Norfolk – The Port of Virginia will benefit from MSC's (Mediterranean Shipping Co.) plans to shuffle the U.S. East Coast port rotation of its Golden Gate Service from the Far East in February.
The service will make double call at The Port of Virginia, meaning it will stop in Virginia twice during its East Coast port rotation; its last stop will be in Virginia before heading back to Asia. That last stop is important because MSC can take advantage of the deepest shipping channels on the East Coast and sail full-laden ships without regard to depth or height restrictions.
"It gives us the opportunity to capture more export traffic and take advantage of MSC's big ships — load them heavy — and capitalize on our 50-foot channels," said Virginia Port Authority Executive Director Jerry A. Bridges."We expect to pick up more export cargo coming New York, Northern Virginia/Washington, DC and North Carolina."
In the Golden Gate service MSC employs vessels that are in excess of 9,200 TEUs. At other East Coast ports those vessels cannot operate fully-laden because of depth or height restrictions. Making Virginia the last East Coast call sets MSC up to begin capitalizing on the on-dock rail capabilities offered at The Port of Virginia and the economies those large ships offer.
"While other East Coast ports are battling one another over federal dollars to dredge to get ready for the opening of an expanded Panama Canal, Virginia is ready," Bridgess said. "It is decisions like the one we announced today that prove we're ready for the big ships that will come through both the Panama and Suez canals."
The revised port rotation of the Golden Gate Service will be: Hong Kong, Chiwan, Yantian, Shanghai, Ningbo, Singapore, Salalah, Suez Canal transit, New York, Norfolk, Baltimore, Savannah, Freeport (Bahamas), Charleston, Norfolk, Suez Canal transit, Jeddah, Colombo, Singapore, Chiwan and back to Hong Kong.
Above: The MSC Bruxelles, the largest ship ever to call Virginia, is among the vessels deployed in the Golden Gate Service.
Norfolk – The Virginia Port Authority announced today (Jan. 26) an expansion of its Green Operator – GO -- program that will provide an incentive to ocean carriers to burn ultra low-sulfur marine gas oil or use alternative power technology while their vessels are moored at VPA-owned terminals.
As a result of that expansion, the VPA announced today Maersk Line will be the first ocean carrier calling The Port of Virginia to take advantage of the incentive. Beginning in February, all Maersk Line vessels calling the port will burn the low-sulfur fuel while its vessels are at idle during cargo operations.
Last year the VPA began looking for ways to expand GO, which is a program offering financial support to replace older, more polluting short-haul trucks that serve ports in the Mid-Atlantic. The logical step, said Heather Wood, the VPA's director of environmental affairs, was to expand the program to the ocean carriers with the focus being a reduction in air pollutants coming from vessels at idle.
"In three years there will be a federal mandate requiring all vessels plying North American waters to burn this low-sulfur fuel," Wood said. "This is the beginning of our effort – and a first in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast -- to help ocean carriers get ahead of that mandate but we're doing it with an eye on the positive effects for air quality Hampton Roads.
"Maersk has always had a very progressive environmental program and it has participated in some similar programs elsewhere, so it seemed like a logical fit."
The announcement of the fuel-switching agreement between VPA and Maersk Line was made at the Elizabeth River Project's (ERP) annual awards ceremony where the VPA was inducted into the ERP's Hall of fame. The ERP is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the river to the highest practical level of environmental quality through government, business and community partnerships.
"The Port of Virginia fuel switch is the first such initiative in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, and its implementation will create immediate benefits to the region by reducing emissions and improving air quality," Gov. Bob McDonnell said. "The partnership with Maersk Line represents a model that applies environmentally-conscious business practices while keeping our region's economy moving forward."
Through the fuel-switching program, Maersk Line will take advantage of a $300,000 incentive from VPA to burn the ultra low-sulfur fuel in its vessels when they are pier side at The Port of Virginia. Once moored, Maersk Line vessels will draw fuel from an on-board tank filled with the cleaner burning fuel.
