Cargo Business Newswire Archives
Summary for March 30 through April 3, 2015:

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Chill Factor: Meeting the challenges

By William DiBenedetto, CBN Features Editor

The cold chain faces many interrelated challenges that span equipment and technology, regulation, rapid expansion, logistics costs and rate pressures in a volatile economic and financial climate.

Recently, Sonoco ThermoSafe, a global provider of temperature assurance packaging, put some perspective on those issues in a survey, “Assessing the Future of the Cold Chain Industry.” The survey was conducted over five months last year and highlights the trends that “significantly impact the cold chain industry – including environmental trends, logistics and products and services.” The survey’s 165 respondents spanned more than 20 countries and five continents.

Russell Grissett, vice president and general manager of Sonoco ThermoSafe, said the survey revealed two key takeaways:

  • Due to multiple drivers, including environmental concerns and the need to improve supply chain efficiencies, customers are increasingly reusing passive packaging systems.

  • The industry will see a stronger influence of regulations globally, while at the same time pharmaceutical companies continue to outsource non-core activities, both of which will have a dramatic impact over the next five years.

Sonoco found that the current logistics spend for temperature-sensitive healthcare products is approximately $8.4 billion worldwide and increasing, or about 13 percent of the overall pharmaceutical logistics market. Approximately $5.6 billion is spent on transportation, while another $2.8 billion is allocated to specialized packaging and monitoring devices.

Regarding passive packaging, Sonoco’s respondents “overwhelmingly agreed the three most important factors in need of improvement are package efficiency, total cost of ownership for delivery of drugs to their destinations, and price,” according to the survey results. Of the 30 percent of applicable respondents who confirmed they use active systems, price and the availability of active containers in locations when and where they were needed “received the most criticism.”

Speaking of reefer containers and ships, Dynamar’s reefer market report for 2014, issued late last year, noted a continuing and somewhat disturbing trend for reefer ship operators. The report said that for the first time, ocean transport of fresh produce exceeded 100 million tons in 2014, increasing to an estimated 101.1 million tons in conventional reefer ships and reefer containers. This accounted for 2.7 percent of the total seaborne trade for dry cargo. But nearly 74 percent of total fresh produce volumes were transported in containers, compared to 52 percent 10 years ago and 62 percent in 2009.

The size of the reefer container fleet reached 2.45 million TEUs in 2014—an increase of 6.5 percent year-on-year—while conventional reefer ship capacity will decline by more than 60 percent to about 140 vessels by 2025, according to the Dynamar analysis. The vast majority of the reefer container fleet comprises 40-foot high cube units, for which 1.9 million (up 5 percent since 2013) on-board plugs are available.

The current conventional reefer ship order book has only one unit, an approximately 200,000-cubic-foot vessel for Toei Reefer Line of Japan, scheduled for delivery in August. It will be the first reefer ship delivery since in October 2011.

So it’s not a stretch to say that the box is taking over.

Meanwhile, a report from the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses, a core partner of the Global Cold Chain Alliance, says the total capacity of refrigerated warehouses was estimated at 552 million cubic meters worldwide in 2014, an increase of 92 million cubic meters (20 percent) over 2012.

Corey Rosenbusch, president and CEO of GCCA, noted that India now surpasses the U.S. in total cold storage capacity, with 131 million cubic meters of space compared to 115 million cubic meters for the U.S. With 76 million cubic meters of capacity, China now ranks third.

Capacity in 13 countries has grown faster than 10 percent annually since the financial crisis of 2008. Countries leading the growth rates since 2008 are Turkey, India, Peru, and China.

Drewry: Ports must evolve methodology to efficiently process super sized ships

Maersk Line CEO Soren Skou recently said a "leap frogging move" was called for to raise port productivity levels, noting that something like the shipping industry version of the "double-decker jetway" must be developed in order to handle super sized ships, according to Drewry Maritime Research.

Skou complained that although vessel sizes on the Asia-Europe trades have, for example, doubled, port productivity has not. Ship time spent in port per voyage has increased 50 percent from 12 to 18 days, the analysts said.

The researchers found that the increase in port productivity does not match the increase in ship sizes, and time in port increases as a result. For example, a 19,000-TEU vessel is almost 50 percent bigger than a 13,000-TEU ship, but the berth-moves-per-day is only 20 percent higher. Although overall berth productivity does increase with ship size, it does not increase in direct proportion, reports a recent issue of Container Insight.

