A Momentous Year for MARAD

A Momentous Year for MARAD

Posted by Paul "Chip" Jaenichen

With over 95% of all U.S. foreign trade by volume moving across oceans onboard ever-increasing sized vessels, barge tows transporting millions of tons of coal and other bulk commodities on our inland waterways, and government-owned and commercial vessels carrying U.S. military equipment and supplies to and from overseas contingencies, our Nation’s reliance on marine transportation is stronger today than it has ever been.

As the agency within the DOT that develops and promotes American marine transportation and the U.S. Merchant Marine, the Maritime Administration—or “MARAD”—works diligently to ensure the dependability and security of this system along with its intermodal connections for the movement of people and freight. With 2014 coming to a close, I have been impressed with my team and proud to look back on what has been a highly productive year for MARAD.  Most importantly, we delivered results on a number of measures to accomplish our mission.

This was a banner year for MARAD in maintaining and managing the Ready Reserve Force (RRF) with our commercial ship managers and maritime labor union partners. Although the primary purpose of RRF vessels is to support the rapid overseas deployment and projection of U.S. military forces, we proved just how versatile these vessels truly are.  For instance—through vast U.S. interagency and international collaboration, the M/V CAPE RAY was converted into a chemical weapons destruction facility to support the historic at-sea neutralization of the Syrian Government’s declared chemical weapons stockpile. In addition, both the M/V CAPE RISE and M/V CAPE WRATH deployed with a range of vital U.S. Army cargoes—everything from Humvees to water purification equipment—to Liberia to help fight the ongoing Ebola outbreak.

With significant stakeholder engagement during two symposiums—one in January focusing on the U.S. flag fleet trading internationally and the second in May focusing on the domestic fleet, ports and shipbuilding—MARAD also made real progress on the development of a National Maritime Strategy.

Over the past 12 months, we achieved strong progress on the capital improvements and infrastructure advancements at the MARAD-managed U.S.  Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA). Working with the Superintendent and Academy leadership, MARAD and the Academy met and exceeded all of the goals we established for the year, including renovating barracks and the dining hall, completely rebuilding Mallory Pier, and welcoming the new T/V KINGS POINTER to the Academy. MARAD contributed immensely to these efforts, and will continue working hard to ensure Academy facilities support the high-caliber education and training of future licensed officers in the U.S. Merchant Marine and our Armed Forces.

All throughout 2014, MARAD persisted with its unyielding support of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (Jones Act), which ensures vessels operating in domestic commerce are U.S.-built, -crewed and -owned. The Jones Act was and continues to be, especially this year, a driving force behind the tremendous renaissance of the domestic maritime industry. In fact, MARAD’s Title XI Ship Financing Office made numerous program reforms to support this progress, streamlining and increasing the efficiency of the full faith and credit guarantee review process, and eliminating months from the timeline to review and approve applications.

There is no question, 2014 has been a year of great achievement for MARAD with regards to the RRF, USMMA and Title XI as well as many other initiatives and programs that I will highlight in later blog posts. To put a “cap” on this great year—while MARAD is proud of what we accomplished in 2014, we also know that our Nation’s dependence on marine transportation is only going to grow and we are eager to get moving on our goals for 2015.


Maitland: Alaska ro-ro voyage demonstrates value of U.S. mariners, pollution controls

Maitland: Alaska ro-ro voyage demonstrates value of U.S. mariners, pollution controls

Sep 11, 2014 04:25 PM

Clay Maitland observes from the bridge wing of  Midnight Sun  while en route to Alaska.

Clay Maitland observes from the bridge wing of Midnight Sun while en route to Alaska.

by Clay Maitland

ast year, at a Coast Guard Foundation dinner in Seattle, Carleen Lyden-Kluss and I bid on and won a one-way trip aboard Midnight Sun, a ro-ro trailer ship operating between Tacoma, Wash., and Anchorage, Alaska. Our attention was attracted by the fact that Midnight Sun’s owner, Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE), a member of the Saltchuk group of companies, has a well-earned reputation for innovation combined with careful attention to efficiency and performance. Midnight Sun is one of two Orca class ships, purpose-built for the Alaska trade. Carleen and I have been active in advocating a need for growing attention to Alaska’s maritime future, including its growing maritime connections with the “Lower 48”and with the expanding economies of Asia. As co-founders of the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA), we were also attracted by TOTE’s strong environmental record, along with that of the other Saltchuk companies.

With the growing prospect of United States LNG production, the Alaskan trade from the West Coast is, by nature, a major force for a U.S.- flag (including Jones Act) shipping revival. Also, the challenging sea and weather conditions during part of the year are clearly a test for our mariners.

