The Port of New York & New Jersey has rereleased its 30-year plan for growth and development that seeks to meet the demands of growing cargo volumes. The primary objectives of the master plan are to provide opportunities for growth through stakeholder engagement; improve the port’s commercial value by investigating opportunities to maximize lease revenue; to continue to serve as an economic engine for the region; and to promote safe, resilient and environmentally sustainable operations in partnership with its tenants. Release of the master plan comes at a time when the Port of New York and New Jersey is experiencing record cargo growth, which has pushed it into the position of No. 2 in the nation.
The second offshore wind farm off the coast of the US is now under construction near Virginia. Dominion Energy Inc. has begun work to install cables for a wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean. Two 6-megawatt turbines will be installed 27 miles (43 kilometers) east of Virginia Beach. They’re expected to start producing power for up to 3,000 homes next year.
Two executives from freight forwarding company, Dip Shipping Co, have been sentenced to prison for fixing the prices of freight forwarding services. Their conduct is reported to have raised freight-forwarding prices by as much as 20 percent. Roberto Dip, CEO, was sentenced to 18 months while Jason Handal, Sales Manager, was sentenced to 15 months for fixing the prices of freight forwarding from about 2010 to 2015.
With the Trump administration considering an additional 25 percent tariff on goods imported from China to the US, the Port of Los Angeles has spoken out about a number of unintended consequences, including higher consumer prices, lower profitability for American firms, and uncertainty in the maritime supply chain. As the largest single gateway for marine containerized cargo entering and leaving the United States, handling approximately 40 percent of all containerized imports, the amount of Chinese cargo exposed to the tariffs would be more pronounced than at other gateways.
The US Navy has presented mine fragments from the attacks on an oil and chemical tanker last week. They claim that the fragments look to be Iranian in origin. Iran has denied involvement in the explosive strikes. War risk premiums that owners pay for each voyage into Persian Gulf have escalated from 50,000 after the attacks last month to at least $185,000 for VLCCs. Some owners are holding on accepting charters from the Middle East while they evaluate the risks as tensions between the two countries remain high.
US federal authorities have seized over $1 billion worth of cocaine from the MSC Gayane at the Packer Marine Terminal at the Port of Philadelphia. The drugs were found in seven different shipping containers and six crew members have charged. The MSC Gayane had last been in the Bahamas and was destined for the Netherlands before federal authorities raided the boat earlier this week. Court documents outline the cocaine was apparently loaded by the bale-full onto the ship, delivered to the MSC Gayane by six separate boats in the middle of the night after leaving Peru. Court documents allege some of the men on those boats were wearing ski masks. US CBP has suspended it C-TPAT certificate as this is the second MSC ships this year found with large volumes of illegal drugs smuggled on board. This was one of the largest drugs busts in U.S. history and the largest drug seizure ever for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The Port of Oakland has approved an air quality plan that seeks to reduce diesel and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the port’s maritime operations. Referred to as the eaport Air Quality 2020 and Beyond Plan’, the document calls for changes in equipment, operations, fuels and infrastructure to be developed over the next 30 years. Projects include converting port fleet vehicles and equipment to zero-emission and installing electric infrastructure at container terminals. The plan also includes tracking yard equipment for fuel consumption, operability and performance as well as identifying cleaner fuels and alternative, renewable power sources.
Truckload rates out of Atlanta have risen double digits in the last few weeks, and more freight appears to be moving inland from the US West Coast, positive signs in a year full of negative economic data and doom-and-gloom warnings of a freight recession. The increase in rates have been attributed to several factors including the annual International Roadcheck program, threats of tariffs, increased demand in one sector pulling capacity from another, and the a number of drivers in the process of converting their vehicles to electronic logging device (ELD).
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.