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Summary for June 18 - June 22, 2007:

Monday, June 18, 2007

J.B. Hunt recognized by Wal-Mart

J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. has been named Intermodal Carrier of the Year by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for the second year in a row, the trucking company said Jun 12.

“We consider many factors when determining the winner of this award,” said Tracy Rosser, vice president of Wal-Mart corporate traffic.

“This distinction is limited to those who exceed our expectations and enhance our core beliefs. We are pleased to recognize J.B. Hunt for its outstanding intermodal performance in 2006,” continued Rosser.

Each year, Wal-Mart evaluates each provider of transportation services and rates them on areas such as operational planning and execution, communication, problem solving, and customer service, said Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart then selects a single transportation provider as the Intermodal Carrier of the Year, the company said.

“It is an enormous honor to be recognized by Wal-Mart as its Intermodal Carrier of the Year for the second year in a row,” said Kirk Thompson, president and CEO, J.B. Hunt.

J.B. Hunt provides transportation solutions for Wal-Mart within the company’s intermodal, dedicated contract services, and truckload operating segments to multiple shipping points throughout North America.

Maryland exec Royster to leave port

F. Brooks Royster III will step down as executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, effective Aug 1, the MPA announced Jun 13.

Maryland Dept. of Transportation (MDOT) spokesman Jack Calahan said it was a mutual decision between Royster and MDOT Secretary John Porcari.

“I serve at the pleasure of the secretary [of transportation] and the governor,” Royster said in an interview.

“There’s a new administration, and I fully understand they want their own people in here,” he said.

While Royster headed the MPA, the Port of Baltimore increased tonnage, reaching record levels in several categories. Royster also oversaw the construction of a cruise facility and the port’s 300th anniversary.

“Brooks Royster has served the people of Maryland well during his tenure,” said Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari. “He has guided the Port of Baltimore through the very challenging and competitive waters of the maritime shipping business, and I thank him for his leadership.”

No announcement has been made on a replacement, but the department hopes to make one soon, Calahan said.

Cargo security conference set for San Diego

The International Cargo Security Council (ICSC) will hold its annual conference Jun 24-26 at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina in San Diego, Calif.

The ICSC is an association of professionals active in intermodal transportation and supply-chain security. It has a single agenda, according to the council: assuring the safe and secure movement of global commerce.

The conference, with the theme “Blueprint for Global Supply-Chain Security,” features keynote speakers on today’s global security challenges, the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and preparing for pandemic flu.

Highlights include keynote speaker Walt Fountain, director, enterprise security for Schneider National Inc. He will discuss “Coping with a Challenging Security Environment: Domain Convergence and Global Expansion.”

Blackwater USA vice president J. Coffer Black, former director of counter-terrorism for the US Central Intelligence Agency, will speak about his experiences in intelligence-gathering while in the government and on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to the ICSC.

Black will also discuss Blackwater’s current role and issues regarding supply chain and VIP security in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Airfreight industry honors DHL

DHL Jun 18 was named “International Express Operator of the Year 2007” at this year’s Air Cargo Europe transport logistics industry trade fair, held Jun 12–15 at the new Trade Fair Center in Munich.

Honoring excellence in the air cargo industry, the first-ever World Air Cargo Awards were sponsored by the Air Cargo Weekly newspaper, a forum for international airfreight professionals.

Voters were impressed by DHL’s ability to meet performance targets, its level of investment in new products and services, and its flexibility, innovation, and overall “personal touch” when it comes to customer needs and customer service, said the company.

“It is always an honor to be recognized for excellence by fellow industry professionals,” said John Mullen, CEO of DHL Express. “At the same time, this award is significant because of its emphasis on the customer.”

The conference is the “world’s largest gathering of the international air cargo community, bringing together over 21,000 executives from airlines, airports, freight forwarders, shippers, suppliers, and service providers, said the weekly.

Air Cargo Weekly plans to sponsor the World Air Cargo Awards annually.

Halifax Port gets new shipping service

Icelandic shipping line Eimskip Jun 15 announced plans to launch a new weekly service between the Port of Halifax and three New England ports.

This fixed weekly scheduled service will offer a connection between Halifax and the ports of Boston, Portsmouth, and Portland, Maine.

The new service will have a twofold purpose, said Andrew Haines of Boston, executive vice president of Eimskip USA liner services.

“We are going to be providing this service in support of the Grand Alliance members and for any shipping lines that have a service that wants to connect to New England and Nova Scotia,” Haines said in the company’s announcement.

Scheduled to begin the first week of July, the new service will be called the New England–Canada Express Short-Sea Service.

The Seaboard Navigator has been chartered by Eimskip to operate the service. The vessel, with a capacity of 384 TEUs, is also equipped to carry up to 60 refrigerated containers, Eimskip said.

The vessel’s port rotation will be Boston (Monday); Portsmouth (Tuesday); Portland (Wednesday); Cerescorp, Halifax (Thursday); Halterm, Halifax (Friday).

