Friday, April 21, 2017

USCG Decommissions 50-Year-Old Hawaii-Based Cutter

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Coast Guard decommissioned its eighth high-endurance cutter on April 18 as part of recapitalization efforts during a ceremony at Coast Guard Base Honolulu.

The Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau, a 378-foot high-endurance cutter, was decommissioned after nearly 50 years of service, including action in the Vietnam War, numerous major drug interdictions and law enforcement cases, and a variety of noteworthy rescues, according to the USCG.

Morgenthau, commissioned March 10, 1969, was the eighth of 12 Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters built by Avondale Shipyards in New Orleans. High-endurance cutters are the largest of their kind, aside from the three major icebreakers and national security cutters, ever built for the Coast Guard. Morgenthau was active in the Vietnam War, conducting underway replenishment, naval gunfire support, and patrol duties off the coast of Vietnam until relieved by a 311-foot cutter in 1971.

In 1977, the USCG says, Morgenthau became the first cutter to have women permanently assigned on board, which paved the way for others to serve aboard Coast Guard cutters nationwide.

In the fall of 1996, Morgenthau was the first US Coast Guard cutter to deploy to the Arabian Gulf. Participating in Operation Vigilant Sentinel, it enforced Iraq’s compliance with United Nations sanctions. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Morgenthau participated in Operation Noble Eagle to safeguard America’s prominent port cities through closer scrutiny of maritime traffic.

“The history of Morgenthau’s operations showcases the Coast Guard’s ability to carry out a diverse and important range of missions vital to the security and prosperity of our nation,” said Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, who leads the service’s Pacific fleet as the commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area in Alameda, California.

The US State Department is coordinating the transfer of Morgenthau through the Foreign Assistance Act. This act allows the transfer of excess defense articles as a grant to friendly, foreign governments.

“This cutter may leave our service, but the legacy of the men and women who served on Morgenthau will live on forever,” Midgette said.

Clark County Port Heads to Give Talk on Seaport Operations

By Mark Edward Nero

The CEOs of all three Clark County ports – Vancouver USA, Camas-Washougal and Ridgefield – say they’ll share what makes each port unique and how the ports work together for the betterment of the region during a lecture set for April 27.

The event will feature Port of Vancouver USA CEO Julianna Marler and Chief External Affairs Officer Ryan Hart, along with Port of Camas-Washougal Executive Director David Ripp and Port of Ridgefield CEO Brent Grening and VP of Innovation Nelson Holmberg.

They will share updates on interesting projects, including the Washougal Waterfront Vision and Master Plan; the Port of Ridgefield’s Discovery Corridor and development of dark fiber infrastructure; and the Port of Vancouver’s Terminal 1 waterfront redevelopment.

Attendees will also hear how the three ports partner together for greater impact, taking a regional approach to marketing and to presenting priorities in transportation, economic development and other critical issues to state and federal legislators.

The lecture, which is part of an ongoing series, is set for 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 27 in the Terminal 1 large conference room, 100 Columbia Street, Vancouver, the former Red Lion Hotel.

Space at each lecture is limited and pre-registration is required. To register, call (360) 693-3611 or email Those with questions should contact Julie Rawls at (360) 992-1137 or

Port of Everett Begins New Rail Line Construction

By Mark Edward Nero

Construction has started on a new, 3,300 lineal foot double rail siding to support international cargo movement at the Port of Everett, the port confirmed April 13.

In February, the Port Commission awarded a $3.4 million contract to Everett-based contractor Granite Construction to complete the second phase of the port’s terminal rail enhancements to improve regional rail freight mobility and increase capacity of rail freight at the Port of Everett. The project is made possible in part, by a federal grant through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.

“The project will increase our current on-terminal rail footprint from 9,200 lineal feet to 12,500 lineal feet, and it is slated for completion in November,” the port explained in a statement. “The project also provides a critical connection that allows BNSF easier ingress and egress to the port’s shipping facilities, reducing congestion on the mainline from Seattle to Canada and east along the northern corridor.”

The Port of Everett utilizes rail to support US exports and imports, including goods from the aerospace, construction, manufacturing, energy, agricultural and forest products industries. The project will allow to efficiently transport goods from ship to shore, with cargo arriving and departing the terminals utilizing rail as well as trucks.

