Friday, May 25, 2018

Lava Safety

By Karen Robes Meeks

On Sunday morning, the US Coast Guard began enforcing a Lava Entry Safety Zone around the Kilauea Volcano active lava flow entries into the Pacific Ocean on the southeast side of the Big Island near the Mackenzie State Park Lower Puna region.

According to the Coast Guard, the unpredictable conditions could cause safety health hazards from possible localized tsunamis along the coastline and sea.

“For mariners without prior limited entry approval, the safety zone encompasses all waters extending 300 meters (984 feet) in all directions around the entry of the lava flow into the ocean,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Bannon, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu waterways management lead. “All waterway users should be aware of the hazardous conditions associated with such an event. Getting too close to the lava can result in serious injury or death.”

The volcano erupted about three weeks ago, creating fissures that have already overtaken homes and vehicles, and are threatening a local geothermal plant.

San Diego Boat Launch Delayed

By Karen Robes Meeks

Work continues on the Port of San Diego’s Shelter Island Boat Launch Facility Improvement Project. However, due to longer-than-expected delays the ramp for one of the state’s busiest boat launches will remain closed through the start of this year’s boating season, which begins Memorial Day weekend.

According to the port, the ramp can’t be opened currently because of safety concerns.

Funded by the California Department of Boating and Waterways, Wildlife Conservation Board, and the port, construction on the $9.5 million project began in May 2017 and was expected to be completed this summer. However, the contractor found a massive amount of large buried concrete debris while excavating. The removal of that debris delayed the original work schedule. The project is now expected to be completed later this year.

A list of alternate boat launches can be found at

Charleston Blessing of the Fleet

By Karen Robes Meeks

Charleston, Oregon’s historic fishing community, will be honored on Monday, May 28, at the annual Blessing of the Fleet and Memorial Service.

The service will pay homage to those in commercial fishing and the fishing industry who have died since 1941. This year, nine names will be added to the “In Memory of Charleston Fisherman” plaque. They are Barbara Hazel, Mike Lester, William L. Merritt III, Patricia Jane “Patty” Parr, Bob “Rubber Toe” Stevenson, Harry L. Taylor, DeWayne “Tee” Toliver, and Mel VanRonk. The names of Michael J. Hosie, George Paynter, and Eva M. Taylor will be added to the “In Memory of Charleston Fisherman's Industry” plaque.

The ceremony will feature remarks from local marine services firm owner William Elderkin, a memorial blessing from the Charleston Community Baptist Church and a bagpipe performance from Oregon Coast Pipes and Drums. The U.S. Coast Guard will provide a color guard and a 1954 buoy bell will sound as each name is read. In addition, a Coast Guard lifeboat filled with flowers and wreath will head to sea and lay them on the water in a brief ceremony.

A coffee and cake reception at Porter Hall, behind the Charleston Baptist Community Church on Boat Basin Road, will take place following the service.

The event will take place at 10 a.m. at the Charleston Fisherman’s Memorial Garden, near the launch ramp at the Charleston Marina.

Hueneme Maritime Tech Expo

By Karen Robes Meeks

On May 23, the Port of Hueneme hosted “World Trade and Innovation” to highlight World Trade Week and celebrate its fifth annual Maritime Advanced Systems and Technologies (MAST) Expo together with trade partners.

The event featured keynote speaker Erick Went of Matter Labs, who spoke about blockchain and how technology is poised to change the region’s trade and economic future. According to the port, more than 40 exhibitors showcased interactive displays of technological innovations including flying drones, lasers and x-ray cameras.

“Our goal at the port is to facilitate trade for our region,” Oxnard Harbor District President Mary Anne Rooney said to the 400 people who attended. “We aim to provide economic opportunity and vitality to those individuals and businesses who are the life-blood of our communities across our state and across our nation.”

Rooney indicated that the port also believes in “moving our industry forward toward a more sustainable and innovative future.” He added, “I am inspired by all of the conversations and collaborations taking place today among our customers, trade consulates, public safety agencies, elected representatives, and students.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Global Opportunities at Oakland

By Karen Robes Meeks

A pair of projects, under the Global Opportunities at the Port of Oakland (GoPort) Program, have received $187.4 million in 2018 Trade Corridor Enhancement Program Grants funded by Senate Bill 1, the California Transportation Commission announced Friday.