Joint proposal for Seattle ferries

Three Puget Sound shipyards Jun 15 reached an agreement with the Washington State Ferry System (WSF) to construct jointly four New 144-Auto Ferries.

Todd Shipyards Corp.’s wholly owned subsidiary, Todd Pacific Shipyards Corp. (Todd), of Seattle, J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding Corp. (Martinac) of Tacoma, and Nichols Brothers Boat Builders Inc. (Nichols) of Whidbey Island will submit a Joint Single Proposal to build the ferries.

Todd will be the prime contractor, and Martinac and Nichols will be subcontractors in the proposal. Washington state has budgeted $342 million for the construction of the four ferries.

“We entered into these discussions hopeful of reaching agreement, but knowing it could be difficult because the yards have often competed against each other,” said Steve Welch, CEO of Todd Pacific Shipyards.

The agreement would allow for the ferries to be built in the state as required by state law, said Todd.

“There is a lot of additional work that must be completed if we are to seize this opportunity,” Welch said. Subsequent steps include review of the Joint Single Proposal by WSF and by the Washington State Department of Transportation.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

POLA budget set at $1bn for new FY

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners Jun 19 announced it has adopted a $1bn 2007-08 fiscal year (FY) budget for the Port of Los Angeles.

The budget focuses on expenditures “for clean and responsible growth, safeguarding the port including significant increases in port police staffing, and numerous capital projects,” said the LA Harbor Commissioners Board.

“We’ve got a busy year ahead of us, as this budget clearly illustrates,” said Geraldine Knatz, Port of Los Angeles executive director.

The FY 2007-08 budget reflects “anticipated operating revenues of $459mn, a 9.5% increase over the prior year projections, due chiefly to an expected cargo volume increase of 6%, tariff/inflation adjustments, and compensation renegotiations,” according to the announcement.

Operating expenses are anticipated at $209mn, a 31% increase from the prior year estimates, due to increased port police staffing, maintenance contracts for port facilities, the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Program, and environmental assessment services, said the board.

The capital budget expenditures increased 79% over 2006-07 estimates to $239mn. Future year commitments on these projects are budgeted at $87mn, said the board.

NCSPA starts new North China service

The 950-ft Hanjin Wilmington Jun 16 made the first call of the new North China service at the North Carolina State Ports Authority’s namesake port.

The 4,024-TEU vessel sailed about 12 hours later, after the port’s new 100-ft gauge container cranes had moved more than 600 containers onto and off the ship, said the Port of Wilmington.

“This news confirms that the demand for our expanded container terminal is strong,” said Ports Authority CEO Thomas J. Eagar.

The call inaugurated a second weekly service from the port’s longtime container-shipping partner, the CKYH Alliance, and marks the first Hanjin Shipping Co. vessel to call at the port in several years, said the port.

The new AWE North Loop provides weekly service to Qingdao, Ningbo, and Shanghai in China and Busan, Korea, according to the port.

The CKYH Alliance includes COSCO Container Lines of China, “K” Line of Japan, Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. of Taiwan, and Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd. of Korea.

The existing CKYH service from Wilmington to South China ports and Busan has added larger ships to the rotation, increasing capacity significantly, said the ports authority.

SCSPA chooses PB for $8.5mn contract

The South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) Board Jun 19 awarded PB Americas an $8.5mn contract for site preparation at the Port of Charleston’s new container terminal.

SCSPA selected PB, a division of New York engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, to provide construction management services related to site stabilization and preparation for the new 280 acre marine terminal on the former Navy Base.

The work covers contract administration, full-time inspection, quality assurance, and other services related to preparing and consolidating the Port of Charleston’s new terminal site, said the ports authority.

Additional construction management services will be required in the future for actual construction of the first phase of the terminal, said the ports authority.

The SCSPA Board also approved its fiscal year 2008 financial plan, which calls for 4.5% growth in container business.

The SCSPA Board also adopted a capital funding plan totaling $128.7mn in FY08 for capacity enhancements and terminal improvements. Major elements of this plan include $93mn for the new container terminal at the former Navy Base, as well as $25.4mn for container yard expansions, improvements, and repairs.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

OSG must pay $10mn penalty

Overseas Shipholding Group Inc. (OSG) Jun 20 was sentenced in Beaumont, TX, to pay $10mn as part of a $37mn criminal settlement with the United States.

The sentencing involved 33 felony counts, 12 oil tankers, and ports located in Beaumont, TX; Boston, MA; Portland, ME; San Francisco, CA; and Wilmington, NC, announced the US Dept. of Justice.

The total $37mn penalty — announced on Dec 19, 2006, in Boston — is the largest ever involving deliberate vessel pollution, said the Justice Dept.

The charges involving 12 OSG oil tankers took place from June 2001 to March 2006 and include violations of the Clean Water Act, violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, conspiracy, false statements, and obstruction of justice.

In pleading guilty, OSG admitted that it deliberately falsified various ships’ Oil Record Books; made discharges at night; and concealed bypass methods used to circumvent required pollution prevention equipment during US port calls so that the Coast Guard would not discover the criminal activity.