TOTE has agreed with General Dynamics/NASSCO to build several new LNG-powered trailer ships — an exciting prospect being closely watched by the industry as a whole. Also, Midnight Sun and its sister, North Star, have forward-looking designs; it is expected that they will be retrofitted for LNG in the near future. The Orca vessels are about 839 feet long and 118 feet wide, with an approximate draft of 29.5 feet and a service speed of about 24 knots. They can carry 600 40-foot trailer equivalents, plus as many as 200 automobiles, the latter being mainly new vehicles assigned to dealers in Alaska. TOTE’s slogan, “Designing for the Environmental Future” is not taken lightly; these ships use hazelnut oil, which has about the same specific gravity as seawater to lubricate the ships’ shaft seals, and crushed walnut shells to clean the turbine blades. They are powered by high-performance MAN diesel electrics equipped with double-hull fuel oil tank systems and contained freshwater ballast systems. Midnight Sun, one of two Orcas, is officered mainly by Kings Pointers, hawsepipers and one Fort Schuyler graduate.

Salt water even figures in the parent company’s name: “Saltchuk” means exactly that, from “Chinook jargon,” a trading language developed among natives of the Pacific Northwest/Columbia River region. In addition to Totem Ocean Trailer Express, the Saltchuk group of companies includes Foss Maritime, Sea Star Line, Young Brothers (Hawaii), Delta Western (Dutch Harbor Alaska), Inter-Ocean American Shipping and a group of air, road and water transport firms.

The most exciting experience for us was watching the roll-on, roll-off loading operation at the TOTE Tacoma facility, and the discharge in Anchorage three days later. This high-speed process employs truck cabs called “hustlers,” which move trailers or containers onto the ship via ramps. We watched in fascination as the driver/longshoremen drove the trucks aboard, where the trailers or containers were made fast in assigned spaces. Midnight Sun has six decks, and it was wonderful to see the skill and efficiency of the whole operation. We came away with a new realization and respect for the human and technical skill needed to clear approach paths, drive the loads to and from the ramps, and get each trailer and container to its assigned position on an increasingly confined area of deck space. The actual work of stowage and discharge is so precise and so sophisticated, it can only be said that “seeing is believing.”

All of this could not be achieved without a highly skilled crew, and a very sophisticated — again, that word — shoreside operation. To begin with, this is a carefully thought-through logistical framework, one that is loosely invisible to the consumer public. The high capital cost of container cranes has been replaced with a much more flexible — and less costly— ramping system. The Orca vessels keep to a 66-hour schedule in each direction through North Pacific/Gulf of Alaska waters. In winter, this means coping with storm and ice conditions particular to the region. As we personally observed, a very alert watch is kept in order to keep clear of fishing vessels, some of which appeared off the Kenai Peninsula and Kennedy entrance, and are small and hard to spot even with the ship’s modern radar equipment. Interestingly, the ship embarked an Alaskan pilot (a requirement for entry into Alaska waters) at Port Angeles, Wash.; he stayed aboard northbound and southbound, for the return trip to Puget Sound. The entry into Cook Inlet has its challenges: in addition to the fishing traffic, there is the Knik Arm shoal and the need to follow marine mammal protection regulations, both state and federal.

We noticed a pod of some nine belugas — those impossibly white mini-whales — frisking along near the shore, and were told that they used to be attracted to the TOTE ships, when their hulls were painted white. The hulls are now blue, so the belugas stay a way off. A word about the crew, which included two Kings Point cadets in their plebe year: both of these cadets will stay aboard, learning the way of a ship until November — a true “classroom at sea”. I wonder if the folks in Washington, including Congress, have any idea of the great value that the U.S. taxpayer-consumer gets from our merchant marine training system, exemplified by this system of imparting knowledge. The two Orca vessels have 24-person crews, so on a weekly basis, 48 crew members are moving a massive volume of freight in both directions on a 66-hour schedule “up” and another 66 hours “down.” An impressive display of efficiency!

We were amazed at the cleanliness of Midnight Sun’s engine spaces. The “spit and polish” regime (ably skippered by Capt. Andy Murray), the excellent food, and the fact that the members of the engine department not only were so willing to discuss our areas of interest — extending even to that most exciting article of maritime technology, the oily water separator — but that they obviously enjoyed their jobs was most impressive. The ship’s first mate, Matt Huyter, was like the rest of the crewmembers we met: alert, cheerful and helpful. The value of a well-trained, experienced and professional crew was (and is) obvious, and it occurred to us that every member of Congress should get the benefit of a trip on a Jones Act ship like Midnight Sun. All this says something about, in my opinion, the greatly underrated U.S. merchant service.

TOTE has entered into a cooperative effort with Alaska’s state government, as well as with an apprenticeship program for Alaskans with the Seafarers International Union’s Paul Hall Maritime Training Center at Piney Point, Md. Carleen and I chair NAMEPA’s Alaska Maritime Employment Project, cooperating with the University of Alaska and industry stakeholders, to bring training jobs and the state’s growing maritime sector together with the people — including the native peoples — of Alaska.

TOTE/Saltchuk’s vision of the future involves Foss Towing and its approach to new technologies. It is a leader in the use of natural gas as a shipboard propulsion fuel, as it was the inception of the trailer/ramp concept. LNG is a leading alternative to oil fuels that meets domestic and international air emission requirements, including the limits for Emission Control Areas adopted in recent amendments to MARPOL Annex VI. Current pricing and availability makes natural gas competitive in comparison to other fuels; however, with the exception of boil-off gas used on LNG carriers, existing U.S. regulations do not address the training of seafarers working aboard vessels powered by gas and other low flashpoint fuels.