The analysts said that one of the main reasons for this disparity is that the length of vessels has not increased linearly with the increase in TEU intake — rather, the ships have gotten wider and deeper, with containers stacked higher. For example, an 18,300-TEU Maersk Triple E vessel is only 25 percent longer than the 7,400-TEU Regina Maersk class, yet it carries 150 percent more boxes.

This means that the number of gantry cranes deployed cannot be increased in direct proportion to increased ship sizes. It also means that the cost and availability of labor in some locations restricts the number of additional cranes that can be deployed on each ship. Drewry said it is also true that handling ever larger ships involves using gantry cranes that are higher and have longer reaches, meaning that the trolley has to physically travel further per cycle between the quay and the ship’s hold, making it harder to maintain the number of crane moves per hour.

The counter argument, Drewry says, is that bigger ships tend to have more containers discharged and loaded to/from each hold so there is less picking and choosing required and fewer crane shuffles.

Drewry says that berth productivity of 75 to 150 moves per hour is in line with the global actual average for 2014 as assessed by the JOC. There is a general consensus in the industry that 3,000-3,500 moves in 24 hours is a realistic top end performance for a large terminal handling large ships.

Drewry researchers assert that meeting the new port productivity demands of shipping lines requires evolutionary change. For example, in order to meet the industry target of 6,000 moves in 24 hours demanded in 2011 by Maersk Line’s then CEO, Eivind Kolding — a 19,000-TEU vessel would need to have 8 cranes deployed, each working at 35-moves-per-hour instead of 25, generating a berth productivity of 280 moves-per-hour (not just once, or now and again, but all the time, each time, every time).

In conclusion, Drewry says, bigger ships are spending proportionately more of a round voyage in port than their predecessors, and meeting carriers’ demand for higher port productivity requires a fundamental change in the way that containers are handled. Since innovation is always risky and costly, who is going to pay to design, test, develop and implement the "double-decker jetway" for ports?

Maersk Line inks deal with COSCO Shipyard for 7 new container ships

Maersk Line signed a new building order last week for seven 3,600-TEU container ships with COSCO Shipyard in Zhoushan China, according to a company statement.

Maersk said the vessels would be 656 feet long and 115 feet wide, with a 32.8-foot draft. COSCO Shipyard and Maersk Line have agreed to keep the price confidential.

The order is the first step in the investment program announced by Maersk Line whereby over the next five years, $15 billion will go into new vessel building, a retrofit program, containers and other equipment. Maersk seeks to add capacity in line with the growth in container shipping demand, as well as replace less efficient chartered tonnage.

"I am very happy to announce this new order and the first in our investment program. Our strategy is to grow with the market and to do so we need new vessels from 2017," says Søren Toft, COO of Maersk Line. "We expect to place additional orders during 2015."

Maersk Line has ordered the vessels for Seago Line, its fully-owned container line dedicated to short-sea services in Europe and throughout the Mediterranean region.

The vessels, built to trade in Northern Europe through sea ice, will achieve unprecedented economies of scale, Maersk says. They will provide Seago Line short-sea and feeder customers with competitive services, also in the winter. Seago Line will deploy the vessels in the Baltic and North Sea regions.

The vessels will be delivered in April - November 2017, the statement said. The order includes an option for two additional vessels to be ordered within eight months.

Port of Seattle project promotes cleaner burning trucks

Since May 2014, the Port of Seattle’s Seaport Truck Scrappage and Replacement program, also known as ScRAPS 2, has taken 100 older model big rig trucks off the roads and put drivers into newer, safer, and cleaner burning tractor-trailers.

The program’s goal is to clean up the air around the port and its surrounding neighborhoods, where thousands of trucks pass each day.

"We are reducing air pollutants by 90 percent," says port commissioner Bill Bryant. "That's huge."

Starting in 2018, truck drivers in and out of the Port of Seattle will be required to drive a 2007 or newer model vehicle.

The ScRAPS 2 program assists drivers by offering up to $30,000 toward the purchase of a replacement truck. Newer vehicles burn, on average, 35 times cleaner than pre-2007 trucks, according to ScRAPS officials.

For more of the KOMO News story:

Container blows off a train in England

An empty 30-foot container was blown off a train in Cumbria, England.

The train was travelling at around 75 mph in the vicinity of Scout Green, Cumbria, around 2.5 miles south of Shap Summit. The container passed over the adjacent up main line and came to rest at the bottom of the up side embankment.

The incident took place at a time of high crosswinds.