Prosecutors credited OSG’s self-disclosures, cooperation, and compliance measures taken by proposing fewer charges and reduced criminal fines, said the Justice Dept.

Crowley promotes Capt. Bill Taylor to VP

Crowley Maritime Corp. announced Jun 20 that Capt. Bill Taylor has been promoted to vice president of bulk petroleum and chemical transportation and will manage the commercial activities of the company's petroleum tankers and barges.

Taylor, who previously served as vice president of marketing and chartering, will have profit and loss responsibility for petroleum transportation, as well as responsibility for chartering, customer service, and strategic planning.

Taylor “is highly qualified as a former chemical tanker captain and chartering manager in international and domestic trades,” said Rocky Smith, senior vice president and general manager of petroleum services. “Moreover, he's an excellent problem solver who works to find solutions for our customers,” Smith continued.

Taylor graduated from the State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College in 1976 and joined Marine Transport Lines. He then worked for Heidenreich Marine in Connecticut and in 1997 helped to establish the OMI-Heidmar Shipping Far East office.

When he returned to the US in 1999, Taylor rejoined MTL as vice president of marketing and chartering and remained in that position when Crowley purchased MTL in 2001, said Crowley.

Jack Hedge joins Port of Tacoma

Jack Hedge has joined the Port of Tacoma as Manager of Real Estate, announced the port Jun 20.

In this position, he will focus on real estate acquisitions for industrial development in the Tacoma Tideflats area. He has worked in this role as a port project employee since May 1, 2006, said the port.

Before joining the port, Hedge managed business development efforts in the United States, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East for Wood Group Power Inc. (Atlanta), an international energy services company, said the port.

Hedge, who has extensive experience in business development, finance, and real estate law, holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Texas A&M University (1981), said the port.

The Port of Tacoma generates more than 43,000 family-wage jobs in Pierce County and more than 113,000 jobs across Washington state. It is the seventh-largest container port in North America, handling an estimated $35.6bn in annual trade and 2.1mn TEUs, said the port.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Amver-alerted tanker rescues crew of 19

The Amver-participating tanker Fairchem Steed successfully rescued all 19 crewmen of the sunken Alexandra C off the coast of Yemen, the US Coast Guard (USCG) reported Jun 21.

Rescue coordinators in Turkey called the USCG Atlantic Area Rescue Coordination Center requesting assistance, according to press reports.

Quick thinking on the part of rescue coordinators in Turkey and skilled ship-handling by the master of the tanker Fairchem Steed led to the successful rescue of all 19 crewmen aboard the merchant ship Alexandra C, said the Coast Guard.

The Alexandra C sank in heavy weather off the coast of Yemen this week, according to press reports.

Amver, sponsored by the USCG, is a unique, computer-based, and voluntary global ship-reporting system used worldwide by search-and-rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea.

With Amver, rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond, says the Coast Guard.

On any given day there are more than 3,200 ships available to carry out search-and-rescue services.

FKI Logistex appoints new general director

FKI Logistex, a global provider of automated material handling solutions, Jun 21 announced the appointment of Manuel Barragan Ramirez as general director of FKI Logistex de Mexico S.A. de C.V., the company’s operating unit in Mexico.

Barragan comes to FKI Logistex with more than 15 years of material handling experience, most recently as general director of Dematic S.A. de C.V, said the company.

In his new position, Barragan will be based out of Mexico City and will oversee the daily operations of the FKI Logistex office, including sales, engineering, service, and administration.

The addition of Barragan to the FKI Logistex team is “another step in expanding FKI Logistex’s capabilities and experience in Mexico,” said the company.

“We look forward to working with Manuel and feel our Mexican operations will greatly benefit from his knowledge and experience in material handling,” said Steve Ackerman, president, FKI Logistex North America.

FKI Logistex provides material handling solutions for airports, postal facilities, parcel distribution, manufacturing operations, library automation, and warehouse and distribution facilities.

Chiquita completes $227mn sale

Chiquita Brands International Inc. Jun 20 said it has completed the previously announced sale of its 12 refrigerated cargo vessels for $227mn.

The cash proceeds from the transaction are being used to repay approximately $170mn of debt, and the remainder will be retained for general corporate purposes, including growth investments or future debt repayments, said the company.

The ships have been chartered back from an alliance formed by Eastwind Maritime Inc. and NYKLauritzenCool AB, said Chiquita.

The parties also entered a long-term strategic agreement in which the alliance will serve as Chiquita’s preferred supplier in ocean shipping to and from Europe and North America, said the company.

Chiquita Brands International is an international marketer and distributor of high-quality fresh and value-added food products, from bananas and other fruits to nutritious blends of convenient green salads, said the company.

Annual revenues for the company are approximately $4.5bn, said Chiquita. The company markets its products under the Chiquita(R) and Fresh Express(R) premium brands and other related trademarks.

Chiquita employs approximately 25,000 people operating in more than 70 countries worldwide.

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