Maersk Line vessels call The Port of Virginia on a weekly basis and last year the ocean carrier accounted for 300 vessels calls in Virginia. The ultra low-sulfur marine diesel contains less that 0.1 percent sulfur.
"The fuel switch in the Port of Virginia is part of Maersk Line's commitment to reduce emissions and improve our environmental performance," said Lee Kindberg, director of environment and sustainability at Maersk Line. "We estimate that the fuel switch will reduce emissions of sulfur oxides by 20 metric tons in the first six months. When local residents see a Maersk container or ship, they will know that we are doing our part to improve air quality in Hampton Roads."
Norfolk-based Maersk Line, Limited (MLL) will have 18 ships participating in the program. The fuel switch program will run for 13 months and involve 41 Maersk Line ships making more than 210 port calls.
"We are pleased to participate in an effort that will improve air quality in our hometown," said Patrick Callahan, director of health, safety, security, environment and quality at Maersk Line Limited. "The collaboration with VPA and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality enabled the rapid start-up of a program that will provide real environmental and health benefits to our community."
Through the $300,000 incentive, the VPA will subsidize Maersk Line's cost to purchase the ultra low-sulfur marine diesel for one year. The money for the incentive comes from three sources: the VPA, $75,000; the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, $75,000; and $150,000 from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant program. Over the course of the next five years the VPA will receive $4 million in CMAQ funding for the program.
Operational Fuel Switch Details
Switching involves changing which tank is supplying the fuel and controlling the rate of temperature changes during the transition. Vessel personnel follow the engine manufacturer's recommendations during the switch.
Incentive for the Use of Alternative Power technology
The VPA is also offering a one-time, $500,000 per vessel incentive to ocean carriers that want to employ technology that uses no fuel while a vessel is at idle during cargo operations. This technology, Wood said, essentially would have a vessel using a battery-powered energy management system to fuel its auxiliary engines.
Norfolk – The Virginia Port Authority's sustained commitment its environmental program has earned the agency its most significant environmental accolade: induction into the Inside Business Hall River Star of Fame.
Today's induction announcement coincides with the presentation of the VPA's 11th River Star Award for Sustained Distinguished Performance for its continued, voluntary proactive effort to help restore the Elizabeth River and keep its surrounding environment clean. The River Star is given by the Elizabeth River Project (ERP) as that organization's highest honor given to businesses along the river for their efforts to keep the waterway healthy.
"There isn't an aspect of environmental stewardship that they haven't focused on," says Pam Boatwright, River Star businesses program manager. "Visit any of the port's three terminals on the Elizabeth River and you might see environmental innovation in action: From an under-wharf storm water retention system at Norfolk International Terminals, to low-emissions locomotives and trucks, to electric cranes and state-of-the-art storm water treatment at APM Terminals.
"To do its part to restore urban wildlife habitat, the port has gone beyond basic requirements for mitigation projects to achieve significant new wetlands, oyster reefs and one-of-a-kind parks, including Plum Point in Norfolk and Paradise Creek Nature Park, which is currently in the making.
The port authority has been active in the River Star Businesses program since its first year, 1997, and has documented achievements more years since than any other River Star except last year's first Hall of Fame winner, BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair. Boatwright describes Heather Wood, the VPA's director of environmental affairs, as an "outstanding mentor" who has recruited multiple other River Star businesses.
It is, though, induction into the Hall of Fame that has Wood most proud.
"Our effort is not to win awards, but rather to be a good steward of this waterway and that has always been our guiding principle," she said. "You have to understand what your impact(s) on the environment are and take proactive steps to mitigate them; in our view, that is the only way to do business today. It is nice to be recognized for our effort and it is our guarantee that the effort will continue."
"With this award, we recognize the business that has done the most to exemplify the spirit of the River Stars program," said Bill Blake, director of sales for Inside Business, the Hall of Fame's primary sponsor. "The Virginia Port Authority has demonstrated exemplary leadership over the length of its involvement in the program to 'do right by the river' through responsible environmental stewardship practices that typically save money, improve employee morale and reduce safety risks at the facility, while safeguarding the health of our harbor river here in Hampton Roads."
