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Friday, May 5, 2017

Bill Introduced to Expand Maritime Training at Two-Year Colleges

By Mark Edward Nero

Two US assemblymen have introduced bipartisan legislation designed to advance the capabilities of two-year community and technical colleges to assist the federal government and industry in securing the talent pipeline for domestic maritime industry jobs.

The Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act was introduced May 2 by Representatives Gene Green, D-TX, and Rob Wittman, R-VA.

“In our district, we have a surplus of maritime jobs and not enough people with the skills and training to fill them,” said Green. “This bipartisan legislation will help bridge the gap. It’s good for our local community, it’s good for our businesses, and it’s good for the American economy.”

“A well-trained, skilled maritime work force is critical for our nation’s economy and national security,” said Wittman. “Shipyards in Virginia and around the country will benefit from the injection of workers our new centers of excellence will provide.”

“I am pleased to introduce the Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act with my colleagues to bolster our maritime industry, raise up our community and technical colleges, and empower students to find well-paying jobs in this critical sector of the American economy,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif. “Strengthening this work force is essential to maintaining our nation’s goods movement system and vital to our national defense.”

“The recruitment and development of shipyard workers is critical to the future of the US shipbuilding and repair industry,” Matthew Paxton, president of the Shipbuilders Council of America said in a statement. “Empowering MarAd to recruit, train and develop the next generation of workers will provide a stable work force and ensure there is sufficient talent to build our commercial and military ships for decades to come.”

The full text of the legislation can be found at https://green.house.gov/sites/green.house.gov/files/documents/Domestic%20Maritime%20Centers%20of%20Excellence%20Act%20030317.pdf

Disney Vessel Becomes First Cruise Ship through New Panama Canal Locks

By Mark Edward Nero

Last weekend marked a milestone for the cruise industry when the Disney Wonder, transited the Panama Canal as the first passenger vessel to go through the canal’s new set of locks.

The Disney Wonder’s Panama Canal crossing, which took place April 29, was part of a 14-night voyage from Port Canaveral, Fla., to San Diego, Calif. The ship entered the Panama Canal from the Atlantic Ocean, beginning its journey at the new Agua Clara Locks.

From there, it headed south through Gatun Lake and the Culebra Cut, passing through the new Cocoli Locks and under the Bridge of Americas before exiting to the Pacific Ocean.

Before and after Disney’s summer season in Alaska, the Disney Wonder is expected to sail from San Diego to Baja, Calif., and the Mexican Riviera.

The ship departs the West Coast on October 27 and should pass through the Panama Canal again to begin Disney’s Halloween on the High Seas cruises from Galveston, Texas.

The $5.4 billion expansion of the Panama Canal, which started in the fall of 2007, officially opened to traffic in June 2016. The new set of locks feature sliding gates, doubled for safety. Each chamber measures 1,400 feet long, 180 feet wide, and 60 feet deep allowing vessels with a beam of up to 160 feet, an overall length of up to 1,200 feet and a draft of up to 49 feet.

The Disney Wonder has an overall length of 964 feet, a width of 106 feet, and a draft of 25.3 feet.

A video of the Disney Wonder transiting the locks can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OB9s9gKtUxQ

New Port of Seattle Police Chief Named

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Seattle announced on May 3, the hiring of Rod Covey as its new Chief of Police . Covey acted as interim chief since the retirement of Chief Colleen Wilson in November. He takes over full-time chief duties effective immediately. A total of 32 candidates nationwide applied for the position, according to the port.

“We held an extensive competition for the police chief position with an impressive list of candidates,” Port of Seattle Interim CEO Dave Soike said in a prepared statement. “We are pleased to select someone with the depth of experience around the country and within our own department that Chief Covey has amassed.”

Covey served as deputy chief of the Port of Seattle Police Department since November 2009, and previously spent 32 years with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, where he was the assistant director for Operations, Patrol, and Agency support. In that role, he oversaw a wide variety of functions that included training, research and planning, community education, crime victims unit, internal affairs and more.

He holds a Bachelor degree in Management and a Masters in Educational Leadership.

The Port of Seattle Police Department consists of 102 commissioned police officers and 41 non-commissioned personnel providing the primary law enforcement service to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and the port’s maritime properties including two cruise ship terminals, one grain terminal, a public cargo terminal, four public marinas and multiple real estate assets.

USCG to Base Two New Cutters in Oregon

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Coast Guard will homeport two of the service’s new Sentinel-Class 154-foot Fast Response Cutters (FRC) in Astoria, Oregon, starting in 2021, the USCG announced April 28. The two ships have not yet been named, but FRCs are typically dubbed after enlisted Coast Guard personnel who distinguished themselves in the line of duty.

The Coast Guard has said that each of the two Astoria-based FRCs would provide the coastal maritime community with a 30 percent increase in annual operating hours on regional waters over the Coast Guard’s legacy 110-foot Island class patrol boats like the Coast Guard Cutter Orcas, which are homeported in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Fast Response Cutters are equipped, according to the USCG, with better command and control capability and increased sea-keeping abilities, operational range, a larger crew and higher transit speeds than the aging patrol boats.

A larger, more capable stern-launch cutter boat allows the FRC to conduct search-and-rescue and interdiction operations up to 50 miles away from the cutter, the Coast Guard said, which greatly extends the vessel’s reach over the USCG’s legacy patrol boat fleet.

The Coast Guard says that the Orca cutters are expected to continue operating out of Coos Bay until replaced by the first of the Astoria-based FRCs in 2021, and that potential homeport sites are currently being considered within Astoria for the two as-yet-to-be-named FRCs.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Port of Seattle Kicks Off Biggest-Ever
Cruise Season

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Seattle said April 27 that it has kicked off its biggest cruise season yet with more than a million revenue passengers on 218 vessels, making Seattle the biggest cruise port on the West Coast.

