The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) are to begin contract negotiations on May 12. The existing contract expiration date is July 1 and the “no-strike” clause ends with it. For its part, the ILWU has publicly stated its objectives as stronger safety provisions, wages, more secure benefits, greater respect for ILWU jurisdiction and a reasonable approach to new technology. Not mentioned but known to be a priority are tax liabilities under the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) set to take effect in 2018 and the proposed length of the new contract. Employers currently pay 100% of the premiums in the ILWU health care plan, and union members contribute just a $1 co-pay per prescription for medication. The PMA estimates that the new tax will cost industry $150 million a year and the ILWU seems intent on making the employers pay.
Following a tragic accident at sea on Wednesday this week, 287 people are still missing, mostly teenage high school students, after the South Korean owned ro-ro passenger ferry Sewol capsized and sank near Jeju Island with 475 passengers on board. The South Korean authorities have advised that 179 people were rescued in a rapidly organized and ongoing rescue/recovery operation which is being hampered by poor weather and strong ocean currents in the area. Nine people are so far confirmed dead. Many emotional text messages were sent to their families by students who clearly recognized they were unlikely to survive this terrible event. Our deepest condolences go to the families who have lost loved ones.
The search teams seeking evidence of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane MH370 have now deployed a robotic submarine known as Bluefin-21. This is a highly technical piece of equipment, five meters in length, designed to generate a sonar map of the sea floor. No new signals have been heard since 8 April and there are real concerns that the black box detector batteries are extinguished. Up to 12 planes and 15 ships have been involved in the search for the plane.
Australian technicians believe the signals picked up by ADV Ocean Shield are consistent with flight recorders and this has enabled to scope of the search area to be narrowed. Even so, detection of the missing plane remains an extremely difficult task. Each Bluefin-21 mission will last 24 hours at a maximum depth of 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) with 16 hours spent on the ocean floor, four hours' diving and resurfacing time, and four hours to download data. ADV Ocean Shield also spotted an oil slick in the same area where the signals had been heard and a sample is under testing.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and PSA Corp. are to inject $24 million into a Port Technology Research and Development Program to develop next-generation technologies for future container terminal operations. MPA will also provide a further $12 million over five years from its Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund. The initiative will be asked to focus on key areas of port automation, intelligent planning and control systems, and green port solutions. Singapore averaged 73 berth moves per hour in 2013, placing it near the top among major transshipment hubs but at the same time acknowledges that ever bigger container ships are generating new challenges for ports, including a need to improve crane moves per hour and activity peaks at truck gate moves. Singapore handled 32.6 million TEU in 2013, a 2.9 percent increase over 2012.
The Airbus consortium has been awarded a contract to build Europe's next generation of polar orbiting weather satellites. The contract requires studies of many types of meteorological observations which are combined into so called “Metop Data” to improve the accuracy of global forecasting. The first generation of “Metop Data” which evolved from a network of satellites will be de-orbited by nudging them down from their roughly 800km high operational altitude until they are caught by the atmosphere and burned to destruction. The first pair of Metop-Second Generation satellites will launch in 2021/22 and a third and final pair will likely go up in the 2030s, ensuring continuity of data into the 2040s.
In a discussion reminiscent of when the Whitecaps were seeking a waterfront stadium in Vancouver, it seems that David Beckham’s proposal to build a waterfront stadium within the port of Miami is not universally popular. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and its Miami Seaport Alliance partners (including a wealthy car dealer and two locals of the ILA) has taken a full page add in the Miami Herald and its sister Spanish-language paper, El Nuevo Herald to speak out against the plan. The plan’s opponents argue that the well paying waterfront jobs are more important to the city’s economy than part time jobs related to stadium operations.
A joint venture between Port Metro Vancouver and Metro Vancouver will add several new air quality and meteorological monitoring sites in the East Vancouver area of Burrard Inlet. These additions will build on the monitoring initiatives conducted around Burrard Inlet between 2008 and 2010 and will help track progress towards improving air quality.
