The US Coast Guard has issued Marine Safety Alert 10-18: U.S. Gulf Coast Bunker Contamination. The alert raises awareness of an emerging problem in the US Gulf Coast Region regarding contaminated vessel fuel oil bunkers. The notice states "The Coast Guard recommends that vessel owners and managers ensure vessel operators are made aware of this potential hazardous condition, closely monitor fuel oil system components and consult their bunker suppliers and other technical service providers regarding this issue." Fuel tester VPS has indientified the presence of 4-Cumyl-Phenol which is used in the manufacture of epoxy resins and as emulsifier in pesticides. Whle the source of contaminiation remains unknown, it is presumed to be associated with the use of fuel oil cutter stocks. The standard fuel oil tests for the ISO 8217 specification will not detect these underlying problems.
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has approved changes that will relieve regulatory burdens on Ocean Transportation Intermediaries (OTI) and simplify requirements for using non-vessel-operating common carrier (NVOCC) Negotiated Rate Arrangements (NRAs) and NVOCC Service Arrangements (NSAs). NSAs and NRAs are instruments created by the Commission, at the request of shipper and carrier stakeholders, respectively in 2004 and 2010. They provide shippers and OTIs with a more efficient way to comply with Shipping Act reporting requirements while relieving them from the tariff filing process. The vote came during a public meeting of the Commission that also included a briefing on staff practices and procedures for monitoring ocean carrier and Marine Terminal Operator agreements.
The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners has approved a $1.3 billion budget for the Port of Los Angeles for the ensuing year. The budget focuses on priorities set out earlier this year in the Port’s revised 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, which calls for a focus on growth-supporting infrastructure; security, supply chain efficiency and sustainability; improved financial performance of port assets; and building strong relationships with port stakeholders. In the approved budget, $91.0 million is dedicated to Capital Improvement Projects (CIP), a 6.9% decrease over the previous fiscal year. Of that amount, $31.6 million will go toward terminal improvements, primarily focused on upgrades to better accommodate larger vessels and facilitate more efficient cargo-handling processes.
The Coast Guard Marine Safety Center issued the seventh US Coast Guard Ballast Water Management System Type Approval Certificate to Techcross, Inc., after a detailed review of the manufacturer’s type approval application. The treatment principle of the Techcross Electro-Cleen BWMS consists of electrolysis during uptake and neutralization at discharge. This approval covers models with maximum treatment rated capacities between 150 m3/h and 12,000 m3/h. This week USCG also received its 15th application for type arpproval from HiBallast Ballast Water Management System, manufactured by Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.
The International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) and United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) announced on Wednesday, June 6 that the parties had struck a tentative deal for a new, six-year master contract. More than 200 members of the ILA met with the East Coast port employer representatives to discuss a contract renewal before the current pact expires on September 30, 2018. The local ILA and individual port authorities have been directed to reach individual deals to supplment the master contract by July 10, 2018. If this deal is approved by ILA members, there would be labour peace on both coasts of the US until at least 2024, and parallels a labour deal for US West coast ports lasting until 2022.
The US Coast Guard issued a safety alert regarding bollard failures at marine facilities and is encouraging facility owners and operators to develop inspection programs to detect deficient bollards prior to failure. The US Army Corps of Engineers, NAVAL Facilities Engineering Command and Air Force Civil Engineering Support Agency have developed a helpful document on this topic titled Unified Facilities Criteria “Inspection of Mooring Hardware” UFC 4-150-08 for the planning, inspection, assessment, and reporting of mooring hardware conditions.
Inchcape Shipping Services Holdings Limited and its affiliates have agreed to pay $20M to resolve allegations that they violated the US False Claims Act by knowingly overbilling the US Navy under contracts for ship husbanding services. The lawsuit alleged that from 2005 to 2014, Inchcape knowingly overbilled the Navy for these services by submitting invoices that overstated the quantity of goods and services provided, billing at rates in excess of applicable contract rates, and double-billing for some goods and services. The lawsuit was brought under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act by three former employees of Inchcape, Noah Rudolph, Andrea Ford and Lawrence Cosgriff. Under the act, a private citizen may bring suit on behalf of the United States for false claims and share in any recovery. The government may intervene in the case, as it did here. The False Claims Act allows the government to recover treble damages and penalties from those who violate it and it was resolved by the Department of Justice that the whistleblowers will receive approximately $4.4 million.
The Federal Maritime Commission (Commission) has voted to issue a Request for Additional Information (RFAI) in response to an amendment filed in April by the parties to the West Coast MTO Agreement (WCMTOA). The amendment would change the PierPass fee structure and use appointment systems for dray truckers serving facilities at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Once WCMTOA responds to the questions posed in the RFAI, the Commission will have another 45 days to analyze the amendment.
US Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Seapower Subcommittee and a member of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security, has introduced the “Energizing American Shipbuilding Act.” The legislation would support American shipbuilding by requiring a portion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and crude oil exports to be transported on US-built, US-crewed vessels. The legislation was also introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman John Garamendi, D-Calif., the Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.
