Cargo Business Newswire ArchivesSummary for October 12 through October 16, 2015:
Monday, October 12, 2015
Trucking Trends: A regulator’s to-do list: 5 items you should know about
By Mark Montague, DAT Solutions
A slew of regulatory issues that will affect freight transportation is currently working its way through the system in Washington. Here are five proposed rules you should know about — and why you should care.
1. URS and MC Numbers
As part of the new Unified Registration System (URS), the Federal Motor Carrier Administration plans to no longer use MC, FF, or MX numbers and will instead identify carriers, brokers, and freight forwarders solely by their USDOT number.
Implementation of the URS was scheduled for October 23 but FMCSA delayed it, promising to announce a new deadline soon.
2. Driver Coercion
A new rule would prohibit brokers, shippers, receivers, or carriers from coercing truck drivers into violating hours-of-service rules or other regulations. Drivers would report coercion to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or FMCSA. Violations would be punishable by fines of up to $11,000 per offense.
FMCSA expects to publish the final rule on October 29.
The Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA), which represents load brokers, opposes this rule because it assumes an employer-employee relationship between the broker and driver, under certain conditions. The inclusion of OSHA as an enforcement agency implies that drivers who complain of coercion may be treated as whistleblowers.
3. Carrier Safety Fitness Determination
FMCSA plans to implement a new methodology to determine when a motor carrier is fit or unfit to operate. The safety fitness determination (SFD) would rely on CSA BASIC scores, investigations, inspections, or a combination of those elements.
Currently, FMCSA inspects around 12,000 of the more than 500,000 active carriers per year. This new system has the potential to cover more carriers, and to provide a single score that indicates whether FMCSA considers the carrier’s operation to be safe and legal.
A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was scheduled for release on September 30, but that has not yet occurred.
4. National Carrier Hiring Standard
This would require all freight brokers or shippers to ensure that each carrier they hire is properly registered with FMCSA, holds minimum insurance coverage, and does not have an "unsatisfactory" safety rating.
TIA has been working to get this standard inserted into the next long-term highway funding bill. The extension of the current highway bill will expire on October 29, but Congress may pass another short-term extension without including any new measures before December.
Brokers would benefit from a national standard because it would help to eliminate guesswork on carrier selection. For example, if a carrier is deemed safe by FMCSA, the broker may be relieved of legal liability if that carrier is involved in a serious accident.
5. Electronic Logging Devices
All carriers will be required to deploy electronic logging devices (ELDs) in their trucks, in place of paper logs, to track drivers’ hours of service. Although many large carriers have already implemented ELDs successfully, some pundits estimate that the devices could reduce carrier productivity — at least initially.
The final rulemaking will be published October 30, and all carriers must comply within two years.
Mark Montague is manager, industry rates, for DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT® network of load boards. As a mathematician and statistician, he has applied his expertise to logistics, rates, and routing for more than 30 years, and was instrumental in developing DAT’s RateView truckload rates and analysis product. Mark is based in Portland, Ore. For information visit www.dat.com.
Maersk Line CEO calls for further container industry consolidation
The container-shipping industry has made progress with the advent of giant shipping alliances, but consolidation is needed since it’s likely demand will remain weak, said Maersk Line CEO Soren Skou in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
"We are getting the expected benefits from vessel-sharing agreements, but more can come from consolidation," said Skou to the WSJ. "This year, demand growth is extremely weak, around 1.5 percent to 2 percent, much less than anticipated, while capacity will grow around 7 percent. Coming into the year, we expected demand of 3 percent to 5 percent."
Container vessels move 95 percent of the world’s manufactured goods. Last year, Maersk Line and Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Co. formed the 2M alliance, which saves the two companies a combined $700 million annually in operating costs through vessel sharing, networks and port calls.
