Friday, April 7, 2017

SSA to Manage Matson’s Tacoma Terminal

By Mark Edward Nero

On April 4, Matson Inc. announced that its US Pacific carrier subsidiary Matson Navigation Co. will use SSA Terminals (SSAT) for stevedoring and terminal services at the Port of Tacoma when its existing agreement with APM Terminals expires on December 31.

“APMT has served us well. It just makes more sense to work with our strategic partner at Tacoma as we do at all of our other terminals on the West Coast,” Ron Forest, senior vice president of operations for Matson explained in a statement.

Tacoma is the only Matson terminal on the US West Coast not currently handled by SSAT.

The terminal, with 12 employees, became part of the Maersk Group portfolio in 2000 with Maersk Line’s acquisition of US-based Sea-Land Service. The facility, with an annual throughput capacity of 600,000 TEU, was used primarily by the Matson Alaska Service, with twice-weekly sailings between Tacoma, Anchorage and Kodiak, and a weekly service between Tacoma and Dutch Harbor, handling about 190,000 TEUs in 2016.

“We expect a seamless transition and no change in our Tacoma operations from a customer standpoint,” Forest said. In a statement, APM Terminals said it is “evaluating all options” regarding the terminal lease with Matson that expires at the end of the year.

Harley Marine Services Delivers Vessel to Philippine Red Cross

By Mark Edward Nero

Harley Marine Services has delivered the M/V Susitna from Seattle to the Philippine Red Cross – a 15,000 nautical mile voyage spanning the Pacific Ocean, the Seattle-based company revealed in late March.

A contract between the Philippine Red Cross and Harley Marine Services was finalized in June 2016, and following initial discussions, Harley Marine said a “special tow team” was formed that included key stakeholders from each HMS department as well as representatives from the naval architecture firm that designed the vessel.

Harley Marine loaded the M/V Susitna onto a barge, the Chatham Provider for the journey. In order to get the M/V Susitna safely onboard, Harley Marine had to utilize the heavy lift ship, Happy Star. To do this, special lifting pad eyes needed to be designed, engineered, fabricated and installed in a very short amount of time.

Once positioned onboard the barge, Harley Marine hired a load master to ensure the vessel was loaded and lashed down prior to leaving. A total of 175 chain lashings and sea stiffeners were added to the vessel to keep the M/V Susitna from moving onboard the barge.

After leaving Seattle in October 2016, the vessel was then transported under tow by the Harley Marine tug Ernest Campbell through Honolulu, Guam and then the Philippines.

The 195-foot M/V Susitna, built in 2010 in Ketchikan, Alaska, is capable of carrying 129 passengers, plus 20 vehicles or one tractor/trailer rig. Originally built for use transporting and delivering equipment, machinery and personnel, the vessel will now be used in future lifesaving disaster response efforts by the Philippine Red Cross.

Vancouver USA Logs Another Annual Tonnage Record

By Mark Edward Nero

In 2016, the Port of Vancouver USA recorded more than seven million metric tons of cargo across its docks for the first time in its 105-year history, according to port figures.

The port recorded 7.49 million metric tons last year, nearly eight percent more than the 2015 record of 6.95 million metric tons.

“In nine years at the Port of Vancouver, I've never seen tonnage like this,” port CEO Julianna Marler said in a statement. “It’s a testament to the investments we and our partners have made to provide world-class rail and marine services, access to efficient transportation and excellent customer service.”

Last year was especially great for exports at Vancouver USA. Outgoing cargo climbed to 6.32 million metric tons from 5.54 million metric tons in 2015 – a 14 percent increase overall, according to data.

Grain, which is the port’s largest exports by volume, jumped 17.8 percent last year over 2015’s numbers. Some imports, such as wind energy components increased in 2016, but overall imports were down 17 percent in 2016, according to figures.

However, despite gains in overall tonnage, Vancouver USA said that fluctuations in currency and the global economy had an impact on it in 2016, contributing to a slight decline in operating revenue, which decreased from $38.2 million to just under $36 million.

Vancouver USA has logged record tonnage for the past three years, and it says that 2017 is shaping up to be another good year as cargoes like autos, steel, minerals, wind energy components and grain continue to bring in solid numbers.

Port of Oakland: Vessel Calls Down, Container Volumes Up

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Oakland’s total loaded container volume – imports and exports – was up 9.3 percent last month compared to March 2016, according to figures released April 6, contrasting sharply with a 9.2 percent decline in February shipments to Oakland.

The port’s import cargo volume alone increased 19 percent in March over 2016 totals, according to the port. The increased imports, the port said, reflect a return to normal trade patterns following February Lunar New Year celebrations in Asia. Many factories shut down for the holidays, curtailing shipments to the US.

“This is a nice rebound,” Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “We’re watching now to find out if it signals stronger trade growth for the rest of the year.”

According to port figures, 402 ships called at Oakland during the first three months of 2017, down 5.6 percent from a year ago. But at the same time, the port said those ships carried an average of 8.4 percent more containers in and out of Oakland.

The numbers reflect a shipping industry effort to consolidate greater cargo volume on fewer ships.

