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Pressure Builds on White House to Take Port Action

Pressure Builds on White House to Take Port Action

Los Angeles, CA – Pressure is building on the White House to appoint a federal mediator to broker a new labor contract between U.S. West Coast union dock workers and the terminal operators that employ them at 29 U.S. West Coast ports from Bellingham, Washington, to San Diego.

The latest call for action comes from the executive directors of the Port of Los Angeles and the Port Long Beach, as a work slowdown at the nation’s two top-ranking containerports has eroded dramatically since both the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) ended an unsuccessful round of talks in October.

The PMA has charged the ILWU is filling only about 50 percent of the work orders for skilled equipment operators needed for yard work, while the union insists the admittedly slowed pace is a result of a chronic list of problems that range from working the latest generation of mega-containerships to a shortage of chassis and what they call “terminal mismanagement.”

“Enough is enough. These guys have to get back to work,” said Jon Slangerup, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, at a recent maritime industry event.

Slangerup and Gene Seroka, executive director of the neighboring Port of Los Angeles, have joined a growing number of representatives from both the public and private sectors publicly urging President Obama to name a Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service representative to end the impasse and get both groups to come to an agreement and end the crippling work slowdown.

Over the past several weeks, the two largest industry groups in the country – the National Retail Federation and the National Association of Manufacturers – have ramped-up their efforts to get the White House to act with U.S. Senators and House delegations from California, Washington, and Oregon and the mayors of several cities including Los Angeles and Long Beach have written President Obama urging him to appoint a mediator.

Agricultural exporters have reported the shipping delays are backing up supply lines and creating serious economic damage, hurting their reputation among overseas buyers.

Obama’s only statement on the situation was issued in mid-November, when an Administration spokesman said that the president was “confident the two sides” will reach a contract.

The situation, said Slangerup, “has gotten worse. That should send a clear signal to the White House that it is time for action. The president has to act. It is long overdue.”

12/12/2014

Long Beach Tackles Chronic Port Congestion

Long Beach, CA – Responding to the chronic congestion snarling the movement of cargo containers through one of the country’s busiest ports, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners has approved the use of port property as a temporary site for the storage of empty containers.

The “Temporary Empty Container Depot” will be operated on 30 acres of a vacant, undeveloped area on Pier S on Terminal Island in a move to “help to free up needed equipment to move cargo out of shipping terminals faster” and “put back into circulation more chassis,” the wheeled trailer-frames that trucks use to haul containers.

Truckers using the new will be able to deliver empty containers and remove them from a chassis, and then use the chassis to pick up and haul loaded containers to nearby intermodal rail facilities or their regional destinations.

The depot will be operated by a private company, Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals, under a permit that will expire at the end of March 2015.

Designation of the new depot is reportedly one of several measures the port is pursuing to relieve the congestion issues that have come with a surge of cargo in the last two months caused by the busy peak shipping season, the advent of larger ships and a change in the ownership system for chassis fleets.

In addition to the depot, the port has reportedly crafting a plan to operate its own chassis fleet for peak cargo shipping seasons and facilitate the introduction by private chassis fleets of an additional 3,000 chassis into the local equipment pool.

“We hear our customers loud and clear,” said Doug Drummond, president of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners. “This congestion is not acceptable, and the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners is ensuring that the Port of Long Beach is doing everything it can to see that we clear up these issues now and forever.”

11/17/2014

 

Port of Long Beach Clogged with Box Cargo

Long Beach, CA – Cargo movement through the Port of Long Beach is being delayed from three to five days because of a surge in cargo volume and a “stressed and in some cases, flawed ”supply chain infrastructure, according to port Chief Executive Jon Slangerup.

Speaking at a recent town hall meeting at the Center for International Trade & Transportation at California State University – Long Beach, Slangerup said the flaws result from a failure of the supply chain “to work as an integrated system.”

Slangerup’s comments follow his recent formation of a Congestion Relief Team (CRT) “to meet daily, seek solutions, and solicit feedback from our staff in the field.”

The port, he said, “will do everything we can bring our partners who operate and work at the terminals together to identify bottlenecks and implement solutions.”

The first target of the CRT is the shortage of chassis at the port, a situation that Slangerup has called a “mismanaged mess.” Chassis are the frame trailers used to haul cargo containers.

“There is a chassis imbalance,” said Dr. Noel Hacegaba, the Port’s chief operating officer. “This is a big part of the congestion issue and I have been facilitating discussions with the key players to find relief as soon as possible.”