Although there was no damage reported, the potential for more serious consequences is evident.

And investigation is underway. In past cases it was found that the inward hinging spigots fitted to FEA(B) wagon involved in this incident did not comply with the standard.

For more of the Cumbria Crack story:


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach partner to clear cargo

Top executives from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles held a kickoff meeting last week, starting to work together on cargo conveyance strategies that will enhance supply chain speed and efficiency, according to a City of Los Angeles statement.

"Our shared goal is to optimize the performance of the trans-Pacific supply chain," said Port of Long Beach Chief Executive Officer Jon Slangerup. "The San Pedro Bay has always been the fastest route between Asia and the U.S. and I’m confident we will find ways to significantly increase the velocity of goods movement and overall efficiency of our end-to-end system, thereby reinforcing our gateway as the No. 1 choice for shipments to and from Asia."

In their first formal meeting after the Federal Maritime Commission approved their collaboration on congestion issues, the staff of the two ports agreed that the primary goal of the collaboration is to get cargo moving more efficiently. Held at Port of Long Beach headquarters, port officials discussed a framework for how the ports will cooperate, work with stakeholders and communicate the results of the efforts.

At the end of February, the Federal Maritime Commission agreed to allow the two ports to cooperate far more strategically on finding new ways to prevent congestion and cargo delays, improve the transportation network and enhance air quality. The decision came after several months of severe congestion and shipment delays caused by a number of factors.

"Through this working group, we will engage with our stakeholders to discuss issues and develop solutions for optimizing cargo flow through our ports," said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. "Our ports, customers, labor force and supply chain partners are committed to taking this gateway to a new and higher level of performance, and we’ll accomplish this by working together."

The ports will discuss innovative approaches to improving the efficiency of marine terminal, trucking, rail and vessel operations. The ports also plan to discuss legislative advocacy, security enhancements, infrastructure, technology and environmental improvements related to supply chain optimization.

The deployment of larger ships, coupled with a new level of vessel-sharing dynamics created by carrier alliances, have created congestion issues at many large ports, but the problems have been especially severe at the San Pedro Bay ports due to the higher volumes of intermodal cargo that flow through the gateway, the statement said.

The Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach are the two largest ports in the nation, first and second respectively, and combined are the ninth-largest port complex in the world. The two ports handle approximately 40 percent of the nation’s total containerized import traffic and 25 percent of its total exports. Trade that flows through the San Pedro Bay ports complex generates more than 3 million jobs nationwide.

COSCO says losses due to shipping market volatility

The president of China Cosco Holdings, advising that losses in the underlying operations of the country's biggest shipping company had extended to a fourth year, said he was "deeply bothered" by volatility in the shipping market.

"China Cosco has had its glory days because of shipping's cyclicality," said Jiang Lijun after the company, part of state-owned giant China Ocean Shipping Group, reported a $228 million net loss from its operations. Helped by some $273 million in tax credits and government subsidies on the scrapping of old vessels, the firm eked out a 362.5 million net profit. Turnover increased 4 percent to $10.3 billion.

China Cosco once operated the world's largest dry bulk fleet, hauling iron ore and coal to power the world's fastest growing economy. To reap the bonanza rising from China's insatiable demand for commodities, the company chartered more than 200 ships from the spot market when the benchmark Baltic Dry Index was heading towards historical highs. Such efforts also gained Cosco a ticket into the Fortune 500 Global in 2007.

But a source of pride turned into a nightmare when the financial crisis struck, marked by stalling trade and slowing Chinese economic growth.

China Cosco lost an average of $1.6 billion a year in 2011 and 2012, mainly due to high-priced charters it paid during the market peak. The company moved to pare billions of yuan of assets in exchange for one-time cash gains to save its listing status on the Shanghai stock market.

Its dry bulk fleet shrank by a third by the end of last year to 255 ships, with the company quietly shedding the title of industry No1. Commodities shipping volumes plummeted 17 percent.

"Dry bulk and container shipping and port operations - we are deeply troubled by the imbalanced composition of our business and the lack of counter-cyclical income streams. There were many opportunities we could have nurtured five to 10 years ago," Jiang said. "But now it has all become too difficult."

Most industry analysts have forecast that China Cosco will continue to run at a loss in 2015. "Dry bulk is going to be China Cosco's overhang for a long time," said Geoffrey Cheng, transport analyst at Bocom International.

