Cargo Business Newswire Archives
Summary for November 30 - December 4, 2009:
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Top Story

UP opens Donner Pass for double-stack service

The Union Pacific Railroad announced it has opened a new high-clearance route through the Sierra mountain range in addition to its existing single track that can accommodate double-stack intermodal containers moving east out of Oakland, Calif.

The second Donner Pass track marks the completion of a 12-month project designed to move rail freight faster, the railroad said.

The UP said it increased the elevation on the second track by 18,000 feet to improve tunnel clearances in 15 restricted tunnels between the California cities of Rocklin and Truckee and upgraded 30 miles of system signals to centralized traffic control standards to allow signal technology to control train movement; removed track, lowered the floor and reinstalled track in two tunnels; and installed rock bolts for added stability in five tunnels.

The Donner Pass route will enable the UP to operate up to 9,000-foot trains, a 58 percent increase over the 5,700-foot trains that run through the alternative Feather River Canyon route, which is up to 73 miles longer than the Donner Pass route, the rail carrier said.

No government bailout guarantee for Dubai World

Dubai’s government said it hasn’t guaranteed the debt of Dubai World, the state-controlled holding company struggling with $59 billion in liabilities, and that creditors must help it restructure.

Dubai’s government said Nov. 25 that Dubai World would seek a standstill agreement with creditors and an extension of loan maturities until at least May 30, 2010. The announcement led to the biggest declines in Asian shares in three months last week and Europe’s worst rout since April. Investors were concerned the proposal risks triggering the biggest sovereign default since Argentina in 2001.


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Crowley adds 400 new reefer boxes

Jacksonville-based Crowley announced it has added 400 new refrigerated containers to its cargo shipping fleet.

The transportation company said its new Carrier PrimeLINE containers feature “one-of-a-kind scroll compressor technology (inspired by the chamberednautilus shellfish), making them very efficient and reliable.”

Crowley said it currently owns and leases more than 44,000 pieces of specialized equipment, including more than 20,394 chassis, 18,280 dry containers and more than 3,000 refrigerated containers deployed throughout the U.S., Central America and the Caribbean.

U.S.-bound supertanker seized by pirates

The Greek-owned supertanker Maran Centaurus was seized by pirates off Somalia while heading to the U.S., as attackers venture ever farther from shore to hijack merchant ships.

It’s the second time Somali pirates have seized an oil supertanker, with the last incident a year ago leading to a record ransom and an increase in Western naval patrols.

Maran Centaurus is owned by Anangel Shipping Enterprises SA, according to Lloyd’s Register-Fairlay data on Bloomberg. The vessel was bound for the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, or LOOP, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. Its last port of call was Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait.


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“Ghost ship” stuck in James River, VA

Frozen in the thick mud and sand at the bottom of the James River (Virginia), the 700-foot, 37,000-ton Monongahela hasn't budged for more than two weeks.

The wayward ghost fleet ship broke free from its moorings during the nor'easter Nov. 12, floated about a half-mile downstream and ran aground on the western side of the river.

The Coast Guard said freeing the mothballed oil tanker will require "20 times more effort" than was required to remove the giant container barge that ran aground in the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach during the same storm.

After several failed attempts, a crew of three tugboats finally dislodged the 570-foot barge, named La Princesa, at high tide on Nov. 19 — nearly a week after it landed on a sandbar.

Efforts to dislodge the Monongahela might even require dredging, said Susan Clark, a spokeswoman with the Maritime Administration, the federal agency that owns the ship.

-Daily Press

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Top Story

Canada’s federal government moves to end CN strike

The federal government served notice it won’t tolerate anything derailing Canada’s economic recovery by swiftly introducing back-to-work legislation in the House Monday for 1,700 locomotive engineers at Canadian National Railway Co. less than three days after their strike began.

The engineers, represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, walked off the job at midnight Saturday after the railway attempted to unilaterally impose contract and wage changes on them last week following 14 months of failed labour negotiations — six of which were aided by a federal mediator.

Rona Ambrose, the federal labour minister, served notice just 11 hours after the strike began that she intended to introduce the back-to-work bill Monday despite CN saying its operations remained “fluid” with few disruptions as management filled in for the striking workers.

The Conservative government also introduced a motion Monday that would keep the House from adjourning before the matter is resolved once the debate begins. MPs could vote as early as Wednesday, with the NDP’s opposition day Tuesday expected to delay the vote.

-CBC/Financial Post

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Port of Long Beach counts down to Jan. 1 clean truck deadline

The Port of Long Beach announced today that eight thousand dirty trucks “will be forever banned” from the port’s shipping facilities as of New Year’s Day 2010 as part of its controversial clean trucks program.

The port said the majority of aging trucks have already been replaced by 5,600 newer, cleaner vehicles under the program, and another 2,400 new rigs are on order and will soon be entered into service. The port said the new trucks are “very conspicuous, with their shiny white cabs.”

“Little more than a year ago, the ports looked like a graveyard where old dirty trucks came to die,” said Nick Sramek, president of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners. “By January 1, the Program will have achieved nearly an 80 percent reduction in trucking air pollution -- two years ahead of schedule,” Sramek said.

By January 1, 2012, only 2007 and newer truck engines will be allowed to enter Port of Long Beach terminals.

The port said it electronically controls truck access to marine terminals via radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. Licensed motor carriers must register their trucks online with the port.

The port said trucks will need to be equipped with RFID tags, and will also need to meet specific environmental, safety and security standards in order to enter the terminals.

The port said a small number of trucks that do not meet the January 1, 2010, standard will have four months’ grace if awaiting a new truck through a port or state financing program.

The port said most of the industry’s new trucks have been purchased or leased without public financial assistance.

Credit confidence increased in November

There was more retail traffic the day after Thanksgiving over the same period last year even though average consumer spending was down, according to the Credit Managers’ Index (CMI) for November.

The same pattern held in the business community, as CMI reports suggested sales are rising rapidly with the Index jumping from 51.1 to 55 compared to last year’s index number of 34.4, mirroring the trends in the Purchasing Mangers’ Index. The CMI considers the 50.0 level and up to be growth.

“As sales increase and credit applications are granted, there is a sense that more business is optimistic about the coming year than not,” said Dr. Chris Kuehl, economist for the National Association of Credit Managers.

Dubai World signals port subsidiary stays put

DUBAI—Nearly six months into its corporate restructuring, Dubai World, this city-state's flagship conglomerate, has mostly resisted selling off its trophy case of assets, from ports around the world to luxury hotels and a vintage cruise liner.

The company owns a number of solid businesses, including cash-generating port operations. Dubai World has signaled it won't part with its core DP World ports subsidiary. Last Thursday, it said DP World debt wouldn't be included in any debt standstill, suggesting its finances are sounder than the rest of the company.


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Report: Passengers could be at risk from air cargo-screening flaws

Air passengers may be at risk of terrorist attacks because of air-cargo screening flaws, including a lack of required background checks on freight handlers, according to a U.S. government report.

Thirty percent of 6,767 cargo inspections by the Transportation Security Administration found security violations in the three quarters ended in June 2008, according to Richard Skinner, the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general.


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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Top Story

Hanjin chairwoman projects downturn to recover
by late 2010

Container shipping firm Hanjin Shipping a major operator of U.S.-Asia route, expects the downturn-hit industry to recover by late next year, Chairwoman Choi Eun-Young said on Wednesday.

Hanjin Shipping is set to see its losses narrow next year, she said, without elaborating.

Choi was speaking at a news conference to mark the launch of Hanjin Shipping Holdings, a holding company split from Hanjin Shipping.


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Canada to announce 40 percent of infrastructure stimulus underway

The Harper government's fourth stimulus update will reveal Thursday that more than 40 per cent of the projects announced under the flagship Infrastructure Stimulus Fund are under way.

The $4-billion fund, which requires matching cash from provincial and municipal governments, has approved 3,226 projects across the country, said a spokesman for Transport Minister John Baird.

Of those projects, 1,390 – or 43 per cent – accounting for $1.4-billion in federal funding have moved beyond the announcement stage and have started work, Chris Day said.

-The Globe and Mail

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St. Louis airport to ink $40 mil cargo facilities deal

St. Louis airport officials have been working for four years on a plan to develop new cargo facilities on the north side of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

Today, they expect to make that plan official.

At its meeting this afternoon, the Airport Commission is set to vote on a deal to redevelop 76 acres just north of Lambert's main runways, through an agreement with AeroTerm LLC, a Maryland-based company that builds cargo centers at airports across North America.

They will pay $1.5 million for development rights and must invest at least $40 million in all.

-St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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Environmental honors for 67 Foss Maritime vessels

Foss announced that 67 of its own and those of three subsidiaries have been recognized by the Chamber of Shipping of America. The three Foss subsidiaries are Gulf Caribe Maritime, American Cargo Transport, and Constellation Maritime.

Foss said that the vessels being recognized account for a combined 685 years without an environmental incident.
“Safety and concern for the environment are cornerstones of Foss’ corporate culture,” said Gary Foss, the company’s president and COO.

Foss said it was honored at a dinner ceremony in Washington, D.C., with the awards presented by the U.S. Coast Guard commandant, Adm. Thad Allen and CSA Chairman Michael Bohlman of Horizon Lines. Capt. Jim Halloran accepted awards on behalf of Foss, and Susan Hayman, vice president, environmental and corporate development, accepted awards on behalf of Foss’ subsidiaries.

Afghanistan poses major logistical challenges

U.S. President Barack Obama announced a new strategy for Afghanistan Tuesday that includes sending at least 30,000 more American troops to the war front. The increase will bring the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to about 100,000. But the infrastructure to support U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan is already strained, posing challenges to a troop surge.

Rugged terrain, poor roads and relentless enemy attacks force U.S. planners to deliver most combat supplies by air.

The passenger terminals and cargo yards are filled to capacity, "Each day we move approximately 4,000 passengers a day, inbound and outbound, plus 400 tons of cargo per day," said Lt. Col. Dan Krall, a logistician working under Kwast.

-Voice of America

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Top Story

DHS Secretary: Impossible to screen all containers by 2010 deadline

The Obama administration says the government cannot meet next year's deadline imposed by Congress for ensuring that 100% of cargo sent to the U.S. by ship has been physically screened.

The requirement was intended to help prevent a nuclear device from being smuggled into the U.S. in seagoing cargo. But Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate committee Wednesday that it will be impossible to assure that all cargo is screened by the July 2010 deadline. The administration will seek an extension, allowed under the law passed by Congress.

Homeland Security pilot programs in five overseas ports, to attempt 100% screening, have so far shown how difficult it is, Napolitano said.


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BNSF to lower rates for Montana growers

The Montana Grain Growers, Montana Farm Bureau and BNSF have successfully mediated their first dispute under the new Alternative Dispute Resolution.

The initial rate dispute was filed by a Shelby area producer regarding wheat shipments from Shelby to Portland.

During a meeting, BNSF agreed that the shipping rate in Shelby was greater than justified by current market conditions and as a result, the planned shuttle rate increase in Shelby will be reduced by $165 per car. This will lower the current rate from the Shelby shuttle by roughly $78 dollars per car.

BNSF, the Montana Farm Bureau, and the Montana Grain Growers have been informally mediating grain farmers' rail issues for the past five years, but agreed last January to establish a more formal process.

-Montana News Station

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Daewoo lands $300 mil shipbuilding order from German utility

South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, the world's No. 2 shipbuilder, has won a $300 million order from a unit of German utility firm RWE.

The order is for two vessels designed to set up offshore wind power facility, Daewoo said in a statement on Thursday.

As orders from the downturn-hit shipping industry dry up, special purpose vessels such as dredgers, research ships and others provide a small active market for top shipyards in South Korea.


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German ship captured in June finally released

The German-owned cargo ship Charelle, taken by Somali pirates near Oman in June, has been released, the EU naval force said on Thursday.

The Antigua Barbuda-flagged ship has a crew of 10, the EU Navfor force added.


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Report: Maersk captain ignored repeated warnings on pirate attacks

Some crewmen who were aboard the American cargo ship hijacked by pirates last April now say their captain ignored repeated warnings to stay at least 600 miles off the African coast.

Records obtained by The Associated Press show that maritime safety groups issued at least seven advisories warning of pirate attacks in the days before outlaws boarded the Maersk Alabama in the Gulf of Aden, about 380 miles offshore.


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