Over the past three years, the top 15 operators have spent billions of dollars on giant container ships called Triple E’s that can move in excess of 18,000 containers so they can fulfill alliance commitments. The investments have added to the glut of container-shipping capacity, which analysts estimate is up to 30 percent above demand on some of the busiest ocean trade routes.
Freight rates have fallen to levels that barely cover fuel costs. They are currently hovering around $300 a container on the main Asia-to-Europe trade loop, well below the $1,300/container average that ship operators say they need to break even in the long term.
"Maersk Line spends half a billion dollars in [information technology] every year," he said. "It is big money. In consolidation, the cost would be shared. It is the same with operating individual headquarters and the cost of containers. If we drive cost down we will be able to live with low freight rates."
But despite calls for consolidation, Maersk Line has said it isn’t planning to merge with or buy a competitor in the short term, according to the WSJ.
APL announces weekly Asia-to-U.S. West Coast service
APL has announced the launch of Eagle Express service (EX1), a weekly U.S.-flagged service that will connect markets in North Asia with the U.S. West Coast, and serve U.S. inland regions via rail.
The port rotation of the Eagle Express service is: Qingdao – Shanghai – Busan – Los Angeles – Oakland – Dutch Harbor – Yokohama – Busan – Naha – Qingdao – Shanghai.
"The Eagle Express service is characterized by a well-formulated network design which will be optimally supported by a dedicated fleet of APL vessels as well as our highly-efficient terminal and rail operations," said Kenneth Glenn, APL president.
APL said that shippers are expected to benefit from efficient connectivity at the Port of Los Angeles, where APL-run U.S.-flagged vessels discharge containers at APL’s Global Gateway South. From there, 11 weekly-dedicated LinerTrain™ services directly depart from-dock for express transits to key inland destinations, including Chicago, Memphis, Dallas, Houston and New York.
The Eagle Express service features speedy transits to Los Angeles - just 13 days from Shanghai and 11 days from Busan. Additionally, Tuesday vessel arrival in Los Angeles assures same-week local cargo availability.
As one of the only services to call the ports of Dutch Habour and Naha of Japan, APL says shipment from Dutch Harbor to Yokohama via this service will take a mere seven days.
Old Dominion allies with Mallory Alexander International Logistics
Old Dominion Freight Line announced it is entering an alliance with Mallory Alexander International Logistics that’s designed to enhance their ocean forwarding offering.
Under the new alliance, Mallory Alexander, a licensed ocean transportation intermediary (OTI), will perform all ocean freight forwarding back-office and operational services and Old Dominion will serve as sales agent for Mallory Alexander.
"We are very excited about our alliance with Mallory Alexander," said Wayne Bersch, VP-OD Global. "Their global brand is recognized for quality in the international freight forwarding community. This strategic alliance will greatly enhance our ocean freight forwarding offering, enabling our customers to access Mallory Alexander's extensive suite of services, including their state-of-the-art technology and operational systems."
El Faro captain was seasoned, trusted mariner
The captain of the El Faro, a U.S. container ship that sank in a hurricane off the Bahamas with no survivors last week, was an experienced and highly trusted mariner who had spent a lifetime on the water, according to friends and colleagues.
Captain Michael Davidson of Windham, Maine, was raised in Portland, Maine, and spent summers nearby at a family home on an island in Casco Bay.
The U.S. Coast Guard called off the search for the 28 American crew members and five Polish contract workers aboard El Faro late on Wednesday. The 790-foot container ship, owned by Tote Inc., went down in 15,000 feet of water during Hurricane Joaquin while on a cargo run between Jacksonville, Florida, and Puerto Rico.
Some seamen have questioned Davidson's decision to steam into the path of Joaquin. It is not known why the ship took the path it did.
Davidson attended Maine Maritime Academy, which held a vigil on Tuesday attended by hundreds of students and alumni in Castine, Maine, in memory of five graduates lost on the El Faro.
Scott Futcher, a fellow captain who graduated from the academy in 1987, a year ahead of Davidson, recalled him as a passionate mariner who studied hard.
"I knew him well. He was very cheery, gregarious, I would say charismatic," he said.
As a young mate in the 1990s, Futcher worked on one of El Faro's sister ships for New Jersey-based Tote Inc., running between Tacoma, Washington, and Anchorage, Alaska.
"Tote put a lot of trust in their captains and Mike was a very trustworthy guy. He worked his tail off," he said.
The National Transportation Safety Board began an investigation Tuesday.
Last week, the National Retail Foundation forecast 3.7 percent growth in holiday sales this year over 2014. And this week, NRF and Hackett Associates predicted that imports at major U.S. retail container ports would increase 3.3 percent in October year-over-year, as retailers make final preparations for the holiday season.
"The holidays are almost here, and retailers are ready," said Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. "Merchants have been stocking up since summer, and there should be plenty on the shelves as consumers begin their holiday shopping."
Ports covered by the Global Port Tracker report handled 1.68 million TEUs in August, the latest month for which concrete data are available. That was up 10.4 percent from a year ago.
September is estimated to be 1.62 million TEUs, up 2.1 percent from 2014. October is forecast to be up 3.3 percent at 1.61 million TEUs, November up 7.2 percent at 1.49 million TEUs, and December down 0.9 percent at 1.42 million TEUs.
Those numbers would bring 2015 to a total of 18.3 million TEUs, up 5.7 percent from year-over-year. The first half of 2015 totaled 8.9 million TEUs, up 6.5 percent over the same period last year.
Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said West Coast ports have largely recovered their share of cargo following the labor dispute, with the West Coast accounting for 59 percent, the East Coast 37 percent and the Gulf Coast 4 percent. But the inventory-to-sales ratio remains "stubbornly high" because of the influx of cargo that came through after the dispute ended.
"We would have thought that by now the aftermath of the disruption at the West Coast ports had worked its way through, which would help to reduce inventory," he said. "This is not the case."
Global Port Tracker covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami and Houston on the Gulf Coast.
Asian shipping lines voluntarily lower shipping surcharges
Asian shipping lines, including Japan's Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha and China Shipping Container Lines, have voluntarily lowered shipping surcharges, according to China’s top price regulator.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) gave the statement after China's cabinet said it was probing shipping firms over allegations that they have been levying arbitrary and excessive charges.
The NDRC said Korea's Hanjin Shipping and Hyundai Merchant Marine, as well as Taiwan's Evergreen Marine, Wan Hai Lines and Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp were among the firms lowering their surcharges. Japan's Nippon Yusen KK adjusted its fees on Sept. 15.
The NDRC said the companies would undertake measures such as cancelling fees for some services and lowering documentation and telex release fees.
UTi Worldwide Inc., a global supply chain services and solutions provider, just announced it has made a deal to be acquired by DSV for $7.10 in cash per ordinary share. The transaction, which was unanimously approved by both UTi and DSV’s boards of directors, is valued at approximately $1.35 billion.
"We are very excited to be joining forces with DSV, which we believe will strengthen our value proposition to our clients, while providing a meaningful cash premium to the holders of our ordinary shares relative to the recent trading prices," said Ed Feitzinger, CEO of UTi. "We have the opportunity to draw on the current strengths and scale of both companies to bring solutions to our clients that we could not have delivered on our own."
The acquisition is expected to be completed between January 1, 2016 and March 31, 2016, and is subject to approval by UTi shareholders, as well as the satisfaction of customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.
Russia’s port of Vladivostok attracts $1B in development projects
The Russian Far Eastern Development Minister said that potential investors of the Russian Far East port of Vladivostok have proposed seven projects valued at $973 million.
"Potential residents of the free port have offered seven investment projects…we are discussing specifics. The volume of declared investments exceeds 60 billion rubles," Alexander Galushka told reporters.
Galushka said the law on the so-called porto franco of Vladivostok, relaxing state customs, taxation and visa regime regulations, came into force on Monday.