For more of the South China Morning Post story:

Importers say Chittagong Port operators charge additional fees

Importers are alleging that operators, shipping agents and freight forwarders are extorting additional fees from them during delivery of containers at the Chittagong Port in Bangladesh.

The importers at a meeting in the port city objected to the "illegal charges," and the situation prompted business leaders to form a monitoring body to solve the issue. The Port Users Forum, a platform of Chittagong Port's stakeholders, organized the meeting with its Chairman Mahbubul Alam in the chair.

Alam blamed freight forwarders for collecting additional charges such as a delivery order charge and destination service charge, violating directions from the National Board of Revenue.

"Besides, different shipping agents and main line operators are collecting varying rates of documentation fees, cleaning fees and administrative fees, which should be uniform," said Alam, also the president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"The shipping agents are randomly charging importers for cleaning services, even though not all containers carry perishables," said Quazi Mahmud Imam Bilu, first joint general secretary of Chittagong Customs Clearing and Forwarding Agents Association.

For more of The Daily Star story:

Ford will triple exports from India with new $1B factory

Ford Motor Company intends to triple its exports from India with a $1 billion plant that will be one of its most heavily automated in Asia, and offset slower sales inside the country with a push to sell more local production overseas.

The factory, which opened on Thursday in India’s western state of Gujarat, will nearly double Ford's production capacity in India to 610,000 engines and 440,000 vehicles a year. It will make engines and compact cars such as the EcoSport, a small SUV, and the Figo Aspire sedan.

"India is very cost competitive, which is important particularly for small vehicles," Ford Chief Executive Mark Fields told reporters at the factory opening in Sanand, outside Gujarat's biggest city, Ahmedabad.

Smaller cars are key to Ford's efforts to compete in Asia and particularly in India, where a growing urban population means compact models account for about one in every two passenger cars and utility vehicles sold.

For more of the Reuters story:

Drifting container ship restarts its journey

A container ship that had been drifting in a major shipping lane off the coast of Essex has restarted its trip.

Lifeboats from Walton and Frinton, and the Harwich, were called out to the ANL Warringa when it experienced engine trouble on Saturday.

The ship managed to put down one anchor as weather conditions worsened.

A lifeboat stayed at the scene ready to rescue the 28 crew if necessary, but the engine was fixed at about midnight and the ship sailed on its way.

For more of the BBC story:


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

ILA local ratifies contract with Port of Baltimore employers

Photo credit: Algerina Perna/Baltimore Sun

Dockworkers of the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 333 in Baltimore ratified a contract with port employers at the Port of Baltimore last week.

"Your voices have been heard," wrote Wilbert Rowell, the ILA trustee in charge of the troubled Local 333 chapter, in a note to members about Wednesday's vote.

"With a majority of 'Yes' votes you have also provided a message to customers sending or receiving cargo through the Port of Baltimore," Rowell wrote in the note, which appeared on the local's website late Thursday. "Thank you for letting the democratic process speak for Local 333. Baltimore is open for business."

Rowell was named trustee of Local 333 in November amid the local contract talks, after allegations arose that the chapter's elected officials improperly stacked the union's rolls ahead of local elections.

Rowell purged the local's membership rolls after last month's rejection of a similar local contract, which covers automobiles and other non-containerized cargo as well as local hiring and benefits provisions for dockworkers. The people were removed after their memberships were described as not valid.

He called the contract approval "a positive step in the right direction," however, noting that it provides wage increases and prevents nonunion laborers from being hired by port employers for union jobs.

For more of the Baltimore Sun story:

Greece changes course, will sell stake in Piraeus Port

"The Greek government will sell its majority stake in the port of Piraeus within weeks," said Greek Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis to China's Xinhua news agency, in an about turn from the leftist government as it seeks funds from its creditors.

The Syriza government of Alexis Tsipras took power in January on promises to end painful austerity measures, saying it would halt a long list of privatizations to include the sale of a 67 percent stake in the Piraeus Port Authority.

China's Cosco Group was among five bidders shortlisted under a privatization model agreed to by the previous conservative-led government as part of a $261 billion bailout that Tsipras is trying to renegotiate.

The Xinhua report came as Greece submitted a new list of reforms to its EU-IMF lenders on Friday to unlock funds.

Cosco and other bidders "can make a very competitive offer," said Dragasakis to Xinhua, during a visit by Greek ministers to China.

The deal would be completed in weeks after being slightly delayed by the change in Greek government, Dragasakis said, who hinted that Cosco was a forerunner, according to Xinhua.

