Longshoremen protest automated technology at NY-NJ terminal
Approximately 150 members of the International Longshoremen's Association reportedly protested Global Container Terminals' plans to develop a partially automated cargo-handling operation as part of the company's $312 million expansion at the Port of New York-New Jersey.
Some of the ILA protesters who assembled outside Global Container Terminal's office in Bayonne, New Jersey on Friday voiced concerns over benefits and job security.
"We want to let everyone know that we're here to protect our jobs and our members," said Stephen Knott, general vice president of the ILA, in a New Jersey Star-Ledger report.
"We helped build these companies. We went along with containerization. Now that they want automation. We want to make sure that we're as much a part of it as possible and that any new jobs created are ILA jobs. That's very, very important to us," he said.
On November 23, James Devine, chief executive of Global Container Terminal's Jersey City facility, reportedly sent a letter to ILA President Harold Daggett regarding new technology to be deployed a at the terminal.
"This letter is being sent to you because the planned expansion will include the introduction of new technology throughout the expanded Global terminal.As we explained when we met in July with you and representatives from ILA Locals, the expanded terminal will incorporate a state-of-the-art terminal-operating system with enhanced container equipment as well as new cranes," the letter said.
Denmark's APM Terminals opened a partially automated container terminal at the Virginia Port Authority in 2007, where an automated crane transfers containers between chassis and container stacks, although ultimately, that activity is controlled by a human in a remote location.
Negotiations over a new master contract between the ILA and employers are reportedly slated to launch in earnest in the near future.
"We're totally opposed to the automated terminal," said ILA spokesman Jim McNamara in the Ledger article. "Gov. Christie should be made aware that the Port Authority is making deals that would eliminate jobs," he said.
The U.S. Navy reportedly rescued 13 Iranian fishermen who were being held hostage by pirates in the Northern Arabian Sea on the heels Iran's warning to the U.S. against sending an aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf.
Responding to a distress call on Jan. 5, an SH-60S Seahawk helicopter from the guided missile destroyer USS Kidd reportedly indentified a suspected pirate skiff alongside the Iranian-flagged Al Molai.
"The Al Molai had been taken over by pirates for roughly the last 40-45 days," Josh Schminky, a Navy Criminal Investigative Service agent who was aboard the Kidd, said in the statement.
A boarding team from the Kidd subsequently boarded and detained 15 suspected Somali pirates, who reportedly offered no resistance.
The pirates were detained on the Al Molai until the following morning when they were transferred to the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, the Navy said.
The Stennis has been at the center of tensions between the U.S. and Iran when the latter's military leader warned the U.S. on Jan. 3 not to send an aircraft carrier back into the Persian Gulf.
"We usually don't repeat our warning, and we warn only once," Ataollah Salehi said as reported by Iran's state-run Fars news agency. "We recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf," he said.
Shenzhen reaches out to Hong Kong to overtake Shanghai port
Southern China's municipality of Shenzhen released its plans to develop a $45 billion logistics hub, and is reportedly looking to next-door neighbor Hong Kong to participate in a venture that the project's proponents hope could rival Shanghai to become one of the world's largest port complexes.
According to news reports out of the region, the Shenzhen project would include investment in 475 new, and current, projects in the master-planned Qianhai Port City, a 5-square-mile zone in the Pearl River Delta, scheduled for completion by 2015.
"If Hong Kong and Shenzhen can pool their resources, we can overtake Shanghai as the world's biggest (in port facilities)," said Qu Jian, deputy director of the Shenzhen-based China Development Institute to the South China Morning Post.
"Our cooperation would be crucial for us to become the leader in the global logistics business," he said.
The Qianhai logistics zone would reportedly attempt to bring in global supply-chain firms via tax incentives, bank loans and related incentives.
CP's shareholder launches proxy battle; wants former CN chief to take over
The largest shareholder in the Canadian Pacific is reportedly launching into a proxy battle to replace directors on the board and the company's chief executive with the former head of the Canadian National Railway.
Bill Ackman, director of CP shareholder, Pershing Square Capital Management, reportedly wants retired CN chief executive Hunter Harrison to replace current CEO Fred Green.
