Friday, April 13, 2018

Big Quarter for Long Beach

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Long Beach recently finished its best first quarter in history, surpassing a 2007 first quarter record, the port announced this week.

Nearly 1.9 million TEUs moved through the port from January through March, about 19.4 percent more than the port’s first quarter of 2017, the port’s busiest year to date.

Meanwhile, cargo volumes last month rose 13.8 percent when compared to March 2017, moving 575,258 TEUs.

Imports last month grew 7.3 percent to 267,824 import TEUs while exports jumped 18.3 percent to 142,419 TEUs.

“Our March cargo jumped despite the shipping slowdown during the Lunar New Year holiday in China,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “One of the most encouraging signs throughout this surge in cargo last year and this year is the operational efficiency at our marine terminals. We are handling record levels of cargo with no delays.”

New Finance Director at Grays Harbor

By Karen Robes Meeks

Mike Folkers is the new director of finance and administration for the Port of Grays Harbor.

Folkers, who will start in the his new role on April 16, takes over for current director of finance Mary Nelson, who will retire in June after 23 years with the port.

Folkers, who serves as the City of Aberdeen’s finance director, has led municipal finance departments in Ocean Shores, Hoquiam and Aberdeen.

“Mr. Folkers’ proven leadership and knowledge in the field will be an asset to the port’s management team,” said Executive Director Gary Nelson. “We look forward to having him on the team and continuing the strong legacy of fiscal responsibility Ms. Nelson and her department have established over the past 23 years.”

Mr. Folkers earned his masters of business administration from Washington State University, a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics engineering from the University of Washington.

“We are confident Mr. Folkers’ experience and skills will be an excellent fit for ensuring the legacy established during Mary Nelson’s tenure of prudent, judicious and transparent management of the public assets entrusted to the Port for the betterment of the community,” said Port Commission Secretary-Treasurer Jack Thompson. “Mike is well prepared to assist our port management team in navigating future challenges and opportunities.”

Vancouver USA Aces Audit

By Karen Robes Meeks

For its eighth straight year, the Port of Vancouver USA earned a clean audit from the Washington State Auditor’s Office.

No deficiencies were found during the audit period from Jan. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2017 by the state auditor’s office, which reviewed “procurement and contract compliance; lease revenues; safeguarding of fuel; tracking of small and attractive IT inventory assets; and payroll and financial condition,” according to the port.

“Finding no deficiencies year after year showcases the passion and integrity our staff have every day,” said CEO Julianna Marler. “We are deeply committed to accountability and transparency, and we’re proud to have yet another clean audit that demonstrates those values.”

Three years ago, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board raised reporting standards for all government agencies, said port Director of Finance and Accounting Scott Goodrich.

“GASB works hard to ensure transparency, access and accuracy in financial reporting and we are proud to continue to not only meet but exceed those standards,” he said.

Free Harbor Tours at Oakland

By Karen Robes Meeks

See the Port of Oakland up close with a free harbor tour, which will take place from May to October.

“Port of Oakland harbor tours allow us to connect directly with the communities that we serve,” said Port of Oakland Director of Social Responsibility Amy Tharpe. “The harbor tours are also a way of saying thank you to our community for supporting the work that we do.”

Reservations are needed to take advantage of the 90-minute narrated tours aboard the Blue and Gold Fleet. Ticket registration begins May 7 for the two May cruises. The first harbor tour is slated for May 11. Registration will take place the first Monday of each month for that month's tours.

Visit to check out tour times and dates. To reserve a spot, visit

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Coast Guard Cutter Sherman Decommissioned

By Karen Robes Meeks

After almost five decades of service, The Coast Guard Cutter Sherman has been decommissioned at Coast Guard Base Honolulu.

Sherman, one of several cutters being replaced by the National Security Cutters, was involved in numerous efforts, including the largest individual cocaine seizure in US history, as well as maritime law enforcement cases and rescues.

Launched on Sept. 3, 1968, Sherman is one of only two Coast Guard Cutters to earn the Vietnam Service Award and the only such vessel to receive the Combat Action Ribbon for action in the Vietnam War. It’s also the last active US Coast Guard warship to have sunk an enemy vessel in combat.

“The crewmembers who’ve served aboard Sherman have contributed immensely to protecting the American public across Sherman’s nearly 50 years of meritorious service while changing the course of history through the cutter’s combat action in Vietnam and a record-setting drug seizure,” said Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, who leads the service’s Pacific fleet as the commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area in Alameda, California. “The Coast Guard remains committed to protecting the American public, our security and our economic interests wherever we are called upon to serve. Recapitalizing our vessels, aircraft, boats, and infrastructure is mission critical and our highest priority to ensure we remain ‘always ready’ to continue protecting our nation.”

New Port of Seattle Environmental Committee

By Karen Robes Meeks

In a move to further environmental efforts at the Port of Seattle, commissioners voted recently to establish a 2018 Energy and Sustainability Committee and identify its environmental priorities to curb greenhouse gas emissions and find more innovative and collaborative ways to protect nearby communities’ air and water quality.

In its plan, the committee, co-chaired by Commissioners Fred Felleman and Ryan Calkins, outlined four priorities: furthering the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels, starting an aquatic carbon sequestration, “Blue Carbon,” strategy, developing a Sustainable Evaluation Framework for project reviews and updating the port’s environmental awards.

“The Port is making good on its promises to protect the environment both locally and globally. It’s our commitment to improve both the health and wealth of our communities,” Felleman said. “We appreciate the work of the many agency, industry, community and environmental advisors who provided invaluable assistance in developing our goals.”

Hawaii Harbors Division Bonds Upgraded

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Hawaii Department of Transportation Harbors Division’s revenue bonds Series 2010 A and 2010 B’s rating was upgraded from ‘A2’ to ‘A1’ by Moody’s Investors Service, the department announced recently.

“The recent bond rating upgrade by Moody’s is great news and underscores the strong management and fiscal policies that continue to be the benchmark of my administration,” said Gov. David Ige. “I’m proud to say that this is the fourth revenue bond rating upgrade the HDOT Harbors Division has received over the past fourteen months.”

Moody’s said the Hawaii harbor system credit profile is based on the port system near monopoly position of serving seaborne cargo and cruise passengers in Hawaii, as well as “solid actual and projected debt service coverage ratios,” improved operating margins, DSCRs and liquidity from recent multi-year tariff raises and recent cargo and cruise passenger level stability.

The tariff raises in the last past several years represent “a strong management focus on financial performance and have led to substantial improvement in operating ratio and an increase in liquidity, providing financial flexibility to manage operational and financial challenges,” according to Moody.

The department has been able to use a cash-first, borrow-as-needed method of financing, allowing them to use unrestricted cash reserves to pay for its Capital Improvement Program projects and to re-deploy those resources typically associated with debt service payments for bonds issued to fund projects, said Department of Transportation Director Jade Butay.

“Our Harbors team has done an excellent job in setting priorities and implementing successful strategies to upgrade and improve our commercial harbor facilities throughout the state,” said Butay. “And they’ve accomplished this without the use of any State general funds; generating their own revenue through user fees and tariffs.”

Free Tours at Port of Olympia

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Olympia is offering its free marine terminal tour in downtown Olympia to give visitors a chance to see and learn more about how Thurston County’s international shipping terminal works up close. Guests will also learn more than the county’s role in global trade and see cargo operators in action, from a mobile harbor crane to log loaders.

The next tours will take place on May 9, June 21, July 18, Aug. 15, Sept. 13 and Oct. 9.

Children are invited. Photo identification is required for passengers 17 and older. Visit to reserve a space.