WATERWAYS COUNCIL SAYS TRUMP’S INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN WILL NEGATIVELY IMPACT CARRIERS AND SHIPPERS

WATERWAYS COUNCIL SAYS TRUMP’S INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN WILL NEGATIVELY IMPACT CARRIERS AND SHIPPERS

 BY STAS MARGARONIS, RBTUS

 The President of Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) said that President Trump’s long-awaited infrastructure plan will negatively impact U.S. inland waterway operators and shippers.

Mike Toohey, WCI President and CEO, said, “Carriers, and therefore shippers like American family farmers, energy/petroleum and coal producers, cement and construction material companies, and many others who rely on the cost-competitive waterways to ship their products around the U.S. and the world, would be saddled with massive increases that will deter freight from the waterways and cause a modal transportation shift.”

Waterways Council, Inc.  is supported by waterways carriers, shippers, port authorities, agriculture, labor and conservation organizations, shipping associations and waterways advocacy groups from all regions of the country.

Toohey added, “While we were extremely gratified that the President mentioned waterways in the State of the Union address and visited the Ohio River last June, where he said that ‘together we will fix it,’ the Administration infrastructure proposal actually seems to mean that commercial operators and shippers are the only ones who will be expected to pay, and significantly more, for the Nation’s waterways transportation system, despite being just one beneficiary of the lock and dam system.”

If the President’s infrastructure recommendations are adopted, the Inland Waterways Trust Fund would be responsible for operating and maintaining the inland navigation system at an estimated cost  eight times that of current Trust Fund income, WCI said in a press release.

The Trump Administration announced that it would undertake a $1.5 trillion initiative to repair America’s infrastructure.  In his visit to the Ohio River in June 2017, President Trump described, [the] “dilapidated system of locks and dams that are more than half a century old,” and said, capital improvements of the system, which [are] so important, have been massively underfunded. Also, there’s an $8.7 billion maintenance backlog that is only getting bigger and getting worse…citizens know firsthand that the rivers, like the beautiful Ohio River, carry the life blood of our heartland.”

“Together, we will fix it. We will create the first-class infrastructure our country and our people deserve,” the President said in his June speech on the river.

Currently, commercial waterways operators – just 400 companies across the entire national system – are the only beneficiary to contribute 29-cents-per-gallon diesel fuel tax to a dedicated Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF), matched by General Treasury Funds, that pays for half of the costs of construction and major rehabilitation of the system.

Other system beneficiaries – recreational boaters, commercial fishermen, and those who benefit from hydropower generation, municipal and industrial water supply, flood control and national security – do not contribute to waterways improvements, although they utilize and rely upon the lock and dam system.

At the end of 2014, WCI’s carrier and shipper members successfully advocated for a 45% increase to the diesel fuel tax deposited into the IWTF for increased investment to the system. Inland waterways carriers pay the highest tax of any surface transportation mode in the nation.

“WCI looks forward to working with the Administration and Congress on an infrastructure plan that is equitable and fair to all beneficiaries of the waterways and will result in meaningful modernization of our critical lock and dam system,” Toohey concluded.

SUPPORT TEXAS IN HURRICANE HARVEY AFTERMATH

by Stas Margaronis

All Americans must support Texas and Texans in the aftermath of the destruction that is being wrought by Hurricane Harvey.

The devastation is likely to require substantial rebuilding of businesses and homes and this process should begin as soon as possible.

It is essential to avoid the slow response after Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana.

Logistical support will play a crucial role.

Despite our recent political divisions, all Americans should come together to help their fellow Americans in Texas survive and rebuild.

 

 

REPUBLICANS SEEK RECALL OF DEMOCRATIC STATE SENATOR WHO VOTED FOR CALIFORNIA GAS TAX

By Stas Margaronis

Republicans say they have sufficient signatures to hold a recall election for a Democratic State Senator in California who voted for a new gas tax aimed at repairing and rebuilding California freeways and roads.

Repealing the new California tax, which is designed to fund $50 billion in road and freeway improvements over the next 10 years, could adversely efforts to relieve freeway congestion.

Repeal of the tax might undermine efforts to relieve harbor truck congestion on the I-710 freeway linking the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach with Southern California freeways.

The California Republican Party announced Tuesday it submitted nearly 85,000 voter signatures on a petition to recall Senator Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The campaign needed to come up with 63,593 total signatures by mid-October to force a recall vote in Senate District 29. The signatures must be certified by election officials before the measure can qualify for the ballot, the newspaper said.

In an interview with KNBC News in Los Angeles, Carl DeMaio, a conservative radio show host from San Diego and chairman of Reform California, said he is leading the effort to recall California State Senator, Josh Newman who DeMaio says, “stabbed his constituents in the back” by voting for the gas tax. DeMaio said: “We want to roll back the tax and what better way than to pick off one by one State Senators who voted for the tax until they reverse themselves and repeal the tax.” [1]

DeMaio also hopes to reduce the Democratic majority in the California State Senate.

State Senator, Josh Newman, is a Democrat who was elected in a historically Republican district that includes parts of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.

Senator Newman said that the new tax “reverses years of California not investing in its roads, freeways and bridges which are in a state of disrepair that need fixing.”

Additionally, Newman noted President Trump also supports new spending on roads and bridges as part of a national effort to repair a highway transportation system that needs rebuilding.

According to Newman, the new taxes are generated by Senate Bill 1 and will go to relieve congestion on California freeways. These include the I-710 and the intersection of the 57 and 60 freeways located in his district. This intersection “is one of the most congested freeway interchanges in the United States as a result of harbor truck traffic that comes via the 710 freeway from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.”

Senator Newman noted that “forty percent of televisions imported into the United States are trucked through the City of Industry and the intersection of the 57 and 60 freeways for distribution all over the United States.”

In its 2017 report, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) said the 57/60 intersection was the sixth most congested bottleneck for trucks in the United States.[2]

ATRI noted: “This “bottleneck” analysis incorporates and synthesizes several unique components, including a massive database of truck GPS data, a sophisticated IT processing system, and algorithms that quantify the impact of congestion on truck-borne freight.”

In the KNBC interview, DeMaio complained that funds allocated for transportation had not always gone to transportation, and that California needed to stop misallocating gas tax funds for other uses and make sure funds go for transportation.

Newman said he sponsored new legislation to make sure that from now on all taxes and fees in California allocated for transportation go for transportation.

The components of the new taxes are contained in Senate Bill 1 or SB1. Newman said the provisions are as follows: 1) a 12-cent increase in gas taxes, 2) an increase in diesel fuel taxes,  3) an increase in car license fees, and 4) a new fee on electric cars. The new funds are designed to raise $50 billion over the next ten years, according to Newman.

Newman said that the Recall proponents have falsely claimed that recalling him will lead to the repeal of the gas tax. This statement is not true since one Republican Senator provided the crucial vote that assured passage in the California

[1] http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/NC-Seg-2-Carl-DeMaio-061817_Los-Angeles-429023273.html

 

[2] http://atri-online.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/2017-ATRI-Bottleneck-Brochure.pdf

 

MAKE AMERICAN SHIPBUILDING AND SHIPPING GREAT AGAIN

By Stas Margaronis

President-Elect Trump has pledged to “Make America Great Again” by investing in American infrastructure and creating new jobs. One area in which the new president can fast-track infrastructure revitalization and job creation is by upgrading existing U.S. loan guarantees to leverage public/private funding of new ships, new shipyards, and new maritime jobs.

