Earlier this year a new national marine sanctuary was established about 40 miles south of Washington, DC to protect the remains of more than 100 abandoned steamships and vessels (referred to as the “Ghost Fleet”) built as part of America’s engagement in World War I. Although the ships never saw action during the war, their construction at more than 40 shipyards in 17 states reflected the massive national wartime effort that drove the expansion and economic development of waterfront communities and maritime service industries. The oldest ships sank there in the 1700s; the most recent ones are from the 20th century. Their skeletal remains rise up in the air, looking like spirits rising out of the Potomac River. It is said to be the first sanctuary to protect not only sea creatures, but also partially covered shipwrecks.
With volumes down by almost 30 percent at some of the six largest West Coast ports, the ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Seattle and Tacoma have sent a joint letter to President Donald Trump, urging him to pursue fair and mutually beneficial trade agreements. The organizations have shared concerns that the long-term impacts of the escalating trade conflict between China and the United States will create irredeemable economic harm to employers, workers, residents and international partnerships along the West Coast and throughout the entire country. The letter also highlights the latest impacts related to back-and-forth tariffs between the United States and China.
Mediterranean Shipping Co. has regained privileges via the United States trusted trader program after a temporary suspension stemming from the June 17 seizure of 20 tons of cocaine from a vessel at the Port of Philadelphia. After the largest US drug bust took place on board on the MSC’s ships, US Customs and Border Protection placed a 90-day suspension from C-TPAT which ended on Sept. 16. MSC vessels have been involved in three other drug-related incidents this year.
CMA CGM has dropped a proposed detention/demurrage processing fee for US ports only 48 hours after telling customers about the charge, that was planned for October 15. The original customer advisory stated the carrier would “assess an administrative fee of US $50 for each per diem/daily usage charge for the later return of equipment beginning Oct. 15. The charge was dropped after significant pushback was received from beneficial cargo owners (BCOs). The FMC is engaged in an interpretive rule-making procedure regarding demurrage and detention under the Shipping Act. Separate from the CMA CGM issue, the FMC on Friday announced it had extended the public comment period to Oct. 31.
The Port of Long Beach is instituting an incentive program which seeks to attract more containerized cargo. This announcement comes a year after the Port of Los Angeles launched a similar program. The one-year program will go into effect on Oct. 1. Container carriers will be given a payment of $10 per TEU for additional cargo that moves through the port over and above the cargo they handled the prior year and over and above the general growth in the trans-Pacific trade. The program applies to both loaded import and export containers, but payouts are capped at $2 million per carrier.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists intercepted 146 destructive Asian Gypsy Moth egg masses on four ships recently in the port of Baltimore. One vessel alone was found with 126 egg masses. There has been a surge in the population of AGM this season and while the high-risk period is over in Canada, crew onboard vessels from Japan, Korea and China should continue to check vessels for AGM egg masses while en route to North American ports.
The Columbia River Steamship Operators’ Association has filed a lawsuit in federal court over the Port of Astoria’s $300 pier maintenance fee. They claim that the fee is unconstitutional as it applies to all ships over 250 feet regardless of whether the ship stops at the pier or not. The Port has charged about 250 ships so far, holding the money in a protected account controlled by the association. Once a legal decision is made on the fee, the money will go to the Port or back to shipping agents.
US Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, is under investigation for allegedly using her government posting to benefit Foremost Group, a shipping company owned by her father. The House Oversight and Reform Committee has requested documents, citing “troubling questions” over whether she used her office for personal gain. Chao has until the end of the month to send the requested documents.
The US Coast Guard has pulled four trapped men alive from a capsized car carrier by drilling into the hull’s steel plates. The M/V Golden Ray overturned in the US port of Brunswick with 24 crew members inside sparking a dramatic, successful rescue mission over the weekend. All four were described as alert and in relatively good condition and were taken to a hospital for further evaluation. Three of the South Korean crew members came out in the midafternoon. The fourth man, who was trapped in a separate compartment, emerged three hours later. With all crew members accounted for, operations will now shift fully to environmental protection, removing the vessel and resuming commerce. Brunswick is one of the busiest ports for vehicles. Nearly 614,000 vehicles and heavy machinery units move through the port annually. The cause of the capsizing remains under investigation.
A familiar sight to many here locally, the Houston Ship Channel was shutdown this week when 11 individuals affiliated with Greenpeace suspended themselves from the Fred Hartman Bridge. The danglers blocked ship traffic to and from five major oil refineries and other chemical and oil export facilities for 18 hours. Harris County Sheriff’s office stated that the demonstrators will face multiple charges including obstructing the roadway and obstructing the waterway. The office is checking with the area US Attorney's office about other possible charges.
Earlier this week, Greenpeace attempted to block the MV Indian Goodwill from docking at a coal terminal at Gdansk, Poland. Polish customs agents boarded Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior that evening, broke into her wheelhouse and detained her master on suspicion of violating maritime safety regulations. The Indian Goodwill's delivery was held up again later in the week by activists who scaled two unloading cranes at the terminal, hanging banners and blocking operation of equipment.
The US Army Corps of Engineers has indicated that the high water levels on the Great Lakes will continue into this fall. Data shows Lake Superior tied its record high in August. Lake Erie established a new record high. Lakes Michigan, Huron and Ontario were slightly below their record highs, but still very high compared to average. The data points to the possibility of high levels into the early winter months.
After devastating the Bahamas with 185-mph winds, Hurricane Dorian’s eye made landfall on the US mainland earlier today in South Carolina. The weakened Category 1 storm had maximum sustained winds of 90-mph and is was moving northeast at 21 mph. Yesterday the US Coast Guard released important information about what their crews have seen since beginning rescue missions. They report a high risk of debris in the water, sunken vessels and destroyed or missing aids to navigation and pier facilities. They also warn about the risk of chemical spills and topography in ports and marinas from the storm surge of the Category 5 hurricane. The Ports of Charleston and Savannah have reopened to deep draft vessels with restrictions.
Disney has committed to donating more than $1 million to help relief and recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas. This commitment includes a donation to non-profit relief agencies who will be undertaking recovery and rebuilding efforts, as well as the provision of to impacted areas. Additionally, Disney employees with immediate needs in impacted areas of the Bahamas will have access to a range of resources.
The US Federal Maritime Commissioners approved a set of recommendations today to bring about fairness in the way demurrage and detention fees are administered by ocean carriers and marine terminal operators. The FMC will soon publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish “interpretive” rules to address the following:
Disney Cruise Line has unveiled the name of its newest vessel, the Disney Wish. The vessel will be the fifth ship to be added to its fleet, and first of three newbuilds ordered from Germany’s Meyer Werft shipyard. The cruise ship is scheduled to be delivered in late 2021 and expected to set sail in January 2022. The three new ships will be powered by liquefied natural gas and, at approximately 144,000 gross tons and 1,250 guest staterooms, will be slightly larger than the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.
The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor has announced plans to invest nearly $20 million over the next four years in a major expansion that will boost its cargo handling capacity. The port was pursuing five big projects, including two rail yards which will be equipped to handle unit trains, or block trains in which all cars carry the same commodity from the same starting point to the same destination. The projects will be funded in part by a $9.85-million federal grant.
The operator of the M/T Ocean Princess, Ionian Shipping & Trading Corp., and its owner Lily Shipping Ltd. were each fined US $1.5 million and placed on probation for four years for failing to comply the Emissions Control Area fuel requirements. The Master, Chief Officer, and Chief Engineer were also all sentenced to three years of probation and ordered not to return to the US on a ship during that time. The Chief Officer was also fined $3,000 for instructing the crew to provide false information to the inspectors.