The articles excerpted on this site report on the state of the industry as seen by mainstream media, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the officers of the ILWU Coast Longshore Division.

Panama: Thousands of Canal workers strike to demand union rights, clean water

Panama strike for the poor. Photo by TeleSUR

Protesters are also seeking an end to police impunity following a series of cases in which police officers walked away without charge after lethally shooting down construction workers. Photo by TeleSUR

Thousands of workers brought Panama to a standstill on Tuesday as part of a national 24-hour strike to demand “justice for the poor,” including the right to unionize, an end to corruption and high living costs.

Over 5,000 Panama Canal workers joined the national strike and flooded the streets of the capital in a march to the Supreme Court of Justice resulting in major traffic jams, according to Prensa Latina.

The protesters oppose plans to increase the retirement age in the country and are demanding universal access to clean drinking water and protections on the right to unionize.

Protesters are also seeking an end to police impunity following a series of cases in which police officers walked away without charge after lethally shooting down construction workers.

More at TeleSUR


Crane crashes onto container ship in Vietnam; workers reportedly trapped inside

Vietnam port crane collapse

Rescue is underway; some port workers reportedly are trapped inside debris and in the hold.

From Vessel Finder:

Gantry crane crashed down on container ship Fortune Navigator in Ta Thuan Port in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam at around 23:00 local time on November 24.

The accident occurred while the vessel was offloading cargo from a Vietnam Ocean Shipping Joint Stock Company. The crane fell down on the cargo and the workers near the vessel.

The number of fatalities and injured people remains unknown. Several ambulances entered the port area.

Emergency teams have been working throughout the day to free workers who were trapped under the metal construction.

More at Vessel Finder


Rotterdam Longshore strike planned for December

Rotterdam dockworkers to strike in December.

The source of the conflict is the commissioning of two new highly automated container terminals, expected to lead to the loss of 700 out of 4,000 jobs in container throughput at the port in 2017.

Container workers at the Port of Rotterdam have voted to hold a series of 24-hour strikes in December and January in protest at possible job cuts, threatening to freeze the movement of goods through Europe’s largest port.

Niek Stam, leader of the FNV Havens union, said in a statement members of the union had voted in favor of the strikes to back their demand for guarantees of no layoffs for the coming nine years.

Major container employers ECT, APMT and RWG have rejected that demand in contract talks which have been running since April.

More at Maritime Executive


Shares jump as NOL reveals exclusive talks on acquisition

Shares in Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) yesterday surged to their highest in almost seven months, after the container shipping
giant said at the weekend that it is in exclusive talks for a potential acquisition by France’s CMA CGM.

NOL shares rose by as much as 6.25 per cent to S$1.19, the highest intraday level since April 29, before giving up some gains on late profit-taking to end at S$1.17, or a 4.5 per cent increase. The closing price values NOL at just over S$3 billion.

NOL, whose ships operate under the APL brand, said on Saturday that its biggest shareholder — part of Singapore investment fund Temasek Holdings — had granted CMA CGM exclusivity “with respect to a potential acquisition of NOL by way of pre-conditional voluntary general offer”. CMA confirmed NOL’s statement on Sunday. If consummated, the deal would bring the French shipper close in size to Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the market No 2.

More at Today Online


Northwest Seaport Alliance sees modest growth

The Northwest Seaport Alliance of Seattle and Tacoma recorded modest growth in container volume in October, but it was sufficient to push the ports’ year-to-date performance into positive territory.

Seattle and Tacoma now report their cargo volumes under the newly-formed Northwest Seaport Alliance. The alliance in October reported that total international container volume, including loaded imports and exports and empty containers, increased 3.9 percent over October 2014. Domestic trade with Alaska and Hawaii declined 1.1 percent, and total container volume including international and domestic containers increased 2.8 percent in October.

More at the Journal of Commerce


Environmentalists ask judge to halt $500-million harbor-area rail yard

From the Los Angeles Times:

Proposed SCIG siteA coalition of environmentalists, community groups and Long Beach officials is seeking a court order to halt construction of a controversial $500-million Port of Los Angeles rail yard that they claim will increase pollution in surrounding low-income, minority communities.

