Friday, January 5, 2018

BNSF to Transload Containers at Portland

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Portland on Wednesday announced its partnership with BNSF Railway to provide rail service to shippers at Terminal 6.

The new service, which began this week and will run five days a week, will ferry cargo between Portland and Seattle/Tacoma, where goods can be loaded onto ocean carriers.

The news comes on the heels of Swire Shipping’s decision to start a monthly container call at Terminal 6.

“The rail service will complement the monthly container ship call by giving our local shippers another path to market,” said Port of Portland executive director Curtis Robinhold. “We hope to continue building on this momentum and interest at Terminal 6.”

The port has also retained a consultant firm and reached out to a 22-member committee of industry stakeholders to look at what container shipping in Portland might look like in the coming years and develop a sustainable business model for Terminal 6.

They are expected to bring their findings to the port commission this month.

New Port of Seattle CEO

By Karen Robes Meeks

Retired US Coast Guard Rear Admiral Stephen P. Metruck is expected to start as the Port of Seattle’s new executive director on February 1, the port recently announced.

In late December, following a months-long search, the port commission appointed Metruck, who previously served as Commander of the Mid-Atlantic Region in charge of 3,600 military and civilian personnel. Prior to that, he managed the US Coast Guard’s $10 billion budget. From 2005 to 2008, he was commander of Sector Puget Sound, where he oversaw the development of the nationally recognized Puget Sound Joint Harbor Operations Center.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to lead an organization with such significant economic impact for the region,” said Metruck. “Having served here before, I also know there is no better place in the country to live and work. I’m looking forward to being back.”

As executive director, Metruck will be tasked with leading the port through the modernization and expansion of Sea-Tac International Airport, managing Fishermen’s Terminal in support of the North Pacific Fishing Fleet, oversee the port’s real estate holdings and foster its thriving cruise business. He will be paid an annual salary of $350,000.

Commission Vice President Courtney Gregoire and Commissioner Fred Felleman, who co-chaired the Executive Director search committee, praised Metruck’s leadership experience and integrity.

“First and foremost, we sought a great public servant to lead our outstanding organization with transparency and strong values. Admiral Metruck brings an exemplary record of service and achievement to the Port of Seattle,” said Commission Vice President Courtney Gregoire. “We are thrilled to have his experience and leadership at a time of great growth and change. The Port is committed to expanding diversity and ensuring equality as we create new economic opportunities throughout the community.”

Metruck replaces former chief Ted Fick, who resigned last February.

Coast Guard Rescues Hunters

By Karen Robes Meeks

Three hunters were rescued by the US Coast Guard on the south side of Chenega Island in Prince William Sound in Alaska on New Year’s Day.

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew found the three hunters’ 20-foot vessel and a flag on the beach and were able to take them to Seward, Alaska.

According to the Coast Guard, the men, who were three days overdue, had no medical issues and apparently survived on kelp and water while taking shelter in a cabin they found on the island as they waited for help.

“Starting the New Year with a positive outcome to a difficult case is all we can really ask for," said Michael McNeil, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage command duty officer. “Our crews were able to brave the terrible weather, overcome lack of information as to where these men could be, and safely get them back to their family and community.”

The Coast Guard encourages mariners to always be prepared by having marine flares, and operational bilge pumps, wearing life jackets, keeping a marine-band radio on board as well as filing a float plan with family, friends and local marinas before departing. The list should have information about the number of passengers, the destination and when the vessel is expected to return.

New Bellingham Commissioners

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Bellingham welcomed its newest commissioners this week with the swearing in of Michael Shepard and Ken Bell.

Shepard teaches at Goucher College and is a research associate at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies at Western Washington University.

Bell, who is president and CEO of waste management company Best Recycling, will also serve as President of the Board of Commissioners for 2018.

“I am pleased to welcome Michael Shepard and Ken Bell to the Port’s Board of Commissioners,” said Port Executive Director Rob Fix. “Commissioner Shepard has worked on a broad range of issues important to the Port of Bellingham including workforce development, marine resource management, and affordable housing. Commissioner Bell is a successful businessman with experience working with major ports throughout the world and on contaminated property redevelopment projects like those that exist at the Port of Bellingham. Commissioners Shepard and Bell bring a wide array of skills and interests that will benefit our business community, the environment, and the citizens of Whatcom County.”

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Everett Dredging Schedule

By Karen Robes Meeks

Maintenance dredging of the upper and lower channel of the Everett Harbor and Snohomish River’s upper and lower channel is expected to be done by the end of January.

The $1.5 million project, which began November 18, is being done by the US Army Corps of Engineers in partnership with the Port of Everett.

The work involves dredging some 100,000 cubic yards of material from the upper channel and 40,000 cubic yards from the lower one.

Area boaters are advised to be cautious, pass on the marina side of the dredge, mind the rig markings and avoid traveling over the pipeline.

Polar Star Departs

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Seattle-homeported US Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, the nation’s sole heavy icebreaker, is on its way to establish a channel through 15 miles of ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, in an effort to resupply the US Antarctic Program.

“Operation Deep Freeze, the US military’s contribution to the National Science Foundation-managed, civilian USAP, is unlike any other US military operation,” said Capt. Michael Davanzo, commanding officer of Polar Star. “It's one of the most difficult US military peacetime missions due to the harsh environment and extreme remoteness in which it is conducted.”

The Polar Star, which carries about 150 crew members, 1.5 million gallons of fuel, and a year’s supply of food, left Honolulu in December to replenish the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott South Pole stations.

“The Polar Star is one of the most powerful icebreakers in the world and is critical to our Nation’s continued national security and access to Antarctic and Arctic regions,” said Davanzo. “Operation Deep Freeze is one of many operations in the Pacific in which the US Coast Guard promotes security and stability across the region.”

USCG Seeks Navigation Input

By Karen Robes Meeks

The US Coast Guard is asking mariners and other maritime stakeholders to weigh in on its Waterways Analysis and Management System (WAMS) study, which looks at the short-range Aids to Navigation (ATON) system that encompasses American waterways from the Canadian border to the Mexican border and around Alaska, Hawaii and all United States territories throughout the Pacific.

“This WAMS study will help us to tailor our Aids to Navigation levels of service to better meet the needs of mariners across the Pacific Seacoast System,” said Cmdr. Justin Kimura, the chief of the Navigation Technology and Risk Management Division in the Coast Guard Office of Navigation Systems.

Aids to Navigation is managed by the US Coast Guard Office of Navigation Systems and maintained by Coast Guard buoy tenders and ATON teams across the United States. It aids mariners determine their position, chart a safe course and avoid hazards. Comments will be accepted until March 31. Visit to take the survey.

Port of Los Angeles Wins Award

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Southern California chapter of the American Public Works Association recently bestowed its B.E.S.T. Award to the Port of Los Angeles for the port’s $46 million John S. Gibson Boulevard/I-110 Freeway Access Ramp Improvements project, which was completed in 2016.

The B.E.S.T. Awards, which stands for Building Excellence Shaping Tomorrow, are annually awarded to public agencies for excellent capital improvement projects and public works programs.

“We are honored to be recognized for this project, which required the cooperation and support of CalTrans, other agencies, project teams and stakeholders to successfully complete on time and under budget,” said Tony Gioiello, deputy executive director of development at the Port of Los Angeles. “Working together, we’ve been able to make an impact in our community and improve the safety of our local highways.”