When Congressman Garamendi had introduced similar bills in previous years, the former US Trade Representative had intervened against those proposals. However under the Trump Administration the current US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, may be less inclined to intervene against this proposal. Reports also suggest that this bill has received support from several national stakeholders, including the US shipbuilding industry, iron and steel industry, and labour leaders.
The Marine Safety Center recently updated two tools posted to its ballast water management system website to assist industry when completing the ballast water management system type approval process, or when accessing letters of intent. First, the Ballast Water Management System Type Approval Review Checklist was updated May 9th to streamline Marine Safety Center’s review of type approval applications, and second, the Letters of Intent Register now includes both the system name and the manufacturer’s name for each Letter of Intent that has been submitted to improve the ease of searching and/or identifying LOIs when multiple systems listed are manufactured by a single company.
The US Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), within the Office of Management and Budget is seeking public input on how the Federal government may prudently manage regulatory costs imposed on the maritime sector. Multiple Federal agencies regulate the US maritime sector consistent with their statutory authorities. OIRA seeks public comment on how existing agency requirements affecting the maritime sector can be modified or repealed to increase efficiency, reduce or eliminate unnecessary or unjustified regulatory burdens, or simplify regulatory compliance while continuing to meet statutory missions. The request for information is meant to inform agencies’ development of regulatory reform proposals. All submissions will be made publicly available.
All-inclusive eastbound Trans-Pacific service contracts between ocean carriers and US importers to inland destinations are seeing increase of 5 to 25 percent, due to the higher trucking and fuel costs. The US trucking industry continues to grapple with increased volumes, more congestion resulting in fewer turn times, a severe driver shortage and the impact of the new electronic logging devices (ELD) impacting mid-range hauls of 200 to 300 miles. It cost US retailers up to 30% more to ship something via truck in April than it did last year.
Over the last few weeks China’s General Administration of Customs has stepped up inspection of everying from US vehicles, pork, fruits to logs. Chinese officials have not cited bilateral trade friction for any of the delays, but the timing of more rigorous environmental checks and quarantine procedures would say otherwise. China has denied rumours that it has offered a package of trade concessions and increased purchases of American goods aimed at cutting the US trade deficit with China by up to $200 billion a year. The second round of US-China trade talks continue today.
The US Coast Guard Marine Safety Center received its 14th application for Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) type approval for the OceanGuard Ballast Water Management System manufactured by Headway Technology Co., Ltd. USCG has only approved six of the 14 systems that have applied and have not approved a BWMS since May 2017.
US sanctions on the direct or indirect sale, supply, or transfer to or from Iran of graphite, raw, or semi-finished metals such as aluminum and steel, coal, and software for integrating industrial processes are requiring carriers to review their services, operations and business relationships with Iran. Shipping lines serving Iran have a six-month window to leave or cease their operations in the country, following the announcement that the US is withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which in 2015 agreed to lift economic sanctions on Iran in return for the country ending its nuclear weapons programme. Some containers lines have already stopped taking bookings for certain cargoes that would be impacted by the sanctions program. Iran relies on seaborne trade for both imports as well as for sales of its goods apart from oil and the country had struggled with logistical difficulties before international sanctions were lifted in 2016. Iran’s port operators and shipping sectors, including top cargo operator the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and oil tanker group NITC, will once again be blacklisted on Nov. 4. The US will separately re-impose sanctions on the provision of insurance and reinsurance, which had been another challenge for Iran in the past.
A group of New England senators is calling on the US government to speed up an analysis of Canada’s efforts to protect the endangered North American Right Whale (NARW), and to consider trade action if Canada’s rules do not prove as strong as in the US. The right whale’s numbers have dropped to only 450, following an unprecedented spate of dead whales found in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence last year. The US Coast Guard has just issued a news release stating that with NOAA they are increasing focus this year on enforcement of the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan to detect and deter illegally placed fishing gear and reduce the likelihood of fatal whale entanglements from occurring. The senators say US fishermen have made big sacrifices to reduce impacts on the whales and now they’re calling on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to investigate whether fishermen in Canada are being held to similar standards. If not, they say, then NOAA should consider barring the import of Canadian seafood from the relevant fisheries.
The Federal Maritime Commission’s Bureau of Enforcement has initiated an expedited inquiry into complaints that some ocean carriers are unilaterally changing service contract terms by cancelling the port/container yard to final customer destination leg of the cargo shipment. Letters were sent last Friday, April 20th, to those shipping lines whose service contract actions have been called into question. In this inquiry, the Commission is seeking information that will assist in understanding the timing, fairness, and lawfulness of the alleged unilateral changes to ocean carriers’ obligations for inland trucking services. These cancellations are allegedly due to lack of inland truck availability and likely a result of the acute shortage of truck drivers facing the US nationwide.