The Russian government offers the port’s residents free road and utilities infrastructure. Additionally, the porto franco residents are offered a profits tax of no less than 5 percent in the first five years, then 10 percent in the next five years.
Up to 15 of the Primorsky Territory municipal entities are governed by the free port regime.
Galushko later said he expected to submit a draft law extending the free port regime to other Far Eastern Federal District by early next month.
Former El Faro crew says ship had structural problems
Three former crew members of El Faro, a ship that evidently sank during Hurricane Joaquin, told CNN the ship had structural problems and questioned whether it should have sailed with a major storm in the region.
The 40-year-old container ship never made it to Puerto Rico after it left Jacksonville, Florida, last week, and appears to have sunk near islands in the Bahamas.
The ex-crew members, who each traveled on the ship at some point this year, said the ship had issues with taking on water.
"The chief cook's room was constantly leaking water," Kurt Bruer, a quartermaster who spent six months on El Faro, said. There were other problems. "The drainage didn't work well on the ship."
Port of Long Beach sees highest Q3 cargo volume in history
After seeing its busiest September in its 104-year history, the Port of Long Beach processed enough cargo volume to achieve its best quarter ever, indicating a return to pre-recession trade levels.
Retailers are stocking Halloween costumes, Christmas decorations and other holiday goods in order to meet consumer demand.
Cargo volume at the Port of Long Beach climbed 4.1 percent in September year-over-year to 655,624 TEUs. The year’s third quarter — July through September — topped 2 million TEUs in a first for the port, and improved 14.8 percent over the third quarter of 2014.
"In recent months, Long Beach has seen a robust return of once-diverted cargo," said Jon Slangerup, Port of Long Beach CEO. "We greatly appreciate our shippers’ continued confidence in the Port of Long Beach."
Through the first nine months of 2015 the port has seen a 5.2 percent increase in cargo compared to the same period last year. The port expects to finish the year with more than 7 million TEUs for only the third time in its history (the last time was in 2007).
This year's third quarter saw 10.6 percent more imports and 10.5 percent more exports, compared to the third quarter of 2014.
For September alone, imports fell 1.9 percent compared to the same month last year, to 332,909 TEUs. Exports grew 6.1 percent to 125,639 TEUs. Empty containers rose 14.6 percent to 197,076 TEUs.
Port of Savannah receives first shipment tied to cold-treatment pilot
The first containers of imported produce to undergo cold-treatment as part of a federal pilot program have arrived at the Port of Savannah—carrying tangelos from Peru.
"The Georgia Ports Authority is a new, valuable option to reach the U.S. Southeast for perishable goods," said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz. "By moving perishable cargo through the Port of Savannah, you can reach customers faster, save on transit costs, and take advantage of unmatched assets such as on-site inspection and the nation’s most comprehensive refrigerated cargo infrastructure."
The tangelos, moved from Andean Sun Produce farms in Ica, Peru, are part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture pilot program, in which citrus, grapes and blueberries are chilled for at least 17 days prior to entry into the U.S. to protect against fruit flies. Removing potential pests via cold treatment reduces the need for pesticides.
The process may be done in producing countries – including Peru, Chile and Brazil – or at transshipment points such as Panama. The fruit will move in refrigerated containers held just over freezing during transit aboard cargo vessels, effectively cutting the time fruit must remain stationary for treatment.
"The importation of citrus products after successful cold-treatment while in-route from South America highlights U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s commitment to working with federal, state, and trade stakeholders," said CBP Savannah Area Port Director Lisa Beth Brown. "These combined efforts resulted in successful innovation and trade facilitation without compromise to CBP’s mission to protect domestic agriculture from potential introduction of harmful pests and disease."
Savannah’s Garden City Terminal offers 84 refrigerated container racks and 733 chassis plug-ins, powering 2,749 refrigerated boxes at a time. Another 20 racks should be complete by the end of the year, adding 480 refrigerated container slots.