Cargo numbers rose sharply for the Port of Long Beach in September as the port recorded its heaviest traffic for that month since 2007, the port’s peak cargo volume year.

Nearly 630,000 containers moved through the port last month, a 7 percent increase over the same month last year.

Imports to Long Beach rose 10 percent as retailers brought in products for the holiday shopping season. More than 339,000 containers came into the port, making it the third-highest month for imports in the port’s history. Exports, however, fell 12 percent.

Over the first nine months of the year, container traffic at the Port of Long Beach is up 1.7 percent.

Cargo numbers climbed in September largely due to the importation of products for the upcoming holiday shopping season and the increased container capacity of the newer generation of containerships calling at the port.

10/23/2014

Ports Face ‘Big Ships, Big Challenges’: White Paper

Long Beach, CA – The deployment of the latest generation of mega-containerships “presents physical, financial and operational challenges that must be met by port authorities across the country” according to the Port of Long Beach’s Acting Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Noel Hacegaba.

Even for ports that will not see the mega vessels call at their ports any time soon, the arrival of the larger ships is creating a cascading effect in which the ships being replaced by mega vessels are being deployed in the smaller trade lanes,” says Hacegaba in a new white paper, “Big Ships, Big Challenges.”

The average size of container ships, he says, has grown considerably in recent years and the trend is likely to continue for years to come.

“Although 18,000 TEU [20-foot equivalent unit] vessels are the largest in service currently, ships that carry more than 10,000 TEUs are still considered large and have limited options with regards to trade lanes and to ports that can accommodate them,” he writes.

Hacegaba said the industry is turning to the larger ships because they reduce operating costs for shipping operators, and they help meet regulatory requirements to decrease in potentially harmful emissions.

According to the white paper, ports around the country are spending $46 billion in capital improvements, including $4.5 billion invested at the Port of Long Beach. Shipping companies “are ordering larger ships to meet demand, while cutting the operational costs they would otherwise incur by sending cargo on multiple trips.”

As a result, ports of all sizes “are struggling to ready themselves to handle the larger vessels.”

Hacegaba states that regardless of a port’s size, they face a demand to handle a larger class of vessels. In the coming years it is projected that smaller vessels will be put out of services to make way for larger ones. But the largest ships will go to the biggest ports, while today’s larger ships will switch to smaller ports.

For the vessel operators, “the major investments in larger ships is straining their resources. So ocean carrier alliances and consolidations are also being forged as a result,” he says.

While this is not new to the maritime industry, Hacegaba points out that they are “providing financial uncertainty for port authorities.”

The newly aligned or consolidated vessel operators may move to different ports, while a smaller port may spend millions on fixing its infrastructure, and then lose a major tenant. In addition, smaller ports that don’t upgrade infrastructure because of their struggle for funding may face losing business as small-sized fleets are phased out.

The maritime industry “is ever evolving as technologies improve,” he concludes, with port authorities “playing a primary role” in educating both the industry and the public in potential changes.

“Ports must be built to handle larger ships and be prepared when shipping alliances do not go in their favor. As the maritime industry and how goods are moved change, so must ports if they are to be ready to handle the next generation of larger ships.”

0919/2014

‘Electric Highway’ Planned at Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach

Los Angeles, CA – Next summer, Southern California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) will begin a pilot ‘e-Highway’ system near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The first of its kind in the US, the $13.5 million highway project to be built starting in early 2015 will consist of a two-way, 1-mile overhead electric catenary system along a major thoroughfare that runs between both mega-ports.

A catenary system consists of overhead wires that vehicles pass under to receive electrical charges using a pantograph, a contraption mounted on the roof of the vehicle to collect the electrical charges. They are most commonly used by trolleys and streetcars.

The e-Highway concept applies the catenary system to trucks, allowing them to collect electrical power with a pantograph that unfolds from the roof of a truck. After passing under the catenary system, trucks can switch to diesel, compressed natural gas, battery or another on-board energy source.

Up to four demonstration trucks — both battery-electric and hybrid types — will reportedly be used. Trucks on the ‘e-Highway’ will be able to travel at speeds up to 60 mph.

Germany-based global engineering company Siemens will build the catenary system as well as the “current collectors,” which would allow trucks at any speed to link and unlink from the ‘e-Highway.’

According to the AQMD, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach “are an optimal location for this kind of system because of the high concentration of diesel-powered trucks traveling relatively short distances between the ports and intermodal transfer facilities or distribution warehouses.

AQMD officials hope the demonstration “will lead to a reduction of fossil fuel and toxic air emissions, as well as save on transportation costs.”

08/14/2014