Mr. Lorne Friberg, President & CEO of Pacific Coast Terminals (above left), and Dr. Ulrich Lamp, President & CEO of K+S Potash Canada (above right), signed an exclusive, and long-term contract for the handling and storage of potash products from K+S Potash Canada's Legacy mine site in Saskatchewan before a number of dignataries in Port Moody earlier today. This agreement gives PCT the final nod on the construction of their new potash handling facility which is planned for completion in the fall of 2016. The entire project represents an investment value of approximately $180 million and will create approximately 300 FTE construction jobs and 20 FTE permanent jobs upon completion. Included in the project are a new railcar unlaoding station, new covered comveyor systems, systems to control dust emissions and a new storage warehouse.
PMV drayage activity is returning to some semblance of normality at 80-90% of pre-disruption activity but there remain several significant issues to resolve around the practical implementation of the 15 points action-plan under which the truckers agreed to return to work. There is a lack of consensus on several issues, not least that that several shippers do not feel bounded by the new trucking rates. Similarly, rail service is far from smooth in the intermodal sector or in the grain sector where both CN and CP are furious with government moves to regulate volumes.
It had to happen eventually and now someone has had the courage to state the obvious – the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which between them handled 42% of all U.S. container traffic in 2013, need to merge. Los Angeles 2020 Commission this week recommended that the rival adjacent ports look to merge in order to reduce bureaucracy and increase business investment responsiveness. The commission comprises business, labor and civic leaders. The recommendation comes hot on the heels of news that Seattle and Tacoma are finally talking instead of slugging it out.
The good people of Kitimat vote tomorrow in a non-binding referendum on the Northern Gateway project to ship crude oil exports through Kitimat. The District Council voted in January to hold the referendum whose question will be: Do you support the final report recommendations of the Joint Review Panel of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Authority and National Energy Board that the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project be approved subject to 209 conditions set out in volume 2 of the JRP’s final report?” Council is remaining neutral on the project and City Mayor Joanne Monaghan has rejected the complaints of local MP Nathan Cullen NDP who has criticized the efforts of Northern Gateway’s Kitimat office during the campaign.
and maps, and alert landowners whose property may be crossed and advise them how they can voice any concerns on the proposed route. The company is seeking feedback on the new routing options until April 17. More information can be found at www.transmoutain.com.
The Provincial Government has this week signed LNG revenue sharing agreements with the Lax Kw'alaams and Metlakatla First Nations, for LNG export projects being development in the Grassy Point area, just north of Prince Rupert. Australia's Woodside, China National Offshore Oil Corp. and Japan's Inpex Corp. are the currently impacted project proponents.
The search continues after several pings apparently from the black boxes of MH 370 were detected last weekend, first by a Chinese vessel and then in a different area by our “Ship of the Week” for April 4 – Ocean Shield. Aircraft black-box pingers, emit a sound signature on a standard frequency of 37.5 KHZ which is outside the range of human hearing. Ocean Shield picked up two sets of pulses consistent with black-box signals, hence the initial optimism that they were close to the estimated crash site. Yesterday, an Australian aircraft also detected pings in the same area but there is real concern that the black box battery life is nearing an end.
As the difficulties in achieving ratification of the Ballast Water Management Convention refuse to go away, a proposal by Norway to last week’s 66th session of the IMO’s “Marine Environment Protection Committee” (MEPC) has been accepted. In brief, a new study will be conducted into how well typeapproved BWMS currently installed on vessels are actually able to meet the performance standard described in regulation D-2 of the Convention which regulates concentrations of living organisms in ballast water discharges. Many owners and national administrations believe the existing (G8) type approval process is not robust enough but whether this fairly open ended study will alleviate concerns remains unclear.The attached press release issued on April 8 is co-sponsored by ICS, BIMCO, Intercargo, Intertanko, WSC, CLIA and IPTA is designed to summarize industry’s frustration with the current state of affairs on this issue.
The IMO continues to make the International Code of safety for ships operating in polar waters (Polar Code) a priority issue with a target adoption date of May 2015. MEPC 66, last week acknowledged last week that there was still a lot of work to be done but if the 2015 adoption can be achieved, implementation will be in the fall of 2015 or early in 2017.
The IMO Code on Noise Levels Onboard Ships Is to become mandatory for new vessels starting July 1, 2014. The code details requirements for new ships to be constructed to limit noise levels and to reduce seafarers’ exposure to noise under an amendment to SOLAS.
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) has also moved forward with approved guidelines for reducing underwater noise from commercial shipping protect marine life.