During hearings Monday and Tuesday, attorneys representing the group asked Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Barry Goode to order the port to cancel its approval of the proposed Southern California International Gateway. The case was filed in Los Angeles, but a local judge agreed to change the venue to Contra Costa County.

The 153-acre facility planned by the port and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. would be built in Wilmington next to California 103, between Sepulveda Boulevard and California 1 and east of Alameda Street.

The judge has 90 days to rule on the environmental portion of the case. Arguments on the fair hearing allegation were postponed to Jan. 28.

Los Angeles Times


Container shipping on the cusp of a major shakeup

Plagued by overcapacity and ongoing losses, the container shipping industry is rife with talk of potential mergers and acquisitions. The consolidation of the highly fragmented industry is long overdue, especially when contrasted with such other heavily capitalized transportation sectors as railroads and airlines.

The possibility that a new wave of M&A may be imminent was touched off by news that several carriers are in various stages of talks aimed at consolidation, including NOL and both Maersk Line and CMA CGM; Cosco and China Shipping Container Lines; and Hanjin Shipping and Hyundai Merchant Marine.

More at the Journal of Commerce


Ore drops to record low in Asia, shipping index plunges

Iron ore contracts in Asia slumped to records amid speculation that mills in China are reining in steel production as they battle losses, slumping prices and tighter credit, hurting demand for the raw material that’s mainly shipped from Australia and Brazil.

“Steelmakers are going through a very difficult time and a number of them have halted output,” Dang Man, an analyst at Maike Futures in Xi’an, China, said by phone. “Given the poor credit conditions facing steel mills, they’ll only buy iron ore when they’re fairly confident the price drop can be arrested. Otherwise it’ll be another loss for them.”

Iron ore has been pummeled this year by rising low-cost supplies from Rio Tinto Group and Vale, and faltering demand for steel in China, where mills account for about half of the global production.

More at the Australian Financial Review


Arch Coal debt fight heats up as group said to hire adviser

A battle among Arch Coal Inc. creditors is intensifying as the miner prepares for a potential bankruptcy filing.

A group of middle-tier bondholders hired law firm Brown Rudnick LLP to help protect their investments as the miner moves toward restructuring its $5.1 billion of debt in court proceedings, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The hiring comes after Arch, the largest coal miner in the U.S. by volume after Peabody Energy Corp., said in a filing earlier this month that it was in talks with creditors on a “significant restructuring” of its balance sheet and it may file for Chapter 11 protection regardless of whether it strikes a deal with creditors.

More at Bloomberg


Port of San Francisco, BAE Systems forge new 20-year ship repair lease

The San Francisco Port Commission executed a new 20-year lease agreement with BAE Systems for maritime ship repair that will sustain San Francisco’s 150-year tradition of shipbuilding and repair. The agreement includes a provision that could extend shipyard operations through 2045.

BAE Systems San Francisco Ship Repair currently leases the port’s Pier 70 shipyard and two floating drydocks under a 30-year lease, set to expire in December 2017. The shipyard has made a successful transition over the past 20 years, since the Bay Area military base closures in the early 1990s, to being highly competitive in the commercial ship repair markets. As a result, BAE Systems and the port crafted a new lease agreement that will sustain industrial ship repair into the future.

‘Today we proudly continue one of San Francisco’s oldest maritime traditions, a tradition that has been creating and maintaining quality maritime jobs for more than a century,’ announced Monique Moyer, the port’s executive director. ‘BAE Systems and the port have collaborated to expanded West Coast drydocking capabilities, servicing post-Panamax ships, providing emission-free electrical power to the ships and deepening the shipyard’s channel entrance to accommodate large ships.’

Moyer added this agreement ‘fortifies our alliance to sustain this industry for decades to come.’

More at SeaTrade


Lineage Logistics launches expansion at Port of Tacoma

Lineage Logistics, a temperature-controlled warehouse and logistics firm, has broken ground on an expansion of its cold distribution facility in Tacoma, Wash.

