Friday, May 12, 2017

POLA April Cargo Volumes Set Record

By Mark Edward Nero

April cargo volumes surged 8.9 percent at the Port of Los Angeles compared to the same month last year, according to data released by the port May 11, making it the best April in the port’s 110-year history. With 714,755 TEUs, it eclipsed the April 2012 record of 707,182 TEUs.

For the first four months of 2017, cargo has increased 10 percent compared to 2016, which was a record-breaking year for the port.

“April was the first month of new vessel alliance deployments around the globe, and we are pleased that the Port of Los Angeles provided world-class service and efficiency at our terminals,” POLA Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a statement. “We continue to seek new ways to improve operations,” he added.

According to the numbers published by POLA, April 2017 imports increased 8.3 percent to 372,040 TEUs compared to the previous year, while exports jumped 9.4 percent to 157,661 TEUs. The total loaded volumes of 529,702 TEUs represented an increase of 8.6 percent compared to the previous year, while empty containers grew 9.8 percent to 185,052 TEUs.

The port’s most recent five-year average of April container volumes is 674,540 TEUs, and this year’s volumes represent a six percent increase over the five-year average.

Current and historical data is available on the port’s website at https://www.portoflosangeles.org/maritime/stats.asp.

Newest BC Ferries Vessel Begins Service May 16

By Mark Edward Nero

BC Ferries, the contractor that provides ferry service along coastal British Columbia, announced on May 9 that its newest vessel, Salish Orca, is expected to officially commence service at 6:20 a.m. Tuesday, May 16, on the Comox-Powell River route.

Salish Orca is the first of three new Salish Class vessels that are dual-fuel and capable of operating on either natural gas or ultra-low sulfur marine diesel. BC Ferries said its use of natural gas for the vessels is expected to result in the reduction of about 9,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, the same as taking roughly 1,900 passenger vehicles off the road.

“We are very excited to introduce this beautiful new ship, Salish Orca, into service and see the dual-fuel technology at work,” BC Ferries’ President and CEO Mark Collins said in a statement.

Salish Orca and her sister ships Salish Eagle and Salish Raven were named to honor the Coast Salish people as the original mariners of the Salish Sea. Each vessel features the artwork of a different First Nations artist. The Salish Orca, which accommodates about 145 vehicles and up to 600 passengers and crew, is equipped with two marine evacuation systems with life rafts, smoke and natural gas detection alarms and state-of-the-art fire suppression systems. The vessel measures 107 meters in length overall and has a service speed of 15.5 knots.

Crowley Wins LNG Supply Contract in Puerto Rico

By Mark Edward Nero

Crowley Maritime Corp. said May 11 that its liquefied natural gas (LNG) services group has been awarded a multi-year contract to supply additional volumes of containerized, US-sourced LNG to a major pharmaceutical company’s manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico.

The contract, executed through Crowley’s Carib Energy LLC subsidiary, extends a 2014 contract awarded to Crowley for LNG supply for the facilities by expanding LNG services to additional plants.

The contract which includes the fuel supply and transportation of LNG from US-based liquefaction facilities to the pharmaceutical company’s plants, will be managed by Crowley’s domestic logistics team. They will coordinate over-the-road transportation of 40-foot intermodal ISO tanks, authorized by the US Department of Transportation to each carry about 10,000 gallons of LNG, to the company’s Jacksonville, Fla., shipping terminal.

Once in Jacksonville, the tanks will be loaded onto company-owned vessels departing for Puerto Rico. Upon arrival on the island, Crowley’s Puerto Rico-based logistics team will manage delivery of the LNG to the customer’s facilities. There, the LNG will be re-gasified into pipeline natural gas for boiler consumption.

“We are thrilled to enhance our relationship by growing our LNG services and volumes with this critical customer in Puerto Rico,” Crowley Vice President Greg Buffington said. “Crowley will continue to provide an uninterrupted supply chain of natural gas to the customer’s site, just as we have done since 2014.”

Customs Withdraws Proposal to Revoke Jones Act Waivers

By Mark Edward Nero

US Customs and Border Protection announced on May 10 that it is withdrawing a January proposal to revoke waivers that have been previously granted to oil and gas companies.

The proposal, which was issued two days before Donald Trump’s inauguration as President, would have potentially been devastating for foreign-based oil and gas companies that move product in and around the United States.

The Jones Act, passed in 1920, prohibits foreign flagged vessels from transporting merchandise between points in the United States and mandates that vessels transporting such merchandise be owned and operated by American companies and be staffed by crews of Americans. Customs has provided waivers to the rule for about 40 years.

The oil and gas industry, for the most part, was pleased by the news.

“By rescinding the proposal CBP has decided not to impose potentially serious limitations to the industry’s ability to safely, effectively and economically operate,” said Erik Milito, director of upstream and industry operations for the American Petroleum Institute.

However, a group representing US companies operating offshore service vessels, the Offshore Marine Service Association, issued a statement calling Customs’ reversal deeply disappointing.

“This decision hurts American workers, vessel owners and US shipbuilders,” the association said in a statement. “We call on President Trump to take immediate action and correct these damaging rulings that have continued to put foreign companies first and American companies and workers last.”

