Friday, April 28, 2017

Record Year for Grays Harbor Biodiesel Facility

By Mark Edward Nero

Renewable Energy Group’s 100-million gallon per-year-capacity biorefinery at the Port of Grays Harbor is celebrating setting new production records. The facility produced 72.3 million gallons in 2016, a considerable increase in production over the previous record according to figures released by the port April 25.

Since acquiring the plant in August 2015, Renewable Energy Group has invested more than $5 million into the facility, according to the Port of Grays Harbor. One of the major investments being a new state of-the-art decanter, which helped improve the quality of glycerin, a co-product of the biodiesel making process.

The glycerin is then piped aboard vessels at Terminal 1, the port’s dedicated liquid bulk terminal, for export to China, where it is refined for other uses.

A new rail fall protection project was also recently completed, which added fall protection to all five of REG’s tracks to include all 64 rail loading and unloading locations.

“The increase in production and the increased vessel calls for glycerin export have helped put people to work in the plant and at our docks,” port Deputy Executive Director Leonard Barnes explained.

“We look forward to working with REG as they continue to weigh options for a potential expansion and further investment in Grays Harbor.”

REG owns and operates a total of 14 active biorefineries throughout North America and Europe.

POLB Appoints New Engineering Executives

By Mark Edward Nero

Earlier this week, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners named two Port of Long Beach engineering leaders as the new Chief Harbor Engineer and the new Director of Program Management.

Suzanne Plezia, the port’s Director of Construction Management, has been promoted to Senior Director of the Engineering Bureau’s Program Delivery Group. The position is also referred to as Chief Harbor Engineer. Plezia is the first woman to hold this position in the port’s history. In that capacity, she will oversee the execution of all the port’s capital projects.

She will lead the Program Delivery Group, which consists of four divisions – Program Management, Construction Management, Survey and Project Controls. The group is responsible for the port’s capital program, including the new Middle Harbor Container Terminal Redevelopment and replacement of the aging Gerald Desmond Bridge.

Tom Baldwin, who has been Assistant Director of Program Management, will oversee the port’s capital improvement program, which includes dredging, wharf, terminal, building, railroad, bridge, safety, roadway and utility projects.

Plezia joined the Port of Long Beach in 1996 as an intern. She was named Director of Construction Management in December 2014, and has also worked in the Design, Program Management and Construction Management divisions. In 2012, she guided the procurement process for the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement contract, and managed construction for the recently completed Pier G Container Terminal Redevelopment project.

Baldwin began working for the port in 2002 and was named Assistant Director of Program Management in January 2015. He specializes in leading large harbor development projects, including renovations of terminals in use by tenants, such as the Middle Harbor Terminal Redevelopment program, under which two outdated terminals are being combined into a 305-acre state-of-the-art facility designed to improve capacity while reducing pollutants.

Both appointments are effective April 29.

Port of Seattle Recognizes Ten Sustainability Leaders

By Mark Edward Nero

Winners of the seventh annual Port of Seattle Green Gateway Environmental Excellence Awards, were named by the port April 25.

The awards, which were established in 2010, recognize cruise lines, business partners, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and airlines that demonstrate leadership in sustainability throughout the Puget Sound region.

This year’s maritime award winners are:

• Carnival Cruise Line, which developed recycling incentive program for all vessels in the fleet; participated in initiatives such as Coastal Cleanup Day & World Oceans Day; and hosted a first-ever shoreside Environmental/Sustainability Fair, demonstrating a commitment to environmental education and outreach.

• Celebrity Cruise Lines, which installed solar panels, integrated into the ship’s energy grid; and developed an Environmental Ship Index certification.

• Holland America Line, which installed solar panels, integrated into the ship's energy grid; and developed an Environmental Ship Index certification.

• Norwegian Cruise Line, which installed solar panels, integrated into the ship’s energy grid; and developed an Environmental Ship Index certification, and;

• Princess Cruises, which plugged in to shore power to reduce carbon emissions while at dock; installed LED lighting to save energy; and introduced a unique shredder that significantly reduces the volume of waste produced.

