Solstad Crews Latest to Lose Jobs

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-24 20:17:51

Norway-based Solstad Offshore has announced that it is cutting back its OSV fleet and associated staff.

The anchor handlers Normand Jarl and Normand Skarven are being sold and PSVs Normand Skipper and Normand Vester will go into lay-up. As a result 50 offshore employees will be made redundant.

Norway has enjoyed low unemployment rates for many years, but it reached 4.1 percent recently partly as the result of jobs disappearing in the oil and gas sector. State statistics bureau SSB reported that 112,000 Norwegians were unemployed in February, and the numbers are expected to grow as more companies in the offshore sector cut costs.

There have been staff layoffs elsewhere across the upstream oil and gas market as a result of low oil prices. Houston-based McDermott International cut about 1,675 jobs at its fabrication yards in May. The move is expected to result in a cash savings of $27.6 million.

Elsewhere Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk will cut 200 jobs in its Maersk Oil unit over the next two years. The cuts will fall in Maersk’s headquarters, Qatar and UK business locations and will affect both permanent Maersk Oil employees and core contractors.

Shell is planning further job cuts in its UK North Sea oil and gas business in 2015, the company said in March, just a week after a package of tax cuts from the Treasury aimed at encouraging growth in the industry.

“Shell UK plans to reduce the number of staff and agency contractors who support the company’s UK North Sea operations by at least 250 in 2015,” Shell said in an emailed statement.

The reduction is in addition to 250 job losses announced in August, Shell said, and follows North Sea job cuts by BP, Talisman Sinopec, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips.


Latest Virginia-Class Submarine Named

By MarEx 2015-05-24 20:01:07

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus hosted a ship-naming ceremony over the weekend in Jersey City, New Jersey, to announce that SSN 796, a Virginia-class attack submarine, will bear the name USS New Jersey.

Mabus told the audience the submarine will be named to honor the long-standing history its namesake state has had with the Navy. New Jersey was where USS Holland, the Navy’s first submarine, was designed and constructed in October 1900.

“New Jersey’s relationship with our Navy has been defined by innovation, leadership, and courage- in conquest and in combat.” said Mabus. “The name of our newest nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine will carry on that strong tradition.”

Since the creation of that first submarine, two naval ships have been named New Jersey: a battleship commissioned in1906 which was part of the famed Great White Fleet and another battleship commissioned in 1943 making SSN 796 the third naval ship to bear the name New Jersey.

“As we sail deeper into the 21st century it is time for another USS New Jersey, time to keep that storied name alive in our Navy and Marine Corps,” said Mabus. “She will sail the world like those who have gone before her, defending the American people and representing our American values through presence.”

The next-generation attack submarines will provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation’s undersea supremacy well into the 21st century, said the U.S. Department of Defense. They will have enhanced stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable them to meet the Navy’s multi-mission requirements.

The submarines will have the capability to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert, long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; mine delivery and minefield mapping. They are also designed for special forces delivery and support.

Each Virginia-class submarine is 7,800-tons and 377 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. It is designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time. The submarine will be built in partnership with General Dynamics/Electric Boat Corp., and will be built by Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut.

Technological Superiority

With the number of foreign diesel-electric/air-independent propulsion submarines increasing yearly, the United States Submarine Force relies on its technological superiority and the speed, endurance, mobility, stealth and payload afforded by nuclear power to retain its preeminence in the undersea battlespace.

The Navy has three classes of submarines in service. Los Angeles (SSN 688)-class submarines are the backbone of the submarine force with 41 now in commission. Thirty Los Angeles-class submarines are equipped with 12 Vertical Launch System tubes for firing Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The Navy also has three Seawolf-class submarines. Commissioned on July 19, 1997, USS Seawolf (SSN 21) is exceptionally quiet, fast, well-armed, and equipped with advanced sensors. Though lacking Vertical Launch Systems, the Seawolf class has eight torpedo tubes and can hold up to 50 weapons in its torpedo room.

The third ship of the class, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23), has a 100-foot hull extension called the multi-mission platform. This hull section provides for additional payloads to accommodate advanced technology used to carry out classified research and development and for enhanced warfighting capabilities.