Besides faster delivery, the USDA program also cuts logistics-related emissions by reducing truck miles and allowing more efficient shipments. Previously, deliveries of South American produce were made to Northern U.S. ports, and then trucked down to states like Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas.
AAPA features interactive hemispheric map of member ports
For those looking for a "go-to" tool to geographically locate and gather information about individual ports throughout the Western Hemisphere, it’s available on the website of the American Association of Port Authorities.
Using Google Maps technology, AAPA’s Member Ports Map and Multimedia tool provides information regarding the primary cargoes, channel depths, contact information, websites, image galleries, social media and multimedia links for each of its member ports.
In addition to seeing the geographic location of each port, from the website page you can render a top-down view of each port location by clicking on the ‘window/arrow’ icon in the top left corner of the map, then scrolling to the bottom of the list and clicking on the square map icon. Using aerial and satellite imagery, this view enables you zoom in on the address of each port’s headquarters location.
"AAPA has developed this effective, user-friendly and interactive resource to help advance the common interests of the port community and provide beneficial information about the location and essential role each of our member ports play in the global transportation system," said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO.
Overall, the ports map includes buttons and underlying information for 14 Canadian ports, 85 U.S. ports, nine Caribbean ports and 48 Latin American ports.
Port of New Orleans allies with businesses on Central Ohio River
Port of New Orleans officials have made an agreement with industry leaders from the Central Ohio River corridor that may trigger commerce between the two regions.
The Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans and the Central Ohio River Business Association (CORBA) signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a working alliance to enhance cooperation and grow new business, according to a port statement.
The two-year agreement with annual renewal options lays the groundwork for joint marketing activities, data interchange, regional market studies and cross training opportunities with the goal of developing new business and streamlining customer service between the Port and CORBA.
"The Port of New Orleans and the entire Lower Mississippi River historically has strong ties to business and industry throughout the Central Ohio River region," said Gary LaGrange, port president and CEO. "Today’s agreement solidifies our efforts to work together to enhance cooperation and foster a new generation of business for both parties. It’s a win-win for all."
The agreement, which was signed by CORBA Executive Director Eric W. Thomas and LaGrange, is the culmination of several months of discussion and planning.
"The Lower Mississippi River and the Port of New Orleans in particular is a vital gateway to the global marketplace for the Ports of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky," said CORBA Executive Director, Eric Thomas. "This agreement formally recognizes that longstanding connection between the two regions, and reflects a doubling-down of efforts by both ports to seek out opportunities that can leverage the significant port capabilities that join us together."
U.S. Navy will look for El Faro and its data recorder
The U.S. Navy soon will set out to find the cargo ship El Faro sunk in Hurricane Joaquin and locate a data recorder to find out why it went down.
The El Faro lost power and went down in 15,000 feet of water east of the Bahamas last Thursday while attempting to outrun Hurricane Joaquin on its regular route from Jacksonville, Fla., to Puerto Rico, the Coast Guard and Tote Maritime said.
The Coast Guard suspended its search for survivors in the disaster at sunset Wednesday, saying it was unlikely anyone would be found alive.
Late in the morning on October 8, the House descended into chaos as Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), heir apparent to the Speaker’s gavel, dropped out of the race to succeed John Boehner (R-OH). For surface transportation interests, it was tempting to be distracted by the turmoil.
However, with Speaker Boehner’s subsequent announcement that he intended to stay on until a new Speaker was selected rather than leaving on October 30 as originally planned, it appears the House’s plans to move a long-term surface transportation bill are still on track.
The House has until October 29 to either approve a short-term patch to the expiring MAP-21, or pass and conference a comprehensive surface transportation bill with the Senate’s proposal. The DRIVE Act, approved by the Senate on July 30, contains $350 billion in contract authority. In a controversial move, drafters of the DRIVE Act identified only three years worth of funding to support the six-year bill.
