Friday, March 17, 2017

POLA Monthly Cargo Volumes
See a Double Digit Drop

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Los Angeles cargo traffic decreased by double digits in February 2017, a mere month after the port saw record container volumes, according to newly released data.

The timing of Lunar New Year observances in late January and early February played a role in the decline, as it resulted in a significant amount of cargo being shipped in January rather than the following month.

February container volumes of 625,381 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) decreased 12.4 percent compared to the record February 2016 volumes of 713,721 TEUs, which were 42 percent higher than 2015. Compared to the port’s most recent five-year average of February container volumes, February 2017 volumes were up 7.2 percent, data show.

“While volumes eased compared to the record cargo we saw last February, I’m pleased that we’ve seen year-over-year growth to start 2017,” Port of LA Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a statement.

For the first two months of 2017 combined, Port of LA volumes increased 2.3 percent compared to the same period last year.

Cargo imports in February 2017 dropped 19.8 percent to 298,974 TEUs compared to the previous year, while exports increased 6.1 percent to 155,357 TEUs. Total loaded volumes of 454,332 TEUs fell 12.5 percent compared to the previous year, while empty containers slipped 12.1 percent to 171,048 TEUs.

For the fiscal year to date, POLA total cargo volumes are up 8.8 percent compared to the same eight-month period in FY 2016.

Current and historical POLA data is available at

SAFE Boats Wins Contract to Co-Produce Columbian Military Vessels

By Mark Edward Nero

Bremerton, Washington-based SAFE Boats International said March 15 that it has broadened a previously signed contract with Columbian government shipyard COTECMAR into a multi-year, definitive association agreement.

The agreement encompasses a wide range of collaboration, including program management, training, factory production training and sub-assembly and integration by COTECMAR in Colombia.

The contract includes co-production of SAFE Boats models already in use in Central and South America, such as the Defender, Apostle and Full Cabin Jet Boats, along with its most recently introduced Multi-Mission Interceptor vessel.

“The decision to further enhance our relationship with COTECMAR is evidence of our commitment to the Colombian Navy and providing the brave men and women who serve in Colombia with the best products and services to allow them to effectively accomplish their challenging missions,” SAFE Boats CEO Dennis Morris said in a prepared statement. “We are honored to be a partner with COTECMAR and Colombia, and to support our mutual customers in Central and South America.”

COTECMAR, created by the Colombian government in 2000, has experience delivering large ships and marine services to both Colombian and International users, and is a manufacturer of large Offshore Patrol Vessels, Coastal Patrol Vessels, Defense craft, BAL-C Logistics and Humanitarian Craft along with many other commercial and riverine vessels produced for the Colombian Navy, Marines and Coast Guard along with training and other services.

“We are confident that this relationship with SAFE Boats allows us to continue to provide lasting and successful naval solutions,” COTECMAR CEO Vice Admiral Jorge CarreƱo said in a statement.

Robert Allan Ltd. Designs Pusher Tugs, Barges for Brazilian Company

By Mark Edward Nero

A fleet of pusher tugs and barges have recently begun construction in Brazil, all to customized designs by Robert Allan Ltd. of Vancouver, Canada.

The vessels, being built for Amsterdam-based Louis Dreyfus Co., a global merchant and processor of agricultural goods, will transport bulk grain products on the Amazon River system, with an expected delivery in 2017.

The shallow-draft fleet includes:

• Three RApide 4000-Z3 class mainline pusher tugs under construction at INACE shipyard in Fortaleza, Brazil;

• One RApide 2600-Z3 class pusher tug;

• Three RApide 2000-Z2 class port-assist pusher tugs, and;

• Sixty-four jumbo hopper barges under construction at Estaleiro Rio Maguari in Belem, Brazil.

During the early phases of design, simulations were used to optimize the hull shapes to minimize total convoy resistance, and in all cases, the z-drives are fitted in customized tunnels designed to optimize flow and propulsion efficiency while reducing draft, according to Robert Allan Ltd.

Also, the company said, logistics modeling of the transportation system optimized the selection of vessels for the desired route and analyzed operational drafts and cargo throughput at various river levels.

The studies aim to reduce the overall cost of transportation, while the design of the vessels increases the standards of safety, maneuverability and comfort in the river system.

In each boat, the wheelhouse provides all-round visibility with a split forward control station providing unobstructed vision to the foredeck working area as well as to the convoy of barges ahead, according to Robert Allan Ltd.

April 4 is ‘Ports Day,’ AAPA Announces

By Mark Edward Nero

The American Association of Port Authorities says that its entire membership in North, South and Central America and the Caribbean will celebrate Western Hemisphere Ports Day on Tuesday, April 4 in recognition of the industry’s role in supporting job creation and propelling the economies of the nations they serve across the Americas.

“As the unified and recognized voice of the port industry in the Western Hemisphere, AAPA is excited to continue to share its story around the globe,” AAPA’s president and CEO, Kurt Nagle, said in a statement.

“Ports Day is part of an ongoing commitment to remind our policymakers, policy influencers and the public about the important role ports play in facilitating the movement of trade and linking their nations to the global economy,” Nagle said.

Combined international sea trade moving through Western Hemisphere ports in 2015 totaled 3.45 billion metric tons in volume and $3.36 trillion in value, according to IHS Inc. World Trade Service. Of that total, North American ports handled 1.76 billion metric tons of goods, valued at $2.21 trillion, while ports in Central and South America handled 1.69 billion metric tons of cargo, valued at $1.15 trillion.