New shipbuilding and new cargo ships can substantially reduce truck congestion and emissions on coastal highways along with building new ships for the U.S. Navy and U.S. military sealift (for carrying and delivering military equipment to foreign trouble spots).

The reduction of fuel and emissions when transporting cargoes by ship versus truck can be seen in the example of a ship carrying 750 containers (2,000 twenty-foot units containers) utilizing a 20,000 horsepower engine. In contrast, 750 trucks each with a 375 horsepower engine would require 281,250 horsepower to pull the same load.

The U.S. Maritime Administration promotes waterborne freight transportation by supporting marine highway shipping and marine highway corridors. This system could support building new ships and tug/barges to shift coastal truck traffic on to new ships and tug/barges along the Pacific Coast I-5, Atlantic Coast I-95, the Mississippi River, and the Great Lakes.

The United States has an efficient means of financing new shipyards and new ships through loan guarantees provided by the U.S. Maritime Administration. The Title XI Loan Guarantee program provides guarantees for as much as 87.5% of the cost of construction of new ships. Applicants must provide 12.5% in equity as a minimum and demonstrate a sound business plan.[1] The program provides security for the lenders but is not a direct cash infusion. To induce additional investment, the program will need increased funding to support a mobilization of new fuel-efficient, low-emission shipbuilding, fewer barriers to support start-up shipbuilders and carriers as well as continuing support for existing builders and carriers and support for new products such as off-shore transmission lines and wind farms. Based on a loan loss reserve of 10% and allocating $2 billion in funding for the program, it could support $20 billion in loan guarantees for shipyards, ships, and tug/barges. Compare this to the $5 billion to $10 billion that will be required to widen just one 18 mile stretch of the 710 freeway in Los Angeles County.

There is a precedent for this type of economic and ship mobilization. During World War II, the U.S. Maritime Commission, which later became the Maritime Administration, partnered with ship builders such as Henry Kaiser to mass-produce 2,708 Liberty ships. These ships carried military supplies to war fronts in Europe and Asia on U.S. flag ships manned by U.S. crews. The program helped pull the United States out of the Depression by creating new jobs and helped win the war.[2]

Shipping and Shipbuilding Jobs

According to a 2013 U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) report: “The majority of shipyards are located in the coastal states, but there also are active shipyards on major inland waterways such as the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River, and the Ohio River. Employment in shipbuilding and repairing is concentrated in a relatively small number of coastal states, with the top five states accounting for 62 percent of all private employment in the shipbuilding and repairing industry… In 2011, the U.S. private shipbuilding and repairing industry directly provided 107,240 jobs… $7.9 billion in labor income, and $9.8 billion in gross domestic product, or GDP, to the national economy…. Including direct, indirect, and induced impacts, on a nationwide basis, total economic activity associated with the industry reached 402,010 jobs, $23.9 billion of labor income, and $36.0 billion in GDP in 2011.[3]

Aaron Klein, former deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the U.S. Treasury, argues the U.S. shipbuilding industry has been losing ground to foreign competitors, in part due to foreign subsidization of shipbuilding:

“Today, America ranks nineteenth in the world for commercial shipbuilding, accounting for approximately 0.35 percent of global new construction. Put another way, only one-third of one-percent of new commercial shipbuilding occurs in the United States, despite the fact that we are the world’s largest economy. What happened? While there were many factors at play in the decline of the shipbuilding industry, including global oversupply, recessions, and changing economic fundamentals, one policy decision stands out. For many years, countries around the world subsidized their national shipbuilding industries. The U.S. did so for a time through the payment of construction differential subsidies (CDS) but ceased this practice in 1981. When foreign shipbuilding companies gained the advantage of subsidization from their governments, and the U.S. shipbuilding companies had no comparable advantage, it was impossible for the American shipbuilding industry to compete.”[4]

As a result of aging and retiring mariners, the United States will also face a shortage of qualified crews to operate its ships, unless a new employment strategy is found, according to a U.S. Naval Institute report. By 2022, the United States will need ‘70,000 new people’ for the nation’s maritime fleet. The Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., and the six state maritime academies only graduate 900 people per year and are at capacity, quoting Paul Jaenichen Sr., Maritime Administrator, U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD).

Jaenichen testified before the House Armed Services Seapower subcommittee in 2016. He warned that ships in the National Defense Reserve Fleet and its subset, the Ready Reserve Fleet, also are aging—averaging almost 40 years old per vessel. He said the United States needs 40 more cargo ships under its flag as well as sufficient mariners to meet military surge demand. Right now, some current ships are steam-powered, needing parts that are no longer made. [5]

Unfortunately, supporting such savings and the build-up in American jobs, shipbuilding and ships is opposed by powerful globalization interests in Congress who want these jobs outsourced to foreign producers. Currently, U.S. shipbuilding, tug/barge, and mariner jobs, are protected by the Jones Act. However, special interests in Congress want to abolish the Jones Act and outsource American jobs to foreign shipyards and foreign mariners. Reflecting opposition to the Jones Act is the Heritage Foundation, a leading Washington think tank, which argues:

The Jones Act drives up shipping costs, increases energy costs, stifles competition, and hampers innovation in the U.S. shipping industry. Originally enacted to sustain the U.S. Merchant Marine, the law has instead fostered stagnation in the U.S. maritime shipping industry. Furthermore, the Jones Act fleet is unable to meet the needs of the U.S. military, which routinely charters foreign-built ships to fulfill additional sealift needs. The U.S. economy and the U.S. military would be better served without the Jones Act.”[6]

Proposed

U.S. investments in shipbuilding and shipping can fast track U.S. infrastructure modernization and national security:

  • Enhance U.S. Naval Security. The United States Navy is facing a decline in naval ships that is undermining its capabilities in Asia and around the world. Seth Cropsey, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower, warns: “While China’s naval power expands, America has deliberately reduced its presence on the seas. …… That means the U.S. fleet is less than half its size at the close of the Reagan administration nearly 30 years ago (and down by 13 ships since 2009).”[7] Presently, U.S. shipyards are not cost competitive with shipyards in Europe and Asia. If the United States is not to be dependent on foreign builders and foreign ocean carriers for its naval and military sealift needs, it will need new U.S. built ship.
  • Support Jones Act Protections to Promote New Shipbuilding and Shipping. The Jones Act continues to be attacked by advocates for outsourcing American mariner and shipbuilding jobs and replacing those jobs with subsidized foreign labor. The Jones Act, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, mandates that vessels sailing between U.S. ports must be ships or tug/barges built in the United States, manned by U.S. crews and primarily owned by U.S. citizens. Some U.S. carriers such as Matson and Pasha are ordering new cargo vessels to modernize their fleets but more needs to be done.
  • Reduce Truck Congestion and Emissions on Coastal Highways. A senior California Transportation official says that road and rail congestion at major California ports is reaching a saturation point and that it is time to start transporting containerized freight by water. Kome Ajise, Chief Deputy Director for the California Department of Transportation, told participants at a Los Angeles Sustainability Coalition Summit in 2016 that California port congestion requires relief by moving containerized truckloads on a waterborne/marine highway service. States lack the revenue to replace all the necessary roads and bridges. His proposal was to shift more coastal truckloads onto waterborne transportation such as tug/barges and ships.
  • Create New Shipbuilding and Shipping Jobs. Shipbuilding, according to the MARAD report, remains a major employer in the United States with a concentration in states adjoining the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River, and the Great Lakes. However, there is room for expansion to other coastal and inland parts of the country with new federal investment. The U.S. shipbuilding industry is a major generator of jobs including steel fabrication, piping, electrical systems, painting, propulsion and electrical control systems. At the same time, new U.S. built ships must each employ two sets of crews to rotate in the operation and maintenance of the vessel. So, both industries can help create new jobs and economic development.
  • Develop New Finance Strategy. New business can be quickly built up by loan guarantees that create public-private partnerships and require equity as security. Unfortunately, the MARAD loan guarantee program had been under attack by anti-spending politicians in Congress who, along with the Heritage Foundation, fail to see the value of new U.S. ships, new U.S. shipbuilding, and new U.S. jobs. An improved loan guarantee system that provides increased funding, more construction guarantees and fewer obstacles for new entrants than the existing program can fast-track new construction and jobs.
  • Expand Sustainable Freight Initiatives. New proven technology in batteries is available to deploy on the ships and tug barges of the future. These vessels will generate fewer emissions and lower fuel costs compared to conventional diesel-powered vessels. New international air quality standards are also driving ship owners and builders to look at lower emission and sustainable technologies for the global shipping market.
  • Fast-Track Development and Reduce Regulatory Delays. There needs to be a balance between respecting the environment and delaying projects for subjective reasons that do not pose valid environmental threats. For example, off-shore wind farms that fast-track zero-emission energy generation and other low emission projects have suffered from delays in regulatory approval for years as conflicting political interests sought delays in projects. These wind farms can be built in U.S. shipyards. In some cases, the objections to wind farms came from homeowners who did not want their ocean views spoiled by the sight of wind turbines. If President Trump can support fast-track approvals for new economic development including those that have low carbon and low emission impact, then the battle against global warming might still be won.
  • Support U.S. Maritime Academies. U.S. maritime academies, including the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in New York and the California Maritime Academy at Vallejo, can provide the workforce and research to support a maritime revitalization. Each academy annually graduates qualified mariners for vessel navigation and engine operations, as well as in logistics and management applications. America’s maritime institutions have the capability of producing the young men and women needed to build and operate the cutting-edge U.S. Merchant Marine of the future, but they, too, will need more federal funding for education and research.

Conclusion

As President, Donald Trump can keep his promise to the American people by upgrading and modernizing new maritime transportation and shipbuilding, using loan guarantees and public-private partnerships. This approach could reduce the cost of road and bridge spending along coastal and inland corridors at a far lower cost than for building new highways to relieve congestion.

New technologies including battery-powered ships, LNG, LPG-hybrids and off-shore wind farms can support low-emission development with the aid of deregulation, thus resulting in respect for the environment, while allowing U.S. shipping interests to improve commerce and get the United States back to work.

 

 

[1] https://www.marad.dot.gov/ships-and-shipping/federal-ship-financing-title-xi-program-homepage/project-requirements/

[2] See Frederic C. Lane, Ships for Victory: A History of Shipbuilding under the U.S. Maritime Commission in World War II (1951) xiii

[3] https://www.marad.dot.gov/wp-content/uploads/pdf/MARAD_Econ_Study_Final_Report_2013.pdf

[4] Aaron Klein, ‘Decline in U.S. Shipbuilding Industry: A Cautionary Tale of Foreign Subsidies Destroying U.S. Jobs’ http://www.openandfairskies.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Cautionary-Tale-Foreign-Subsidies-Destroying-U.S.-Jobs.pdf

[5] https://news.usni.org/2016/03/22/u-s-facing-looming-shortage-of-merchant-mariners

[6] http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/05/sink-the-jones-act-restoring-americas-competitive-advantage-in-maritime-related-industries

[7] http://www.wsj.com/articles/s-o-s-for-a-declining-american-navy-1452124971

Greece: Austerity Undermines Healthcare – MSF’s Dr. A. Veizis

Interview: Dr. Apostolos Veizis, Director of Medical Operational Support (Greece), Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), June 24, 2016

By Stas Margaronis

The Greek economic crisis of 2010 continues to undermine healthcare in Greece. Hospitals have experienced major cutbacks, medical insurance has been cut back due to unemployment and the treatment of disease has been adversely impacted, according to Dr. Apostolos Veizis, Director of Medical Operational Support (Greece) for Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

For example, Dr. Veizis noted “the cutbacks in the supply of needles resulted in drug users sharing needles with as many as ten different people and resulted in a 1,500% increase in HIV cases in central Athens in 2011. This then led to the spread of related infections such as TB (tuberculosis) and Hepatitis B & C.”

He noted: “In the hospitals, not only were there cutbacks in hospital spending, but people on pensions had their pensions cut substantially so that they were less able to afford the co-payment for items such as drugs. At the same time, generic drugs were not always available and people had to pay the higher cost of the non-generic drug. This should have prompted the Ministry of Health to switch over to generic drugs to buffer the impact on healthcare clients, but change was slow and many people couldn’t afford essential drugs anymore. In addition, there were many people in Greece who had lost their jobs and could not afford very much, so they too were impacted by the cutbacks in the healthcare system.”

Austerity Results In Vaccination Cutbacks In Greece

With government spending cutbacks came the cutback in vaccinations that is just now being addressed, Veizis said: “Organizations, such as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), are now helping to relieve vaccination needs, but problems persist. There is a problem with donations arriving from outside of Greece, due to lack of relevant regulation for taxation, etc. The Greek government needs to play a more assertive role coordinating policies and practices and resist making cuts which make a bad situation worse.”

Mental Health Impact

Compounding the problem has been a crisis in mental health: “Between 2009-2011, there was a 40% increase in suicides in Greece. People surveyed, who attempted but did not succeed in killing themselves, said economics and the loss of their job was a major cause.”

One tragedy provides evidence of the human toll:

“There is the story of the Greek man who lost his job and became so unhinged because he could not help his 80-year old mother that he threw her off the balcony of their apartment and then threw himself off. Both were killed. This is the kind of desperation we are living with.”

Refugee Crisis

Compounding the problems even further has been the increase in refugees arriving from Syria and Afghanistan:

“Refugees that came to Greece had unmet medical and humanitarian needs, and MSF increased its presence in the field from 12 (professionals) in 2014 to 700 (professionals) in 2016. These were doctors, medical support staff, logisticians, etc. deployed to help refugees. This number is likely to decrease as a result of the decrease in refugees, but there are still 56,000 refugees in Greece that are in limbo and are exposed to medical conditions due to the dismal conditions of the housing. You can see the problem in a different way when you see (Greek) people demanding an end to shelters for the homeless and for refugees. (The result is) they end up in the streets and in front of businesses where their exposure to vulnerability gets higher and their presence hurts the (Greek) daily life, having a negative effect on the very people who wanted them out of shelters.”

MSF relies almost exclusively on private donors for funding its work: “This provides us with an independence from political interference but it also allows us to work with refugees and indigenous people.”

MSF’s Role

MSF deploys people to treat disease and vaccinate people, but they also act as an advocate. Greece is in need of advocacy due to the continued deterioration of public health that has been caused by EU mandated austerity measures:

“As advocates in Greece, we have to encourage the Greek government to take a more active role in the healthcare crisis that has been caused by austerity measures. We need to advocate for access to a healthcare system for example that reduces drug costs by providing more generic drugs.”

Veizis says: “There is a need to house the 56,000 refugees; Greece is a country of 11 million. This is the best solution. Other EU countries now house their refugees; Greece needs to do the same and not allow them to live in tents where they and their children are exposed to disease.”

How Greek-Americans Can Help

Finally, he urges Greek-Americans to take a more active role with the U.S. government in calling for an end to austerity measures: “Greek-Americans can help by providing support for Greece, providing advocacy for our plight and encouraging the governments to make the plight of people living in Greece more clear to the European Union and the world. Last, but not least, by advocating for people living in Greece you send out the message that we are not alone.”

 

CALIFORNIA SUSTAINABLE FREIGHT PLAN DOWNPLAYS SHIPS

BY: STAS MARGARONIS

 

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and other California agencies issued the 2016 “California Sustainable Freight Action Plan” (Action Plan), “an unprecedented effort, intended to integrate investments, policies, and programs across several State agencies to help realize a singular vision for California’s freight transport system.”

The Action Plan says, “California has … set new, aggressive targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 in order to combat climate change. Reducing emissions in the freight sector is critical to meeting these 2030 targets.”

However, the Action Plan does not recognize the potential of ships and tug/barges to significantly reduce emissions. One small, coastal ship can transport over 300 containerized truckloads utilizing 10% of the horsepower and generating as much as 80% less emissions than trucks.

The Action Plan expects sustainable freight transport objectives to be achieved primarily by truck and rail, but maritime transportation can play a major role.

The Action Plan goes on to say, “California’s freight transportation system has already successfully undergone major improvements towards shared efficiency and environmental objectives. Proposition 1B passed by voters in 2006, provided almost $20 billion in funding for California transportation infrastructure, with over $2 billion dedicated to the improvement of the State’s freight network and $1 billion in funding for cleaner freight vehicles and equipment.”

The Action Plan praised the role of California’s largest ports: “Large ports have adopted clean air action plans and many regional planning organizations have adopted regional freight plans that prioritize infrastructure improvements.”

The Action Plan highlights the efforts of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach where improvements include automated cranes, deeper berths, expanded on-dock rail, a solar-powered microgrid and zero and near-zero emission vehicles. These investments “increase the capacity and throughput of terminals, reduce truck trips, and improve air quality near the ports.”

The Action Plan also cites the efforts of The Pasha Group and Long Beach Container Terminal (LBCT).

The result is that the Ports and their partners “have invested billions of dollars in advanced technology to improve efficiency, competitiveness, and air quality at west coast seaports.”

CARB’S ANALYSIS OF MARITIME TRANSPORTATION

The 2016 Action Plan does not recognize the potential of ships and tug/barges to move large volumes of freight by water generating low to zero emissions. The California Air Resources Board’s “Sustainable Freight: Pathways to Zero and Near-Zero Emissions (discussion draft dated April, 2015)” was used as the basis for the 2016 Action Plan. Unfortunately, it did not include the latest data on improvements in ship designs, performance, fuel-savings and emission reductions.

In the 2015 draft, CARB did not account for new developments in marine propulsion and shipping: On pages 59-60 of the 2015 CARB draft, emission projections for ocean-going vessels (OGV) are based on the 2011 CARB report entitled, “Emissions Estimation Methodology for Ocean-Going Vessels”, in which the footnotes and references related to vessel emissions are based on 2008 data and earlier.[1]

Examples of deficiencies in CARB’s analyses are as follows:

1) The CARB 2011 report lists the average container ship speed as 23 knots (see page D-13), but today most container ships have slowed their speeds down to around 16 knots which substantially reduces ship fuel consumption and emissions.

2) The 2011 report reference to ‘Hoteling’ on page D-11 does not discuss or account for emission reductions achieved by shore power, which are electrical connections between ships and harbor berths, such as at Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland. It is a CARB mandate that many ship engines must be shut down and powered by shore-side power, so as to reduce emissions in California ports.

3) A battery-powered ferry, the Ampere, is operating in Norway and could provide ideas for zero-emission waterborne applications in California.[2]

4) Similarly, a new Scandlines hybrid ferry service using battery-powered ships operates between Denmark and Germany.[3] The batteries are made by Corvus Energy and were featured at a hybrid ship exposition in Amsterdam last June.

5) Since 2008, there have been major changes in ship designs and construction of mega-container ships that further reduce fuel consumption and GHG emissions.

6) The cumulative effect of these omissions is that CARB needs to revise its emission projections for ocean-going vessels and reconsider the viability of ships and tug/barges for sustainable freight services in California.

Also, the Port of Stockton commissioned a study on the potential impact of the M-580 tug/barge service that carried containerized truckloads between the Ports of Stockton and Oakland until 2014. The study found that the tug/barge had the capacity to reduce GHG and other emissions by 79% per containerized truckload, even when powered by diesel fuel.[4]

The fundamental reason why ships and tug/barges are ideal sustainable freight transport candidates is that they require substantially less horsepower than trucks for long-haul transportation:

One ship carrying 331 forty-foot containers is powered by a 13,142 horsepower engine.[5] Transporting a similar load by road would require 331 trucks, each powered by a 375 horsepower engine, and requires 124,125 horsepower.

The only reference to the potential of maritime transportation in the 2016 Action Plan occurs in an appendix on page E-1, which states under the heading ‘Inland Marine Corridors’: “A barge service moving among the ports of Oakland, Stockton, and West Sacramento holds promise for increased freight volumes and capacity. Public and private benefits could include reduced emissions and congestion on nearby Interstate 580 corridor. The barge service also offers an opportunity for the State to establish a zero or near-zero emission freight corridor, with the use of low emission marine vessels.”

GOVERNOR BROWN’S 2015 EXECUTIVE ORDER

The impetus for the sustainable freight transport report and plan was California Governor Edmund G. Brown’s executive order B-32-15. Issued in July 2015, it provides “a vision for California’s transition to a more efficient, more economically competitive, and less polluting freight transport system.”

As a first key step, the Governor’s executive order directed the California State Transportation Agency, California’s Environmental Protection Agency, CARB and others to develop a California Sustainable Freight Action Plan by 2016: “This Action Plan is an unprecedented effort, intended to integrate investments, policies, and programs across several State agencies to help realize a singular vision for California’s freight transport system.”

The Action Plan includes recommendations on the following:

  • A long-term 2050 Vision and Guiding Principles for California’s future freight transport system.
  • Targets for 2030 to guide the State.
  • Opportunities to leverage State freight transport system investments.
  • Actions to initiate over the next 5 years.
  • Pilot projects to achieve progress.
  • Additional concepts for further exploration.

The Action Plan is not intended to replace plans such as the California Freight Mobility Plan or other regional goods movement plans. Rather it is intended to provide “a new perspective regarding the sustainability of the freight system.”

CALIFORNIA’S FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM IN 2030 AND BEYOND

The Action Plan notes that the Governor’s executive order emphasizes the need to transition to a more efficient and less polluting freight transport system:

  • Preserving and enhancing freight infrastructure
  • Increasing system efficiency and capacity
  • Improving safety and security
  • Reducing exposure to air toxics
  • More protective air quality standards
  • Climate change goals

Governor Brown further identified five key climate change strategies to help achieve 2030 emission targets:

  • Reducing petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent.
  • Increasing the amount of electricity derived from renewable sources to 50 percent.
  • Doubling the efficiency savings achieved at existing buildings.
  • Reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants.
  • Managing natural and working lands so they can store carbon.

 

Footnotes

[1] http://www.arb.ca.gov/regact/2011/ogv11/ogv11appd.pdf

[2] http://www.eaem.co.uk/news/worlds-first-battery-powered-electric-ferry-enters-service

[3] http://www.scandlines.com/en/about-scandlines/newferry.aspx

[4] Port of Stockton, “Air Quality/Greenhouse Gas Technical Report for the Short-Sea Shipping Project” (2010)

[5] 9800 KW engine = 13,142 horsepower see: http://www.nordenshipdesign.com/yuklenen/pdf/container.pdf

CARB: IGNORING SHIPS AND TUGS AS SUSTAINABLE FREIGHT TRANSPORTERS?

BY STAS MARGARONIS

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been a trailblazer in reducing emissions in California and is now engaged in a new initiative to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) in the transportation of freight. The result could be a transformation of the California economy that will make California the role model for the world.

CARB is holding hearings on its 2015 “Sustainable Freight” draft in which it proposes that California freight transportation be shifted away from fossil fuel engines to zero emission power.

Unfortunately, the use of waterborne transportation to help California achieve the zero emission goal has been largely ignored by CARB. This means that the potential for significantly less congestion and less emissions transporting freight by ship and tug/barge could be lost.

Lack of Waterborne Transportation Focus in CARB Sustainable Freight Draft

In the draft, CARB did not research new developments in marine propulsion and shipping. In the California Air Resources Board, Sustainable Freight: Pathways to Zero and Near-Zero Emissions (discussion draft dated April, 2015) on pages 59-60, emission projections for ocean-going vessels (OGV) are based on a 2011 CARB report entitled, “Emissions Estimation Methodology for Ocean-Going Vessels” which is out of date. The footnotes and references related to vessel emissions are based on 2007 data and earlier.[1]

The reason using outdated information from a 2011 report is a problem is that a lot has happened since 2007 and is missing from CARB’s 2015 Sustainable Freight draft:

1) The 2011 report lists the average container ship speed as 23 knots (see page D-13), but today most container ships have slowed their speeds down to 16 knots which substantially reduces ship fuel consumption and emissions.

2) The 2011 report reference to ‘Hoteling’ on page D-11 does not discuss or account for emissions reduction achieved by shore power (electrical) connections between ships and harbor berths, such as at Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland. This is a CARB mandate that ship engines must be shut down so as to reduce emissions in California ports.

3) A battery powered ferry, the Ampere, is operating in Norway and could provide for waterborne freight applications in California.[2]

4) Similarly, a new hybrid ferry using battery power is about to begin service between Denmark and Germany. This also deserves research into possible applications in California.[3]

5) Since 2007, there has been a major change in ship designs and construction of mega-container ships that further reduce fuel consumption and GHG emissions.

6) The cumulative effect of these omissions is that CARB may need to revise its emission projections for ocean-going vessels and reconsider the viability of waterborne transportation.

One additional small fact: Tesla is looking at possible battery-powered ships

The result is that the CARB Sustainable Freight draft does not take into account the role of coastal/marine highway shipping as a mode to move thousands of long-haul truckloads along California’s I-5 corridor and dramatically reduce emissions.

The Port of Stockton commissioned a study on the potential impact of the M-580 tug/ barge service that carried containerized truckloads between the Ports of Stockton and Oakland until 2014. The study found that the tug/barge had the capacity to reduce GHG and other emissions by 80% per containerized truckload-even when powered by diesel fuel.[4]

New coastal/marine highway ships can reduce fuel consumption and emissions because ships are a more efficient transporter of freight than trucks for long-haul routes. One ship carrying 350 forty-foot containers is powered by a 12,954 horsepower engine.[5] Transporting a similar load by road would require 350 trucks, each powered by a 375 horsepower engine requires 131,250 horsepower.

The lack of emphasis on ships and tugs as freight transporters is also evident in the way the CARB draft defines California’s ‘Freight Transport System’:

“The vehicles and equipment that move freight range from aircraft and ocean-going vessels for international transport, to locomotives and trucks for interstate transport, and smaller trucks/vans and harbor craft for in-state operations.”[6]

Two transportation officials say that CARB does not consider waterborne transportation to be a viable sustainable freight option because ships and tug/barges burn diesel fuel and cannot viably be powered by any sustainable source. These officials suggest this was CARB’s reason for largely excluding waterborne transportation and marine highway shipping from the Sustainable Freight draft.

An added factor is politics. Some California ports, who have provided input to CARB on the Sustainable Freight draft, have been resistant to the marine highway shipping concept. This is because containers that are picked up and delivered by coastal/marine highway vessels are likely to generate less revenue for the ports than truck or rail transport. Thus, some port executives cite the discontinuation of the M-580 tug/barge service between Stockton and Oakland as ‘proof’ that coastal/marine highway shipping is not viable. However, harbor trucking costs at major California ports have nearly doubled in the last two years and so the M-580 tug/barge would be very cost competitive today. The distance between the Ports of Stockton and Oakland is 75 miles.

Smaller ports such as Stockton, Sacramento and even Oakland could benefit from the new coastal/marine highway business. A Caltrans official has been encouraging California ports to consider marine highway shipping as a means to relieve port congestion and emission generation. CARB needs to follow the Caltrans lead.

San Joaquin Valley trucking companies are also showing interest in the marine highway following the M-580 tug/barge experience. They saw that picking up and dropping container loads at smaller ports such as Stockton and Sacramento is much faster and results in less delays and congestion than at larger ports such as Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland.

Less congestion also means less emissions.

Personal Experience

When the CARB draft came out in April 2015, I contacted the CARB Ombudsman’s office where a staff person put me in touch with a CARB staffer working on the Sustainable Freight draft. I explained to the CARB staffer that there were a number of innovations going on in the maritime industry that were driving ships and tugs to generate less emissions and become more sustainable.

I urged that CARB look at the potential of a coastal/marine highway service to reduce long-haul truckloads off the I-5 corridor. This type of service could substantially reduce emissions generated by long-haul trucks. The staff person was very polite and promised to set up a time for me to meet with CARB staff to discuss my ideas and case studies.  Unfortunately, there was no follow up from the CARB staffer.

I persisted in asking for a response from CARB and finally got a response from the CARB staffer in May 2016.  The staffer wrote in an email: “We do talk about Inland Marine Corridors.  It is discussed in Appendix E–Discussion Concepts for Potential Future Action.”

Unfortunately, the Appendix E language does not make clear that a firm commitment to support the marine highway will result:

The State agencies will continue to gather more detail on the concepts described here, and will develop any subsequent actions through separate public processes. As the State agencies move forward, the concepts may change, be adjusted or new concepts may be added. Implementation of these concepts and any subsequently identified actions will also be conditional based on applicable public processes, necessary financing approvals, and environmental reviews….”

One transportation official who has been following the Sustainable Freight draft process described the treatment of waterborne freight transportation in the CARB draft as superficial.

