Friday, March 10, 2017

Maritime Commission Amends Maritime Supply Chain Rules

By Mark Edward Nero

On March 6, the Federal Maritime Commission voted unanimously to amend its rules involving service contracts and non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC) service arrangements in an effort to ease regulatory burdens and make the agency’s rules more consistent with how the ocean shipping business is practiced.

The approved rulemaking makes the following changes to Commission regulations:

• It allows the filing of sequential service contract amendments with the Maritime Commission within 30 days of the effective date of an agreement between shipper and carrier.

• It allows up to 30 days for filing NVOCC service arrangement agreements with the Maritime Commission after their effective date.

• It allows additional time to correct technical data transmission errors from 48 hours to 30 days; and,

• It extends the period in which one can file a service contract correction request from 45 days to 180 days.

This is the first substantive revision to NVOCC service arrangements since being introduced in 2005, according to the FMC.

“The Commission examined regulatory requirements for service contracts and NVOCC Service Arrangements in light of current commercial practice and has eliminated a number of burdensome regulatory requirements that served as obstacles to efficient ocean transportation arrangements, added unnecessary transactional costs, and served no regulatory purpose,” Acting FMC Chairman Michael Khouri said.

“This regulatory adjustment will help expedite commerce through streamlining the contractual relationship between carriers, NVOCCs, and shippers,” added Commissioner William Doyle. The Commission first initiated action in the matter in February 2016 with the publication of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was issued in August 2016.

Former Research Vessel Partially Sinks Near Willapa Bay

By Mark Edward Nero

The 125-foot, 300 gross ton ex-research vessel Hero partially sank at the pier in Bay Center near Willapa Bay, Washington this week.

On Monday, March 6, Coast Guard Sector Columbia River personnel were notified of the sunken vessel, and Coast Guard personnel alongside the Washington Department of Ecology personnel responded to assess any pollution risks.

A light sheening was reported, and response crews deployed sorbent booms and pads around the vessel to contain any residual product.

The Coast Guard has now opened the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund in the amount of $25,000 to minimize pollution potential from the incident. The trust fund was utilized to contract Global Diving and Salvage resulting in the removal of more than 70 gallons of diesel fuel and lube oil from the vessel on Tuesday, March 7.

Coast Guard and the Department of Ecology personnel say they plan to continue monitoring the vessel for any further pollution.

Hero, which is named after the sloop that Nathaniel Palmer sailed when he sighted Antarctica, operated in Antarctica for the National Science Foundation between 1968 and 1984, after which she was laid up.

Truck Platooning Demo Held at POLA

By Mark Edward Nero

On March 8, federal, state and local government and private industry partners conducted a demonstration of partially automated truck platooning, or Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control (CACC), at the Port of Los Angeles and along Interstate 110.

The technology was demonstrated as trucks drove the freeway safely in closer proximity than usual by using forward-looking sensors and vehicle-to-vehicle communication to maintain automated speed and spacing.

The demonstration simulated “real world” conditions as three big-rig trucks drove 50 feet apart at speeds of 55 miles per hour while hauling cargo containers, like those that shuttle between the port and industrial centers throughout Los Angeles County. Radar detected automobile cut-ins by a staged vehicle to demonstrate how the system handles traffic.

The technology was developed by the University of California, Berkeley Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH), in coordination with Volvo Group of North America’s platooning activities.

The demo aimed to give partners and stakeholders a first-hand experience of the technology that could enhance safety, increase transportation system capacity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

CACC technology aims to significantly increase the capacity of dedicated truck lane facilities while reducing congestion, potentially resulting in significant benefits for goods movement to and from major ports, and long-haul cross-country routes. Other potential benefits include reduced emissions, improved traffic flow, and faster responses to hard braking while maintaining safety.

PATH plans to test truck driver preferences among multiple gap settings on San Francisco Bay Area freeways this spring, and simulating impacts on traffic and energy savings on the Interstate 710 corridor.

“This technology will become available for use in the coming years, and when it does it should be embraced due to its numerous benefits,” PATH representative Steve Shladover said.

POLB Cargo Declines in February

By Mark Edward Nero

Reduced economic activity in Asia associated with the Lunar New Year contributed to lower container volumes at the Port of Long Beach last month compared to the previous February, according to newly released data from the POLB.

Overall, traffic totaled 498,311 TEUs last month, a decline of 11.2 percent compared to the same month last year, which happened to record the highest-volume February in port history: cargo in February 2016 ballooned 35.9 percent year-over-year.

The Lunar New Year holiday began Jan. 28, almost two weeks earlier than in 2016. The Lunar New Year typically results in slower trade since businesses in China – Long Beach’s primary trading partner – close for a week or more in observance of the holiday. The impact on the port is normally seen two weeks afterwards, accounting for the time it takes vessels to cross the Pacific.

Import containers were down 15.6 percent in February to 249,759 TEUs, according to data released March 8. Exports were slightly lower, 119,811 TEUs, off 2.6 percent. Empty containers sent from Long Beach docks totaled 128,742 TEUs, a drop of 9.7 percent.

More than a million containers moved through the Port of Long Beach in the first two months of 2017. For the fiscal year to date, which began in in October 2016, Long Beach has seen a total of 2.74 million TEUs, which is a 6.4 percent drop from the 2.93 million containers moved during the same five-month period in the previous fiscal year.