The use of rail service for the cargo shipments could potentially eliminate 429 million commercial truck miles off local roads and highways, the port says.

Oakland Port Exec: Shipping Line Changes Good for Industry

By Mark Edward Nero

On April 17, Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said he’s eager for changes in the way container shipping lines operate, and that newly formed ocean carrier alliances will benefit his port.

“We’ll see larger vessels coming to the port, which is a good thing,” he told employees in a podcast on the port’s website. “We’ll get more container moves-per-vessel, which increases the efficiency of operations.”

Driscoll also said the port will receive a new weekly vessel service as a result of carrier realignment. Taiwan-based Wan Hai Lines plans to launch a new route connecting Oakland and Asia, which will bring the number of regularly scheduled vessel services calling Oakland to 29.

“It’s a good sign when new players come to Oakland,” Driscoll said.

The changes result from an April 1 realignment in which 11 of the world’s largest shipping lines formed three new alliances. Alliances let carriers pool ships on ocean routes to cut costs while expanding market reach.

The carriers plan to deploy larger vessels in their alliances, carrying more containers to the US West Coast, which theoretically should enable them to reduce the number of voyages while maintaining cargo volume levels.

“What’s good for our customers is good for the Port of Oakland,” Driscoll noted. “When shipping lines can be more efficient – and healthier financially – we all benefit.”

Driscoll said new alliance configurations should have little impact on Oakland operations, and that some vessels will change which of Oakland’s three international marine terminals they call, but the terminals are prepared.

The first vessels operating under new alliance configurations were due in Oakland this week. Oakland has regular service to ports in Asia, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, Latin America, Oceania and Hawaii.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

USCG Brings New Fast Response Cutter to Alaska

By Mark Edward Nero

US Coast Guard cutter John McCormick is now the first fast response cutter to be stationed in Alaska after completing a 6,200-mile journey from the shipyards of Louisiana to reach its new home port in Ketchikan, the USCG said April 12.

John McCormick is the first of six FRCs to be stationed in the Coast Guard 17th District and is to perform southeast Alaska missions.

“It will be interesting to explore and define exactly what this FRC is capable of accomplishing in southeast Alaska.” Lt. Jr. Grade Joseph Petry, executive officer aboard the John McCormick said, The new 154-foot FRCs are capable of transiting farther than their 110-foot predecessors before needing to refuel, and have a range of 2,500 nautical miles. Also, their two 20-cylinder turbocharged engines provide propulsion resulting in sustained flank speeds of 28-plus knots. Additionally, FRCs are equipped with a 75-kilowatt bow thruster, which provides for more precise steering in narrow channels and while conducting close-quarters operations.

Weapons systems capabilities on board John McCormick are also increased from those of previous patrol boats. In addition to four M2HB .50-caliber machine guns, the cutter is equipped with a forward-mounted, remotely operated Bushmaster 25-mm chain-fed autocannon capable of firing 225 rounds per minute at a range of up to 6,800 meters.

The stern of John McCormick, like others in its class, is equipped with a hydraulic gate, through which the FRC may launch and recover its 26-foot small boat. This method, according to the USCG, provides a more stable alternative to the crane and davit system used by the older 110-foot patrol boats and enables the FRC crews to operate the small boat and conduct missions in heightened environmental conditions.

“These ships will be critical in providing law enforcement, fisheries regulation, and search and rescue assistance to the maritime communities of Alaska,” Petry said.

POLB Hires Federal Maritime Commissioner as New Chief Executive

By Mark Edward Nero

On April 14, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners voted to hire Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) member Mario Cordero as the new executive director of the Port of Long Beach.

Before joining the Maritime Commission, Cordero, a Long Beach resident and attorney, was a longtime member of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners.

Cordero is expected to join the port May 15, and earn about $350,000 annually.

“After a comprehensive international search, the Board of Harbor Commissioners recognized that Mario Cordero is an ideal choice to lead the Port of Long Beach,” Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzm├ín said in a statement.