“The Port of Seattle is proud to recognize these businesses that have gone above and beyond in protecting the Earth,” Port of Seattle Commission President Tom Albro said. “Whether it’s the aircraft at Sea-Tac or the vessels calling our harbor, we aim to be the cleanest and greenest port in the nation.”

Trade Expert: Oakland’s Export Growth Vital to US Economy

By Mark Edward Nero

A noted trade expert is calling for an export resurgence to stimulate the US economy and says that the Port of Oakland, which has strong exports, can help make it happen.

“Oakland supports exports, and people who support exports give us hope,” economist Walter Kemmsies recently told an audience of 100 supply chain leaders gathered last week in the port’s Jack London Square.

Kemmsies, the chief strategist for commercial real estate giant Jones, Lang, Lasalle, said export growth can help the US manage its debt burden. First, however, it must make infrastructure investments to become more efficient at serving overseas markets, he said.

Kemmsies noted that the US has underperformed as an exporter for the last 30 years. The Port of Oakland however, is considered one of America’s leading export gateways. Containerized export volume shipped through Oakland increased more than 10 percent in 2016. So far in 2017, exports have accounted for 52 percent of its total cargo volume. A rare occurrence in the US, as most ports are heavily skewed towards imports.

“The heroes are those who have an import-export balance,” Kemmsies said. “And Oakland is an important part of that.”

Consumer growth globally is accelerating fastest outside the US, Kemmsies said, as the result of explosive middle class expansion in developing countries – primarily in Asia. American producers need to tap overseas markets, the economist explained, to remain competitive.

Kemmsies also said the US should concentrate on high-value exports including agricultural commodities – an Oakland mainstay.

“A less US-centric world requires more US exports,” he concluded.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Northwest Seaport Alliance: First Quarter International Volumes Strong

By Mark Edward Nero

Total domestic and international container volumes at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma combined jumped by more than 14 percent for the month of March, and year-to-date volumes were up 10 percent, according to newly released data from the two ports’ marine cargo operating partnership.

March international container volumes performed strongly post-Lunar New Year, according to the Northwest Seaport Alliance. Full imports grew almost 26 percent (120,018 TEUs) compared to March 2016. At 99,603 TEUs, full exports were up more than nine percent in March, making it the strongest month for exports this year.

According to the Alliance data, total international TEU volumes, including empties, increased by almost 21 percent compared to March 2016.International volumes recorded their highest first quarter since 2005, which was then a record-breaking year. This year’s first-quarter full imports reached 351,607 TEUs, up more than 13 percent. Meanwhile, full exports grew six percent at 247,186 TEUs. Total international containers, including empties, increased more than 13 percent year-to-date.

The news wasn’t all good however, as total domestic volumes for the month were down more than eight percent compared to March 2016. Year to date, Alaska volumes declined almost four percent and are expected to decline five to six percent this year due to soft market conditions.

Hawaii volumes, however, are expected to show modest growth for the year and have grown two percent year to date.

Numbers also state that breakbulk cargo was down 16 percent to 38,114 metric tons year to date, due to soft market conditions.

March 2017 was the ports’ fifth-largest month for autos in the past 21 years. Autos reached 44,317 units year to date and were flat compared to the first quarter of last year.

Additionally, data show log volumes, driven by stronger demand from China, were up 76.1 percent to 62,753 metric tons compared to March 2016. The ports’ March 2017 container volumes can be seen at, while cargo statistics are available at

POLA Releases Everport Terminal Environmental Report

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Los Angeles and US Army Corps of Engineers have released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report (EIS/EIR) for a proposed upgrade of the container terminal located at Berths 226-236 on Terminal Island at the Port of Los Angeles that is operated by Everport Terminal Services.

Everport, affiliated with Taiwan-based Evergreen Line, has a long-term lease with the Port of LA for operation of the terminal through 2028, which would be extended 10 years under the project. Everport has said the proposed project would improve the container-handling efficiency and capacity of the existing terminal to accommodate the projected fleet mix of larger container vessels that are anticipated to call at the Everport Container Terminal through 2038.

