Friday, July 2, 2021

PSMA Expresses Concerns About Ports’ Possible Power Shortages

The head of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association is expressing concerns that a highly impacted electrical grid could adversely affect power supply to California’s green-driven ports and the supply chain.

PMSA President John McLaurin raised his concerns following the recent release of a report by engineering consultancy Moffatt and Nichol report that looks at California’s energy grid needs for vessels and the cargo-moving landside equipment.

There’s been a years-long push to move the supply chain to zero-emission technologies by 2035, but the growing power demand could challenge the state’s ability to provide ports the energy they need to move cargo.

“This report confirms our belief that the zero-emission goal of 2035 will require complex planning, substantial funding and a level of cooperation and coordination by a myriad of state and local agencies for a massive public works project that has never been undertaken in California,” McLaurin said.

The report states that California needs to address several challenges, including making sure there’s enough energy to power electric vehicles and other equipment during marine terminal times -- especially at peak hours, improving the energy infrastructure to support a more reliable electrical grid, and having enough backup power in case of an emergency.

“As federal and state elected officials consider infrastructure improvements, California public officials need to review state energy and environmental policies to ensure that California jobs and businesses are not put at risk,” said McLaurin.

The full Moffatt & Nichol report can be read online at

USCG Documents Historic Shipwreck

Efforts to record the shipwreck of historic U.S. Coast Guard Cutter McCulloch and the area surrounding it continued earlier this month with USCG crews that headed to the site to survey the damage.

On June 13, 1917, the McCulloch collided with the passenger steamship SS Governor. The wreckage is still within waters of the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary, according to the agency.

Cutter Blackfin crew members brought the Regional Dive Locker West and Maritime Safety and Security Team Los Angeles/Long Beach to the shipwreck area where remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, were used in depths greater than 200 feet to more closely look at the sunken vessel and surrounding area.

McCulloch had a remarkable career as both a U.S. Revenue Cutter Service vessel and U.S. Coast Guard cutter,” said Coast Guard Daniel Koski-Karell, who with fellow historian Scott Price and the chief scientist for the mission, NOAA maritime archaeologist Robert Schwemmer, partnered to submit the Cutter McCulloch’s nomination into the National Register of Historic Places.

“Its participation in the Spanish-American War’s 1898 Battle of Manila Bay victory is memorialized by the trophy cannon the McCulloch brought to the U.S. that stands today in front of the Coast Guard Academy’s Hamilton Hall,” Koski-Karell remarked.

On April 22, the shipwreck was officially listed in the National Register as a site of “national significance.”

“The listing to the National Register of Historic Places, as well as California’s Register of Historical Resources, demonstrates the spirit of cooperation between NOAA and the Coast Guard, enhances public awareness of McCulloch’s important role in America’s history, while honoring its crew,” said Schwemmer, who’s the West Coast regional maritime heritage coordinator for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

It has been nearly five years since NOAA and USCG members confirmed the shipwreck site during an October 2016 training mission.

Oakland Port Approves $463 Million FY Budget

Port of Oakland commissioners have passed a $465.3 million spending plan for fiscal year 2021-22, 7.6% more than the previous FY.

Under the budget, the port has set aside $102.9 million for capital projects, with a focus on upgrading infrastructure and ensuring regulatory compliance.

The spending plan also allows the port to be more nimble in the face of uncertainty, officials say. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging one for Oakland, and while the port has seen record numbers on the maritime side of its business, its aviation and commercial real estate segments have been affected. The latter two are rebounding, but not quickly enough to remove revenue uncertainty, port officials say.

"Despite record cargo volumes at the Oakland seaport, we are being cautious with the budget increase considering that aviation passenger traffic is still projected to be short of pre-pandemic levels,” Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan explained.

The port, which owns and runs Oakland International Airport, anticipates that business to reach about 55% of its FY 2019 levels.

“Our budget strategy is to maintain long-term financial strength, resiliency, and prioritize and plan for major capital projects,” Executive Director Wan stated. “We aim to control increases in operating expenses while expanding our investment in capital infrastructure."

Matson Board Sees Dividend Increase, Approves Share Repurchase

The board of directors for Honolulu-based container shipping and logistics company Matson, Inc. recently announced a third quarter dividend of $0.30 per common share, a 30.4% jump from the previous dividend.

The dividend is scheduled to be paid to shareholders on Sept. 2.

The board has also agreed to a share repurchase program totaling 3 million shares, representing about $190 million of possible repurchases as of June 24, the company announced.

