Friday, April 24, 2020

Port of Los Angeles Open for Business, Focused on Future

By Karen Robes Meeks

Amid the COVID-19 health crisis, business operations and major infrastructure projects continue to move forward at the Port of Los Angeles, said the port’s top official Thursday.

In his latest video update, Port Executive Director Gene Seroka said the port is open for business and is pushing forward on several long-term infrastructure projects, including upgrading Everport Terminal and marine oil terminals as well as enhancing its on-dock rail capabilities.

Projects currently active total $367 million and will mean roughly 3,011 construction jobs. The port is also partnering with the supply chain on bolstering exports out of the US through Los Angeles and looking to boost trade with Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries, Seroka noted.

“While our nation battles this global pandemic and the economic headwinds of these challenging times, there is a strong desire among many of us to look toward the future,” said Seroka. “That future focus is a constant here at the Port of Los Angeles. It has to be.”

USCG Cutter Returns to Oregon Following Counter Narcotic Patrol

By Karen Robes Meeks

After 65 days on a counter narcotic patrol to the Eastern Pacific Ocean, US Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast members came home to Astoria, Ore., Friday.

During their patrol in international waters off the Mexican and Central American coasts, crew members came across and boarded five suspected smuggling vessels, arrested three smuggling suspects and found 1,252 pounds of pure cocaine valued at roughly $21.5 million.

“I am inspired daily by the tenacity and professionalism of this crew,” said Cmdr. Dan Ursino, commanding officer of the Steadfast. "Their resilience to remain focused, in light of the global health crisis and uncertainty back home, has been nothing short of remarkable. Knowing the importance and impact of keeping these harmful substances from reaching our streets help to keep us going.”

Port of Long Beach Bridge Project Reached Milestone

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Long Beach’s Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement project reached a major milestone this week when crew members linked into place the last major steel floor beam on California’s first cable-stayed bridge.

Slated to open this year, the $1.47 billion bridge will feature six traffic lanes, a bike and pedestrian path, more room to accommodate larger cargo ships and better traffic flow with more efficient transition ramps and connectors.

The work is being done amid the COVID-19 health crisis. While the project is among the 16 federal critical infrastructure sectors allowed to continue, officials are minding health guidelines for those working on the project, such as frequent handwashing, canceling community and guest tours of the bridge project and hosting construction-related meetings by teleconference if practical.

Port of Hueneme Unveils Environmental Results

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Hueneme posted high marks in its annual environmental assessment and accreditation, scoring high in four of the six categories for 2019.

The port earned a 5/5 for Waste Management, Prevention of Spills and Leakages, Community Impacts, Environmental Leadership and garnered a 2/5 for Underwater Noise and a 3/5 for Greenhouse Gases and Air Pollution from Green Marine, which reviews environmental programs for the North American maritime industry using over 100 performance criteria consisting of six categories.

“The Port of Hueneme has led the way in California, charting the course ahead for the state’s ports to improve their environmental sustainability through the Green Marine program,” said Green Marine’s Executive Director David Bolduc. “In their fourth year of certification, Hueneme continues to show improvements in measuring and reducing their environmental footprint, further affirming their commitment to the local eco-sphere.”

Since 2008, the port has lowered air emissions by 87 percent, and have seen reduced environmental impacts in each category through a rigorous Environmental Management Framework set in motion in 2015, said CEO and Port Director Kristin Decas.

“I look forward to continuing to partner with all of our stakeholders in creating cleaner operations we all benefit from,” she said.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Port of LA Chief Expects Better April Numbers, Lower Overall Volume

By Karen Robes Meeks

In a video statement released Friday, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka updated the public on the current state of cargo at the nation’s busiest seaport.

Operations continue to run smoothly with no congestion or disruption, and terminals and gates are open daily with the evening labor shifts starting an hour later than usual so cargo handling equipment and radios can be sanitized, he mentioned. But the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to affect numbers.

