Royal Caribbean Cruises has lowered its profit outlook following the Trump Administration’s ban on American cruises docking in Cuba. While the affected sailings impact only 3 percent of the company’s 2019 sailings, they have indicated that the regulatory change will lead to a reduction to the adjusted EPS for 2019 in the range of USD 0.25 to USD 0.35 per share.
US Congress has authorized $292.73 million for Port Infrastructure Development Program grants to provide grants for a broad range of improvements within, or around, coastal seaports to improve safety, reliability, or efficiency. The grant funding is broken down into two categories: $200 million is available for infrastructure improvements at all coastal seaports, and $92.73 million is allocated to fund improvements at the 15 coastal seaports that handled the greatest number of loaded foreign and domestic TEUs in 2016.
Carnival has been slapped with a $20M fine for violating probation after an ocean pollution conviction. In 2016, the company paid a $40M after pleading guilty to the charges and were placed on a five-year probation. Carnival reached the $20M settlement with federal prosecutors after its ships were found to be continuing to pollute the oceans. The company plead guilty to the charges and admitted to dumping grey water in prohibited places, knowingly allowing plastic to be discharged with food waste, and falsifying compliance documents. Future violations could result in prison time and criminal fines for individuals and executives could be held personally liable. Carnival has promised to implement additional audits to check for violations, a restructuring of the company's compliance and training programs, a better system for reporting environmental violations to state and federal agencies, and improved waste management practices.
Managers of the Port of Cleveland and other ports around the Great Lakes say they’re being overlooked in the national conversation about America’s crumbling infrastructure. Ports are the place where ships and barges meet trucks and trains, where water meets rail and road and deserve to be made a priority in infrastructure investments. Historically, there hasn’t been any regular infrastructure appropriations from Congress or state legislatures. Currently, to fix or improve their facilities, port officials must either finance the projects themselves vie for discretionary federal grants. However, there may be a shift underway, as for the first time, Congress has set aside $293 million dollars for ports.
The Trump administration has banned cruises to Cuba under new restrictions on US travel, imposed to pressure the island to stop supporting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The ban applies to passenger and recreational vessels, including cruise ships and yachts, as well as private and corporate aircraft. The ban came into effect with no advance notice, giving cruise lines no grace period to change destinations and creating confusion among cruise passengers.
The US Coast Guard has issued a safety bulletin warning of renewed phishing and malware attacks targeting commercial shipping. Hackers are attempting to gain sensitive information including the content of an official Notice of Arrival (NOA) using email addresses that pose as an official Port State Control authority. Additionally, the Coast Guard has received reports of malicious software designed to disrupt shipboard computer systems. The Coast Guard has urged vessel owners and operators to be on alert for suspicious messages. See the full bulletin here: https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/DCO%20Documents/5p/MSIB/2019/MSIB_004_19.pdf
A young humpback whale was struck by a ferry in Seattle as it was coming up for air. With both whale migrations and ship traffic in the Salish Sea increasing, this may become a more regular issue moving forward. After being virtually eradicated from the Salish Sea by Vancouver Island whalers in the early 1900s, humpbacks have rebounded in the Northwest. Last summer, about 200 humpbacks entered the inland waters, mostly near Sekiu in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, while only a half-dozen or so continued to Puget Sound.
Earlier this week the US Surface Transportation Board (STB) grilled railroad executives about demurrage and accessorial policies, a hot-button issue with shippers that believe the fees are used as a revenue generator after revenue surged more than 29 percent in 2018. Railroads told the STB that demurrage fees are designed to encourage timely pickup of cargo and allow for better service to all customers. However, shippers noted a lack of reciprocity in assessing such charges if the railroad were to cause a delay.
Container carriers are continuing blank sailings as US imports from China continue to fall. Shipments have declined 6 percent year over year to 3.5 million TEU in the first four months of the 2019 according to PIERS. There were 22 blank sailings to the West Coast through February and early March. Additionally, carriers are starting to take vessels out of services to prepare the ships for the transition to the low-sulphur fuel requirements effective January 1, 2020.