Greece will run out of money by April 20 unless it receives fresh aid from its EU-IMF creditors, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

For more of the Reuters story:

Chinese firm to run Israel’s port

Shanghai International Port Group, the Chinese company that operates the city’s deep water port and the world’s largest harbor for container cargo, will operate the new private harbor being developed in Haifa Bay, a committee of the Israel Ports Company decided this week.

SIPG entered the bidding to operate the facility only after the first round of bidding was canceled. As it turned out, SIPG was the only company that bid to operate the new Haifa harbor in a 25-year contract that is expected to start in 2021.

Transportation Minister Israel Katz said the decision was a "historic day" for Israel.

"The Chinese group that won the tender will bring competition to the sector," Katz said. "It’s winning is an expression of confidence in the State of Israel by a superpower, which has decided to invest billions of shekels in Israel and turn it into an international cargo center for all the world."

The new Haifa port – and a second port in Ashdod – are intended to compete with two neighboring harbors owned by the government. The private ports project, which Katz has been promoting, is intended to introduce competition into the sector where powerful unions have imposed rules that make operations costly and inefficient, raising prices for imported products.

Shapir Engineering and Ashtrom, two Israeli companies, are building the new Haifa facility for $1 billion.

For more of the Haaretz story:

New LCL service connects Port of Charleston to France

CaroTrans Global, a company that handles freight exports for contracting businesses, announced it has begun an expedited service between Le Havre, France to the Port of Charleston.

This is the first "less-container load" service available between the two markets, according to the statement. The transit time between Le Havre and Charleston is 12 days, with up to three additional days reserved for shipments to other ports in the South Atlantic region.

Charleston is CaroTrans’ third direct LCL import service from Le Havre. The company also offers services to Houston and New York.

For more of the Post and Courier story:

Cargo ship briefly runs aground in Columbia River

A Liberian cargo ship briefly ran aground in the Columbia River off Longview, but later regained power and made its way to a berth in the southwest Washington city, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

There was no apparent damage reported. The Coast Guard says no one aboard the 21-member crew was hurt early Friday.

The 600-foot Turquoise Ocean lost power as it was headed downstream from the Port of Longview. The Coast Guard says it tried to anchor but went aground in soft sand.

The vessel was carrying potash, which is used primarily as an agricultural fertilizer.

For more of the Bellingham Herald story:


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Canada Pension Board buys $2.3B stake in Associated British Ports

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and a British partner will pay about $2.29 billion to buy at least 30 percent ownership in a company that owns and operates 21 ports in England, Scotland, and Wales.

The Canada pension board and Hermes Infrastructure are purchasing their initial stake in Associated British Ports from GS Infrastructure Partners and Infracapital. They could potentially buy an additional 3.33 per cent, which would make them one-third owners of ABP.

Borealis Infrastructure, which is an arm of the Ontario-based OMERS plan for current and retired employees of Ontario municipal governments, will remain one of ABP’s shareholders, as will the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. CPPIB will be providing a "majority" of the money for the ABP deal, according to Cressida Hogg, global head of infrastructure for the Toronto-based fund manager.

The board has bid before on port assets but had been unsuccessful until ABP, which Hogg said was a "must-have asset."

"What we see is that growth is really picking up in the U.K," Hogg said in an interview from London.

The Associated British Ports deal is the second major investment in the United Kingdom this month by CPPIB, which manages about $189 billion in assets on behalf of the Canada Pension Plan, including $10.3 billion on global infrastructure.

For more of The Star story:

Port of Tacoma COO: Terminal and rail changes needed at Seattle/Tacoma ports

This week Tacoma’s port Chief Operating Officer Don Esterbrook warned commissioners of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma that maintaining the status quo would continue a dangerous trend.

"It’s a recipe for disaster if we continue to do nothing," Esterbrook told the two commissions meeting jointly Tuesday in Tacoma.

Esterbrook said that for years, the two ports have seen their market shares sink in the face of strong competition from Southern California and Canadian ports. The two Washington ports together now handle about 25 percent of the discretionary container cargo headed for other parts of the country, compared with 55 percent for the adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California.

A few years ago, the two ports’ market share in that traffic was 30 percent, Esterbrook said. Much of that traffic is now flowing through the Canadian ports of Prince Rupert and Vancouver, whose market share of Asian imports to the U.S. has risen from 15 percent to 20 percent.

As their market share has declined, he said, the utilization rate of the two ports’ terminals has fallen to just 43 percent.