"We are pleased to announce this return of capital to shareholders," said Matt Cox, Matson's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “The substantive increase in the dividend and the initiation of a new share buyback program reflects our board's confidence in long-term free cash flow growth.”

Last May, the company kicked off a second expedited ocean service from China to the U.S. West Coast, called the CLX+, to meet the demand of its first China-to-Long Beach service.

“The success of the CLX+ service,” Cox said, “is expected to continue to be a driver in free cash flow growth.”

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Imports Up, Exports Down at U.S. West Coast Ports

Ports along the U.S. West Coast moved 38.9% of all container imports in April, an increase from the 37.5% moved during the same month last year and up from the 36.8% moved in April 2019, according to new data from the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

West Coast ports also moved 34.7% of loaded export tonnage that came through the April, a decrease from 37.1% in April 2020 and from 36.5% in April 2019.

Much of April’s container traffic was handled by the five busiest ports on the West Coast – Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma – where 95.1% of West Coast imports and 96.3% of loaded exports passed through, according to PMSA data.

The Big Five handles most of West Coast’s trade with East Asia, moving 98.1% of imports and 98.3% of exports. However, those numbers are down from two years ago when the Big Five handled 99% of imports and 99.8% of exports from East Asia in April 2019.

When all West Coast ports are included, the data for April shows that they moved 56.7% of the nation’s imports from Asia, a slight jump from 54.6% in April 2020 and from 56.1% from the same month in 2019.

For loaded exports heading to Asia, West Coast ports moved 54.4% of those containers in April, a drop from 57.6% in April 2020 and 58.1% from April 2019.

New NOAA Administrator Named

The U.S. Senate has confirmed scientist and longtime environmental expert Richard Spinrad as the undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and the 11th NOAA administrator.

The 67-year-old New York native brings 40 years of experience in ocean, atmosphere and climate science and policy.

“As an accomplished and respected scientist, educator, communicator and executive, Rick has dedicated his career to the science that is at the core of NOAA’s mission,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a statement. “I am grateful for his ongoing public service to the agency and the nation, and I look forward to working alongside him as we tackle the climate crisis, conserve our oceans, and grow our blue economy.”

In his role as NOAA Administrator, Spinrad will oversee what’s expected to be a $7 billion budget in the proposed FY22 plan. He’ll also be tasked with addressing the climate crisis, raising awareness for a sustainable blue economy and moving modeling and forecasting U.S. weather efforts and new technology applications to enhance environmental observations forward.

Spinrad previously worked for NOAA in the roles of chief scientist, assistant administrator for research, and assistant administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management.

Before that, he worked at the U.S. Navy in the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy and the Office of Naval Research. He also served as executive director for research and education at the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education.

“I am thrilled to be back and am ready to hit the ground running,” Spinrad remarked. “I am humbled to lead NOAA’s exceptional workforce on a mission so relevant to the daily lives of people across America and to the future health of our planet.”

Port of Los Angeles Chief Honored

Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka has been honored with this year’s Southern California Logistics Council Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Supply Chain & Logistics Management.

Seroka is the seventh person to receive the honor from the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, which the organization recognized at the 2021 Southern California E-commerce and Logistics Summit.

“Gene Seroka is the living definition of excellence in logistics and supply chain management,” said Paul Granillo, president and CEO of IEEP. “Because of all that Gene has achieved for our industry, he is very deserving of this award.”

The award is given to business leaders for outstanding management, goes above and beyond to serve the needs of stakeholders and leads with integrity.

“Because the Inland Empire is such a vital part of our nation’s largest trade gateway, I’m grateful to receive this award from an organization that has done so much to address the many pressing needs of our industry and the one in nine jobs it helps facilitate here in Southern California,” Seroka stated. “I look forward to continued involvement with IEEP and contributing to its important initiatives in the future.”

USCG, Navy Conduct Joint Oil Pollution Response Exercise

In Kachemak Bay, Alaska, members of the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy recently worked together to perform an exercise on how to quickly respond to oil pollution.

According to the USCG, a Navy “current buster system” from Coast Guard Cutter Hickory was used for the practice run, which regularly takes place as part of the National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program that’s mandated in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

The current buster system - the latest available technology in addressing offshore oil spills - is designed to extract oil from water and store it in its separator to be later pumped into storage tanks.

“The Coast Guard routinely trains alongside federal, state, tribal, and local partners to build capabilities and improve readiness levels,” Lt. Andrew Sinclair, 17th District response advisory team, explained. “Training and exercises are important components of the nation’s homeland security strategy and response capabilities that enable emergency responders to maintain their proficiency.”