A report by Martin Associates on the national economic impact of the US coastal port system, found that in the U.S. alone, ports’ contribution to the national economy reached nearly $4.6 trillion in 2014.

“Seaports of the Western Hemisphere are job creators and stimulators that deliver prosperity around the globe,” Nagle said. “It’s critical that wise investments are made to our transportation infrastructure to ensure that our industry can continue to make a valuable contribution to the economy.”

“We’re proud to recognize the contributions of our member ports as we celebrate Western Hemisphere Ports Day,” he added. “In support of workers, farmers, employers, manufacturers and consumers everywhere, our ports are united in planning for the future, creating jobs and propelling the economy.” More information about Western Hemisphere Ports Day is available at

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Oakland Port Monthly Container Volumes Fall

By Mark Edward Nero

Overall loaded container volume – imports and exports – declined 5.1 percent at the Port of Oakland last month, according to newly released data.

Containerized export volume declined 1.2 percent last month compared to February 2016 totals, while import volume was off 9.3 percent, according to the data.

It was only the second export decrease in the past 14 months, the port said.

Oakland blames the volume decline in part on inclement weather in the US interior, which curtailed shipment of Asia-bound exports through the port. The import volume decline has been attributed in part to Lunar New Year celebrations in China and elsewhere in Asia.

US importers stock up before Asian factories shut down for the holidays. Shipments typically moderate in the post-holiday period.

Port of Oakland export volume increased 9 percent in January and was up 10.5 percent last year, despite the US Commerce Department reporting that the US trade deficit reached a four-year high in 2016, attributed in part to export softness.

Moose Boats Wins Catamaran Crewboats Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

Vallejo, California-based Moose Boats, a subsidiary of Lind Marine, said March 11 that it has been awarded a contract for the construction of a series of 75-foot semi-displacement US Coast Guard Subchapter-T passenger aluminum catamaran crewboats for Westar Marine Services in San Francisco. Production of the first vessel is expected to begin this spring.

According to Northern California-based Lind Marine, the vessels’ propulsion will be provided by twin Volvo D13 turbo diesel engines with Volvo IPS3 drives, giving a service speed of 25 knots and exceptional close quarters maneuverability.

Also, engine, steering and joystick maneuvering controls in both the raised pilothouse and the upper level aft steering station are designed to provide captains with optimal visibility for bow and stern operations.

The vessels will be capable of carrying 28 passengers and 20,000 pounds of cargo to and from anchorages and piers within San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay and the Sacramento River Delta as well as offshore.

Westar Marine Services, a women-owned and operated company, has been headquartered in San Francisco since 1976 with a Seattle operation for the past five years. The company’s offerings include marine construction support, tank barge assist and escort, specialty barge services, ship stores deliveries and water taxi services.

Westar has said the new vessels will allow it to expand its cargo and passenger carrying capabilities. Moose Boats designed the cabin superstructure and general arrangement of the vessels in-house with collaborative input from Westar.

Lafayette, Louisiana-based Incat Crowther is providing naval architecture services for the final design.

Maritime Commission Establishes Regulatory Reform Task Force

By Mark Edward Nero

On March 13, acting Federal Maritime Commission Chair Michael Khouri designated the agency’s managing director, Karen Gregory, to oversee a regulatory reform task force that will work to identify burdensome, unnecessary and outdated directives, and recommend how they should be remedied.

“Relief from regulatory requirements that have outlived their usefulness is one of the easiest contributions the Federal Maritime Commission can make to increased efficiencies and creating economic benefits,” Khouri said in a statement.

“The positive response from what the Commission ordered recently in terms of creating more realistic filing requirements for service contract amendments demonstrates the benefits that can be achieved from simply asking if there is a better way to do this,” he said.

The FMC says the designation of a regulatory review officer and establishing a regulatory reform task force is consistent with the intent of an executive order issued by President Donald Trump on February 24, the deregulatory spirit of the Shipping Act of 1984 as amended by the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998, and agency regulatory review initiatives ongoing since November 4, 2011.

Hood Canal Bridge Work Begins March 18

By Mark Edward Nero

A project to rebuild and replace the internal mechanics of the Hood Canal Bridge draw span begins in western Washington later this week, and is expected to require some bridge closures and marine vessel limitations.

Starting Saturday, March 18, contractor crews working on the SR 104 Hood Canal Bridge special repair project will begin rehabilitating the structural, electrical, mechanical and hydraulics systems of the floating bridge, which connects the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas.

Crews will replace or rebuild the mechanical devices that open and close the bridge; replace the hydraulic hoses and fluid; and adjust the wheels that allow portions of the bridge to move. The maintenance is expected to help prevent breaks and malfunctions in the bridge’s mechanisms, which can multiply if not prevented or addressed early.

Marine vessels may be affected by this project because although bridge operators will still be able to open the drawspan up to 300 feet, there will be times during the project when they will not be able to open it up to its maximum 600 feet.

The work requires up to 12 long-term overnight closures between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., and a maximum of 20 short-term closures of up to an hour each between midnight and 4 a.m., according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The initial overnight closures begin Saturday, March 18 and continue nightly through Saturday, March 25. Additional periodic closures are expected to be announced as dates are scheduled.

The project is expected to be completed this fall.