Esterbrook also noted the two ports have too many acres of land devoted to container shipping — 1082 acres — leading to low utilization rates and efficiencies at existing terminals. He said that too many smaller terminals are unable to handle the mega-ships being deployed by shipping lines. Those smaller terminals lack the large cranes needed to efficiently load and unload the larger generation of ships, lack the rail yard infrastructure to handle the huge surges of container traffic generated by those ship calls, and in some cases are too shallow to accommodate those megaships at dockside.

He also said that rates from the Pacific Northwest to the upper Midwest are in many cases higher than the rates from other ports.

The Port of Tacoma COO offered a broad outline of how the two ports must change when they formalize their alliance sometime this summer.

He said the two ports need at least two supersized terminals each equipped to handle two megaships simultaneously. Those terminals would be able to handle ships drawing 55 feet of water pier side, would be equipped with taller and wider container cranes to reach completely across the containers stacked on deck, and would be at least 2,800 feet long.

Secondly, the adjacent rail yards would need 28,000 feet of working tracks to allow three trains a day to load and unload at each terminal. Those terminals would be configured to handle 10,000 to 12,000 container units per acre. Truck gates would be expanded to handle an increased peak volume of containers moving through each terminal. Each container yard would be equipped to move 1.2 million container units a year, and each rail yard would have the capacity to handle 750,000 container units annually.

Read more here:

Port of Baltimore pays to get older trucks off the road

The Port of Baltimore is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on an effort to replace older diesel trucks hauling cargo around its facilities with newer, cleaner-running vehicles.

The port program is attempting to improve air quality around the port. Public money goes to private owners who scrap their old vehicles and upgrade. The port is putting an additional $500,000 into the program. It will give short-haul dray truck owners and operators as much as $20,000 to replace older vehicles with newer, cleaner-running trucks. The $500,000 will go toward replacing roughly 22 diesel trucks, the port estimates.

Sources of funding for the latest cash infusion into the program include a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Existing state money from the Transportation Trust Fund makes up the remaining $300,000.

The truck replacement program has scrapped 100 older trucks since February 2012. The port estimates it has cut yearly air emissions by about 108 tons of nitrogen oxide, 29 tons of carbon monoxide, 4 tons of particulate matter and 4 tons of hydrocarbons.

Trucks must have model years between 1990 and 2003 to quality. They also have to be in working condition before being scrapped. The port weighs program applicants based in part on truck age and the number of trips a vehicle makes at its terminals.

Replacement trucks have to meet or exceed 2007 Environmental Protection Agency emission standards. A $20,000 incentive doesn't cover the full cost of a replacement truck. That typically ranges from $40,000 to $70,000, according to the port.

For more of the Baltimore Business Journal story:

Port of Seattle Federal Credit Union merges with Tacoma’s Sound Credit Union

The ports of Tacoma and Seattle recently merged their ocean shipping operations to boost business in the Puget Sound. Now two related financial institutions are following suit.

The directors of the Port of Seattle Federal Credit Union and the Tacoma-based Sound Credit Union have unanimously approved a merger agreement, which is the first formal step in the merger process. Approval from state and federal regulators and Port of Seattle Federal Credit Union members are the next steps in the process.

"We’re excited to pursue this merger opportunity with Sound," said George Bluhm, Port of Seattle Federal Credit Union general manager, in a statement. "Our members will enjoy an extensive branch network and access to technology like mobile check deposit that will make their banking lives easier."

"Port of Seattle Federal Credit Union has a long history in the Northwest," said Richard Brandsma, CEO of Sound Credit Union. "We’re excited for this opportunity, and look forward to serving their members."

The continuing credit union will bear the Sound brand and would hold more than $1.1 billion in assets while serving over 100,000 members with a total of 23 branches located throughout Pierce, Thurston, King and Snohomish counties.

For more of the News Tribune story:

NYK executive pleads guilty to price fixing

An employee of the Japan-based Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha pleaded guilty to a violation of the Sherman Act for conspiring to fix prices and rig bids for global ocean shipping from 2004 through 2012.

Susumu Tanaka, formerly a manager, deputy general manager and general manager in NYK’s car carrier division, received a 15-month prison sentence and will pay a $20,000 criminal fine. The sentencing occurred in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Baltimore.

This is the latest in a rash of guilty pleas stemming from a Justice Department investigation into a conspiracy among ocean carriers to fix prices and rig bids for shipments in and out of U.S. ports, in particular Baltimore, Maryland.

For more of the Customs Today story:


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