Brownwater News, December 2017

Doyle to leave Federal Maritime Commission

Federal Maritime Commissioner William Doyle has notified President Trump that he intends to leave his post effective Jan. 3.

Doyle said that during his tenure at the FMC, he was “intimately involved and successful in negotiating terms and conditions into carrier alliance agreements. This has provided additional safeguards from the alliances using their collective market power to drive down the rates of U.S.-based suppliers, service providers and small businesses, such as tugs, barges, bunker providers, equipment lessors, drayage/truckers and marine terminals.”

Doyle was nominated on Feb. 10, 2012, and confirmed Jan. 1, 2013. He was renominated Jan. 29, 2015, and reconfirmed March 23, 2015.

Seaway announces seasonal closing dates

Operators of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System have announced closing dates for the 2017 navigation season.

As stated by the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. and the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., all vessels must be clear of the Montreal-Lake Ontario section of the seaway and of the Welland Canal at 1200 hours on Dec. 31.

Any transit of the MLO after midnight Dec. 24 or of the Welland on or after Dec. 26 will be subject to prior written agreement, the corporations said. Closing of the Sault Ste. Marie Locks (U.S.) is currently scheduled for Jan. 15.

The corporations advised vessel operators and owners that there are several ports east of the Seaway (St. Lambert Lock) on the St. Lawrence River that remain open to navigation during the winter months.

Coast Guard alters drawbridge schedule on Upper Miss.

The U.S. Coast Guard is changing the operating schedule that governs the draws of all bridges between Lock and Dam 14 and Lock and Dam 10 on the Upper Mississippi River.

The new operating schedule, effective Dec. 21, will require 24-hour notice for openings during the winter season.

The Coast Guard said the revision allows the drawbridges to remain in the closed-to-navigation position for extended periods, facilitating preventive maintenance “essential to the safe operation of the drawbridges.”

The revision will allow for “flexibility in beginning these special operating schedules each year based on the arrival of winter weather,” the Coast Guard said. For more information, contact Eric A. Washburn at (314) 269-2378.

FMC to hear Fair Port Practices petition

The Federal Maritime Commission has scheduled hearings for Jan. 16 and Jan. 17 to hear testimony on a petition for a rulemaking proceeding filed by the Coalition for Fair Port Practices.

The coalition said the petition (P4-16) arose from experiences with port congestion that ultimately led to vessel and marine terminal operator assessments of detention, demurrage and per diem charges. The petition lists events over the past five years that led to congestion, including Hurricane Sandy and cargo diversion from the West Coast to the East Coast.

The commission said that the many responses to the petition “illustrate the complexity of issues surrounding ocean container shipping and marine terminal operations.”

“I look forward to the opportunity to explore with the witnesses the issues raised by the petition,” said FMC Acting Chairman Michael Khouri. “One question is whether the commission can craft a general rule of universal nationwide applicability on detention, demurrage and per diem provisions given the wide variety of commercial terms and conditions that are incorporated into VOCC (vessel ocean common carrier) service contracts and in MTO (marine terminal operator) tariffs."

Khouri said a further consideration to be addressed involves "the various and disparate operating protocols" used by the 250-plus marine terminal operators currently registered at the commission.

AMP honors Rep. Scalise for maritime support

Thomas Allegretti, chairman of the American Maritime Partnership (AMP), presented the 2017 Champion of Maritime Award on Dec. 12 to Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., for his “extraordinary support and dedication to the American maritime industry.”

The award is the highest honor conferred by the AMP to leaders who have made contributions to the domestic maritime industry. The ceremony was held at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

AMP said the commerce transported by 40,000 ships built at U.S. shipyards sustains more than $100 billion in economic output each year. Scalise, who said that the maritime industry is vital to Louisiana’s economy, added that the industry is “not only responsible for creating and supporting hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs across our country, it is also a critical component of America’s homeland security strategy.”

Scalise said he would continue to “fight every day to defend and uphold the Jones Act, which is vital to the national and economic security of our country.”

Proposed terminal would handle inland containerships

American Patriot Holdings (APH) and the Plaquemines Port Harbor And Terminal District have announced plans to develop a specially designed “gateway” terminal at Mile 55 on the Lower Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish, La.

The terminal would have three berths with up to 55 feet of draft for large oceangoing containerships. It would connect to a dedicated APH terminal where newly designed inland containerships would be loaded.

APH said that loading at a container terminal at Mile 55 means less traffic and a 50 percent reduction in navigation time for ocean carriers versus upriver terminals.

Seaway cargoes up slightly from 2016

The St. Lawrence Seaway reports that this year it handled nearly 34 million tons of cargo through November, about 2,500 tons more than the corresponding period in 2016.

Dry bulk led the commodities through the Seaway with 9 million tons, up from 8 million through November 2016.

By Professional Mariner Staff