The Need for Coastal/Marine Highway Shipping

Since 2015, an estimated 1,000 additional truckloads travel daily along California’s I-5 corridor between the Ports of Los Angeles (LA) and Long Beach and San Joaquin Valley distribution centers and farmers, according to California port officials. The reason is: as more mega-container ships arrive at the Los Angeles/Long Beach ports, ocean carriers are cutting back on service to the smaller Port of Oakland, causing increased trucking on the I-5 corridor between Southern and Northern California.

Caltrans Official Endorses Coastal/Marine Highway

A senior California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) official says that road and rail congestion at major California ports is reaching a saturation point and that it is time to start transporting containerized freight by water.

Kome Ajise, chief deputy director for Caltrans, told participants at a Los Angeles Sustainability Coalition Summit on April 5th that California port congestion requires relief by moving containerized truckloads on a waterborne/marine highway service using coastal ships and tug/barges.

Ajise said that California, like other states, is financially constrained by decreased revenues from its traditional base of gas taxes as a result of improved fuel efficiencies in cars and trucks. He added that California needs to move truck traffic off freeways to reduce the maintenance costs on its roads and bridges.

A fleet of new U.S.-built container ships can significantly reduce long-haul trucking on I-5. Also, vessels can reduce truck emissions by as much as 80% per truckload, according to the Port of Stockton report.

As a reflection of growing confidence in the concept, the U.S. Maritime Administration is supporting several new marine highway projects proposed for the Mississippi River and Lake Erie.[7]

Conclusion

The CARB Sustainable Freight initiative can have a transformative effect in modernizing freight transportation in California. However, CARB should study the potential of hybrid, battery and other low emission developments powering new ships, tugboats and ferries.

CARB should encourage California port executives to drop their opposition to coastal/marine highway shipping so as to reduce emissions and congestion at major California ports and along California’s 1-5 corridor. This will reduce port truck traffic and also reduce the $10 billion projected price tag for widening the 710 freeway linking the Los Angeles/Long Beach ports to the I-5 freeway and to Southern California distribution centers.

This will also create new shipping business for smaller ports such as Oakland, Stockton, Sacramento, Richmond, San Francisco and others.

CARB could be the catalyst for this maritime modal shift that might also make it possible to build the ships and tugboats in California creating new jobs, economic development and zero emission marine power.

California’s sustainable freight system could be the role model for the world.[8]

 

[1] http://www.arb.ca.gov/regact/2011/ogv11/ogv11appd.pdf

[2] http://www.eaem.co.uk/news/worlds-first-battery-powered-electric-ferry-enters-service

[3] http://www.scandlines.com/en/about-scandlines/newferry.aspx

[4] Port of Stockton, “Air Quality/Greenhouse Gas Technical Report for the Short-Sea Shipping Project” (2010)

[5] 9660 KW engine = 12954.2734 horsepower see: http://www.containership-info.com/misc_publ_feedergrowth.pdf

[6] http://www.arb.ca.gov/gmp/sfti/Sustainable_Freight_Draft_4-3-2015.pdf, page 8

[7] http://www.joc.com/maritime-news/new-us-marine-highways-aimed-flexibility-inland-transport_20160502.html

[8] Stas Margaronis is president of the Propeller Club of Northern California. He is an advocate for the marine highway and for building new, fuel-efficient and low emissions ships in the United States. His opinions are his own.

PORT OF STOCKTON: SAN JOAQUIN RIVER NAVIGATIONAL CHALLENGES

BY STAS MARGARONIS

 

ATTRACTING BUSINESS TO THE PORT OF STOCKTON

The Port of Stockton (POS), located in California’s San Joaquin Valley, is positioned near many distribution centers serving Northern California. It is also the nearest port for many San Joaquin Valley farm exporters who currently ship out of the Ports of Oakland, Los Angeles and Long Beach. The POS could be an import and export embarkation point for containers going to and from the major California ports, but navigational problems complicate establishing scheduled services for container shipping. A tug/barge M-580 service between the Ports of Stockton and Oakland reduced truck traffic along the I-580 freeway corridor, but was discontinued after operational and marketing problems. There are efforts being made to revive the M-580 service.

Waterborne access to and from the POS is challenging more vessels with deeper drafts. The reasons are: daylight limitations, shallow stretches that can only be negotiated at high tide, fog, the need for maintenance dredging to keep the ship channel at 33 feet and now, a seasonal water hyacinth infestation that prevents ships from docking at night undermining turnaround times and productivity.

The navigational and safety issues that impede maritime traffic flow on the San Joaquin River are:

  • The Benicia-Martinez Rail Drawbridge (aka Union Pacific Railroad Bridge) built in 1930 is old and in need of replacement.
  • Funding is needed to replace antiquated levees along the San Joaquin River that could fail in an earthquake or heavy rain causing flooding to the surrounding communities and a breakdown in waterborne traffic.
  • Fog and shallow areas of the river slow and stop waterborne traffic leading to delays and schedule uncertainties.
  • The seasonal water hyacinth threat to navigation.

BACKGROUND

In 2015, the POS had 247 ship arrivals compared to 230 ship arrivals in 2014. Port Director Richard Aschieris noted that cargo volume was down slightly to 3.87 million metric tons in 2015, from 4.11 million metric tons in 2014, reflecting a change in the mix of cargo being moved through Stockton. “As things change, as demands change for cargo, what we’re handling is always changing,” he said. Coal exports, which have been the leading tonnage cargo, slipped to a projected 1.07 million metric tons in 2015 from 1.74 million metric tons in 2014. The decline was due in part to the high U.S. dollar making the price to foreign buyers too expensive.[1]

The Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, or California Delta (Delta), is an expansive inland river delta and estuary in Northern California in the United States. The Delta is formed at the western edge of the Central Valley by the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and lies just east of where the rivers enter Suisun Bay. The Delta is recognized for protection by the California Bays and Estuaries Policy. The city of Stockton is located on the San Joaquin River on the eastern edge of the Delta. The total area of the Delta, including both land and water, is about 1,100 square miles (2,800 km2).

The Delta was formed by the raising of sea levels following glaciation leading to the accumulation of Sacramento and San Joaquin River sediments behind the Carquinez Strait, the sole outlet from the Central Valley to San Pablo and San Francisco Bays and the Pacific Ocean. The narrowness of the Carquinez Strait coupled with tidal action has caused the sediment to pile up forming expansive islands. Geologically, the Delta has existed for about 10,000 years since the end of the last Ice Age. In its natural state, the Delta was a large freshwater marsh consisting of many shallow channels and sloughs surrounding low islands of peat and tule.

Since the mid-19th century, most of the region has been gradually claimed for agriculture. Wind erosion and oxidation have led to widespread subsidence on the Central Delta islands; much of the California Delta region today sits below sea level behind levees earning it the nickname “California’s Holland“. Much of the water supply for central and southern California is also derived from here via pumps located at the southern end of the Delta which deliver water for irrigation in the San Joaquin Valley and municipal water supply for southern California.[2]

SAN JOAQUIN RIVER NAVIGATIONAL CHALLENGES

The “SAN FRANCISCO BAR PILOTS OPERATIONS GUIDELINES FOR THE MOVEMENT OF VESSELS ON SAN FRANCISCO BAY AND TRIBUTARIES” is the authority on operating vessels to and from the Port of Stockton.[3]

A key transit point is The Benicia-Martinez Rail Drawbridge (aka the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge) built in 1930. It has been described as “an old, rusty metal railroad bridge between Martinez, California and Benicia, California which is located between the North-bound bridge and South-bound bridges carrying I-680 freeway traffic.” The metal Benicia-Martinez Rail Drawbridge is a crucial bridge for mariners because it represents both the governing height restriction for ships and poses the narrowest passage point for waterborne transportation. The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway and Amtrak have trackage rights, as well as the Union Pacific Railroad. The drawbridge’s lift span horizontal clearance is 291 feet and vertical clearances are 70 feet (closed) and 135 feet (open).[4]

There has been growing concern by California and Federal agencies about the aging bridge.[5] Shipping executives worry that the bridge may one day malfunction and either not be able to go down or lift up.  Such malfunction could:

*Stop rail traffic

*Stop daily vessel transits

*Stop both

The result could be a goods movement stoppage that could last for years if the bridge needs to be replaced. The Benicia-Martinez Rail Drawbridge is owned and repaired by the Union Pacific Railroad.

According to the Bar Pilots’ Guidelines:

“a. During average tidal conditions, vessels can normally pass without time restrictions if the air draft is no higher than 132 feet.

b. Vessels 800’ or longer, or beam greater than or equal to 130’, must transit the bridge at or near slack water and daylight only.

c. Any vessel of PANAMAX Class or larger or with air draft of more than 132′ must coordinate with the Operations Pilot.

d. Maximum beam permitted will be 140’ or less.”[6]

The Guidelines also lay out the following:

SACRAMENTO AND STOCKTON

1. Transit Drafts

Contact the Operations Pilot for maximum allowable transit drafts.

Deep drafts for specific transits may be decreased depending on navigation factors such as date, time, tidal conditions, soundings, weather conditions, vessel size and type, etc.

During the period from December to April, rapid shoaling may occur on the river. The pilots may be notified by the Army Corps of Engineers or receive other information of depth changes/shoaling requiring maximum drafts to change on very short notice.

All transit drafts refer to fresh water drafts.

All vessels should have 1’ (30 cm.) drag by-the-stern.[7]

2. Size Limitations

In general, the narrow channel limits the size of vessels above New York Point to the PANAMAX class (750’ LOA x 106’ beam).

Contact the Operations Pilot before scheduling any vessels over 700’ LOA.

Vessels over 520’ LOA and/or 73’ beam should adjust drafts to have a minimum one (1) foot trim by the stern.

3. Air Draft

The air draft limit for an unrestricted transit during an average tidal cycle is 132 feet.

Vessels with an air draft of greater than 132 feet should contact the Operations Pilot for allowable transit time.

4. Daylight Transits

The following vessels will be allowed daylight transits only:

i. 650’ and above LOA;

ii. 100’ and above beam;

iii. vessels with severely limited visibility due to design or other factors;

iv. vessels with a deep draft exceeding 31.0’ (9.45 m.)

5. Rapid Shoaling

During the period from December to April, rapid shoaling may occur on the river. The pilot may be notified by the Army Corps of Engineers or receive other information of depth changes requiring drafts to be changed with very short notice.

6. Underkeel Clearance

See page 7, 2. Minimum Underkeel Clearance (UKC) for recommendations[8]

7. Fog Season

From November to March, frequent periods of severely restricted visibility occur. Considerable Delays may be experienced. Contact the Operations Pilot to schedule the most expeditious transit time to avoid the fog.[9]

Other points of reference are:

1)  The San Francisco Bar Pilot Station is located approximately 12 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge. Transit time between the San Francisco Bar Pilot Station to the POS roughly ranges between 8 to 10 hours depending upon the individual characteristics of the vessel.

2) There are shallow points in the San Joaquin River which cannot be transited until high tide. Vessel transit times are subject to delays at certain areas on the river that are very shallow at low tide. Find the best online pokies and win jackpot! The vessel must wait until a high tide allows sufficient draft for passage.  This is particularly true in the summertime when a lack of rain reduces the water level in the river. Currently, the maximum allowable deep draft is 33 feet of fresh water with a minimum 1-foot drag by the stern. Allowable drafts can change on very short notice. There are 1.5 tide stages involved with a 9-hour transit. Currently the main controlling depth is just off Antioch, California, but the pilots still must also take into consideration other controlling depths along the way – each at varying tide stages.[10]

3) In the wintertime, heavy rain creates pressure on aging levees along the river. As a result, pilots and the U.S. Coast Guard will slow or delay transit of the vessel if its displacement of water was to cause the levees to move. There have been proposals to replace these levees because of the threat of massive flooding to San Joaquin Valley residents and farmland if the levees collapse. A 2011 New York Times Magazine report noted: “Starting in the 1870s, farmers began building 1,100 miles of levees around the delta to control floodwaters and create farmland out of Tule marshes. Today, many of those levees are old, decrepit and leaking. Jeffrey Mount, a geologist at the University of California, Davis, predicts that there is a 64 percent chance of a catastrophic levee failure in the delta in the next 50 years.” The state of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region is drawing growing criticism because of the need for a strategy to replace aging levees or dikes. A 2012 American Planning Association report charges, “California’s Delta is failing, and no entity seems able to change this. The sweeping economic, governance, resource management and land-use planning changes that are needed to reverse the trend are simply not politically feasible — at least not until a calamity makes a continued stalemate less desirable than decisive action.”[12]

4) As referenced in the Bar Pilots’ Guidelines, there are fog problems in the winter and summer that delay ships. In the summertime, coastal fog at the Golden Gate Bridge (GGB) can cause delays for vessels transiting between the GGB and New York Point. In the wintertime, Tule fog causes visibility problems that will force vessels to heave to.  Tule fog is a thick ground fog that settles in the San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento Valley. Tule fog forms from late fall through early spring (California’s rainy season) after the first significant rainfall. The official time frame for Tule fog to form is from November 1 to March 31. This phenomenon is named after the Tule wetlands (tulares) of the Central Valley. Tule fog is the leading cause of weather-related accidents in California.[13]

5) Shipowners and captains have raised concerns about the shallow draft at POS piers.  However, recent dredging, if maintained, should ensure that the advertised draft at the piers and the ship channel is 33 feet.

6) The water hyacinth problem that has developed in recent years has delayed ships from moving in and out of POS. Following summer growth, the infestation becomes so dense that the piers at POS cannot be distinguished on the radar at night, according to POS officials. Increased funding from the State of California is being invested to slow the infestation usually by spraying.[14]  This practice has raised concerns about toxins in the river. The greener solution may lie in the investment of one or more water harvesters to reduce the water hyacinth growth at POS berths and at the City of Stockton waterfront.[15]

7) The M-580 tug/barge service provided for barges, cranes and improvements for on-dock rail. The service transported containers between the Ports of Stockton and Oakland relieving truck traffic congestion on the I-580 freeway. The failure of this service was due to slow acceptance by shippers. The concerns were compounded by start-up operational issues. Many shippers now wish the M-580 tug/barge service was restarted because of truck congestion at Port of Oakland terminal gates and along the I-580 corridor. A Port of Stockton report found that each container transported by tug/barge reduced carbon emissions by 80% compared to transport by truck on the I-580 freeway.[16] There are now efforts being made to revive the M-580 service.

 

[1] http://www.portofstockton.com/port-sees-record-in-ship-traffic

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacramento%E2%80%93San_Joaquin_River_Delta

[3] http://sfbarpilots.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/GuidelinesHighlighted.pdf

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benicia%E2%80%93Martinez_Bridge#Railroad_bridge

[5] http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_26525724/crude-by-rail-one-federal-inspector-oversees-all

[6] http://sfbarpilots.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/GuidelinesHighlighted.pdf

[7] The S.F. Bar Pilots advise that this “requirement is expected to be amended to change “drag” to “trim” and state that if a vessel is not trimmed at least 1’ by the stern, it will be moved by daylight only.”

[8] The keel runs in the middle of the ship, from the bow to the stern, and serves as a basic foundation or spine of the structure, providing the major source of structural strength of the hull.

[9] Ibid.

[10] http://sfbarpilots.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/GuidelinesHighlighted.pdf

[11] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/03/magazine/sacramento-levees-pose-risk-to-california-and-the-country.html?_r=0

[12] See American Planning Association report: https://www.planning.org/planning/2012/jan/waterwarriorsside1.htm

[13] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tule_fog

[14] http://www.recordnet.com/article/20150601/NEWS/150609956

[15] Port of Stockton officials

[16] Port of Stockton, “Air Quality/Greenhouse Gas Technical Report for the Short-Sea Shipping Project” (2010)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“THE FINEST HOURS” MOVIE REVIEW

BY STAS MARGARONIS

The movie “The Finest Hours” is based on the true story of the U.S. Coast Guard rescue of the crew of a T-2 tanker that broke up in a violent storm off the Massachusetts coast in 1952.

The successful rescue of the T-2 tanker crew was the result of the heroism of the U.S. Coast Guard Lifeboat Station crew at Chatham, Massachusetts and the U.S. chief engineer and his shipmates on the stricken tanker, S.S. Pendleton.

The movie is a testament to the U.S. Coast Guard’s vital role in maritime safety and rescues at sea.

On February 18, 1952, the T-2 tanker, S.S. Pendleton, broke in half in 40-60-foot seas and 70-knot winds off the coast of Cape Cod. The U.S. Coast Guard Chatham Lifeboat Station dispatched Petty Officer Bernie Webber with a crew of three in a wooden, 36-foot-long Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat CG 36500 to search for the S.S. Pendleton. In almost impossible conditions, Webber and his crew crossed Chatham bar, located the ship and rescued 32 of the S.S. Pendleton crew survivors in a boat designed for 12 people. During the crossing of the Chatham bar, huge waves smashed against the rescue boat causing the windshield to shatter into pieces and tearing the compass from its mounts. The result was the U.S. Coast Guard crew had no compass to guide them to the tanker. The crew was left with only a searchlight to help them locate the Pendleton in the darkness.[1]

It is considered to be the greatest small boat rescue in history.

Remarkably, the stern of the S.S. Pendleton remained relatively intact after the ship broke apart. Chief Engineer Raymond Sybert organized the 33 surviving crew members who manned the pumps and kept the aft part of the tanker afloat until the Coast Guard boat arrived to rescue the crew. One Pendleton crew member was killed during the rescue.

The movie, “The Finest Hours,” starring Chris Pine and Casey Affleck is in movie theaters now.

The movie is based on the book “The Finest Hours” by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman. It goes into more detail and provides the factual record and history of the rescue. A U.S. Coast Guard investigation in 1952 stated T-2s were prone to splitting in two in cold weather and they were then “belted” with steel straps. This occurred after two T-2s, the Pendleton and Fort Mercer, split in two off Cape Cod within hours of each other. Engineering inquiries into the problems suggested at first the tendency of the tankers to split in two was due to poor welding techniques. Later, it was concluded the steel used in the war time construction had too high a sulfur content that turned the steel brittle at lower temperatures.[2] For mariners interested in the rescue boat crew’s challenges and the success of the chief engineer and crew in keeping the aft of the Pendleton afloat, please read the Tougias book.

A more detailed review of the movie by Rick Spilman appears in the mariners’ news site, gCaptain: https://gcaptain.com/finest-hours-greatest-small-boat-rescue-history-review/?utm_source=gCaptain+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=99ad13bce4-Mailchimp_RSS_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_f50174ef03-99ad13bce4-151817317#.Vri0FCm9Kc0

[1] http://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/finest-hours/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T2_tanker

PROPOSED MAINE FLOATING WIND FARM PROJECT ON SCHEDULE

PROPOSED MAINE FLOATING WIND FARM PROJECT ON SCHEDULE

BY STAS MARGARONIS, RBTUS

Construction of two floating wind turbines, each generating 6MW (megawatts) of electricity, is scheduled to begin in 2017 for deployment off the coast of Maine.

Professor Habib Dagher, executive director of the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center and principal investigator for the DeepCwind Consortium, told RBTUS that the terms for a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Maine Public Utilities Commission are in place so that the wind power from the demonstration project will be purchased by Central Maine Power.

12 megawatts can provide power for 6,000 homes, he said.

Dagher said power generated by the Aqua Ventus wind turbine demonstration project is scheduled to “send the first electron to the grid in 2018.”

In November, the demonstration project received a $3.7 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The Maine project is building a concrete hull in the United States rather than sourcing a steel hull for its floating wind turbines from abroad. Dagher says the concrete hull will reduce the construction cost of the floating wind turbines by almost half of what similar sized turbines would cost constructed at a Korean shipyard and delivered to the United States. In addition, the deployment of floating wind turbines rather than wind turbines with fixed foundations in the sea bed, such as those already deployed in Northern Europe, will provide further cost advantages.

The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center and its partners launched the first U.S. floating wind turbine in May, 2013. Data collected from the single VolturnUS 1:8 scale floating wind turbine supported the viability of the floating concrete-composite hull. The prototype — the first floating concrete-composite wind turbine deployed in the world — remained off the coast of Castine, Maine for 18 months.

Over 50 onboard sensors measured wave, wind and current motions and stresses on the floating platform. The 1:8 scale floating unit weathered 37 storms and endured relative wave heights equivalent to 70 feet. Data collected was used to further optimize the full-scale 6MW concrete-composite hull design.

However, economies of scale for delivering power at utility rates competitive with oil and gas will require a wind farm much larger than the 12MW demonstration project, Dagher said.

The demonstration project has “collected the necessary environmental data to move ahead,” Dagher said.

The project has avoided the lengthy federal approval process by locating the proposed wind turbines within Maine’s coastal waters, rather then further out to sea where the project would have fallen under federal jurisdiction.

Dagher explained: “We continue to make significant progress by demonstrating the technical advantages and cost reductions of the VolturnUS floating concrete hull ….wind technology. Our team is busy putting the final touches on the design of the 6MW hull for the two-turbine, 12MW demonstration project. The additional (DOE) funding will help us complete all aspects of the project planning, negotiate supply contracts with industrial partners and approach financial close for the project.”

New England/Maine Aqua Ventus is part of the DOE’s offshore wind portfolio under the Offshore Wind Advanced Technology Demonstration Projects, along with projects from Virginia, New Jersey, Oregon and Ohio.

Decisions on which of the five projects advance and receive an additional $40 million will be made by DOE by May 31, 2016.