“Mario not only has a deep understanding of the maritime industry from his leadership of the Federal Maritime Commission, but his service as a member of the Long Beach Harbor Commission gives him extensive knowledge of the needs of our carriers, terminal operators, cargo owners, and other trade partners,” Guzman said. “Mario approaches challenges from a bipartisan, collaborative perspective and as we seek to keep our port thriving, his combination of national and local experience is well-suited to carry us into the future.”

Cordero was appointed to the Federal Maritime Commission 2011, with a term that was to expire in June 2019. He served as FMC chairman from April 2013 until January 2017. He was a Long Beach Harbor Commissioner from 2003 to 2011, and was president of the Harbor Commission from 2007 to 2008.

During his tenure on the Harbor Commission, he helped to spearhead the port’s pioneering Green Port Policy, formalized in 2005 and aimed at reconciling economic growth and environmental stewardship. Cordero has practiced law for more than 30 years and has taught political science at Long Beach City College. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Political Science from California State University, Long Beach, and his law degree from the University of Santa Clara.

“I am so pleased to be coming back home to the Port of Long Beach,” Cordero said. “The broad perspective I gained at the national level, along with my many years of service as a Long Beach Harbor Commissioner and my love for the community of Long Beach, will allow me to hit the ground running. I’ll be working closely with the Commission and our highly experienced staff in the months ahead to carry out our ambitious capital improvements and ensure that our customers and community members are well-served.”

The Harbor Commission made the decision on Cordero in an executive session following its regular April 10 board meeting. The Commission confirmed Cordero’s appointment at a special April 14 public meeting. Cordero will succeed Duane Kenagy, who has served as Interim Executive Director since late 2016, after the sudden resignation of then-chief executive Jon Slangerup last September.

Vigor Inks Deal for Third Seattle Drydock

By Mark Edward Nero

Vigor Industrial revealed April 17 that it has entered into an agreement to purchase a drydock from a Korean seller in order to, the company said, build on its ongoing investments in infrastructure and fulfill a promise to customers to expand West Coast drydock capacity.

The newly purchased drydock is 640 feet long, with a clear width of 116 feet and a lift capacity of 20,000 LT, making it the largest at Vigor’s Harbor Island shipyard, according to the company.

“The purchase of another drydock in Seattle allows Vigor to better service valued customers like Washington State Ferries, the US Coast Guard and the US Navy,” Vigor Executive Vice President of Ship Repair Adam Beck explained. “It also further strengthens our market position in commercial ship repair on the West Coast and supports our expansion into new markets.”

Beck and his team had been actively looking for the right drydock at home and abroad for a number of months. The team is now working to finalize the transaction and have the dock operational in Seattle by late fall, according to the company.

“Washington State Ferries is greatly relieved and appreciative to hear of Vigor’s important investment in a new drydock for its Harbor Island/Seattle location. We have been concerned about the shortage of drydock availability for the maintenance and repair of our fleet,” WSF Director of Vessel Engineering and Maintenance Matt Von Ruden said. “Regular maintenance is critical to our ability to achieve the expected service life of our vessels and keep them operating well for our customers.”

Port of Portland Names Executive Director Job Finalists

By Mark Edward Nero

An advisory group to the Port of Portland Commission on April 10 named the three recommended finalists for the position of executive director of the Port of Portland.

All are vying to replace current Executive Director Bill Wyatt, who will retire from the port on June 30.

The finalists are:

• Jonathan Daniels, Executive Director and CEO, Mississippi State Port Authority;

• Stephanie Dawson, Chief Operation Officer, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, and;

• Curtis Robinhold, Deputy Executive Director, Port of Portland.

The port also announced an online public comment period ending April 24. Comments can be submitted at:

The Port Commission will interview candidates in a closed executive session on May 10 and hold a special public meeting to vote on final candidate on May 23.

The three recommended finalists were selected by a Port Commission advisory group that included Commissioners Michael Alexander, Bob Levy, Patricia McDonald and Tom Tsuruta, as well as community leaders Andrew Colas of Colas Construction; Andrea Durbin of the Oregon Environmental Council; Katherine Lam of Vietnamese eatery Bambuza; and John Mohlis, formerly of the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council.