The River Stars program is one of the most successful local pollution prevention and habitat restoration programs in Virginia. The ERP is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the river to the highest practical level of environmental quality through government, business and community partnerships. Each year the ERP, through its River Star awards, honors those companies, communities, individuals and businesses that have done their part to take care of the river, its shoreline and its tributaries.
Environmental Highlights from 2011:
Norfolk – The Virginia Port Authority took exception to several issues raised in Port's Secrecy Gives Off Odor, an editorial printed in the Sunday (1/15) edition in The Virginian-Pilot. Jerry A. Bridges, the VPA's executive director, felt compelled to respond and his response appeared in Friday's newspaper on page 6 of the Hampton Roads section. The Pilot edited the letter for length, but below is the response in its entirety.
I have always respected The Virginian-Pilot as a regional news source, but with the recent opinion piece: Port's Secrecy Gives Off Odor (1/15, p. 8) I want to make clear my perspective. The editorial questioned the transparency of the Virginia Port Authority's business negotiations with PCS, a company considering Portsmouth Marine Terminal (PMT) for a sulfur melting operation.
The VPA's initial discussions with PCS were kept in-house because the agency was still in the due diligence phase and discussing the proposal internally. This is our normal procedure with any such negotiation and that course of action is protected by state law.
We felt comfortable going forward to the community with the information we had gathered following a fact-finding trip by a VPA delegation to a similar PCS facility in Galveston, Texas. (The trip was paid for by the VPA). Within a week of having returned from Texas, VPA and PCS officials were speaking face-to-face with elected and civic leaders.
The idea that there has been some secret backroom deal regarding this proposed use could not be further from the truth. Negotiations that were only some three months old, a fact-finding trip to Texas, meetings with two mayors, a city council, leaders of several civic organizations and a respected local environmental group hardly constitutes an "abrogation of public trust."
We asked ourselves what is the best way to inform people in and around PMT of this proposed use and the answer was a face-to-face meeting with representatives of the people. Our goal was to inform those people and the VPA Board of Commissioners first because I believe it is unfair to have the case for or against any project made in the newspaper before the affected parties know about it. In truth, we took the issue to the elected and civic association leaders before talking to our board.
We were well aware of what unfolded with PCS in Morehead City, NC, and made the effort to just the opposite: provide the community as much advance information as possible before moving to the next phase. In Morehead City, PCS presented the community a nearly completed package.
Our situation couldn't be more different: At this point no contract has been signed, there is no letter of intent and regardless of what has transpired in the last week we are not ready to advance anything other than a body of information on to the VPA board.
If we were forced to discuss every business prospect publicly our competitors would attend our board meetings and make hay at our expense. I can say that the VPA regularly gets cloaked inquiries from our competitors seeking information about customers, contracts and prospects.
Legal exceptions protect the competitive nature of our business negotiations and contracts. It is an accurate statement that to this day the VPA has acted responsibly in managing the assets of the commonwealth and the result, as you state, is: 343,000 jobs, $41 billion in total revenues, $13.5 billion in payroll compensation and $1.2 billion in local revenues. As a result of this responsible action we are the nation's sixth largest port and poised to become the US East Coast's lead facility.
Finally, it is a misplaced argument to make that the port operates without regard to its neighbors. To the contrary, we -- the state -- recently spent millions on a public safety project that removed 14 rail crossings within the City of Portsmouth. Moreover, I have publicly stated more than once that the priorities for PMT are: 1) job creation 2) tax revenue for the city 3) diversification of the harbor and 4) revenue for the VPA.
In general, we work to be good neighbors in Portsmouth and all of the communities in which we do business and this will not change.
Norfolk –Norfolk Southern has cleared the way for more double-stack intermodal trains to use its Heartland Corridor with the opening this week of a newly improved double-stack rail line between Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Heartland Connector will reduce transit times by one to two days and increase service reliability for double-stack freight traveling to and from the Port of Virginia and Cincinnati and Detroit.
The improvements also will provide Norfolk Southern with the potential to connect Ohio Valley markets to other major East Coast container ports.