According to various reports, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) is planning to mark up their version of a long-term bill in the latter part of October. So what can freight expect? There have been several House proposals in recent months that might serve as a starting point for committee negotiations on a freight title.
One such starting point could be H.R. 1308, Economy in Motion: The National Multimodal and Sustainable Freight Infrastructure Act. The legislation, introduced by Representative Lowenthal (D-CA) on March 4, 2015, creates a dedicated freight trust fund supported by a one percent tax on the cost of transporting goods.
Approximately $8 billion each year would be raised through this tax, according to the California Congressman’s office. The legislation has bipartisan support, counting among its 15 co-sponsors Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Mark Meadows (R-NC).
Representative Dave Reichert (R-WA) put forward a second plan this summer. The National Multimodal Freight Policy and Investment Act does not include a revenue generator, but instead authorizes for appropriations $2 billion a year to improve and enhance multimodal freight infrastructure. Reichert introduced H.R. 3398 as companion legislation to a proposal put forward earlier in the year by Senator Cantwell (D-WA).
Much of the Cantwell/Reichert multimodal policy provisions were incorporated into the Senate’s DRIVE Act, meaning H.R. 3398 is a logical place to start when considering possible House freight titles. The requirement that the Secretary of Transportation designate a National Multimodal Freight Network and develop a National Multimodal Freight Strategic Plan Freight Strategic Plan can be traced back to Cantwell’s bill. The DRIVE Act also ties freight funding to a requirement that states develop state freight plans and freight advisory committees, as proposed by Senator Cantwell and Representative Reichert.
There seems to be a good chance that multimodal freight policy provisions will be included in the House long-term bill. A bigger question is whether there will be much needed funding. In order to support freight projects nationwide, the House must identify a revenue source, as well as decide how to best distribute funds.
Representative Reichert’s proposal authorizes funds from appropriations. MAP-21 authors took that approach in 2012, when they authorized the megaprojects competitive grant program, Projects and National and Regional Significance (PNRS). Ultimately, appropriators chose to keep PNRS unfunded. If the House settles on a similar path this year, freight funding could fall by the wayside as appropriators focus limited funds on other priorities.
There are several ways House bill authors could avoid the contentious appropriations process. Representatives could take a cue from Congressman Lowenthal’s bill and explore a one percent fee on the cost of transporting goods. They could also model freight investment programs after those that appear in the Senate bill.
The DRIVE Act contains a freight formula program and a competitive grant program—the Assistance for Major Projects Program—modeled after MAP-21’s PNRS. Both of these distribution mechanisms are funded with contract authority from the Highway Trust Fund.
Contract authority allows entities to make targeted improvements in infrastructure with funding that is firewalled from appropriators. Because funds come from the Highway Trust Fund, projects looking for support must demonstrate benefits to the movement of freight on highways.
To address multimodal projects, the DRIVE Act authorizes $200 million from appropriations for a separate Assistance for Freight Projects program. Of course, this program will face the same challenges as PNRS did in the aftermath of MAP-21.
Blakey & Agnew, LLC is a public affairs and communications consulting firm based in Washington, DC.
Hapag-Lloyd scales back IPO
Hapag-Lloyd AG has scaled back its initial public offering by 40 percent after the massive emissions-testing scandal at Volkswagen AG and a weakened Chinese economy triggered volatility on global stock markets.
The Hamburg-based shipping line now plans to raise $300 million in the IPO, rather than the $500 million it announced last month, Hapag-Lloyd said in a statement. It will sell as many 15.7 million shares, setting a price range of 23 euros ($26.32) to 29 euros per stock. The offer period will probably run from Thursday to Oct. 15, and the carrier said it intends to start trading at the Frankfurt and Hamburg exchanges on Oct. 30.
