Friday, March 27, 2020

COVID-19 Crisis Prompts Port of Seattle to Delay Cruise Season

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Seattle announced Tuesday that it will delay the launch of cruise season until the public health emergency is resolved.

“At a time when Governor Inslee has ordered all Washingtonians to ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy,’ we must consider public health and safety above all else,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Peter Steinbrueck. “The eventual return of our cruise season is something we fully expect as an important contribution to living wage jobs, local small businesses, and our region’s economic recovery. We also recognize the critical role Seattle cruise plays in supporting the Alaska economy for over 20 years.”

It’s a blow for the region, where a full cruise season creates almost $900 million statewide and supports 5,500 jobs.

“The loss and impact of these sailings will ripple through the tourism industry and our regional economy – however, we understand the Port of Seattle’s hard but necessary decision,” said Tom Norwalk, Visit Seattle President and CEO. “We appreciate the Port’s commitment to re-evaluate the 2020 cruise season as the situation evolves, and Visit Seattle will help lead the economic recovery and work in tandem with the Port of Seattle.”

Young Brothers Enacts Safeguards

By Karen Robes Meeks

This week, Young Brothers – a company that handles freight and transportation needs for the Hawaiian Islands – implemented additional safeguards to operate under heightened COVID-19 alert.

In a message to customers dated March 19, the company said that for the time being it would eliminate cash and check transactions in favor of credit card payment taken over the phone and require advance reservations to eliminate walkups at the pier. Shippers with no reservation will be turned away.

The company will not allow customers to box or shrink-wrap pallets onsite, so mixed and palletized cargo must come ready to ship.

Young Brothers continues to stress the practice of social distancing when at its facilities, including approaching with rolled-up windows and pressing TWIC ID or driver’s license against the window for inspection, and staying in vehicles while delivering or receiving shipments.

“Please know that we do not make these changes lightly, and they are designed to maintain safe and reliable service while minimizing personal contact,” the company said. Visit for more details.

Port of Olympia Implements new Changes Amid COVID-19

By Karen Robes Meeks

Heeding Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order, the Port of Olympia’s offices will be closed to the public until April 8 and regular port commission meetings and work sessions have been postponed until the order is lifted, the port announced this week.

Staff coverage will be limited in the port’s administrative offices, with most working remotely.

The commission will only convene if a commission decision is required. Meetings will be conducted via GoToMeeting ( to maintain social distance. Swantown Marina will continue to operate but business will be done by phone, email or through its website as the office are closed. Maintenance and Harbor Operations personnel are onsite and the marine fueling station will stay operational. Harbor Patrol operations have been suspended.

Swantown Boatworks’ office and work yard closed this week and will remain closed until the end of the stay-at-home order. The boat yard will only operate emergency haul-outs. Staff members will check daily for any voicemails and address customer needs.

Also, the Marine Terminal will be operational with limited access. All ship visits and community tours have been cancelled.

Long Beach Port Chief Is AAPA’s Next Chairman

By Karen Robes Meeks

Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero will serve as the next chairman of the American Association of Port Authorities.

He is expected to be installed in September at the association’s annual convention, taking over for Port of Grays Harbor Executive Director Gary G. Nelson, who has served since Oct. 15, 2019.

“With his vast experience as an attorney, on the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners (Board) as a member, vice president and president, as a member and chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, and as executive director of America’s second busiest container port, Mario Cordero is an outstanding choice for heading our association during the upcoming activity year,” said Chris Connor, AAPA’s president and chief executive officer. “Together with his long-standing active engagement with AAPA and our member ports throughout the hemisphere, Mario’s remarkable skills as a maritime industry leader will be of enormous value as we work together to navigate through and out of the effects of the coronavirus crisis and address other common challenges and legislative priorities.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Port of Los Angeles Marine Terminals Remain Open

By Karen Robes Meeks

Marine terminals at the Port of Los Angeles will continue to be open for business amid COVID-19 while exercising precautionary measures to minimize risk exposure to workers.

“Our highest priority is maintaining a safe and healthy working environment throughout the Port complex while continuing our role of keeping consumer goods and critical supplies flowing into all of the nation’s 435 congressional districts served by the port,” said port Executive Director Gene Seroka.

As the nation’s busiest seaport, the Port of Los Angeles is an essential entity that is exempt from the recent “Stay at Home’ order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Currently, cargo volumes are at 85 percent of normal traffic, according to the port.

Meanwhile, cruise lines that operate out of the port have been suspended for now.

Visit for more information.

Port of Coos Bay Stays Open

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Coos Bay will continue to move cargo until otherwise ordered by federal, state and local agencies, the port announced March 19.

“Currently, we are unaware of any prohibitions that have been placed on vessels coming into or out of our port. The US Coast Guard monitors each vessel that is coming into port, particularly those which have recently been to select countries.”

Meanwhile, the Charleston Marina office will be closed to public access for now. During that time, staff will work in the office to fulfill administrative duties, including payment processing. Security and maintenance will continue as well, the port said.

Visit for more details.

Fishing Vessel Aground at Hilo Harbor Moved

By Karen Robes Meeks

The US Coast Guard recently moved a 63-foot fishing vessel, the Midway Island, from the rocks to Pier 2 within Hilo Harbor. The vessel had been grounded since Feb. 3.

Contractors for the agency were careful to stabilize the ship, implement an absorbent boom to sop up any leaky petroleum.

“We are lucky to have strong partnerships with the industry, state, and the local community,” said Chief Warrant Officer Russ Strathern, marine safety specialist, Sector Honolulu. “This complex incident involved a lot of coordination, communication, and patience, as we leveraged multiple strategies to mitigate the environmental threat. I am thankful for our response ohana.”

Meanwhile, Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources will work with the coordinating agency and the owner of the Midway Island on disposing of the vessel and cleaning up the grounding site.

According to the agency, reportedly 1,585 gallons of petroleum products, including marine diesel, lube, and hydraulic oil, and oily waste, were safely removed along with the batteries and household cleaners prior to refloating and towing operations began.

Long Beach Harbor Commissioner Leaves Board

By Karen Robes Meeks

Retired education administrator Lou Anne Bynum recently stepped down from the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners to focus on her new role as interim superintendent-president of the Long Beach Community College District.

Before retiring in 2017, Bynum was former executive vice president of college advancement and economic development at the Long Beach Community College District. In her role as commissioner, Bynum applied her expertise in education to port matters, helping to expand the port’s workforce development programs, which involved partnering with local colleges and high schools in reaching students interested in the field of goods movement.

“It has been a genuine honor for me to serve on this board,” Bynum said. “I’m looking forward to this new challenge at an institution I love, but a piece of my heart will always be at the port. These past six years on the Board have been some of the most interesting and satisfying in my career.”