up to 250 personnel.

While serving as a ‘pier at sea,’ the 784-foot-long ship is also designed to support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters and MV-22 tilt rotor aircraft.

The first two ships in the contract, formerly classified as Mobile Landing Platforms (MLPs), were designed and constructed by NASSCO to support vehicle staging and transfers, and the movement of LCAC vessels. In 2012, a third ship, USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3), was added to the contract and reconfigured as an ESB, formerly known as a MLP Afloat Forward Staging Base, to support a wide range of military operations.

All three ships have been delivered to the US Navy, and in October 2015, NASSCO began construction on ESB 4, USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams.