Friday, July 23, 2021

U.S. West Coast Ports See Slight Dip in May Cargo: PMSA Report

U.S. West Coast ports moved 37.7% of imports in May, a slight drop from 38.1% in May 2020 and 38.6% from May 2019, according to new numbers released by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

The five largest West Coast ports - those in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma - moved most of those imports - about 36.2% - in May, a slight decrease from 36.6% in May 2020 and 37.2% in May 2019.

All USWC seaports processed 29% of U.S. exports in May, dipping from 29.6% in May 2020 and 34.6% in May 2019.

The five major U.S. West Coast ports moved 59.4% of all containerized import tonnage originating from Asia in May, which was up from May 2020 when the Big Five handled 55% of imports and from May 2019 when they handled 57.4% of imports.

Collectively, U.S. West Coast ports moved 60.2% of imports and 53.7% of exports headed to Asia.

“While the Big Five clearly dominate USWC containerized trade with the Far East, their shares are slipping ever so slightly,” according to PMSA.

The five major USWC seaports saw 98.6% of imports and 97.6% of exports in May, down from 98.8% of import shares and 99% of export shares in May 2019.

Potential Queen Mary Transfer to Port of LB Concerns Supply Chain Stakeholders

Supply chain stakeholders are urging city and harbor leaders not to saddle the Port of Long Beach with the responsibility of the Queen Mary, an historic vessel in need of millions of dollars in repairs.

In a July 20 letter to Long Beach Harbor Commission President Frank Colonna, a number of stakeholders including the California Fresh Fruit Association, the California Retailers Association and Harbor Trucking Association expressed their concerns about the possibility of such a move.

“Transferring the ill-fated vessel and the equally unsafe submarine will be a huge drain of port resources – threatening the port’s ability to invest in infrastructure needed to meet clean air goals and maintain port competitiveness,” according to the letter.

The letter comes as members of the Long Beach City Council are considering its next steps for the beleaguered ship, which the city has owned since 1967 and leased to operators whose responsibility it was to maintain and repair the Queen Mary. The city retained full control of the vessel after the last operator filed for bankruptcy and walked away from the lease.

At a study session Tuesday, the Council was given three possible options: scraping the Queen Mary for $105 million to $190 million, preserving it for the next 25 years for $150 million to $175 million, or moving it to a dry dock in an effort to preserve it for the next 100 years for an estimated $200 million to $500 million.

Some city leaders are leaning toward preserving the ship. In the letter to Colonna, stakeholders said the city - not the port - should bear the cost of “this albatross.”

“If the city wants the Queen Mary to be resurrected,” the letter said, “then the city should fund all the costs associated.”

National Maritime Center to Resume Counter Service

Starting this week, counter service appointments are available at several Regional Examination Centers operated by the National Maritime Center.

There will still be limited examination services. Mariners must make an appointment for counter and exam services and those who are late won’t be allowed and will have to reschedule. Mariners must be screened for COVID-19 and will be asked to reschedule if they show symptoms. Face masks are required unless mariners can provide health documentation. All fees must be paid upfront before the appointment. For exam appointments, mariners should have their receipt, No. 2 pencils, photo identification, a non-programmable calculator and plotting equipment.

Mariners who want to schedule counter service or examination appointments should reach out to the following West Coast REC or MU:
  • REC Anchorage –
  • REC Honolulu –
  • REC Juneau –
  • REC Long Beach –
  • REC Oakland –
  • REC Portland –
  • REC Seattle –
  • MU Ketchikan – (907) 225-4496, Ext. 3

For more information, reach out to the Customer Service Center at or 1-888-IASKNMC (888-427-5662).

Electric Truck Demo Launches at Port of Oakland

This month, the Port of Oakland and its logistics partners kicked off a battery electric truck demonstration project with 10 new battery electric trucks at Shippers Transport Express.

This battery electric truck demonstration project is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It expands options for another clean, cargo-handling technology at California ports.

The vehicles’ trips will be within the Port of Oakland. The data collected will include emissions reductions measurements. The trucks will also be monitored for how effectively they operate when hauling fully loaded containers.

Currently, 17 battery electric trucks are in operation at the port. Presently, use of these drayage trucks are limited to short distances and lighter cargo loads because of range and highway weight limitations.

“We’re grateful to the California Air Resources Board for funding electric drayage trucks,” the port’s director of environmental programs and planning, Richard Sinkoff, said in a July 19 statement. “Demonstration projects help us toward our goal of a zero-emissions seaport.”

The $5.1 million cost for the Peterbilt trucks are being funded with a grant from a Zero and Near-Zero-Emission Freight Facility program.

“Getting these cleaner-running and quieter trucks into service is a major step in testing the feasibility of battery electric trucks moving containers,” said port Maritime Director Bryan Brandes.

Testing will take place over three months.

The port has been working to advance its sustainability goals, spending $1.7 million and two years to build 10 electric charging stations at Shippers Transport and a new electrical substation and power line extension to link the charging stations.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Containership that Caught Fire Still Stranded at Oakland Port

The containership NYK Delphinus, which was towed to the Port of Oakland after its engine room caught fire in May is still stranded in Northern California, the port’s communications director confirmed to PMM Online.