The Heartland Connector project is a public-private partnership among Norfolk Southern, Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio Rail Development Commission, and Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Council of Governments to upgrade the NS rail line to accommodate double-stack trains. Previously, containers only could be single-stacked on trains moving over the connector.
The project included raising clearances at five locations along the 124-mile route between Cincinnati and Columbus and adding tracks at Norfolk Southern's Rickenbacker Intermodal Terminal near Columbus. Prior to the upgrades, double-stack intermodal trains leaving the Port of Virginia for Cincinnati and Detroit followed longer routes through Tennessee or Pennsylvania. Now, double-stack trains bound for Detroit use a route that is 212 miles shorter, and trains traveling to Cincinnati travel 69 fewer miles and save up to two days transit time.
"Routing trains over the Heartland Connector improves transit times and allows Norfolk Southern to provide more reliable service and handle additional intermodal freight," said Jeff Heller, NS group vice president international intermodal marketing. "The Heartland Connector is significant for the Port of Virginia because it increases the efficiency of the Heartland Corridor to move goods to and from Ohio and other Midwest consumer markets and adds to the competitiveness of the Hampton Roads region."
Norfolk Southern's Heartland Corridor is the shortest, fastest double-stack route from the Port of Virginia to the Midwest. A single NS intermodal train takes up to 300 trucks off America's highways, reducing traffic congestion and repair costs. In addition, rail transportation is nearly four times more fuel efficient than trucking, resulting in fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Above: The first double-stack train to run between Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, crosses under a bridge near Middletown, Ohio, where the track was lowered to allow containers to be stacked two-high.
Norfolk – The Virginia Port Authority wrapped up calendar year 2011 with a 1.2 percent increase in cargo volume, surpassing the mark set in 2010 by 23,011 TEUs; the VPA completed the year having handled 1,918,029 TEUs.
"We posted growth in all core areas including container volume, in our rail, breakbulk and auto operations and at VIP (Virginia Inland Port)," said Jerry A. Bridges, the VPA executive director. "What should be taken into account is that we grew in spite of a weak economy and some larger trade issues that we had absolutely no control over that an adverse impact on our volumes.
“Posting positive numbers under those conditions tells me that 2012 is going to be different: The economy continues to inch forward, there is considerable interest in the Richmond barge service, CSX has started its on-dock rail operation, both NS and CSX have expanded their rail reach from our port and we have multiple port users that are coming on-line in the later part of this year. An important development is the fact that we have had very productive discussions with some ocean carriers that are considering a change in their East Coast port rotations in order to take advantage of our deep water.”
The year-end trade balance average for 2011 was 59 percent exports and 41 percent imports. The breakdown totals for the core areas of business is as follows:
Calendar year TEU totals by month, 2011 vs. 2010:
Norfolk – The Virginia Port Authority Board of Commissioners will convene its regular board meeting at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 24, in the board room of the VPA offices on the sixth floor of the World Trade Center building in downtown Norfolk (23510). The board meeting is open to the public.
The agenda and meeting materials can be viewed at the following Web address: http://www.portofvirginia.com/corporate/board-room.aspx
NORFOLK -- The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) and Klaipeda State Seaport Authority today (Jan. 17) signed a memorandum of understanding that establishes the groundwork for information sharing aimed at generating new business by promoting the all-water route between the Lithuanian seaport and Virginia.
The three-year agreement will see both organizations cooperate, where possible, on marketing activities, market research, exchange of information, technology, modernization details and cross-training.
"These kinds of agreements signify the beginnings of a working relationship and hopefully a long-term relationship where both parties benefit," said Jerry A. Bridges, the VPA's executive director. "The Port of Klaipeda is strategically located on the Baltic Sea and important to our nation's effort in Afghanistan."
The state-run Port of Klaipeda is located on the east coast of the Baltic Sea and is the primary overland (rail) gateway into northern Afghanistan. The port is northernmost ice-free port on the Baltic Sea and is the largest Lithuanian transport hub, connecting sea and inland traffic lanes; last year the port handled nearly 325,000 TEUs.