The Virginia (SSN 774) class has several innovations that significantly enhance its warfighting capabilities with an emphasis on littoral operations. Virginia class submarines have a fly-by-wire ship control system that provides improved shallow-water ship handling. The class has special features to support special operations forces (SOF), including a reconfigurable torpedo room which can accommodate a large number of SOF and all their equipment for prolonged deployments and future off-board payloads.

The class also has a large lock-in/lock-out chamber for divers. In Virginia-class submarines, traditional periscopes have been supplanted by two photonics masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms. With the removal of the barrel periscopes, the ship’s control room has been moved down one deck and away from the hull’s curvature, affording it more room and an improved layout that provides the commanding officer with enhanced situational awareness.

Additionally, through the extensive use of modular construction, open architecture, and commercial off-the-shelf components, the Virginia class is designed to remain state-of-the-practice for its entire operational life through the rapid introduction of new systems and payloads.

As part of the Virginia-class’ third, or Block III, contract, the Navy redesigned approximately 20 percent of the ship to reduce their acquisition costs. Most of the changes are found in the bow where the traditional, air-backed sonar sphere has been replaced with a water-backed Large Aperture Bow (LAB) array which reduces acquisition and life-cycle costs while providing enhanced passive detection capabilities.

The new bow also replaces the 12 individual Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes with two 87-inch Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles. The VPTs simplify construction, reduce acquisition costs, and provide for more payload flexibility than the smaller VLS tubes due to their added volume.

General Characteristics, Virginia class

Builder: General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding.

Date Deployed: USS Virginia commissioned October 3, 2004

Propulsion: One nuclear reactor, one shaft

Length: 377 feet (114.8 meters)

Beam: 33 feet (10.0584 meters)

Displacement: Approximately 7,800 tons (7,925 metric tons) submerged

Speed: 25+ knots (28+ miles per hour, 46.3+ kph)

Crew: 132: 15 officers; 117 enlisted

Armament: Tomahawk missiles, twelve VLS tubes, MK48 ADCAP torpedoes, four torpedo tubes.


USS Virginia (SSN 774), Portsmouth, NH

USS Texas (SSN 775), Pearl Harbor, HI

USS Hawaii (SSN 776), Pearl Harbor, HI

USS North Carolina (SSN 777), Pearl Harbor, HI

USS New Hampshire (SSN 778), Groton, CT

USS New Mexico (SSN 779), Groton, CT

USS Missouri (SSN 780), Groton, CT

USS California (SSN 781), Groton, CT

USS Mississippi (SSN 782), Groton, CT

USS Minnesota (SSN 783), Norfolk, VA

North Dakota (SSN 784), No homeport – Construction began March 2009. Christened 2 November 2013.

John Warner (SSN 785), No homeport – Construction began March 2010

Illinois (SSN 786) – Construction began in March 2011.

Washington (SSN 787) – No homeport, construction began in September 2011

Colorado (SSN 788) – No homeport, construction began in March 2012.

Indiana (SSN 789) – No homeport, construction began September 2012.

South Dakota (SSN 790) – Under contract.

Delaware (SSN 791) – Under contract.

General Characteristics, Seawolf class

Builder: General Dynamics Electric Boat Division.

Date Deployed: USS Seawolf commissioned July 19, 1997

Propulsion: One nuclear reactor, one shaft

Length: SSNs 21 and 22: 353 feet (107.6 meters)

SSN 23: 453 feet (138.07 meters)

Beam: 40 feet (12.2 meters)

Displacement: SSNs 21 and 22: 9,138 tons (9,284 metric tons) submerged;

SSN 23 12,158 tons (12,353 metric tons) submerged

Speed: 25+ knots (28+ miles per hour, 46.3+ kph)

Crew: 140: 14 Officers; 126 Enlisted

Armament: Tomahawk missiles, MK48 torpedoes, eight torpedo tubes.

General Characteristics, Los Angeles class

Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding Co.; General Dynamics Electric Boat Division.

Date Deployed: Nov 13, 1976 (USS Los Angeles)

Propulsion: One nuclear reactor, one shaft

Length: 360 feet (109.73 meters)

Beam: 33 feet (10.06 meters)

Displacement: Approximately 6,900 tons (7011 metric tons) submerged

Speed: 25+ knots (28+ miles per hour, 46.3 +kph)

Crew: 16 Officers; 127 Enlisted

Armament: Tomahawk missiles, VLS tubes (SSN 719 and later), MK48 torpedoes, four torpedo tubes.


$91.6 Million Allocated to Sewol Recovery

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-24 19:43:58

South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries has allocated $91.6 million for the salvage the passenger ship Sewol that sank last year killing over 300 people, mostly school children.

The salvage will involve the 6,825-ton vessel out of the water without causing damage that could cause the loss of the nine bodies believed to be inside.

Salvage bids will be ranked according to a 100-point scale, with technological capability accounting for 90 percent of the evaluation, reports local news agency Yonhap. The bidding price will account for the other 10 percent.

The terms of the salvage tender require the salvor to film the entire process in high-resolution video. The project must be completed by the end of 2016 including any delays associated with adverse weather.

Bids must be announced by 18:00 on June 22.

The ferry is expected to be significantly corroded. It is located on the seafloor of the Maenggol Channel which is known for its strong and potentially dangerous currents.

Sewol is located in 44 meters (144 feet) of water and is now on its left side in about 1.5 meters (five feet) of sediment.

Various plans have been proposed for the vessel’s salvage. One involves divers drilling 93 holes in the side of the vessel so it could be tied to two cranes which would then be used to lift it about three meters (10 feet) off the sea floor. It could then be moved to a safer location for lifting, or on to submersible floating dock.

Sewol sank on April 16, 2014, while en route to the country’s southern resort island of Jeju.


18 U.S. Senators Want Shell Stopped

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-24 19:15:53

A group of 18 mostly Democratic U.S. senators on Friday urged the Obama administration to stop Shell’s preparations for oil exploration in the Arctic, saying the region has a severely limited capacity to respond to accidents.

The senators, from both coasts and several Midwestern states, sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, urging her to retire Arctic leases in the Chukchi Sea.

Jewell’s department earlier this month conditionally approved Shell’s exploration plan in the Arctic. The move means the company is likely to return to the Chukchi Sea this summer for the first time since 2012.

Earlier this month, hundreds of activists in kayaks protested in Elliott Bay in Seattle. The latest protests this weekend resulted in U.S. Coast Guard personnel assisting in the removal of an activist who secured himself to the anchor chain of the support vessel Arctic Challenger in Bellingham, north of Seattle in Washington State.

Matt Fuller requested Coast Guard assistance down from the vessel’s anchor chain at approximately 4:30 a.m. on Sunday morning and was taken to Coast Guard Station Bellingham.

A second activist, Chiara Rose D’Angelo, remained attached to the Arctic Challenger’s anchor chain on Sunday after climbing the chain on Friday night.

The Arctic Challenger is part of a fleet of vessels Shell expects to use in its drilling program. The converted barge is designed to launch oil spill containment equipment, but some activists have questioned its effectiveness in Arctic conditions.

The Coast Guard has cited four people for violation of the 100-yard safety zone around the Arctic Challenger and has terminated the voyage of two vessels determined to not have had the required safety gear including operating without navigational lights after sunset. A small inflatable raft was held due to lack of proof of ownership.

Lt. Cmdr. Justin Noggle, chief of enforcement at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, in Seattle, said: “The Coast Guard respects the First Amendment Rights of people to safely and lawfully assemble on the water. To that end, we will enforce those laws and regulations necessary to ensure the safety of the maritime public.”

Violation of the safety zone can result in possible civil or criminal penalties. Whether intentional or unintentional, interference with these vessels has the potential to result serious injury, death or pollution in the highly sensitive ecosystem of Puget Sound, says the Coast Guard.


Libyan Planes Attack Oil Tanker

By Reuters 2015-05-24 17:10:44

Warplanes from Libya’s official government attacked an oil tanker docked outside the city of Sirte on Sunday, wounding three people and setting the ship on fire, officials said.

It was the third confirmed strike by the internationally recognized government on oil tankers, part of a conflict between competing administrations and parliaments allied to armed factions fighting for control of the country four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

The recognized premier Abdullah al-Thinni has been working out of the east since losing the capital Tripoli in August last year to a rival faction. Both sides have been attacking each other with warplanes and thanks to loose alliances with former anti-Gaddafi rebels have also been fighting on several fronts on the land.

“Our jets warned an unflagged ship off Sirte city, but it ignored the warning,” the eastern air force commander Saqer al-Joroushi told Reuters.

“We gave it a chance to evaluate the situation, then our fighting jets attacked the ship because it was unloading fighters and weapons,” he added.

“The ship now is on fire. We are in war and we do not accept any security breaches, whether by land, air or sea,” Jourushi added.

Mohamed El Harari, a spokesman for Tripoli-based state oil firm NOC, said the Libyan tanker Anwar Afriqya had been carrying fuel for Sirte’s power plant. Another oil industry official said the size of the cargo was 25,000 tons.

A Reuters reporter could see the tanker docked near Sirte’s power plant. Two parts of the tanker were still burning.

A port worker said there had been two attacks. First a plane had fired rockets at the tanker’s cockpit and crew’s cabins, he said. “Then the plane attacked again with guns.”

“They attacked after we had discharged the first tank and were readying the second,” he said.

Sirte’s power plant on the western outskirts is controlled by forces loyal to Tripoli. The rest of the city has fallen into the hands of Islamic State which has exploited a security vacuum.

The eastern government had already attacked in January a Greek-operated tanker docking at Derna, killing two seamen and accusing the shipper of sending weapons. NOC had said the tanker was only carrying heavy fuel oil for a power plant.

Two weeks ago forces loyal to the official government shelled a Turkish ship off the Libyan coast after it was warned not to approach. One crew member was killed in what Turkey described as a “contemptible attack”.


Italy Rescues 70 Migrants

By Reuters 2015-05-24 16:54:50

Seventy Afghan and Iraqi migrants were rescued from a packed boat off the southeastern coast of Italy and brought to shore on Sunday, Italy’s coast guard said.

Italy closed down a specialized naval mission to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean last year, but continues to bear the brunt of the rescues as the European Union and member states conduct talks on how to deal with the influx.

Two Italian coast guard cutters brought the group to the port of Santa Maria di Leuca in Puglia. There were two women and four minors on board, the coast guard said in a statement.

Refugees escaping war and persecution and economic migrants from Africa and the Middle East have poured into Italy this year. Lawlessness in Libya gives traffickers a free hand to pack people into boats.

But the journey is highly dangerous: on Saturday five Tunisians died after their boat capsized while attempting the crossing, and last month around 800 people drowned in the worst such disaster in recent history.

The United Nations refugee agency said approximately 35,500 migrants arrived in Italy by sea between the start of the year and the first week in May.

Arrivals in Greece, Spain and Malta bring the total number of migrants known to have crossed the Mediterranean in that period to 62,500.

The number of dead or missing so far this year is about 1,800 versus 3,500 during all of last year, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.


Memorial Day Remembrance

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-23 20:48:21

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. In this week’s address, the U.S. President Barack Obama commemorated Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to their country.

Other leaders around the nation have added their voice to the commemoration.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Mike Stevens says, “Since 1776, our patriots have fought to defend those certain unalienable rights – Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Our way of life has been made possible by their resolute dedication, their tenacity, and ultimately, their sacrifice. We honor them for that sacrifice this Memorial Day. We honor them through remembrance as we take a knee and bow our heads in tribute. Just as importantly, we honor them by standing the watch.”

In delivering his Memorial Day message, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said:

“While every Memorial Day is marked with solemn remembrance, in 2015 we take special note. This year, as we mark the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the 65th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the 40th anniversary of our departure from Vietnam, and the 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Shield in the lead-up to the Gulf War, we honor and remember those who perished in those wars, just as we recall the more than 6,800 American servicemembers who gave their lives since Sept. 11, 2001.

“To the families of our fallen patriots: we lack the words to describe what you feel on Memorial Day, because try as we may, as we must, we can never fully know it. But we do know what your sacrifice means to us, to our country, and to a world that still depends so much on America for its security.

