The Port of San Diego has enrolled in Green Marine, North America’s largest voluntary environmental certification program for the maritime industry. Green Marine’s environmental program makes it possible for port authorities, terminal operators and ship owners to voluntarily reduce their environmental footprint through a comprehensive program that addresses key environmental issues that are common to most ports. The Port of San Diego established a Blue Economy Incubator in 2016 to foster sustainable aquaculture and pilot emerging blue technologies to deliver multiple benefits to the whole Port community such as fisheries enhancement, ecosystem restoration, water quality improvements, environmental monitoring, and education and outreach.
Thousands of members of the International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO at ports from Maine to Texas overwhelmingly approved a six-year master contract extension with United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) that will labour stability to ports in the East Coast and Gulf Coast through September 30, 2024. The newly ratified contract sets clear guidelines on what type of automation ports in the eastern half of the US can adopt, and procedures for labour protection when they do. Specifically, the contract prohibits fully automated terminals or equipment and demands port employers negotiate job-protection strategies with the local union before any machinery "devoid of human interaction" is deployed.
The Federal Maritime Commission's Commissioner Rebecca Dye has released key initial observations in the interim report for Fact Finding 28, an investigation into "Conditions and Practices Relating to Detention, Demurrage, and Free Time in International Oceanborne Commerce." The resulting record strongly suggests that concerns about demurrage and detention in US trades are not limited primarily to weather-or-labor-related port congestion in 2014-2015, a small subset of large ports, or episodic events unrelated to potentially systemic issues. Additionally, the record supports further consideration of the benefits to the US international freight delivery system of:
The final report for this FMC fact-finding investigation is scheduled for release by Dec. 2.
The Office of Design and Engineering Standards announced the availability of Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 01-09, Change 1, “Voluntary Compliance with International Sewage Regulations in Annex IV TO MARPOL 73/78.” The purpose of NVIC 01-09, Change 1 is to provide additional guidance for vessel owners or operators as well as manufacturers of any shipboard sewage processing equipment, including facilities that test shipboard sewage and related processing equipment, to voluntarily request US Coast Guard certification of compliance with international sewage regulations in Annex IV to MARPOL 73/78. It also provides for reciprocity under Annex IV for non-U.S. flagged ships operating in waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway. Stakeholders identified several challenges that affect traditional uses of the Great Lakes-Seaway such as the transport of dry bulk commodities and imported steel, and also considered the challenges affecting “emerging use” of the system, such as the cruise industry and container market. These included increase pilotage rates, condition of lock infrastructure, complexity of ballast water regulations, insufficient dredging, winter closures, and inadequate portside infrastructure.
The US Coast Guard's Inspections and Compliance Directorate issued Marine Safety Alert 14-18, “Don’t Forget About Gangways and Ladders,” following the death of a vessel pilot who died while boarding a vessel when its gangway separated from the vessel, causing two persons to fall into the water. Although the investigation is still underway and additional facts are being gathered, this casualty serves as another reminder that shipboard equipment that seems benign can quickly become a hazard to persons boarding and departing a vessel.
The US Coast Guard has also issued a Marine Safety Alert following reports from crews, ship owners, inspectors and other mariners regarding poor reception on VHF frequencies used for radiotelephone, digital selective calling (DSC) and automatic identification systems (AIS) when in the vicinity of light emitting diode (LED) lighting on-board ships (e.g., navigation lights, searchlights and floodlights, interior and exterior lights, adornment). If the noise floor is found to have been raised, then it is likely that both shipboard VHF marine radio and AIS reception are being degraded by LED lighting. In order to determine the full impact of this interference, the Coast Guard requests those experiencing this problem to report their experiences to the Coast Guard Navigation Center.
The Coast Guard Marine Safety Center issued the 10th Ballast Water Management System Type Approval Certificate to Wartsila Water Systems, Ltd. The treatment principle of the Wartsila Aquarius EC BWMS consists of filtration with electrolysis during uptake and neutralization at discharge. This approval covers models with maximum treatment rated capacities between 250 m3/h and 4,000 m3/h.
The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has placed sanctions on two more Russian shipowners and their vessels for violating United Nations and US trade sanctions against North Korea. Primorye Maritime Logistics Co. Ltd. and Gudzon Shipping Co., the registered shipowners and managers of the Russian-flagged ship Patriot conducted two ship-to-ship transfers of oil for the benefit of North Korea, including 1,500 tons of oil to the Chong Rim 2 and 2,000 tons of oil to the Chon Ma San, both sanctioned North Korean-flagged vessels.
The Rio Vista Bridge on the Sacramento River suffered a mechanical failure on August 9th and since then, bridge operators have been manually lowering and raising the bridge. The US Coast Guard and industry stakeholders are coordinating vessel transits with the scheduled openings until operations resume back to normal, possibly on September 24th.