Customs said that it has received over 3,000 comments about the proposal before it was pulled, with many in opposition to the possible waiver revocation.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Maintenance Drydock of Presidential Yacht Complete

By Mark Edward Nero

The presidential yacht Potomac is once again plying the waters of San Francisco Bay after recently undergoing a maintenance drydocking at Bay Ship & Yacht in Alameda, California, the vessel repair company revealed May 5. The Potomac, known as the “floating White House,” was launched in 1934 and served as the presidential yacht until the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1945. She has a storied past from her start as a Presidential yacht to Elvis Presley’s vessel and several other lives in-between.

Now under management of the Potomac Association, her docents have said they selected Bay Ship & Yacht as her recent repair facility because the company is already very familiar with the vessel.

Repairs included above- and below-water painting, preservation and repair of the valves, checking and maintenance of all mechanical propulsion and steering systems, structural steel repairs to tanks and hatches, and tank painting.

“The Potomac is a wonderfully kept piece of machinery by a dedicated group of docents that are passionate about preserving history,” Bay Ship & Yacht Business Development Manager Richard Maguire said. “Her docents often remark about the monumental decisions that were discussed aboard all throughout her tour of duty spanning the Great Depression and World War II. Bay Ship and Yacht is extremely pleased to be part of the preservation of such a fine piece of American history.”

The 165-foot long Potomac, which has a beam of 23.72 feet, is available for tours and voyages by the public. More information is available at www.usspotomac.org.

POLB Monthly Volumes Rise 16 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

Container volumes at the Port of Long Beach were 16.5 percent higher in April compared to the same month last year, with the port crediting the increase to more ships calling, thanks to new business and changes to vessel deployments.

A total of 558,014 TEUs moved through Long Beach, according to port data released May 8.

Inbound boxes numbered 288,207 TEUs, an increase of 16.5 percent, and the port handled 116,260 loaded outbound units during that period, up 3.1 percent. Empty containers returning overseas to be filled with goods jumped to 153,547 TEUs, 29.3 percent higher.

So far this year, cargo volume at the port is up 5.1 percent from 2016, according to data.

“We continue to be on pace for a strong year,” Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzm├ín said. “In April, we were pleased to welcome back Hyundai Merchant Marine as well as a new customer, SM Line. As shipping lines around the world settle into new alliance routes, our many business partners can depend on Long Beach to provide a safe harbor for their goods with our signature efficient and sustainable services.”

The port’s latest monthly cargo figures, and more detailed numbers can be found at www.polb.com/stats.

New Vancouver USA CFAO Assumes Post

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Vancouver USA’s newly hired Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Elizabeth Gotelli, joined the port May 8 after being hired for the position in late April.

Her duties as CFAO include strategic planning, development of port business policies, operations and budget responsibility for the administration, contracts, finance and IT departments, and ensuring the port complies with local, state and federal regulations and laws governing port operations.

Prior to joining Vancouver USA, Gotelli was Director of Public Affairs and Human Resources for the City of Lacey, Washington for five years. She has also worked for the City of Vancouver, Washington, as Director of Human Resources and Procurement Services Manager, and in positions with Clark County Public Works and Community Services.

“Elizabeth has a strong financial and administrative background, combined with knowledge of our community and experience with local agencies,” port CEO Julianna Marler said. “These traits are what really make her stand out as the right person for this position.”

Report: North America Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook Steady

By Mark Edward Nero

Cruise popularity is on the rise amongst consumers, and there is a surge of interest in cruise travel, according to the results of a new study released May 4 by the Cruise Lines International Association.

The Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook of 2017 is the first of three surveys conducted by the cruise association in partnership with J.D. Power to gain insight into consumer travel behaviors and opinions revealing traveler insights, outlook and attitudes regarding cruising and land-based travel.

“The first installment of the Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook is vital in keeping the cruise industry abreast of consumer attitudes and behaviors, allowing the industry to continue to evolve in a direction that is appealing and beneficial to would-be and current cruise travelers,” CLIA President and CEO Cindy D’Aoust said. “Each installment will help the industry, as well as cruise travel agents, continue to adapt business practices and offerings to coincide with the desires of travelers and propel the cruise industry forward.”

Key findings indicate that cruise popularity is on the rise and in good favor. Of those asked, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) said their overall awareness of cruise vacations has improved within the last two years. Within the last four months alone, 30 percent of respondents said their awareness of cruising and ship-based excursions “increased greatly” compared to year or two ago. In terms of perception, the overwhelming majority of travelers have a positive attitude toward cruising. In fact, only six percent of responders expressed an unfavorable attitude toward cruise vacations, down from 11 percent. The number of vacationers who are interested in taking a cruise vacation has reportedly risen to 63 percent. According to the report, travelers have a solid interest in both ocean cruising (50 percent) and river cruising (30 percent). Over 50 percent say they will or probably will take an ocean cruise soon. Eight out of ten said they will board a cruise ship in the next 12 months.

J.D. Power conducted the North America Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook web-based surveys in August and December 2016 targeting 500 consumers who earn more than $50,000 annually and had taken a vacation within the past three years.

The survey is expected to be conducted three times per year to establish industry trends, according to the cruise association.