The Draft EIS/EIR, which was released to the public April 20, includes a discussion of the proposed project’s environmental impacts and identifies mitigation measures to reduce these impacts as required under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The 45-day public comment and review period for the Draft EIS/EIR ends June 5. During that time the port will hold a public meeting at 6 pm, Wednesday, May 10, at Port of Los Angeles Administration Building, located at 425 S. Palos Verdes Street in San Pedro, to present its findings and provide opportunity for public comment.

Comments on the Draft EIS/EIR must be submitted in writing by the end of the 45-day public review period and must be postmarked by June 5. Comments should be directed to:

Port of Los Angeles
Chris Cannon
Director of Environmental Management
P.O. Box 151
San Pedro, CA 90733-0151

US Army Corps of Engineers
Los Angeles District, Regulatory Division
Ventura Field Office
ATTN: Theresa Stevens, Ph.D.
2151 Alessandro Drive, Suite 110
Ventura, CA 93001

Comments sent via email should include the project title in the subject line and body of the email in letter format. Questions about the project should be directed to the Port of Los Angeles Environmental Management Division at (310) 732-3675.

A copy of the document is available for public review on the Port of Los Angeles website at

Western Towboat Inks Agreement with MobileOps

By Mark Edward Nero

MobileOps Inc. (, a Redmond, Washington-based software company that specializes in the design and development of maritime software applications – such as dispatch, safety, compliance, vessel maintenance, timecards and analytics apps – has signed an agreement with Seattle-based tug and barge operator Western Towboat Co.

Under the agreement, Western Towboat will utilize the MobileOps platform across its fleet of vessels and within several shoreside departments, the companies say.

In addition, the MobileOps platform’s offline-capable application, Voyager, will be used on tugs transiting the ocean out of cellular range. Voyager, according to MobileOps, allows data to be input, stored, and then synced once within cellular range, allowing for seamless and efficient communications with shoreside personnel.

PT Boat Restoration Project Receives Battery Chargers from Newmar

By Mark Edward Nero

A US Navy World War II PT boat that was recently restored and rebuilt by volunteers at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, has been equipped with modern state-of-the-art battery chargers, thanks to a donation from Orange County, California-based products supplier Newmar Power.

Following more than a decade of volunteer-provided planning and restoration work, PT-305 motored to its new home in a custom-built boathouse on Lake Pontchartrain on March 25. Visitors can now tour and arrange rides on the fully functioning vessel.

To help bring the project to completion, Newmar donated a package of four Phase Three (PT) series battery chargers for the vessel’s port and starboard 24V battery banks and the 12V generator start bank.

To protect the integrity of the boat’s original 1943 design, the chargers and other related modern systems were mounted in the boat’s ammunition locker out of sight. The multiple Newmar chargers were added to meet U.S. Coast Guard regulations for passenger-carrying vessels to support navigation, communications, alarms, pumps and safety equipment.

Newmar says its PT-series chargers incorporate smart circuitry to provide optimum three-stage charging for fast recovery and conditioning, and that the ABS type-approved unit can also be used as a power supply for DC loads.

“This project was a labor of love for the more than 200 volunteers who put in over 100,000 hours of donated work on the project, and it is a pleasure to see it come to fruition as PT-305 enters its new life as the world’s only fully operational combat-veteran World War II PT boat museum. All of us at Newmar are proud that we could contribute to the restoration,” said Brian Giannini, sales manager, Newmar.

PT-305 was launched in May 1943 and had a distinguished combat record operating against German forces in the Mediterranean. With three 12-cylinder Packard engines running on aviation fuel, the 78-foot PT boats were the fastest vessels in World War II with a top speed of more than 40 knots.

After the war, PT-305 was sold and eventually ended up as an oyster boat in the Chesapeake Bay before it was discovered and acquired by the National World War II Museum and brought back to New Orleans.