Roughly $175 million will be earmarked for the 7th Street Grade Separation, which seeks to bolster truck clearance, ease traffic congestion and feature a shared walkway/bike path by replacing the railroad underpass between I-880 and Maritime Street. The second grant of $12.4 million will pay for the Freight Intelligent Transportation System, technology geared to organizing truck arrivals, improving responses to incidents and linking to regional smart corridor systems.

“These projects will improve reliability of travel time and access throughout the Port of Oakland, increasing efficiency, while reducing congestion and air quality impacts on the local community and eliminating truck back-ups onto local streets,” says Alameda CTC Chair Supervisor Richard Valle. “They also support increased use of rail, which is a key part of the region's and county's goods movement strategy.”

The gas tax funds from Senate Bill 1 will be critical to reducing freight congestion on freeways and rail lines, reducing emissions and improving air quality and good jobs, noted Alameda CTC Executive Director Arthur L. Dao.

“While our local transportation sales tax measures got these projects underway, and serve as key leverage, we wouldn't be able to move forward into construction on these priority projects without the statewide gas tax funds,” he said.

First West Coast Subchapter M Certificate Issued

By Karen Robes Meeks

On Thursday, Vancouver, Washington-operated Tidewater Barge Lines’ towing vessel Crown Point received an initial Certificate of Inspection (COI) from the US Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit (MSU) Portland. This is the first on the US West Coast to be issued a COI under the new inspected towing vessel rules, referred to as Subchapter M.

The 98-foot, 4,480-horsepower towing vessel that moves barges to and from Lewiston, Idaho and Vancouver, Wash., is one of 130 towing vessels in service on the Columbia-Snake River System.

“The Columbia and Snake River Systems move 24 billion dollars of cargo on an annual basis and the towing vessels that fall under the regulations listed under Subchapter M are an integral part of this economically valuable marine transportation system,” said Capt. Tom Griffitts, commanding officer MSU Portland. “The Subchapter M regulations will provide safer vessel movement, safer working conditions for crewmembers, reduce marine casualties, and will help avoid environmental and property damage,” he added.

Towing vessels must comply with the Subchapter M regulations by July 20. To coordinate and schedule Subchapter M inspections, towing vessel owners and operators may reach out to their local Coast Guard Inspection office. MSU Portland’s towing vessel inspectors are available at 503-240-9374 or by email at

Visit for more details on Subchapter M regulations and compliance.

Grays Harbor to Appoint New Commissioner

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Grays Harbor plans to appoint a new District 1 Commissioner, effective August 1, replacing longtime Commissioner Chuck Caldwell, who recently announced his resignation.

“While it has been an absolute honor to serve the citizens of Grays Harbor County over the past 16 years and I am incredibly proud of the business diversification and growth at the port during this time, it is now time for me to focus my energy on other important areas of my life,” Caldwell said. “I will continue to be a supportive citizen and ready volunteer to promote any Port initiatives that will continue to expand the service and opportunities for the people of Grays Harbor County.”

The appointee will be in place until the next regular Port election scheduled for November 2019, at which point the six-year term vacant position will be filled.

Those interested in serving the remaining of Caldwell’s term may submit an application at, or at the Port’s main office at 111 S. Wooding Street, Aberdeen, WA 98520 or at the Satsop Business Park’s main office at 150 Technology Way, Suite 100, Elma, WA 98541.

To qualify, applicants must be a registered voter in Grays Harbor County District 1. The deadline to turn in applications, proof of residency from the Grays Harbor County Auditor’s Office and proof of voter registration is 5 p.m. on June 5, 2018.

After receiving and reviewing applications, the finalists will be interviewed on June 14 before a final decision is announced on June 19.

Long Beach Sponsors the Arts

By Karen Robes Meeks

About 124 organizations geared toward artistic, civic and educational endeavors have received a financial boost this week from the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners when it recently approved $353,850 in sponsorships.

Among the recipients were organizations behind Pow! Wow! Long Beach – the annual citywide mural project, Meals on Wheels of Long Beach’s 5K Run, Walk and Roll, the United Cambodian Community’s Heart of Long Beach Summer Health Fair, and WomenShelter of Long Beach’s Domestic Violence Awareness.

“Our community sponsorship program allows us to support diverse groups and events in the city,” said Harbor Commission President Lou Anne Bynum. “The program highlights the Port’s dedication to social responsibility and helps to spread the word on our positive economic impact on the city and region.”

So far, the port has awarded $794,500 to 251 groups for this fiscal year, which ends on September 30.