Friday, August 25, 2017

Port of Los Angeles to Digitize Cargo Flow

By Karen Robes Meeks

A pilot program between the Port of Los Angeles and GE Transportation to digitize cargo flow is expanding less than a year after its launch.

The port announced this week that it is extending its program with GE for at least five years to encompass all its container terminals and shipping lines, and agreeing to nearly $12 million in new commercial agreements.

The agreements, which still requires the final blessing from the Los Angeles City Council, will be far reaching supporting about nine million TEUs, over 15,000 truck providers and thousands of cargo importers. “With our container volumes at record highs, the GE digital shipping solution is critical to our future success,” said Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles. “The GE portal is an investment in the long-term growth of the Port of Los Angeles and tells our stakeholders and customers that we take seriously our responsibility to find new ways to drive efficiencies and optimization. We believe this project will not only move the needle but could be a game changer.”

After looking at preliminary pilot results, the port expects eight to 12 percent efficiency gains as the program expands to the rest of the port.

Pilot participants surveyed about the program expressed a desire for more details about each shipment, and more terminals and shipping lines involvement in the pilot, a suggestion that resulted in the new commercial agreement, the port reported.

The pilot was launched with the world’s two biggest shipping lines, Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Co., along with port’s flagship terminal APMT at Pier 400. The program involved tracking the performance levels of the 2-M Alliance’s new TransPacific 6 service.

The program allows data that would typically be available 24- to 36-hours before a ship arrives to now be available up to 14 days before the ship comes to Los Angeles, allowing for the supply chain to better prepare for loading and unloading by digitally streamlining the process.

“This project has been a home run,” said John Ochs, senior director at APM Terminals, the site of the pilot project. “The Port of Los Angeles has transformed data into information that can be utilized by stakeholders to optimize their goods movement processes.”

Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association, also responded positively to the program. “A trucking dispatcher may visit up to 40 websites a day just to coordinate cargo movement into the port complex,” he said. “Having a single portal, a single reference point, will create new levels of efficiency that we’ve been seeking for a long time.”

Clean Air Action Plan Workshop

By Karen Robes Meeks

Stakeholders will have the chance to weigh in on the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach’s latest draft update of the Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) at a public workshop at the end of August.

The workshop, which will also be live streamed on the ports’ and CAAP’s websites, will allow speakers to give up to three minutes of verbal comment, as well as submit a comment card.

Comments may also be emailed to until 5 p.m. on September 18.

Adopted in 2006, the document is the twin ports’ living blueprint for raising Southern California’s air quality by lowering the pollution created by operations at the ports.

The plan calls for cleaner equipment and procedures for vessels, trains and trucks, including curbing at-berth emissions and creating a zero emission drayage truck pilot program in the coming years.

Los Angeles and Long Beach harbor commissioners are expected to decide on the final draft in November.

The workshop will take place at 5 p.m. on August 30 at Banning’s Landing Community Center, 100 E. Water St. in Wilmington.

For more information visit The draft update can be found at, and

Fewer but Bigger Ships at Oakland

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Oakland could receive its second-fewest container ship visits in a decade this season , as multiple larger ships carrying more cargo come to the port.

Thus far this year, 954 container ships have visited Oakland, down 7.6 percent from the 1,032 visits registered during the same period in 2016. If the trend continues, the port anticipates 100 fewer ships coming to Oakland. Maritime Director John Driscoll sees that statistic as a positive sign.

“This is a good trend,” he said. “Our cargo volume is up but with fewer ships, we reduce diesel emissions and ease berth crowding.”

The number of ships calling to Oakland have fallen 15 percent since 2007, with the lowest number of calls taking place in 2015, when only 1,433 ships visited.

Yet Oakland posted a two percent increase in loaded container volume in 2017 and is on track to set a cargo record for the second consecutive year.

Port of Seattle Addresses City Traffic Woes

By Karen Robes Meeks

A critical east-west street corridor for Port of Seattle freight and commuters will be receiving a significant financial boost to improve its safety and accessibility.

Civic, business and port leaders this month announced a memorandum of understanding that would dedicate up to $10 million from the port toward finishing the $123 million South Lander street bridge project and $5 million to find ways to improve traffic and safety issues on key freight and transit corridors throughout Seattle, according to the port.

“The City of Seattle, the Port of Seattle, the state of Washington, and federal leaders like United States Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell all came together around this vital infrastructure project because we are all committed to building a thriving, 21st Century economy that channels our booming $38 billion maritime industry,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “I’ve worked on this project dating back to my time in the state legislature, to support our industrial and maritime economy. Our shared economic values of mobility, safety, living wage jobs, and a clean environment all aligned around this bridge to the future.”

The program will create efficiency for freight, and continue the safe movement of cargo through the gateway, said Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton.