“A record number of cruise passengers this season means local agriculture and food companies, among others across our region, benefit from these provisioning ships,” Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman said.

New this year will be the opening of the renovated Pier 66 cruise facility homeport for Norwegian Cruise Line. The historic and unprecedented 15-year lease is estimated to generate $2.3 billion in total business revenue for the region, nearly 900 jobs and more than $65 million in state and local taxes, according to the port.

The cruise industry in Seattle is responsible for over $500 million in economic impact to the region, according to the port, and provides more than 4,000 jobs and $18.9 million in state and local taxes, with each homeported vessel generating $2.7 million to the local economy.

Carnival Cruise Line Begins Renovating
Long Beach Terminal

By Mark Edward Nero

Carnival Cruise Line has begun a multimillion-dollar renovation of its Long Beach Cruise Terminal facility to accommodate larger ships and enhance terminal operations.

A groundbreaking ceremony held in April included remarks by City of Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, President and CEO of Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau Steve Goodling and Carnival Cruise Line Vice President Strategic and Commercial Port Development Carlos Torres de Navarra, among others.

Design plans for the terminal were unveiled by Carnival during the celebration. The renovation is expected to increase the space Carnival currently occupies in the terminal facility from about 66,000 square feet to 142,000 square feet.

Carnival says the expansion and new design will allow for a dramatically enhanced passenger experience and operational flow within the terminal. The project also includes the expansion of portside “cold-ironing” to enable larger ships to plug into the local electric grid to reduce exhaust emissions while docked.

Also planned are further enhancements to the area surrounding the geodesic dome that houses the cruise terminal and the adjacent Queen Mary tourist attraction.

Carnival has run the Long Beach Cruise Terminal — the United States’ only privately operated cruise terminal — since 2003. It is one of the busiest terminals in North America, with ships docking at the facility five days per week resulting in a more than 70 percent utilization rate, according to Carnival.

The renovation is expected to make 100 percent of the geodesic dome, originally the space that housed Howard Hughes’ “Spruce Goose” museum attraction, available for Carnival’s cruise operations. The company currently uses only a portion of the area for customs and guest check-in activities.

Currently, Carnival operates three ships from the Long Beach Cruise Terminal — Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Imagination, which offer three- and four-day Baja cruises, and Carnival Miracle, which operates week-long Mexican Riviera voyages along with 14- and 15-day cruises to Hawaii and Alaska.

In 2018 when the larger Carnival Splendor replaces Carnival Miracle, the line is expected to carry more than 700,000 guests annually from Southern California, and operate nearly 250 three- to 14-day cruises a year.

Maersk, Hamburg Süd Boards Approve Merger

By Mark Edward Nero

The sale and purchase agreement for shipping company Maersk Line’s acquisition of rival Hamburg Süd was approved by the boards of Maersk Line and the Oetker Group on April 28. The acquisition still remains subject to regulatory approvals.

Maersk Line is to acquire Hamburg Süd for $4 billion USD cash. Maersk has said it will finance the acquisition through a syndicated loan facility.

“Today, we have taken a decisive step toward the shared future of Maersk Line and Hamburg Süd. We have confirmed the anticipated synergies and we are convinced that our plan to maximize customer retention is the right path forward. The acquisition is cementing our position as the largest and leading carrier in container shipping, and it will provide great opportunities for the employees of both companies,” Maersk Line and A.P. Moller – Maersk CEO Søren Skou said in a statement.

Combined, the two companies are expected to earn $350-400 million USD annually over the first couple of years following completion of the transaction, Maersk said.

Following the sale, Hamburg Süd is expected to maintain its own structure, and the combined network will include increased number of weekly sailings, faster transit times, more port calls, more direct port-to-port calls and less need for transhipment, benefitting both Maersk Line and Hamburg Süd customers.

“By keeping Hamburg Süd as a separate and well-run company, we will limit the transaction and integration risks and costs while still extracting the operational synergies. The acquisition of Hamburg Süd will therefore create substantial value to Maersk Line already in 2019,” Skou said.

With the acquisition, Maersk Line and Hamburg Süd will have a total container capacity of around 3.9 million TEU and an 18.7 percent global capacity share. The combined fleet will consist of 743 container vessels.

The US Department of Justice approved the proposed acquisition in March, and in April, the EU Commission approved it as well, subject to conditions.

Maersk Line said it expects to close the transaction by the end of 2017 and that until then, Hamburg Süd and Maersk Line would continue business as usual as separate and independent companies.

Hueneme Port Receives Environmental Award

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Hueneme, in California, was recently recognized for its environmental initiatives while being presented with a County of Ventura 2017 Earth Day Award for Excellence in Environmental Stewardship.

The award, given to the port by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors ahead of Earth Day on April 22, was presented by County Supervisor Kelly Long to Oxnard Harbor District Commissioner Mary Anne Rooney and Port Director and CEO Kristin Decas.

“I am so proud that our port, which is among the most important economic drivers in our county, has made good stewardship of the environment a high priority in how they do business every day for the betterment of our community and our region,” Long said in a statement.

In 2012, the port adopted a series of initiatives which included the rollout of several implementation plans to advance environmental values important to the port, including air and water quality, protection of marine resources, healthy soil and sediment, and climate change adaptation.

And for the last two years, the port has been an accredited member of the Green Marine program, a voluntary eco-accountability program that monitors and publicly publishes its members’ progress towards various initiatives.

“Our pursuit of strong and active environmental policies and programs will continue to be integral to the day-to-day operations of the Port of Hueneme,” Decas said.