The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted Resolution MSC.285(86), entitled “Interim Guidelines on Safety For Natural Gas-Fueled Engine Installations In Ships.” The IMO’s International Code of Safety for Ships Using Gases or Low Flash-Point Fuels (IGF Code) for vessels greater than 500 tons is a part of MARPOL, and therefore will become part of U.S. law in the near future.

nternational standards for the training of such mariners are currently being developed by the IMO. In June 2009, the IMO published Interim Guidelines, which are available at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg521/docs/msc_285_86.pdf .

Mariners aboard ships operating under the U.S. flag will have to obtain training according to approved courses, and given by qualified personnel, such as engine manufacturers or other vendors defined as qualified under the Interim Guidelines. It will be interesting to see how the requirement for seagoing service will be applied to a ship after it begins to operate with LNG capability. Mandatory minimum requirements for the training and qualification of masters, officers, ratings and other personnel on ships subject to the IGF Code are now under discussion. It is expected that the U.S. Coast Guard will begin approving courses in issuing endorsements in the near future. In view of the rapid progress of the drawing boards of LNG-powered ships, it is hoped that any mariner found qualified under the Interim Guidelines will be grandfathered into the appropriate endorsements.

The arrival of LNG as a means of ship propulsion is a revolutionary development that will meet emission standards and demands for greater economy. It is an attractive and revolutionary new development with great promise for the U.S.-flag merchant fleet.

Clay Maitland is a maritime industry leader who is Managing Partner of International Registries Inc and Founding Chairman of the North American Marine Environment Protection Association. He can be reached a claymaitland@yahoo.com or through his website/blog www.claymaitland.com.

As Exports Rise, Maritime Moves America. By Paul “Chip” Jaenichen

August 25, 2014

Today, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of industry professionals at the Finished Vehicle Logistics Conference, where the theme of the discussion was the import and export of new cars.

I’m sure you’re wondering what vehicle logistics has to do with the Maritime Administration. And that’s a very good question. 

My role at this conference highlighted the critical —yet often overlooked— fact that maritime moves America.

Last year, nearly 9.8 million metric tons of vehicles were imported and exported through the 40 U.S. ports that handle vehicles.  Furthermore, the value of U.S.-manufactured vehicle exports has increased nearly four-fold over the last decade, growing from $9 billion in 2003 to $38 billion in 2013.

This represents a clear growing demand for U.S.-manufactured vehicles and other products in overseas markets, which means increased traffic and demands for U.S. port facilities.  That’s why MARAD is doing all it can to prepare the industry for increasing volumes in waterborne automotive trade and the movement of other freight.

MARAD offers many programs designed to help ports modernize, expand, and otherwise improve their facilities.  For example, StrongPorts builds on MARAD’s existing relationships and is working with the American Association of Port Authorities to offer tools that help ports develop quality plans that attract both public and private investors. 

Additionally, MARAD’S Port Conveyance Program transfers surplus Federal property to state and local governments, at no cost, for the development and enhancement of port facilities that support economic growth.

It’s clear that this Administration is in tune with our growing freight requirements and the role ports play in meeting them.  Since 2009, through five rounds of TIGER, DOT has awarded more than $420 million to 33 port projects. 

More recently, Secretary Foxx introduced GROW AMERICA, a surface transportation reauthorization bill, to Congress, and that proposal includes $5 billion for four more years of the TIGER grant program —currently the only Federal funding open to maritime and port infrastructure projects.

This Administration continues to work to help U.S. ports and the marine transportation industry prepare for inevitable growth.  By updating infrastructure and expanding opportunities shoreside, we are nurturing a renaissance in American exports and triggering increased global demand for American-made products.

By MarEx

New U.S. Sealift Capacity, Resources and Training Needs. Interview with Clay Maitland

Another interview in a Maritime TV series featuring Clay Maitland, Managing Partner, International Registries, Inc., Chairman of the Merchant Marine Policy Coalition (MMPC), and Founding Chairman of the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA), entitled  ‘Mondays with Maitland’ . The program series addresses issues of the day throughout the international maritime industry. In this twelfth interview in the series, as the 2nd National Maritime Strategy Symposium is about to take place in Washington D.C. on May 6, Maitland predicts the need for additional sealift capacity and trained mariners because of the increasing number of regional crisis points in the world, including the Black Sea, Persian Gulf and Asia. He discusses what the implications are for U.S. resources, training and infrastructure, both brown water and blue water, that are driven by this need. Click Here for New U.S. Sealift Capacity, Resources and Training Needs .

MMPC Chairman Clay Maitland Discusses Results of MMPC Meeting with Industry Leaders on U.S. Flag Shipping's Future

May 21, 2013
Clay Maitland, Chairman of the Merchant Marine Policy Coalition (MMPC) spoke with Maritime TV about a recent May 16 MMPC luncheon meeting in Washington D.C. with distinguished industry leaders. The meeting’s purpose was to gather feedback and generate ideas about building a consensus on a process to develop a framework for revitalizing the U.S. Flag Merchant Fleet, MARAD and the U.S. Maritime Industry.

Click on the link below to watch the video: