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.

GAO offers sobering look at shipping prospects in US Arctic

Arctic Shipping

There is no deepwater port in the U.S. Arctic, the GAO report notes. Most ports north of the Aleutian Islands are shallow, and coastal areas in Arctic Alaska lack surface links to roads or rail systems.

Less than 1 percent of navigationally significant waters in the U.S. Arctic have been surveyed with modern technology, said a federal report released on Friday.

The report, from the Government Accountability Office, said commercial maritime activity in Arctic waters off Alaska will likely be limited over the next 10 years. A variety of reasons are responsible for that, including high operating costs, limited demand from tourists for Arctic cruises and uncertainties and setbacks in plans for offshore Arctic oil drilling, the GAO report said.

Lack of facilities and infrastructure to support Arctic shipping has also emerged as a limiting factor on shipping activity, the GAO report said.

More at the Alaska Dispatch


Seattle tunnel contractors: Bertha stall may cost $125M

Bertha, the broken down tunnel-boring machine

The Seattle Times reports that STP already filed a “request for entitlement” to be paid by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), on the premise that a steel well casing, left in the ground after WSDOT groundwater tests in 2002 and 2010, damaged Bertha just before the machine stalled in early December. WSDOT says it has rejected the request. State officials argued that information had been given to STP in technical documents and so STP was responsible for knowing about the pipe and avoiding trouble.

The costs to repair and restart Bertha, the Highway 99 tunneling machine, are somewhere close to $125 million, a senior executive says.

Chris Dixon, project director for Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), said the number was based on restarting Bertha by Sept. 1, which was STP’s earlier, optimistic goal. On Monday, he announced the job would take until March 2015, and Dixon said today the actual cost would likely exceed the $125 million.

However, the $125 million isn’t a hard figure, and who will pay has yet to be determined.

More at the Seattle Times


USAID: will Ukraine become the new Syria?

The US authorities have made a decision to send to Ukraine additional “non-lethal” military assistance, says Chuck Hagel, the head of the Pentagon. According to the American “hawks”, Ukraine needs such assistance in order to protect itself from a potential attack from Russia.

The so-called “non-lethal” assistance that the Pentagon insists on providing to Ukraine includes everything that one cannot shoot with, but what is extremely needed in case of a combat operation: bullet-proof vests, nighttime vision equipment and fuel.

Some experts believe that making decision to provide assistance to Ukraine means the launching of the Syrian scenario of the crisis development.

More at Voice of Russia


Lengthy turn times drawing complaints at Port of Oakland

The Port of Oakland has come a long way from last summer, when harbor truckers disrupted the port through sporadic work stoppages protesting new clean-truck rules. But based on recent comments from truckers it still has plenty of work to do to improve turn times in the harbor.

Oakland, like Los Angeles-Long Beach, New York-New Jersey, Norfolk and Vancouver, Canada, has experienced growing problems over the past year with lengthy turn times and driver unrest. The common thread running through these incidents is that truckers are at the end of the supply chain where carriers agree to lower rates due to overcapacity and pressure from BCOs and the carriers in turn try to pay their terminal operators as little as they can get away with.

More at the JOC


Mississippi port awaits word on whether Chiquita will stay

State port executives and union members are anxiously waiting to find out whether one of four anchor tenants, Chiquita Brands International Inc., plans to stay after its lease expires July 15.

Chiquita provides about 1/3 of the union’s annual man hours at the port, said Darius Johnson, president of the International Longshoremen Association, Local No. 1303.

More at the Sun Herald


Delta Western employees vote to join IBU

Workers at a vessel fueling facility in Unalaska, approved unionizing last week after months of controversy over work conditions and allegations of abuse.

Jon Brier, international organizer of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said the vote held last Thursday and the majority of eligible Delta Western employees voted in favor of the action to join the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific (IBU), which is the marine division of the ILWU.

The vote may be contested, however, a KUCB report by Lauren Rosenthal said. And negotiations may take as long as a year, the story said.

“This is a huge victory for us,” said Leo Dacio, a Delta Western employee. “We are really excited that we stood up for our rights and our families as we built our strength to confront serious issues on the job together.”

More at the Dutch Harbor Fisherman


Virginia Gov: APM wants out of lease with Port Authority

From the Virginian-Pilot:

APM Terminals, Portsmouth, Virginia

APM Terminals’ nearly 4-year-old lease agreement at Portsmouth, Virginia is projected to cost the Port Authority more than $70 million a year by the time the deal ends in 2030 – more than $1 billion total.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Terry McAuliffe told the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce that the Virginia Port Authority’s 20-year lease of APM Terminals’ Portsmouth container facility was one of the worst lease deals he had ever seen.

On Thursday, after naming five new Port Authority board members, he told The Pilot that APM wants to sell its terminal to the authority and that talks on a potential deal are about to get under way.

“They actually came to us recently and wanted us to buy it back from them,” said McAuliffe. “I don’t want to get into the number, but the number was ridiculous, not even in the ballpark.”

Asked if APM asked for a price of more than $600 million, McAuliffe said yes.

“It was so unreasonable and unacceptable, we rejected it immediately,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said he has instructed Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne to begin negotiations.

More at the Virginian-Pilot


Fire sparks in United Grain Corp. elevator

Fire at UGC April 20 2014

The Mitsui-UGC picket line was home to the rat who ‘greeted’ scabs who crossed the 24/7 picket line of men and women of Local 4. The rat has since been taken down, but his memory remains. Photo by Scott Dole, ILWU Local 4 member.

Vancouver firefighters doused a fire reported [last night] in a grain elevator at United Grain Corp. at the Port of Vancouver.

The fire was reported at 7:08 p.m. at 1905 N.W. Harborside Drive in Vancouver. When fire crews arrived on scene, they noticed light smoke in the United Grain structure and believed a fire was contained to two legs of a grain elevator, according to emergency radio traffic monitored at The Columbian.

Within about 80 minutes of arriving on scene, the fire appeared extinguished.

More at the Columbian


Seattle port commissioners tour Tacoma, talk peace

Two Seattle Port commissioners Friday toured Port of Tacoma facilities as guests of the Port of Tacoma Commission as the two traditionally rival ports begin efforts to attract new business to both Puget Sound ports.

The two ports have been rivals for decades, stealing each other’s customers from time to time, but seldom generating larger volumes by attracting new traffic from outside the region.

New competition from both Vancouver and Prince Rupert, B.C., in Canada has also caused cargo diversions from Puget Sound ports.

More at the Seattle Times


Remote-Controlled Ships in Future?

From the Journal of Commerce:

Rolls-Royce has been working on designs for remote-controlled cargo vessels as a first step toward overcoming widespread industry skepticism. … Separately, the European Union is funding a $4.8 million research project to study the feasibility of a ship operating autonomously until it nears port and a crew is taken aboard.

For now, though, remote-controlled cargo ships remain far beyond the horizon. Unmanned ships may be technically possible, but they don’t fit a legal and regulatory environment that’s taken centuries to develop and would take years to change.

More at the JOC


Shipping container terminal operator ICTSI penalised for Health and Safety issues

From the United Kingdom comes this report in the Handy Shipping Guide:

The longstanding dispute between the longshoremen who work in the Port of Portland and employers simmers on, and the latest development will doubtless engender an ‘I told you so’ from the dock workers who are employed at the ICTSI Oregon container shipping terminal based within the West Coast port. For more than two years the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) has stood accused by the operator of illegally slowing down work whilst, for its part, the union has repeatedly claimed that Health and Safety measures are not as they should be.

Now the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined the company, which took over the running of Terminal 6 in 2010, a total of $18,360 for breaches of safety which were said to have been uncovered during a routine inspection at the North Portland site.

The offences are grist to the workers mill, as internationally the employer is already under attack after accusations of serious wrongdoing at its Honduran operation where the father of local union boss Victor Crespo was murdered in January, Crespo himself having fled the country three months previously after assaults and death threats.

Read the rest at the Handy Shipping Guide


Shipping firms Hapag-Lloyd, CSAV agree to merge

CSAV ship

Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd AG and Chilean rival Compania Sud Americana de Vapores say they have agreed to merge, creating the world’s fourth largest shipping company.

Hapag-Lloyd said Wednesday that once the merger receives the competition approval the combined company will have some 200 vessels and an annual turnover of 9 billion euros ($12.4 billion).

CSAV will receive a 30 percent stake in the new company. The other core shareholders will be Kuehne Maritime and the German port city of Hamburg, where Hapag-Lloyd is based.

From the Associated Press


Report suggests Port of Seattle consolidate, CEO won’t rule it out

Port of Seattle

The report says the port needs improved on-dock rail, but it has been limited in its ability to improve, especially near Terminal 46. The report goes on to say that the port needs dramatic and costly improvements to handle bigger ships.

A recently discovered report suggests the Port of Seattle’s marine operations are well below capacity, and it needs major improvements to stay competitive.

The Port of Seattle issued a release last January announcing it was filing a “discussion agreement” with the Federal Maritime Commission that would allow them to gather and share information “to identify potential options for responding to unprecedented industry pressures.”

“Nothing is off the table,” said Yoshitani. “The shipping lines are consolidating to form alliances, and it might be worthwhile for the ports to look at it.”

More at Northwest Cable News


March cargo numbers up at Port of Los Angeles, down at Port of Long Beach

Goods movement through the Port of Los Angeles soared by double digits in March while the Port of Long Beach fell slightly from the same time a year ago, according to the latest statistics released this week.

Overall cargo flow for Los Angeles jumped 34 percent to 503,168 container units. About 327,497 of those containers were imports, a 42 percent bounce from March 2013. Exports were also up 21 percent to 187,826 units.

Meanwhile, Long Beach moved 477,209 container units through its port in March, a 1.9 decline. Imports dipped 0.7 percent to 223,432 units, while exports dropped 1.5 percent to 53,883 units when compared with March 2013.

More at the San Bernardino County Sun


Cargill earnings hit by commodity market disruptions; others to report soon

Cargill Inc said that its quarterly earnings fell 28 percent, making it one of the largest companies yet to demonstrate how big commodity market disruptions this year have hurt its bottom line.

Minneapolis-based Cargill, a top global commodities trader, was hit by a triple-whammy of unexpected events, including a surge in energy prices in January, rail backlogs, and the rejection of U.S. corn shipments by China.

The problems are likely to have also hit Cargill peers such as Archer Daniels Midland Co (ADM.N) and Bunge Ltd (BG.N), which are due to report financial results in the coming weeks.

More at Reuters