The Delphinus was reportedly about 50 miles west of the coast of Monterey, California, en route from the Port of Vancouver to Oakland, when the crew reported an engine fire to U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco watchstanders at 4:54 a.m. Friday, May 14. The fire was eventually extinguished, and the vessel was towed by the U.S. Coast Guard to berth 22 at the Port of Oakland the evening of May 17.

Oakland port spokesman Roberto Bernardo said July 19 that the only thing that’s been offloaded from the vessel over the past couple of months is the refrigerated cargo, and that the Delphinus is expected to remain at the port for a while still, although no timeline was given.

“It will be here until the cargo is offloaded and surveyed and insurance adjusted,” Bernardo said of the vessel.

At the time of the incident, the Liberia-flagged vessel, which was built in 2007, had been operating on Ocean Network Express’ (ONE) Atlantic 5 service, which connects North America, South America and Europe. NYK is a co-owner of ONE.

There were no reported injuries to the crew or pollution resulting from the fire, according to the USCG.

Port of Oakland Predicts Record Cargo Growth

With the Port of Oakland handling about 1.3 million TEUs in the last six months, the Northern California seaport could possibly exceed 2.6 million TEUs by the end of the year, a first for Oakland, according to the port on Friday.

Oakland moved 11.4% more containers in the first six months of this year compared to the same time in 2020. Imports in Oakland have risen year-over-year for five straight months, including in June when imports jumped 15% compared to the same time last year.

“We’ve never seen this level of activity and based on the outlook we’re preparing for more,” said port Maritime Director Bryan Brandes. “Our challenge is serving customers who expect us to handle their cargo efficiently.”

The port says imports are driving the record numbers and that the trend is expected to continue because of upcoming holiday and fall peak season, high demand for vessel space likely due to record freight rates and strong consumer spending for products made overseas likely due to increased U.S. inflation.

Oakland, which has been moving an average of 66% more cargo this year than last year, has been trying to keep up with record cargo demand like other major West Coast ports. Oakland anticipates that the presence of more dockworkers will lead to fewer delays in delivering cargo by late summer.

Dwell Time Up at San Pedro Bay Ports

The average time that a cargo container stayed onsite at the San Pedro Bay ports before it was moved out was up last month compared with the previous month, according to numbers recently released by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

Last month, containers sat at the ports for an average of 4.76 days, compared to 3.96 days in May. About nearly 24% of containers lingered at terminals for over five days before being picked up. Also, the average dwell time for containers departing by on-dock rail rose from 10.5 days in May to 11.8 days in June.

PMSA is attributing the higher container dwell time to recent record cargo volumes, which has affected the supply chain. The demand has caused unavailable warehouse space, equipment shortages and other bottleneck issues.

“Container dwell time is a vital metric to monitor because it provides an idea of the efficiency of marine terminal operators and the rest of the supply chain partners,” said Jessica Alvarenga, Manager of Government Affairs for PMSA. “The ports anticipate that back-to-school consumer demand and the holiday shipping season, which runs from July through October, will create additional congestion pressure. Our terminal operators and dock workers are doing a great job at moving record volumes despite the congestion hindering other parts of the supply.”

Crane Arrives at Port of Bellingham

Earlier this month, the Port of Bellingham welcomed a 120-metric ton capacity harbor crane, marking a big moment in the port’s efforts to modernize Bellingham Shipping Terminal.

With a reach of 157 feet and the capability to move various cargo, the 817,915-pound Liebherr brand harbor crane was moved by barge from California to Bellingham and is expected to be put into service on several projects once it’s certified.

This equipment piece and the recent terminal upgrade funded with a $6.85 million federal PIDP grant, will go a long way in drawing new customers and better serve long-term businesses.

“The new harbor crane is an amazing piece of machinery which will open the door for business opportunities we have not been able to access and create good jobs for our community,” said port Commission President Ken Bell. “Having a massive crane on the docks of the Bellingham Shipping Terminal not only shows we are (a) working port, but it will serve as a lasting symbol of the strength of Whatcom County’s working waterfront.”

The terminal has the potential to create more good-paying jobs, according to port officials.

“Having a harbor crane to load and unload cargo is a key component in our return to working seaport status,” said port Marine Terminals Business Development Manager Chris Clark.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Nichols Bros Delivers Fourth ASD-90 Tug to Foss Maritime

Foss Maritime, a division of the Saltchuk company, recently received its fourth ASD-90 tractor tug from Nichols Brothers Boat Builders.

The m/v Rachael Allen is part of a series of four NBBB-built vessels constructed from April 2020 to last month that also includes the m/v Jamie Ann, m/v Sarah Avrick and m/v Leisa Florence.

“The ASD-90 newbuild program produced three vessels for Foss and one vessel for our sister company, AmNav,” said Foss Maritime President Will Roberts. “They will meet the current and future needs of the largest vessels of our customers calling on California ports.”

A pair of the vessels will be based in Los Angeles/Long Beach, while two others will be stationed in the San Francisco Bay offering escort and assist services to large tankers and container vessels calling on the California ports, according to NBBB.

Seattle-based Jensen Maritime Consultants designed the ASD-90 Class tugs and were made with sustainability and efficiency in mind with a pair of MTU Series 16v4000M65L main engines each rated at 3433 HP and a system that digitally monitors the engines, among other features.

“We are tremendously grateful to Foss for trusting us with this four-vessel program,” said Tor Hovig, vice president of sales and customer relations for NBBB.