"Despite challenging capital market conditions we believe this is the right step for Hapag-Lloyd," CEO Rolf Habben Jansen said, adding that he plans to spend proceeds on new ships and containers. "Management and shareholders have decided to resize the offering volume to a level that enables Hapag-Lloyd’s future investment targets," the company said.
Hapag-Lloyd merged last year with the container-shipping operations of Chile-based Cia. Sud Americana de Vapores (CSAV) to create what was the world’s fourth-largest cargo line by capacity. That ranking has dropped to fifth place after being usurped by Taiwan’s Evergreen Line, according to Alphaliner.
To make up for the reduced volume in the share sale, Hapag-Lloyd said it arranged a $125 million loan to be provided by its IPO advisers—Joh. Berenberg Gossler & Co., Deutsche Bank, and Goldman Sachs Group’s international unit.
Billionaire stakeholder Klaus-Michael Kuehne and CSAV, which have agreed to hold a stake of at least 51 percent for 10 years and to pool their voting rights, also cut the total volume of their planned extra orders by 40 percent to $60 million in stock.
Port of Virginia cargo volume up 7 percent in September
In the first quarter of fiscal year 2016, the Port of Virginia says its cargo volumes rose 6 percent year-over-year and that growth was pushed ahead by a record-setting September.
In September, the port handled 215,520 TEUs, a 7.2 percent increase compared with the same month last year. In fact, it was the best cargo performance for September in the port’s history. Further, September marks the seventh consecutive month of TEU volumes exceeding 210,000 units.
In comparison with last September, rail units were up 16 percent, Virginia Inland Port volume up 43 percent, truck volume up 2 percent and vehicle units up 133 percent.
"We have brought stability and consistency to all phases of our operation and we are showing growth and positive financial results," said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. "For the quarter, we had growth in rail containers, truck volume, VIP container volume percent, vehicle units and operating income, while improving service levels."
The port’s consolidated financial performance in the first two months of the fiscal year (July/August) is positive: Total operating revenues are $80.5 million and the operating income is $3.5 million. The audited fiscal year 2015 results confirmed operating income of $13.6 million in, which is an improvement of $30.1 million when compared with the results from the previous fiscal year.
"We have turned the corner and we must stay focused. In the coming decade, we will need to reinvest $2 billion in The Port of Virginia to increase its capacity and ensure its competitive position on the US East Coast," Reinhart said. "The overall performance and result of fiscal year 2015 has cleared the way for this process to begin."
Baltic Exchange dry bulk index drops
The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, which tracks ship rates for hauling dry bulk commodities, fell on Tuesday due to weak demand for capesize vessels.
The overall index, which factors in average daily earnings of capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize dry bulk transport vessels, fell five points, or 0.62 percent, to 804 points.
The capesize index fell 20 points, or 1.29 percent, to 1,531 points.
Average daily earnings for capesize vessels, which typically transport 150,000-ton cargoes such as iron ore and coal, fell $177 to $10,529.
The panamax index rose 2 points, or 0.26 percent, to 770 points.
Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry 60,000 to 70,000-ton cargoes of coal or grain, rose $12 to $6,168.
Among smaller vessels, the handysize index dropped 1 point to 379 points and the supramax index fell 2 points to 664 points.
TOTE creates fund for families of lost El Faro crew
TOTE has created a family relief fund to help support the 33 families of the El Faro crew, according to a company statement.
The fund will be held and administered by the Seamen’s Church Institute, North America’s largest mariners’ service agency, following the structure put in place by TOTE.
"Over the last few days we have had hundreds of employees, mariners, customers and individuals from around the country inquire about where to donate in support of the families," said Anthony Chiarello, president and CEO of TOTE. "This fund will ensure that 100 percent of all gifts goes directly to the families as they deal with the loss of a loved one. We continue to keep the families and loved ones of the crew of the El Faro in our thoughts and prayers."
TOTE said it would also establish an education fund for the children of El Faro crewmembers that will support diverse educational needs. Information about the fund can be found online: elfaroincident.com/family-fund/.