According to Oakland, the trend promises three benefits: reduced vessel operating expense for shipping lines; less demand for berthing space at marine terminals; and a reduction in diesel emissions at port due to fewer vessel calls.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

USCG Commissions Cutter in Seattle

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Coast Guard’s newest National Security Cutter (NSC) Munro was commissioned into service April 1 in Seattle.

The Munro was commissioned to honor the Coast Guard’s only Medal of Honor recipient, Signalman First Class Douglas A. Munro (1919–1942), who is buried in the veterans’ section of Laurel Hill Memorial Park in the town of Cle Elum in Kittitas County, Washington.

Munro was killed in action in the Guadalcanal campaign of World War II while providing covering fire during the evacuation of a detachment of 500 US Marines who were under attack.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft presided over the ceremony, accepting the sixth NSC into the military service’s fleet. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly also sent well wishes to those participating in the commissioning.

“As the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, I’m excited to see this sophisticated national asset put to work ensuring the security and prosperity of our nation,” Kelly said. “As a Marine, I’m honored and humbled to see this cutter commissioned to honor Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro who saved hundreds of Marines at Guadalcanal. It’s apparent his legacy and sacrifice lives on in each member of the US Coast Guard.”

Known as the “Legend” class, NSCs are designed to be the flagships of the Coast Guard’s fleet, capable of executing the most challenging national security missions, including providing support to US combatant commanders. NSCs are 418 feet in length, 54 feet in beam and displace 4,600 long tons.

The cutters have a top speed of more than 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles, endurance of up to 90 days and can carry a crew of up to 150, according to the USCG. The new cutters are replacing the aging High Endurance Hamilton class cutters (378 feet) that have been in service since the 1960s.

The Munro will conduct operations from South America to the Bering Sea, running such missions as alien migrant interdiction operations, domestic fisheries protection, search and rescue, counter-narcotics and homeland security operations at great distances from shore.

The commissioning of a cutter is a time-honored naval tradition where a vessel is placed into active service. During this event, the cutter is “brought to life” and the crew ceremoniously reports aboard to accept their positions. Munro’s great niece, Julie Sheehan, the ship’s sponsor, ordered the ship to “come to life” alongside the vessel’s commanding officer, Capt. Thomas King. Sheehan and many of Munro’s family members reside in the Pacific Northwest and were in attendance.

Munro is the sixth NSC to be commissioned and the fourth to be homeported on the West Coast in Alameda, California.

Holland America Quits Acapulco Calls

By Mark Edward Nero

Pacific Northwest-based cruise line Holland America said it is cancelling port calls in Acapulco through 2018 due to security concerns in what has become known as Mexico’s most violent city.

The beach city and surrounding region have been afflicted by gang- and drug-related violence the past few years, but the problems reached a new height in January after about a dozen killings, although none involving tourists.

The Seattle-based company said the decision affects seven Panama Canal voyages, plus a South America sailing scheduled to take place starting in October. Acapulco voyages will be replaced by sailings to other ports in Mexico, according to Holland America.

“The safety of our guests is our top priority,” the line said in a statement about the schedule change, adding that passengers on the affected cruises have already been notified.

Despite the cancellations, the tourist city is expected to see 28 cruise ships in 2017, compared with 18 last year, a jump of 64 percent according to online publication

US Transportation Secretary to Speak at Ports Conference

By Mark Edward Nero

US Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) and US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao will serve as keynote luncheon speakers on April 4 and April 5, respectively, during the 2017 spring conference of the American Association of Port Authorities.

In addition to the two keynote addresses and honoring Scalise with AAPA’s 2017 Port Person of the Year award, Adam Goldstein, president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, is expected to present remarks after receiving AAPA’s 2017 Cruise Award on April 5.Other dignitaries, including House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Chairman Garret Graves (R-LA), will discuss how port priorities will stack up under the Trump Administration and in the 115th Congress.

“In addition to the honor of having Secretary Chao and Congressman Scalise serve as our keynote speakers and kicking off the event with a celebration of the second annual Western Hemisphere Ports Day, we’re looking forward to the many informative and provocative discussions at this year’s program,” AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle said in a statement.

Western Hemisphere Ports Day – which in 2017 is celebrated on April 4 – is an annual recognition of the unity, importance and value of seaports throughout the Americas.

The conference takes place at the Renaissance Washington DC Downtown Hotel in Washington, DC.

More information about the event, including the agenda and speakers, is available at

USCG to Boaters: Secure Your Vessels

By Mark Edward Nero

On March 31, Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach sent a reminder to area boaters regarding the importance in maintaining diligence in the safe keeping of personal vessels during foul weather.

The message was spurred in part by a recent incident off the coast of Abalone Cove, a shoreline park near San Pedro. The incident involved an unmanned kayak that was found adrift and resulted in a Coast Guard and local agency response. Several assets were used to search for a report of a possible missing individual, but the kayak was later found to have broken loose from a storm drain due to strong winds and heavy weather.

“These incidents where multiple agencies and assets are responding to derelict or unsecured personal watercraft can hamper response and search capabilities to those in need of actual assistance,” the USCG said. “The Coast Guard urges individuals to exercise caution when heavy weather is predicted and ensure personal vessels are properly secured at all times.”

The USCG is still searching for the owner of the kayak in question and ask anyone who may have information to call the Los Angeles-Long Beach command center at (310) 521-3805.

More Coast Guard information regarding safe boating is available at