"We will walk shareholders, people interested in the situation, through the track record of Canadian Pacific and (current CEO) Fred Green," said Ackman in an interview as reported by the Calgary Herald.
"We'll introduce Hunter Harrison, give him a chance to show what he would do as CEO of the company. Shortly after we will file a proxy document listing the directors we have in mind," Ackman said.
The Canadian Pacific's chairman of the board, John Cleghorn, released a statement in response:
"The board takes all suggestions from shareholders seriously and has carefully considered Pershing Square's demand that CP replace the company's chief executive officer with Hunter Harrison...Having considered Pershing Square's demand, the board came to the unanimous conclusion that replacing the company's chief executive officer, and thereby jeopardizing the successful execution of the multi-year plan, is not in the best interests of CP or its shareholders."
Pershing Square reportedly acquired 14.2 percent of Canadian Pacific last fall and started pushing for the hire of former Harrison, who led a turnaround of Canada's largest railroad at the CN.
The CP reportedly has the poorest performance with regard to operating ratio of the major North American rail carriers.
"It is a mistake to underestimate the difference between the infrastructure of CP and CN," said Ed Harris, a new CP board member, who is also a former executive vice-president of operations for both of the primary Canadian railroads.
"On the one hand, in CN you have a railroad that was built by Canadian taxpayers with twice the proportion of sidings and double track and that therefore has benefits from significantly enhanced operating flexibility," he said.
"On the other hand, CP has to contend with greater geographic challenges," Harris said.
Walmart recognizes its transportation carriers of the year
Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer Walmart announced its transportation carriers of the year, honoring 11 such suppliers for "exemplary performance in delivering to Walmart distribution centers."
According to a statement, Walmart said it recognizes transportation suppliers "that have demonstrated excellence or exhibited significant improvement in meeting core business objectives, including small parcel, less-than-truckload and intermodal."
The 2011 Walmart Carrier of the Year Award winners are:
General Merchandise Diamond: Schneider National Carriers
General Merchandise Platinum: Celadon
General Merchandise Gold: Epes
Transport Grocery: C.R. England
Grocery Dedicated: Swift Transportation
Regional LTL: Averitt Express
National LTL: Con-way
Freight Diversity: Trio Trucking
Intermodal: JB Hunt Transport
Sam's: Heartland Express
Small Parcel: FedEx
"Walmart Transportation appreciates these carrier partners who have gone above and beyond to provide outstanding service over the past year," said Rob Kusiciel, vice president of inbound transportation and global logistics.
CaroTrans expands West Coast-Vietnam LCL service
CaroTrans, a non vessel operating common carrier and ocean freight consolidator, announced it has expanded its less-than-containerload services with a new Los Angeles - Ho Chi Minh export and import service.
CaroTrans said in a statement that the first sailing date of the new service with partner Seahorse Shipping, a Vietnam-based NVOCC, would be January 13, 2012 with an 18-day transit time port to port.
CaroTrans CEO Greg Howard said the new direct service would include cargo types like raw materials, chemicals, machinery and equipment.
Coyote Logistics adds 400 jobs in Chicago
Coyote Logistics plans to add 400 new jobs in Chicago this year, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office.
The staff expansion would increase Coyote Logistics' workforce there to 1,000 in the Green Exchange, an environmentally sustainable office complex.
Coyote's new staff positions will reportedly focus on sales, operations and technology.
Coyote Logistics' business in North America specializes in fleet backhaul.
NATO anti-piracy coalition claims two recent successes
The multi-national NATO Counter Piracy Task Force has claimed two successful operations in the past week in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.
According to a statement released by NATO, on January 6, the USS Carney responded to intelligence from other counter-piracy forces and intercepted the Indian-flagged vessel Al Qashmi off the southwestern coast of Oman.
A "board and search" team from the USS Carney safely boarded the Al Qashmi and with no hard-enough evidence of piracy, subsequently released 9 suspected Somali pirates back to their own boats, along with giving them sufficient fuel, provisions and water to journey back to Somalia, the NATO statement said.
The second incident reportedly occurred on January 7 close to the Somali coast a vessel "of Iranian nationality," was identified as a potential pirate mothership by the Danish warship HDMS Absalon.