“As the economy has contracted, we are seeing smaller container ships return to service,” Seroka said. “Unfortunately, more than 30 scheduled sailings have been canceled through mid-July. The good news is that workforce labor shift counts at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles last week were up 20 percent and were at their highest level in nearly two months. We also anticipate higher container volume in April as manufacturing in China normalizes and some US businesses replenish their inventory, “ he added.

Seroka called this encouraging news in the short term but said overall volume in 2020 will be considerably lower than last year.

Meanwhile, Logistics Victory Los Angeles (LOV-LA), the city effort led by Seroka, recently received 160,000 donated face shields from Apple Inc.’s Giving program.

“Los Angeles thanks Apple for this generous donation of face shields that are critical to frontline health care workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Seroka. “There are numerous private sector entities that have supplies or know of suppliers that can help during this time of need, and our city team is here to facilitate that process.”

The donation is a major win for LOV-LA, which was created to find and match sought-after medical supplies in the private sector to area health care providers. Seroka leads a team of 18 to optimize the medical supply chain and directly procure supplies via purchases and donations.

Matson Donated $3.7 Million

By Karen Robes Meeks

Last year, 960 charities and nonprofit programs benefited from donations totaling $3.7 million from Honolulu-based Matson Inc.

Matson gave $1.42 million in cash, services and equipment support to Hawaiian groups and $1.24 million to Alaskan organizations. The company supported Kahauiki Village, environmental programs in Alaska and food banks in Alaska and Hawaii. The company also donated $180,000 to United Way chapters in Hawaii and Matson's mainland US cities; $60,000 to the American Heart Association; $55,000 in support for Coast Guard Chief Petty/Warrant Officer Associations in Guam, Hawaii, Alaska, Wash., and Calif., $37,000 to the American Red Cross and $35,000 to the Coast Guard Foundation for programs and services in Hawaii, Guam, Alaska and Calif.

The company also provided $40,000 toward expanding and operating a youth shelter, Covenant House, in Alaska, and continued to support the Hawaii State Department of Education's Beginning Teacher Summer Academies with a $25,000 contribution.

"As a lifeline service provider for more than a century, Matson is deeply invested in the welfare of the communities we serve," said Matt Cox, chairman and CEO. "This year, with the unprecedented effects of the pandemic being felt by families everywhere, Matson is focusing its resources on addressing our communities' most pressing needs. As a way to help make sure the most vulnerable families don't have to go without food, Matson has committed to more than $500,000 in cash and in-kind shipping services to support the food bank networks in the communities we serve."

Lynden Companies Continue Operations Amid COVID-19

By Karen Robes Meeks

Lynden announced recently that its family of companies continues to keep regular business operations and schedules, including Alaska Marine Lines’ barge services to Southeast, Central, and Western Alaska.

“In many of our operations, our services are critical to the communities and businesses that we serve,” President and CEO Jon Burdick wrote in a letter to customers. “Our mariners, drivers, flight crew and cargo handlers often provide the majority or only cargo services to many locations, so communities depend on us for food and other living essentials. Many of our customers rely on us to provide services to their businesses that are essential. Our milk customers cannot operate if our drivers cannot drive.”

Lynden continues to monitor the COVID-19 development, adding that the companies have enforced a number of efforts to minimize risk exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Port of San Diego Approves Coastal Development Permit

By Karen Robes Meeks

The development of a park on San Diego Bay’s Chula Vista waterfront moved forward recently when harbor leaders at the Port of San Diego approved a Coastal Development Permit for the future Sweetwater Park.

To be located near E Street and Bay Boulevard, the proposed park would be an open space with meadows and specialty garden, walkways and bike paths and other features to complement the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.

“The parks that are being designed and planned, including Sweetwater Park, will give us the long-awaited, enhanced shoreline recreation and active commercial harbor we’ve wanted for quite some time in the South Bay,” said Chair Ann Moore, Chula Vista’s representative on the Board of Port Commissioners. “Sweetwater Park, specifically, will allow us to appreciate nature on our bayfront, while also protecting the wildlife habitat, species, and our precious coastal resources.”

Sweetwater Park is one of two parks in the design stage for the Chula Vista Bayfront Project.