The expansion plan calls for the addition of 20,000 pallet positions of frozen warehouse capacity, bringing the company’s total capacity in the Pacific Northwest to more than 93 million cubic feet of temperature-controlled warehouse space, company officials said in a press release.

The facility expansion project will add energy efficiency and automation features, as well as expanded dock capacity to accommodate cross-dock activity and intermodal rail business.

More at Progressive Railroading


Uncertain opening date of Panama Canal expansion

Next week investors and builders will define if filtrations in some chambers of the Panama Canal expansion would compromise its commercial opening in April, 2016, it was announced here.

The work is 95 percent done, but fissures detected in the armed concrete floor of the new canal locks, last August, allow water to leak through, whose final technical report was not yet handed in by contractor Grupo Unidos por el Canal (Gupc), which will execute the repairs.

“We have weekly meetings with Gupc, in which they explained the method to be applied, and for now it is prudent for the Authority of the Canal of Panama (ACP),” Executive Vicepresident of Engineering and Programs of the ACP, Ilya Espino, told reporters.

On his part, the representative of Gupc, José Peláez, explained it is still too premature to indicate if the additional work would affect the date of completion of the work.

There was a dispute among the parts when the end-cost of the project increased to 3.4 billion what was originally contracted for three billion 118 million dollars.

More at Prensa Latina


Risks and weak market will pull down NOL sale price, Drewry says

There is little prospect of a bidding war for Neptune Orient Lines between prospective suitors Maersk Line and CMA CGM as the risks involved in acquiring a loss-making line in a weak market will lean heavily on the sale price, Drewry believes.

However, price will be the sticking point, Drewry said in its Container Insight Weekly, and while no figure has been provided officially, the analyst said NOL has an enterprise value close to $4.3 billion with debt of around $2.9 billion, down from $5.3 billion at the end of last year following the sale of APL Logistics. … An analysis by Drewry Maritime Equity Research shows that the Maersk Group has a definitive edge over CMA CGM purely on the basis of financing the deal.

More at the Journal of Commerce


El Faro search ends without data recorder from cargo ship

The NTSB said Monday it is ending its search and documentation of El Faro, the cargo ship that sunk October 1 near the Bahamas, likely claiming the lives of all 33 on board.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not locate the ship’s data recorder, a critical part of the investigation into why she ship sank during its fateful run-in with Hurricane Joaquin. A Navy search team was able to locate the ship’s navigation bridge last week.

“While it is disappointing that the voyage data recorder was not located, we are hopeful that we’ll be able to determine the probable cause of this tragedy and the factors that may have contributed to it,” NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said.

Among the 33 on board, the remains of only one person have so far been recovered. Twenty-eight Americans are among those missing.

More at CNN


Ports of Tacoma and Seattle to gang up in bid to squash Sodo arena plan

Northwest Seaport Alliance logo

”Changing the ports of Seattle and Tacoma from competitors to political allies was one of the key ideas behind formation of the Northwest Seaport Alliance.” — Puget Sound Business Journal.

The fight over Chris Hansen’s proposed NBA and hockey arena in Seattle’s Sodo area is about to go regional, with the two-county Northwest Seaport Alliance preparing to exert its political leverage against the plan.

The Port of Seattle plans to get the Port of Tacoma engaged in fighting the proposed arena just south of downtown Seattle, Port of Seattle Commission Co-President Stephanie Bowman said in an interview. With the two ports running their maritime terminals together under the Northwest Seaport Alliance, this has become a regional concern.

“I have more confidence that it gives us more political power, and more concerned people looking at the site,” Bowman said. “We have the firepower of the Port of Tacoma commission to add to the concerns that we’ve been expressing about the Sodo arena.”

Ironically, when the proposed arena first came up, Port of Tacoma officials were happy about it, Bowman said, because they expected it would undermine Seattle’s competitiveness. But now, with the two commissions wanting all the marine cargo assets to function optimally, Tacoma’s position has flipped.

More at the Puget Sound Business Journal