“This partnership will improve transportation for commuters, truckers, buses and bicyclists in these critical corridors,” he said.

Considered one of the nation’s busiest rail crossings, the South Lander Street bridge shuts down for nearly five hours a day because of rail traffic, which affects 13,000 vehicles.

Also one of Washington state’s most high-risk rail crossings, the corridor was the site of three deaths since 2011 and has reported an average of 485 track violations daily from cars, pedestrians and bicycles that ignore deployed rail barriers and cross the track.

The project, which is expected to break ground early next year, will take out all at-grade access to the tracks and result in a new four-lane bridge that will safely link 1,400 pedestrians who mainly travel between the SODO light rail station and area employers daily, according to the port.

“Washington state loses millions of dollars in economic activity because of train, truck, and urban traffic congestion at Lander Street alone,” said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, who helped secure an additional $45 million FASTLANE grant for the project last fall. “By moving freight faster, we can fuel our export economy and create good paying jobs.”

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

USCG Arctic Dive Operations

By Karen Robes Meeks

For the first time in 11 years, the US Coast Guard began shipboard dive operations from a Coast Guard cutter in the Arctic.

Crews from Coast Guard Regional Dive Lockers San Diego and Honolulu and US Navy Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Intermediate Maintenance Facility made up the dive team.

It was the first time dive board operations took place since 2006, when Coast Guard divers Lt. Jessica Hill and Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Duque died during an ice dive in the Arctic Ocean aboard Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a 420-foot long research vessel.

The Coast Guard reviewed its dive program following their deaths, enhancing “diving proficiency and retention by making diving a primary duty and establishing the first three regional dive lockers to centralize control, training and operations,” according to the Coast Guard.

The crew of the Healy and joint dive team honored the fallen divers in a memorial July 29 during the vessel’s current Arctic patrol.

“There is no prospect more sobering than the death of a crewmember,” said Capt. Greg Tlapa, commanding officer of the Healy. “We honor the memory of our shipmates, Lt. Hill and Petty Officer 2nd Class Duque, and will never forget their sacrifices. It gives our crew great pride to re-establish dive capabilities to Healy and meet the subsurface needs and challenges our service will face in the coming years in the Arctic.”

San Diego Facility Closure

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Shelter Island Boat Launch Facility will be closed after Labor Day weekend until March 2018 to allow the Port of San Diego to finalize the improvement project.

The closure, which will begin September 5, will enable crews to continue work on jetty removal to make way for a new concrete breakwater and walkway.

Once completed, the Shelter Island facility will have new lighting and signage, longer boarding floats, a bigger maneuvering area in the basin, walking platforms with viewing areas for the public and restrooms, walkways and docks that better accommodates those with disabilities.

Visit to find out alternate launch areas during construction.

New CBP Director

By Karen Robes Meeks

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) formally instated its new port director for the Los Angeles/Long Beach and Port Hueneme Ports of Entry.

In a Change of Command ceremony at Fort MacArthur AFB Community Center in San Pedro, LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke takes over for Carlos C. Martel, Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles, who served as LA/LB Port Director from July 2011 to September 2016.

“LaFonda brings a wealth of management expertise and a unique skill set, she is an engaging person, a coalition builder and she truly is an advocate for our employees and our partners,” Martel said. “LaFonda is also an innovator she is always looking for new opportunities to meet the needs of today and the demands of tomorrow.”

Sutton-Burke, who started as a US Customers inspector in El Paso in 1993, was director of the Non-Intrusive Inspection Division at CBP Headquarters from 2012 to 2016.

Before that, she was director of the NII Division within the Office of Field Operations overseeing a $4.6 billion portfolio of all NII technology lifecycle functions consisting of over 40,000 pieces of X-ray and imaging equipment that provides critical interdiction and detection capabilities to over 320 ports of entry and 52,000 CBP officers and agents.

She has been serving in the current role since January 2017.

New Roof at Bellingham

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Bellingham recently finished a $500,000 roofing project at Bellingham Shipping Terminal.

The project, which was done on time and under budget, involved replacing the 45,786-square foot-roof on Warehouse 2 with weather-resistant materials that would protect moisture-sensitive products.

“We took advantage of the summer weather and knew what to expect after replacing a similar roof on an adjacent warehouse at the Shipping Terminal last year,” said Port Engineer Jon Gibson.

The project was the latest in a series of upgrades done by the port, including a new bulkhead, updated stormwater and power systems and cleaning up contamination in the Whatcom Waterway.

“Reactivating the Shipping Terminal to create family-wage jobs for local residents is a strategic priority for the Port of Bellingham” said Port Commission President Dan Robbins. “The Port has made significant investments to modernize this facility and having dry storage warehouses available is essential in attracting bulk and break bulk shipping customers to Whatcom County.”