The port’s latest monthly cargo numbers are available at; more detailed cargo numbers can be found at

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Calif. Congressman Introduces US-Flagged Exports Bill

By Mark Edward Nero

On March 3, US Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), the ranking member of the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, introduced legislation that would require up to 30 percent of exports of strategic energy assets to travel on US-flagged vessels.

HR 1240, the “Energizing American Maritime Act,” is a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), the ranking member of the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

“The state of the American maritime industry is in crisis-level decline,” Garamendi said in a statement announcing the bill. “After World War II, our oceangoing fleet of US-flagged ships numbered 1,200. Today, it’s fewer than 80. This isn’t just an economic concern – it’s also a national security risk.”

“We can’t rely on foreign-flagged vessels to provide the necessary movement of strategic materials in a time of war,” Garamendi said.

The bill has already won the support of members of the domestic maritime industry, including the Seafarers International Union, the Navy League and the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, as well as the Transportation Institute, which represents US-flagged ship owners and operators.

Each have released statements endorsing the legislation.

“We’re the most powerful nation in the world, but 99 percent of our trade travels on foreign-flagged ships,” Garamendi said. “To develop the kinds of jobs that will keep the American economic engine moving, we need to right this ship and grow America’s maritime sector.”

Oldest Ferry in Washington State Sold

By Mark Edward Nero

The 63-year-old Evergreen State, believed to be the oldest ferry in Washington state, has been sold. The vessel was bought by Jones Broadcasting LLC for $300,000, previous owner Washington State Ferries said March 1.

The Evergreen State is one of two state ferries that WSF put up for sale in 2016 and were sold this year. The ferry Hiyu was sold in February to a local business owner who intends to use it as a floating entertainment venue on Lake Union.

According to WSF, which is a division of the Washington State Department of Transportation, the new owners of Evergreen State have said they plan to use the vessel for active ferry service in the southern Caribbean.

Plans are to move the Evergreen State from Washington State Ferries’ Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility on Bainbridge Island to a temporary Puget Sound moorage later this month. The new owner would then tow the vessel from the Pacific Northwest to Grenada, when the weather improves, likely in early summer.

The 87-car Evergreen State, which has World War II surplus drive motors, carried tens of thousands of passengers and vehicles in Washington State. It was the first of the three Evergreen State-class ferries and served on several routes including Seattle/Bainbridge and the San Juan Islands Interisland routes. It was decommissioned last year.

“The Evergreen State is a special ferry,” WSF Chief of Staff Elizabeth Kosa said. “It was the first vessel custom built for Washington State Ferries in 1954. She served our customers well for six decades, but it is important that she is sold so we can free up dock space and focus maintenance on our current fleet.”

NASSCO Delivers Final SEA-Vista Tanker

By Mark Edward Nero

On March 1, Southern California-based shipbuilder General Dynamics NASSCO delivered the Liberty, the third and final ship to be constructed for SEA-Vista LLC as part of a larger eight-ship ECO Class tanker program.

The Liberty is the seventh vessel in an eight-ship ECO Class tanker program for two separate customers, SEA-Vista LLC and American Petroleum Tankers. The eighth ship of the program, the Palmetto State, is scheduled to be christened and launched on March 25 at the NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.

In 2013, NASSCO entered into an agreement with SEA-Vista to design and build three 50,000 deadweight-ton, LNG-conversion-ready product carriers to include a 330,000-barrel cargo capacity each. The 610-foot-long tankers are a new “ECO” design, offering improved fuel efficiency and cleaner shipping options.

Construction of the first of the three ships began in November 2014. The first two ships, the Independence and the Constitution, have been delivered and are servicing the Jones Act trade.

In the past decade, NASSCO has delivered 29 ocean-going ships to government and commercial customers, including the world’s first LNG-powered containerships. In 2015 and 2016, it processed a record 60,000 tons of steel annually, NASSCO says.

Oakland Container Terminal Lauded By Trucking Industry

By Mark Edward Nero

California’s trucking industry has honored a Port of Oakland marine terminal for taking steps to help ease the state’s containerized cargo crunch.

During an event last week, Oakland International Container Terminal received the first-ever Terminal Recognition Award for opening its gates at night.

The California and Harbor trucking associations presented the honor at a conference in Long Beach. The organizations also recognized Long Beach Container Terminal and Yusen Terminals of Los Angeles.

The associations said they presented the awards to recognize improvements in seaport efficiency. “The Oakland program was an example of a win-win situation between marine terminal operators and truckers,” said Peter Schneider, Chair of the California Trucking Association’s Northern California Intermodal Conference.

Oakland International Container Terminal is the largest of four marine terminals in Oakland; it processes about 70 percent of the port’s cargo volume. The terminal opened night gates to truckers beginning last summer to try easing daytime crowding. It was the first terminal in the harbor to extend operations beyond traditional 8-to-5 hours.

According to port data, the change has reduced average transaction times by 40 percent.

“We’ve fundamentally changed the way we do business in Oakland,” the port’s maritime director, John Driscoll, said. “Partners like Oakland International Container Terminal are key to the transformation and we’re pleased that they’re being recognized for their leadership.”