The agreement was signed by Bridges and Dr. Eugenijus Gentvilas, director general of the Klaipeda State Seaport Authority and immediately went into effect.
"This visit is important not only to the Virginia and Klaipeda port, but also to Lithuania and the US," said the Lithuanian Minister of Transport, Eligijus Masiulis. "Our future plan is to develop direct shipping lines between Klaipeda and distant American ports and the signing of this memorandum of understanding is a good start."
Lithuanian Ambassador to the US Žygimantas Pavilionis was among the delegation of representatives from several Lithuanian transportation sectors that attended the signing event. The Lithuanian delegation included:
Washington, DC -- Jerry Bridges, chairman of the board for the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) met on Jan. 5 with key staff from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to advance AAPA’s government relations priorities.
AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle, Vice President of Government Relations Susan Monteverde and AAPA Director of Navigation Policy and Legislation Dave Sanford accompanied Bridges.
In a meeting with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s Chief of Staff Noah Kroloff and Deputy Chief of Staff Amy Shlossman, Bridges emphasized that continued funding for port security is critical to our national security. In December, Congress approved the FY 2012 budget, in which it gave one lump sum of money to all state and local Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant programs, with instructions to Napolitano to determine the exact funding level for each program. Congress also cut the overall funding for the programs by 40 percent.
At the meeting, AAPA representatives stressed the importance of the Port Security Grant program and the need to ensure all ports continue to be eligible for the grants, in order to avoid a soft-underbelly of underprotected ports. The meeting also focused on the need to speed up the grant approval and draw-down process, in order to address Congressional concerns over the program. During the discussion, the concept of a joint working group on this issue was raised. AAPA also encouraged the next round of grants to allow for personnel and other operational costs as allowable expenses, as is the case in other state and local grants. Nagle and Monteverde will be meeting with the head of the state and local grant program later this month for further discussions.
Bridges next met with Major General Michael J. Walsh, the new deputy commanding general, Civil and Emergency Operations, US Army Corps of Engineers and Corps senior staff. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss the Quality Partnership Initiative (QPI), its history and the upcoming QPI meeting Feb. 1 at Port Manatee, where Walsh and Bridges will speak.
Bridges spoke to the strong need to continue to promote improvements in the planning and project delivery processes, including reducing study times and capturing project benefits for the nation more quickly. The meeting also included a discussion on the funding levels for maintenance dredging and deepening. During the meeting, the Corps discussed its development of a report required by the Senate Environment and Public Works report on the Corps of Engineers FY 2012 appropriations bill, as requested by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The appropriations report calls for the following:
“Within the funds provided, the Institute for Water Resources is directed to submit to the Senate Appropriations Committee within 180 days of enactment of this act, a vision on how the Nation should address the critical need for port and inland waterway modernization to accommodate the post-Panamax vessels that currently transit the Suez Canal and will soon take advantage of the Panama Canal expansion.
"Factors for consideration within the vision include the costs associated with deepening and widening deep draft harbors; the ability of the waterways and ports to enhance the nation’s export initiatives benefitting the agricultural and manufacturing sectors; the current and projected population trends that distinguish regional ports and ports which are immediately adjacent to large population centers; and the environmental impacts resulting from the modernization of inland waterways and deep-draft ports.”
Norfolk – The Freight Transportation Advisory Committee (FTAC) has created a short video explaining the importance of developing efficient transportation systems to move freight in and out of Hampton Roads in order benefit the economies of the region, state and the nation.
The FTAC is a subcommittee of the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization. The Committee's mission is to advocate on behalf of the movement of freight in the region. Its members include representatives from Newport News Shipbuilding, Norfolk Southern, Givens Logistics, K-Line America, The CrossGlobe Group and the Virginia Maritime Association.
The YouTube video, entitled "A Region United," can be seen by going to The Port of Virginia's YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/portofvirginia?feature=guide. Or users can search YouTube under "A Region United."
Virginia Maritimer Magazine
Current Issue: Winter 2012