California Air Resources Board (CARB) has posted informational materials for the draft Control Measure for Ocean-Going Vessels At Berth and At Anchor (At Berth and At Anchor Regulation) rulemaking. The materials include draft regulatory concepts and preliminary cost analysis and are available on the Shore Power for Ocean-going Vessels program webpage. Public input is being solicited on potential concepts for the At Berth and At Anchor Regulation and its alternatives. CARB staff anticipates bringing a proposed rulemaking for Board consideration in the Spring 2019.
US Customs and Border Protection is planning to update its Customs Modernization Act of 1993 by introducing new legislation to modernize its trade enforcement functions. Changes anticipated include data access and sharing, “responsible party” definitions and enforcement, new processes and resource optimization. Leveraging its work on the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), CBP will move towards the “One U.S. Government” single-window concept and eliminate archaic practices. Blockchain will also be tested for certificate tracking to verify information about imported goods and check how foreign suppliers act toward American importers, he said. The system can also be used to authenticate trademarks and check on an item's physical properties.
The Trump administration is imposing sanctions on three foreign companies it says are helping North Korea with illicit shipments of goods to fund its nuclear program. The Treasury Department said Wednesday it was taking action against the companies, which are based in China, Russia and Singapore, as well as the head of the Russian firm. The move blocks any assets that they may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bars Americans from doing business with them. Those targeted are the China-based Dalian Sun Moon Star International Logistics Trading Co. and its Singapore-based affiliate, SINSMS Ltd., along with Russia’s Profinet Ltd. and its director general. They are accused of helping North Korea evade international sanctions by re-routing exports and imports through Chinese and Russian ports.
The US Senate Appropriations Committee has directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study the possibility of loosening the air quality limits for ships entering the United States over concerns that the IMO’s tougher regulations could harm the cargo shipping industry’s economic competitiveness. The EPA has just launched the study in response and will also look at diesel fuel demands that might impact other transportation sectors, including trucking. Some have predicted that diesel could be as much as a dollar a gallon more expensive by the end of 2019 or early 2020. The committee wants EPA to consider an exemption from the ECA restrictions for vessels that have engines that generate less than 32,000 horsepower and operate more than 50 miles from the US coastline.
The US Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced $4.8M in grants to six Marine Highway projects. The funding, provided by the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Marine Highway program, will help enhance existing marine highways serving ports in Louisiana, Virginia, New York, and Connecticut, and support the development of new container-on-barge services in Kentucky and Rhode Island. The Marine Highway Program supports the expanded use of navigable waterways to relieve landside congestion, provide new transportation options, and generate other public benefits by increasing the efficiency of the surface transportation system.
Stewart Muir of Resouce Works examines what the arrival of the laden oil tanker Nordtulip at Anacortes, WA on July 31st all means. The Portuguese-flagged tanker ship was coming directly from the port of Nakhodka near Vladivostok, Russia, and is estimated to be carrying 600,000 to 650,000 barrels of oil. The Trans Mountain pipeline has commitments to supply at least one of the two refineries in Anacortes following its expansion, but until then it is struggling to keep up with the demand for more capacity through the pipeline. The market acceptance of Russian oil by the US raises eyebrows as Canadian suppliers of crude oil follow much more stringent environmental policies than those of Russia. In the picture above, it shows three laden tankers - two from Alaska and the Nordtulip en route to Anacortes on the same. The Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion at capacity would see one tanker call a day compared to the average one tanker a week seen today. It definitely makes one question what role the US and its ambitions for energy dominance plays into all of this.
On April 30, 2018 the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced a six-month pilot that encourages L1 visa applicants to file in advance a Form I-129 petition, plus supporting evidence for Canadian citizens seeking to enter the US as L1 executives or managers to the California Service Center. The Blaine, WA border crossing is the first pilot site and US CBP officers will not be validating L1 applications on-the-spot during the pilot period at that particular border crossing during the pilot which ends October 31, 2018. Those wishing to avoid the advance adjudication process can use an alternate border crossing where the on-the-spot processing remains.
Trucking shortages continue to drive the hottest freight market in years with rates 20 to 30 percent higher than last year. Truckload carriers are becoming more selective and chosing the most profitable loads and lanes. US manufacturers and retailers are concerned and looking for supply chain efficiencies to counter higher logistics costs. Also this week container lessors, manufacturers, and intermodal providers lobbied against a proposed tariff of 25 percent on shipping containers before the US Congress Section 301 Committee. Fears of this tariff in addition to higher surface costs would be a double whammy to US shippers. About 97 percent of marine containers are made in China.