The Port of Virginia has unveiled ‘Smart Stack’, its rail strategy designed to make the Port more desirable for shippers. The Port has made significant investments to connect its container terminals to the national networks of Class I railroads. For its rail services, the port authority has invested $25 million in on-dock track and related infrastructure, $18 million in rail cargo-handling equipment and $4 million in supporting information technology. At VIG Terminal, the port has doubled its on-dock rail capacity, with the final piece of that expansion work to be completed at the end of May. The expanded rail yard at VIG includes more than 20,000 linear feet of track, which is served by four new cantilever, rail-mounted gantry cranes.
The Genesis River, a 755-foot LPG tanker, collided with the tug Voyager near Bayport, Texas last Friday, resulting in a spill that has caused part of the Houston Ship Channel to close. The tug was transporting two barges loaded with the gasoline blend stock Reformate. One barge has capsized, and one is reported damaged. Each barge was loaded with an estimated 25,000 barrels of gasoline blend stock, and media report estimate that 9,000 barrels were released from the damaged barge. Oil spill response, air monitoring and salvage attended the scene. As of Wednesday, the Houston Ship Channel reopened to two-way traffic.
A bid to build a controversial pipeline to boost New York’s natural gas supply has been rejected by authorities. The proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project included about 37 km of submarine pipeline off New York City’s coast. The nearly $1 billion plan was denied by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, which cited concerns over water quality and aquatic life. Its rejection follows similar decisions on natural gas projects made recently by Washington State and Los Angeles.
Six people have died after two float planes carrying cruise passengers collided in flight near Ketchikan, Alaska on Monday May 13th, just after 1:00PM. Victims include one Canadian, one Australian, and four American tourists. 10 people were rescued and brought to safety.
Jennifer Homendy of the US National Transportation Safety Board presented a graphic (above) of preliminary flight tracking data that shows the paths of the two floatplanes before the collided at the point the two lines meet. A preliminary report into the incident was expected in approximately two weeks.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued an advisory on the Whale Advisory Vessel Speed Reduction Zone in Southern California - Santa Barbara to reduce the impact of ship strikes on whales. NOAA strongly recommends that vessels 300 gross registered tons or larger transiting the Whale Advisory Zone do so at speeds not in excess of 10 knots. These areas contain populations of endangered blue, humpback, and fin whales that are federally protected under various Acts. The whale advisory zone extends from approximately Dana Point to Pt. Arguello and vessels are requested to transit at 10 knots or less anywhere in this zone. Vessels transiting the voluntary Western Traffic Lanes are also encouraged to transit within the Voluntary Western Zone to reduce the overlap of ships and endangered whales. Please report any collisions with whales or any observed injured or dead whales to NOAA at 877-SOS-WHALE (877-767-9425) or to the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16. NOAA is asking for the public’s help in tracking whales. Please report sightings through WhaleAlert.
The Lake Erie Energy Development Company (LEEDCo) has placed 16 high-tech buoys around the lake that are equipped with sensors that transmit a variety of real-time weather and scientific data back to shore, as well as a webcam mounted to its 6-foot-tall mast that relays 30-second snapshots of current lake conditions once hourly. The buoys detect a variety of data, including wind speed, wave height, water and air temperature, oxygen counts within the lake, and walleye migration patterns. Anyone can text certain buoys or view them online to get an up-to-date weather report.
The Port of Seattle has shortlisted three teams for the development and operation of a new cruise facility at the north end of Terminal 46. The shortlist includes: Cruise Industry Leaders Group, a partnership between Royal Caribbean Cruise, MSC Cruises, Carnival Corporation and SSA Marine, a subsidiary of Carrix; Global Ports Holding and Civil & Building North America; and, the third one Ports America, teaming with Jacobs Engineering Group. The three teams responded to the port’s RFQ in March and will now be invited to respond to a request for proposals, expected to be released in June. The Port is targeting delivery of the new cruise terminal for the 2022 cruise season with early estimates pointing to costs of around USD 200 million.
An unusually high number of grey whales are washing up dead on West Coast shorelines on their annual migration north. In one of the longest migrations of any mammal, grey whales migrate from their wintering areas near Mexico to their summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific every year. The whales are currently heading towards Canada, where they will pass by Vancouver Island on their way to Alaskan waters. Through studying the deceased whales, it appears that that food shortage is an underlying cause of the deaths. The research hasn't concluded whether the recent deaths are due to a decline in food sources or an overpopulation of grey whales or some combination of both.