“As our nation remembers the service and sacrifice of previous generations, we as a people recognize that the men and women serving in uniform today, active-duty, guard, and reserve, are as humble, patriotic, and selfless as any generation that has come before. They, alongside their families, continue that tradition of service to country that makes our military the finest fighting force the world has ever known. Nearly 200,000 of these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are currently serving beyond our shores, protecting us far from home, and will not be able to spend this holiday with their loved ones. Today, and every day, we honor them and their families with our heartfelt thanks and support.”


Honoring our Shipmates

By MarEx 2015-05-23 19:56:32

By Annalisa Underwood, Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division, United States Navy

Honoring the deceased is a centuries-old practice that includes many traditions across cultures. The customs and traditions behind military funerals and burial at sea date as far back as ancient Greece and Rome. In the Navy’s culture, as we give the final honor to our shipmates, we employ traditions that not only signify the service of the deceased, but also display our commitment to their legacy.

Reversal of Rank

In Royal Connell and William Mack’s “Naval Ceremonies, Customs, and Traditions,” it is noted that the reversal of rank at military funerals is modeled after an ancient Roman custom of “reversing all rank and position when celebrating the feast of Saturn,” showing that, at death, all are equal. This is signified by positioning the honorary pallbearers and all other mourners, if practicable, in reverse order of rank.

Firing Three Volleys

The custom of firing three volleys at funerals comes from an old superstition. It was once thought that evil spirits escape from the hearts of the deceased, so shots are fired to drive away those evil spirits. “The number three has long had a mystical significance,” write Connell and Mack. They note that in Roman funeral rites, earth was cast three times into a grave, mourners called the dead three times by name, and the Latin word vale, meaning “farewell,” was spoken three times as they left the tomb.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also notes that the firing of three volleys “can be traced to the European dynastic wars when fighting was halted to remove the dead and wounded.” The funeral volley should not be mistaken for the twenty-one gun salute which is fired for the U.S. President, other heads of state, Washington’s birthday, and the Fourth of July. At Navy military funerals today, three volleys are fired by a firing detail of seven riflemen during the funeral of active duty personnel, Medal of Honor recipients, and retirees just before the sounding of taps.


The sounding of taps is perhaps one of the most moving and well known elements of military funerals. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, taps originated from the French final call, “L’Extinction des feux,” to extinguish the lights. This “lights out” bugle call was used by the U.S. Army infantry during the Civil War, but in 1862 Gen. Daniel Adams Butterfield suggested a revision of the French tune, and we now have the 24-note bugle call we hear today.

Taps was first played at a military funeral in Virginia when Union Captain John Tidball ordered it to be played as a substitute to the traditional three rifle volleys so as not to reveal the battery’s position to the nearby enemy. At Navy military funerals today, taps is played by a military bugler after the firing of three volleys and just before the flag is folded.

The National Ensign

The National Ensign plays a very special role in today’s military funeral traditions. The custom of placing a flag over the body of a fallen soldier has been recorded in the days before the American Revolution when a private in the British Guards by the name of Stephen Graham wrote that the Union Jack was laid upon the body of a fallen soldier who died in the service of the State to show that the State “takes the responsibility of what it ordered him to do as a solider.”

Today, this custom is practiced in American military funerals as a way to honor the service of the deceased veteran. The National Ensign is draped over the casket so the union blue field is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased. After Taps is sounded, the body bearers fold the flag 13 times—representing the 13 original colonies—into a triangle, emblematic of the tri-cornered hat word by the Patriots of the American Revolution. When folded, only the blue field with stars should be visible. The flag is then presented to the next of kin or other appropriate family member.

Burial at Sea

Another type of ceremony for honoring the deceased is the burial at sea (also called the “at sea disposition”) performed on a U.S. Navy vessel. According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, the tradition of burial at sea is one that dates back to ancient times and has been a practice for as long as people have gone to sea. The body was sewn into a weighted sailcloth and in very old custom, the last stitch was taken through the nose of the deceased. The body was then sent over the side, usually with an appropriate religious ceremony.

During World War II, many burials at sea took place when naval forces operated at sea for months at a time. Today, active duty service members, honorably discharged retirees, veterans, U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command, and dependent family members of active duty, retirees, and veterans are eligible for at sea disposition.

The ceremony for burial at sea is conducted in a similar manner to that of shore funerals, with three volleys fired, the sounding of taps, and the closing of colors. The casket or urn is slid overboard into the sea after the committal is read, or, if requested, the cremated remains are scattered into the sea. Flowers or wreaths are also allowed to slide overboard or tossed into the sea by a flag bearer.

Because the committal ceremony is performed while a ship is deployed, family members are not permitted to attend burials at sea. So, within 10 days after committal, the commanding officer of the ship will mail a letter giving the date and time of committal and include any photographs or video of the ceremony, the commemorative flag, and a chart showing where the burial took place.

For many centuries, funerals have been a way to give our final respects to our loved ones. The customs and traditions that we share during the ceremony make it all the more meaningful.

Source: Navy Live


Is Cold Ironing Redundant Now?

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-23 19:19:46

An article in The Post and Courier last week quotes a U.S. port official from Charleston saying that the installation of shore power (cold ironing or alternative maritime power (AMP)) has been rendered a last-generation solution at most major ports.

State Ports Authority Chief Executive Jim Newsome said ultra-low sulfur fuel and scrubbers have made the air quality improvements touted by shore power obsolete. Newsome has estimated it would cost about $20 million to build shore power into a new cruise terminal planned at the port.

The comments have drawn opposition from a local environmental group whose spokesperson said that both scrubbers and shore power would be the best solution for visiting cruise ships.

Carnival Cruise Lines plans to install scrubbers on the Fantasy, reports The Post and Courier. The cruise ship is home-ported at Charleston, and Ecstasy, which will replace the Fantasy in February, already has scrubbers. Neither ship is equipped for shore power.

A Well-Established Solution

Shore power has been taken up by other North American ports including Seattle, Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland and Halifax. Princess Cruises’ shore power program made history when it first began operations in the Alaska capital Juneau in the summer of 2001, and the Port of Seattle was the first in North America to provide infrastructure for two ships to simultaneously utilize shore power.

In addition to recent shore power installations in the Port of San Francisco, the Port of Halifax just commissioned its new shore power equipment last month.

Seattle: Nothing Compares

“Nothing compares to the benefits of zero emissions by connecting the vessel to shore power and shutting down the vessel’s engines while the ship is at the dock,” says Peter McGraw, spokesman for the Port of Seattle. “We in the Pacific Northwest do have cheaper electricity due to our hydro-electric power generated by dams throughout our state, which may produce a different cost than other parts of the country.”

Exhaust stack scrubbers have become the current industry wide focus for all cruise brands in efforts to reduce emissions when the vessel engines are running, but investment in shore power systems at ports continues in the U.S., Canada and around the world, he says.

“Most recently we had a visit from the cruise representatives at the new Kai Tak terminal in Hong Kong. He was here to see our shore power operations and meet with local experts on the technology,” says McGraw. Kai Tak Hong Kong terminal is considering investment in shore power connections at their new cruise facility.

“So all being said shore power does not appear to be dying-out,” says McGraw. “The newest systems are much more advanced than last generation equipment. I’m pleased we have two of our three cruise ship berths in Seattle equipped to serve ships capable of connecting. You just can’t get any better than the zero emissions that come with them.”

Los Angeles: Low Sulfur Fuel still contributes to Emissions

The Port of Los Angeles was the first port in the world to use shore power technology for in-service container ships. Chris Cannon, Director of Environmental Management, Port of Los Angeles, said: “Air quality conditions in Southern California are unique and among the worst in the entire country. Southern California is in “non attainment” for particulate matter 2.5 and “extreme non attainment” for ozone. For this reason, continued reduction in emissions of particulate matter and ozone precursors (NOx, SOx, VOCs) is helpful and necessary.”

In Southern California, overall emissions, as well as potential health risk, are significantly reduced when using electricity to power ships at berth rather than having the ships run on low sulfur fuel, says Cannon. “Even with low sulfur fuel, ships remain one of the largest sources of pollution in our area, and low sulfur fuel for ships still contains 1,000 ppm sulfur, compared to an average 30 ppm sulfur required for automobile fuel.”

Cannon says the port supports the efforts of the California Air Resource Board to reduce at-berth emissions by setting a regulation that requires a phased shore power program for container ships that started on January 1, 2014.

Cannon concedes though that the best way to reduce emissions can vary from one port to another. “While we have funded demonstrations of scrubber technology, we have not yet seen widespread use of this technology in our region. Nevertheless, we believe that scrubbers and shore power can both be used in the future to help reduce emissions.”

Oakland: Looking Forward to Near-Zero Emission Ships

In 2009, the Port of Oakland made a commitment to reduce seaport-related diesel health risks by 85 percent by 2020. “We’ve made significant progress to meet that goal,” says port spokesman Michael Zampa. “As a priority, the port has reduced its seaport emissions from the sources that operate at or nearest the port terminals – the ones that decrease the diesel health risk the most.”

Ship engines are the largest source of seaport emissions at the port. “It’s critical that we reduce these emissions as much as possible, particularly while at berth,” says Zampa. “This is important to the port, its neighboring communities and the region. For the port, the best day for us will be when we no longer need to use our shore power system because only zero or near-zero emissions ships are operating globally. We will all breathe easier on that day.”

Discussion in the U.K.

The U.S. is not the only nation to voice dissent over the value of shore power. The British Society of Maritime Industries hosted a seminar in London earlier this year that discussed the viability of shore power. Representatives from Cavotec and Schneider Electric argued in favor of shore power, although they recognized that a cost-benefit analysis should be done on a case-by-case basis, reports Hellenic Shipping News.

Peter Selway, marketing manager of Schneider Electric, said that ships could expect a payback time of three years and ports four years if they invested in the technology. It was pointed out that shore power reduces noise and vibration as well as air emissions.

However, another speaker at the conference, Simon Zielonka, fleet director of Royal Caribbean International Cruises, said the costs for shore power could be too high for cruise ships. By comparison, the biggest container ships use the same amount of power as a small cruise ship. He also warned that the technology might just move emissions from the port to the location where the electricity was produced.

Zielonka said that most emissions from ships are produced when they are at sea and estimated that shore power might only reduce emissions by 1-3 percent. He also estimated that it was 10 times more expensive to retrofit a ship for shore power than to include it on a newbuilding.

IMO Considered Shore Power, E.U. Acted

IMO representative Masao Yamasaki said at the conference that the IMO had discussed making shore power mandatory in 2012 but concluded that, at that time, there were not enough ports (only 20, mostly in the U.S. and Scandinavia) that were ready with the technology.

The E.U. has taken a stronger stance by approving Directive 2014/94/EU on the deployment of alternative fuel infrastructure in 2014. This directive obliges member states to implement alternative infrastructure networks such as shoreside power technology by December 2025. The E.U.’s TEN-T program has indicated that shore power is an area where funding was available to help with up to 50 percent of the costs of research and 20 percent of the costs of implementation.

Hamburg: A Barge Solution

New ideas are still being developed. The port of Hamburg has taken a less infrastructure-intensive approach to shore power with the commissioning of an LNG-fuelled barge this month that will provide power to cruise ships in the port. The barge works like a floating power plant and, compared to conventional marine diesel with 0.1 percent sulfur content, emits no SOx or soot. Emissions of nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide are also significantly reduced. The deployment of the LNG Hybrid Barge could therefore significantly improve air quality in port cities, says Becker Marine Systems.

More Financial Incentives

The Port of Antwerp already offers shore power at its Independent Maritime Terminal, and there are berths where barges can use shore power. Ships are offered financial incentives to use the power, and the port has just introduced further incentives, this time aimed at scrubbers and LNG.

As of 1 June 2015 Antwerp will grant a discount to seagoing ships that use alternative technology to reduce their particulate emissions. The new discount means that in some cases ships can benefit from a 30 percent reduction in port fees.

According to spokeswoman Annik Dirkx: “For auxiliaries, the use of cold ironing is still a valid option, because this is not necessarily combined with or connected to the main engine that can run on LNG or with scrubbers. In our port we do case by case project development, which means that we try to accommodate every shipping company’s request the best way we can.”

So What Will Charleston Do?

Charleston has been conducting outdoor air testing at Union Pier since February. The data shows that there have been no emissions above federal guidelines, even when a cruise ship is in port. According to Newsome, there is no significant difference between cruise ship days and non-cruise ship days. He therefore believes that shore power isn’t needed.

However, contends one environmental activist, discussions are far from over.

The opinions expressed herein are the author’s and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.


Spill Could Hamper California Oil Projects

By Reuters 2015-05-23 18:58:10

Hundreds of barrels of oil that gushed from a ruptured coastal pipeline in scenic California this week could stiffen opposition to large oil projects that companies want to build in the state, notably those to deliver cheap U.S. crude on trains.

Several proposed oil-by-rail offloading terminals in California were already being contested in light of several fiery crude train derailments since 2013 that have stoked safety concerns about spills and explosions.

Now, the sight of oil washing up on the shores of Santa Barbara could further galvanize rail opponents after up to 2,500 barrels of crude leaked on Tuesday from a pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline LP.

“The more oil we’re moving through the state, the greater the risk of these sorts of accidents,” said Paul Cort, an attorney with EarthJustice, which has sued to stop crude deliveries at Plains’ 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil-by-rail terminal in Bakersfield.

Past spills have prompted policy changes. A leak of 100,000 barrels of crude off Santa Barbara in 1969 led to bans on new leases for offshore drilling in California.

The latest spill could complicate regulatory approvals.

“It’s certainly not good news for anyone trying to permit any kind of oil-related facilities in California,” said John Auers, a consultant at Turner, Mason & Co in Dallas.

Refiners Valero Energy Corp and Phillips 66 want to use railways to transport cheap crude from onshore fields in North America to northern California refineries to displace more pricey foreign imports.

But the projects, which could help mitigate upward pressure on gasoline prices that are among the highest in the United States, have been repeatedly delayed to allow for lengthy environmental reviews.

Some companies have given up.

Nearly two months ago, WesPac Energy-Pittsburg LLC withdrew the 51,000 bpd oil-by-rail component in a broader proposal that has been awaiting permits from the city for more than two years. WesPac now proposes that crude would move into the terminal only via pipeline or vessel if approved. Valero last year scrapped crude-by-rail plans at its Los Angeles-area refinery.

And even some companies with permits face more hurdles.

EarthJustice is suing local permitting agencies over both the Plains’ Bakersfield operation, which the company aims to expand to 140,000 bpd, and a new Alon USA Energy rail project nearby slated for next year.

“People trying to build projects that bring North American crude oil to displace imports at California refineries now have another thing they have to deal with,” said David Hackett, a consultant with Stillwater Associates in Irvine, California.

Sea Lion Dies

A sea lion that became streaked with petroleum from an oil spill on California’s Santa Barbara coastline has died after it was taken to SeaWorld in San Diego to be treated, officials said on Saturday.

The spill left a number of birds and marine mammals streaked with petroleum. So far, a greater number of presumed oil spill casualties have been found alive than dead.

The sea lion was found alive in the area earlier in the week with petroleum on its coat and was shipped to SeaWorld San Diego to be cared for and cleaned.

But the mammal died overnight, said Ashley Settle, a spokeswoman for the joint-agency command for cleanup and recovery.

Dave Koontz, a spokesman for SeaWorld, confirmed the death.

“It’s always very saddening to our rescue team when an animal doesn’t make it and often the situation is that the animal is past the point of being able to recover,” he said.

Koontz added that a necropsy is planned to determine the animal’s cause of death.

So far, two dolphins without visible signs of petroleum exposure have also been found dead, Settle said, as have five petroleum-streaked pelicans and 50 invertebrates.

Another surviving sea lion also was being cared for at SeaWorld, Koontz said.

Separately, wildlife workers have managed to keep alive nine pelicans, one western grebe and a sea elephant that were streaked with oil, Settle said.

The full extent of the toll on wildlife has not been determined, and experts fear the oiled birds and marine mammals found to date may represent only the tip of a potential calamity.