Cargo Congestion: An Update

Cargo Congestion: An Update

For the past two years, West Coast cargo congestion has dominated headlines as dozens of vessels at anchor wait to come into seaports and stacks of containers linger at terminals, exposing an already fragile supply chain. The congestion problem -- which stemmed from the pandemic-driven cargo volumes that shattered records last year -- caught the attention of the federal government, which announced it is prioritizing strengthening the supply chain with billions of dollars of investment in port and waterway infrastructure. While consumer demand has slowed a bit from last year’s record pace of goods flowing into U.S. ports, it nonetheless…
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Cargo Congestion: Expert Forecasts

Cargo Congestion: Expert Forecasts

As the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are expected to eventually shift more of their spending from goods to services, but ongoing gridlock at seaports and recent efforts to decarbonize container vessels may continue to affect ocean freight rates in the trans-Pacific. So said experts at a Feb. 28 panel at the Journal of Commerce’s TPM22 Conference in Long Beach, Calif. The panel of experts - which included Rahul Kapoor, vice president and head of commodity research, maritime and trade at IHS Markit, and Thorsten Meincke, a board member for logistics company DB Schenker, spoke about the container…
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Doubling On-Dock Rail Capacity:  The Port of Long Beach’s Pier B Project

Doubling On-Dock Rail Capacity: The Port of Long Beach’s Pier B Project

Without much fanfare, the stage is being set for a $1.55 billion, decade-long project to nearly double the Port of Long Beach’s (POLB) on-dock rail-service capability. The project is advancing as Long Beach plans for a continuation of growth after its 2021 record of handling 9.4 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units), a 16% increase. The goal for the project is to move as much as 35% of cargo through on-dock rail, compared to roughly 20% today. Construction is set to begin next year. Port Executive Director Mario Cordero summed up the project. “The Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility advances…
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New Vessels and Tugboats:  Technology, Environmental Awareness Tops Agenda

New Vessels and Tugboats: Technology, Environmental Awareness Tops Agenda

While the U.S. shipbuilding industry has diminished over the past few decades, some are still welding, riveting and brainstorming to fill the oceans and waterways with pleasure boats and enormous freighters that can drift by in relative silence. But before the actual hands-on labor can begin, concepts and designs are created on paper and computer screens. Shipwrights and designers alike are no longer mainly focused on churning out what’s “tried and true.” As the 21st century presses on, maritime vessel designers are becoming more attuned to specific needs and global technology, all while trying to minimize their impact on our…
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Historic Columbia River Lightship and Large Buoy Return to Astoria Museum

Historic Columbia River Lightship and Large Buoy Return to Astoria Museum

In 1872, the entrance to the Columbia River was the site of the first lightship on the West Coast. And the final lightship version, WLV-604, was the last to be retired in 1979, after 28 years of service. When loaded with fuel and stores, the vessel’s hull resembled a 128-foot cargo vessel with a displacement of over 600 tons. Most of this was not actually cargo—the look was the result of the heavy construction to survive everything the sea could throw at it, plus tons of ballast to prevent a knockdown in storm conditions. It was replaced by a U.S.…
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Designing the Future-Proof Ferry

Designing the Future-Proof Ferry

Schedule predictability is always at the top of the commuter’s list of demands, so for ferry operators, staying on schedule is crucial. If a ferry sails a couple of hours late, the impact on passengers is significant. To maximize reliability of their fleets, ferry operators demand exceptional dependability from their installed equipment and integrity of energy sources—including the assurance of guaranteed fuel supplies. If there is even the slightest question about reliability, availability or cost effectiveness related to fuel energy, then operators will demand alternative energy options such as back-up generators, energy storage at terminals and/or hybrid engines that burn…
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Regional Update: British Columbia Ports

Regional Update: British Columbia Ports

It still surprises some people when they learn that the third-biggest and busiest seaport in North America—after Los Angeles and Long Beach—isn’t in California or Washington, but in the Canadian province of British Columbia. But it’s true: The Port of Vancouver, which boasts an overall size of 217.5 miles (350 kilometers), a land area of 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) and a 16,000-hectare (39,536-acre) harbor, is the largest, busiest port in Canada. With a draft depth of 18.4 meters (60.3 feet) and 57 available berths, the POV is capable of accommodating some of the biggest container ships in existence. However, it…
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Sea Change: Can a Ferry Change the World?

Sea Change: Can a Ferry Change the World?

The world’s first commercial hydrogen fuel cell-powered, electric drive ferry nears working life. The world’s first commercial hydrogen fuel cell-powered, electric-drive ferry, Sea Change, is afloat in Bellingham, Wash., as it prepares for working life in San Francisco Bay. The 70-foot, 75-passenger catamaran ferry is owned by SWITCH Maritime and was built by All American Marine, Inc. (AAM) with other partners. Regulatory approval from the U.S. Coast Guard is complete with delivery estimated relatively soon, according to AAM. Sea Change is expected to complete several demonstration runs once in California before it is deployed as a commuter passenger vessel in…
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Fuel and Propulsion

Fuel and Propulsion

As transportation moves toward modern, eco-friendly solutions on land, maritime vessels are keeping up with the curve with a focus on developing economically and environmentally friendly solutions. Several companies have recently announced innovations in fuel and propulsion systems on the market that will help marine vessels bridge the gap as they attempt to viably reach zero emissions. In an effort to fight climate change, the International Maritime Organization in 2018 adopted an initial strategy related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships, with a vision of phasing them out within the century. The strategy aims to reduce the carbon intensity…
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Offshore Wind Towers  Make for Dangerous Seas

Offshore Wind Towers Make for Dangerous Seas

Maritime vessel operators need to be aware of new and heightened concerns about how offshore wind (OSW) towers can interfere with and degrade radar systems. Mariners can be impacted on at least two fronts, one being interference with marine vessel radar. According to a report released earlier this year by the National Academy of Sciences, wind towers undercut a radar’s central purpose: safety. The steel towers can distort information about a vessel’s relative location, a degradation that affects all vessel classes. Turbine blades clutter a radar’s display, resulting in an ambiguous and confusing picture for the operator. Correcting for these…
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