After tracking the vessel throughout the night, the Absalon launched a helicopter by early morning and confirmed the vessel was carrying fast boats fit the profile of those widely used by pirates, NATO said.
The vessel reportedly turned towards the Somali coast after being hailed by the Absalon, which then fired warning shots.
The Absalon, under cover of its helicopter, reportedly boarded the vessel before evidence of piracy could be dispatched and subsequently detained 25 suspected pirates.
The vessel's crew of 5 Iranian nationals and 9 from Pakistan were interviewed aboard the Absalon and given medical checks that showed no injuries resulting from the warning shots, along with access to call relatives that they were safe, the NATO statement said.
Wednesday, January 11, 2011
Toyota wants North America to become export hub
The president of Toyota Motor Corp said the automaker is interested in a North American-based export hub for some of its products as the strong yen negatively impacts vehicle exports out of Japan.
"We are looking for the opportunity for any North American product to be exported," said Yoshimi Inaba, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor North America, to a group of reporters at the Detroit auto show.
"We have 12 models now being produced in North America, and each one of them has its own potential. We are thoroughly reviewing the potential," Inaba said.
Toyota announced last year that it would launch into exports of its popular Camry line from the U.S. to South Korea, rather than doing so from Japan.
Toyota exported 100,000 vehicles from the U.S. to 19 countries, with the majority going to North American Free Trade Agreement partners, according to data compiled by Reuters.
"This is just the beginning of a new era of North America being a source of supply to many other parts of the world," Inaba said.
Senator from Wash. State pushes freight job legislation
In a public plea for passage by the U.S. Senate of legislation aimed at freight-related job creation, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash) addressed a gathering at the Big Pasco Industrial Center Intermodal Rail Hub in the eastern part of her state on Monday.
"We need to act now to support job growth at the Port of Pasco," Cantwell said.
Senator Cantwell, along with fellow Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), introduced the Focusing Resources, Economic Investment, and Guidance to Help Transportation (FREIGHT) Act last year in what she claimed in a statement to be the "first comprehensive national freight transportation policy and support ports" in the U.S."
According to last year's announcement by Senator Cantwell's office regarding the proposed legislation, the FREIGHT Act would establish a new Office of Freight Planning and Development within the Department of Transportation, in addition to authorizing a new competitive grant program for freight-specific infrastructure improvements, such as port infrastructure modernization, freight rail capacity expansion, and highway projects that improve access to freight facilities.
The announcement also said the FREIGHT Act would "provide states with additional flexibility in where they can direct federal transportation dollars by allowing targeted investments in ports or intermodal facility improvement projects, investments that current law prohibits."
"Freight transportation is the foundation of Washington State's robust trade economy and supports tens of thousands of jobs, including 600 here at the Big Pasco Industrial Center. But freight bottlenecks and deteriorating infrastructure plus increasing competition threatens future growth. I am urging Congress to take up my FREIGHT provisions so Washington state ports have the support they need to modernize," Sen. Cantwell said in her speech on Monday.
The Senator said she encourages passage of the FREIGHT Act before March 31, 2012, when the current surface transportation reauthorization expires.
Dollar General to lease 439,000 sq. feet at Tejon Ranch
Discount retailer Dollar General Corp is leasing 439,000 square feet of distribution space at Southern California's Tejon Ranch industrial real estate complex, according to an announcement.
The complex that Dollar General will inhabit is owned by the Tejon Ranch Company and Rockefeller Group Development Corporation at the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center, part of a 1,450-acre master-planned commercial and industrial development at the junction of Interstate 5 and Highway 99.
"The Tejon Ranch distribution center is strategically located to serve our supply chain needs as we continue to expand westward," said John Flanigan, Dollar General's executive vice president of global supply chain. "From its central location, our supply chain team can deliver goods to stores in northern and southern California in a day," Flanigan said.
Dollar General currently has more than 9,800 stores in 38 states. The retailer said California will be its 39th state and plans to open 50 stores there in 2012.
Tarleton to lead Port of Seattle commission
Gael Tarleton, who has served on the Port of Seattle's commission since 2007, was elected president of the commission for 2012, the Puget Sound-based port authority announced today.
"2012 begins the port's second century - we're online, open to the public, and open for business. We are on a path to creating a sustainable public port in the heart of our urban communities," said Tarleton in a statement.
"As the local and global economies recover from a prolonged recession, this port will be an economic engine - and an engine of equal opportunity - for King County's nearly 2 million residents," she said.
Commissioner John Creighton, who has been on the commission since 2006, was elected vice president, and commissioner Tom Albro will be the secretary, the port said.
The port's commission also announced that it passed a motion recognizing Human Trafficking Awareness Day, which will be recognized nationally today - January 11.
The port said as many as 17,500 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked into the U.S. each year and port is joining King County and the City of Seattle to raise awareness over the issue.
Video link: Rena's stern sinks off New Zealand
Link to footage of the Rena cargo ship's sinking stern section off the Astrolabe Reef near the Port of Tauranga, New Zealand. Authorities there are reportedly concerned that up to 100 tons of oil could still be in the vessel, with the threat of another spill.
Suspected weapons cargo reaches Syria, says Turkish official
A Russian ship suspected of carrying a cargo of munitions in defiance of a EU embargo made Syria on Thursday, according to a Turkish ministry official.
The Chariot, which had stopped in Cyprus to refuel, was carrying cargo that was categorized by Cypriot officials as "dangerous," according to a written statement. The Cyprus statement relayed that the Russian vessel's operator, Westberg Limited of St. Petersburg, claimed it would not continue on to its originally intended destinations, Turkey and Syria.
The anonymous Turkey official said that Turkey was never a planned destination of the ship, claiming that the ship did not stop in Turkey and that Cyprus did not inspect the vessel thoroughly enough to confirm that it was carrying munitions. Cypriot officials said it was unable to because of the close confines.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said it "cannot confirm whether the vessel carried around 60 tons of ammunition, as claimed in various news reports."
Maersk Line vessels loaded with food and consumer goods are stuck outside of Nigerian ports, with the fourth day of countrywide strikes keeping terminals closed.
Nigerians are protesting the recent removal of fuel subsidies, which doubled the price of gasoline, and shut down schools, shops and banks.
Sonny Dahl, director of West Africa Services at Maersk, said no containers can get through with everything at a general strike level. He said some of the loaded vessels are anchored outside the ports, with others expected to arrive within two days. He said the plan until early next week is to wait in hopes the strike will end.
The Nigerian market represents 60 percent of Maersk's container shipments into West Africa.
U.S. denies military ship movements related to Iran
As another aircraft carrier strike group moved near the oil-shipping lane in the Strait of Hormuz that Iran has threatened to block, the Pentagon downplayed the move of the powerful military assets, saying it had nothing to do with tensions with Iran.
Military officials said the group led by the USS Carl Vinson arrived in the Arabian Sea on Monday to replace the outgoing USS John C. Stennis carrier strike group, although there is not news on when the Stennis group will depart. A third strike group led by the USS Abraham Lincoln was in the Indian Ocean on the way to join the Vinson.
On Wednesday, an Iranian nuclear scientist was killed by a bomb magnetically attached to his car by two motorcyclists. Although the U.S. categorically denied involvement, the incident further enflamed tensions with Iran.
The U.S. military has said it will halt any blockade of the strategic strait.
The Russian tanker Venda completed its ten-day slough through two-foot ice today, making it to Nome, Alaska with emergency supplies, including 1.3 million gallons of Arctic-grade diesel and gasoline.
The first mid-winter maritime delivery to western Alaska came after Nome, with a population of 3,600, missed its final scheduled barge delivery before winter due to one of the worst storms it has seen in decades.
There were some doubts that Renda would make it to the port, since the going was slow even with the U.S. Coast Guard's icebreaker Healy slicing a path for the ship through the ice-filled Bering Sea.
Ghost is a maritime "high speed attack craft" designed to take on small boats. The developer, Juliet Maritime Systems, is pitching the ship to for U.S. Navy missions, from counter-piracy to fighting off small Iranian boats in the Strait of Hormuz.
Ghost can carry a few thousand pounds of weapons, including Mark 48 torpedoes, tucking them inside an internal weapons bay to lessen its radar cross section. It can also store a substantial amount of fuel for longer endeavors, using "supercavitation" technology - reducing friction on the catamaran hull by creating an air pocket - and jet engines to reach high speeds.