ILWU Vote Promises Three-Year Contract Extension at West Coast Ports

Early reports of election results indicate the International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers at 29 ports in California, Oregon and Washington have voted on a three-year contract extension with their employer, with indications that it will be passed.

A release from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) said local unions were reporting the extension with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) would be approved by 67%, according to the Journal of Commerce.

The current  contract is scheduled to expire on July 1, 2019, but if ratified it will expire on July 1, 2022.  The contract at issue covers 20,000 dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports handling nearly half of all U.S. maritime trade and more than 70 percent of the country’s imports from Asia.

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FMC to Implement 30-day Service Contract Amendment Rule

US maritime regulators are preparing to eliminate  a rule that will require ocean carriers to report amendments to service contracts before they go into effect, as the Journal of Commerce reports.

Proposed rulemaking now under consideration at the FMC would gut language requiring service contract amendments be filed with the commission before going into effect and, instead, allow amendments to go into effect immediately, so long as they are filed up to 30 days after the changes are made.

The following rulemaking is done as part of a broader attempt to save shippers, carriers, and NVOCCs money and hassle by simplifying the filing process. The proposal  got full support from  carriers. Carriers claim that, on top of millions of dollars in costs, the existing filing requirement prohibits shippers and carriers from applying agreed-upon terms immediately and thus do business without disrupting or delaying that business.

The World Shipping Council, which represents roughly 90 percent of global container capacity, proposed the 30-day rule. The group recommends that the FMC requirements be amended to permit contract parties to implement a service contract amendment immediately, provided that the amendment is entered into by the parties and filed within 30 days of: either the date agreement on the amendment is reached, or the date the carrier receives the cargo to which the amendment applies. Carriers have promised the commission would still receive all service contract amendments, however, not prior to implementation.

While the 30-day rule was met with strong support among shippers who submitted public comments to the commission, those same voices encouraged caution when it came to deregulation in other areas.

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Port Authority Develops Simulation Center, First of its Kind in the Country

Under a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD), The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will make investments to improve the barge program that transports containers between terminals in New York and New Jersey.

The grant, obtained with the assistance of New York and New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, will increase the barge system’s cost-effectiveness and reliability for shippers. These factors, in turn, will help the Port Authority, its terminal operators and ocean carriers to grow the existing barge program, which last year moved 35,000 containers, resulted in 60,000 fewer trucks on the region’s roadways, and eliminated 1,600 tons of CO2.

But the MARAD grant also helps create the New York Harbor Crane Operators Training Center (COTC), the first of its kind in the country.

The COTC’s three state-of-the-art simulators will help train members of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) to operate the newest generation of ship-to-shore and yard cranes, thus optimizing the loading and discharge of container barges. The award of $492,480 from the MARAD grant will be matched by $328,320 committed by both the New York Shipping Association (NYSA) and Port Newark Container Terminal, plus an in-kind contribution of a simulator from the NYSA.

The full grant will also support:

  • Enhancing the fender system at Berth 6 in Port Newark, specifically the Red Hook Barge Terminal, to help protect both Port Authority-owned barges and the berths from damage during docking and undocking operations. The MARAD grant award of $157,500 will be matched by $192,500 from the Port Authority.
  • The purchase of two new high-tech machines to augment existing container handling equipment at Red Hook Container Terminal. The MARAD grant award of $982,316 will be matched with $327,439 from Red Hook Container Terminal.

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The source: Breaking Waves

US Ports Resume Operations After Hurricane Matthew

South Eastern US ports resumed operations last week after Hurricane Matthew caused the evacuation of over two million people.

Full operations are back  at the Port of Charleston SC, which did not suffer any significant damage despite major flooding. Vessels are berthed and cargo being handled, and truckers are able to access the port at the Wando Welch and North Charleston terminals.

Rail services have also been resumed across the states of Florida and South Carolina; the Port of Canaveral also, which was in the most vulnerable position geographically, suffered only minor damages.

 After ceasing operations and losing power, the Port of Savannah has also resumed activity at its terminals.

After causing more than 1,000 deaths in Haiti and severe damage as it swept through the Bahamas, Matthew raked the coasts of Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, and was blamed for 22 deaths in the United States before heading out to sea.

Several ports from Miami to Norfolk halted operations in advance of the storm as the US Coast Guard restricted vessel movements.

Ports minimized damage by securing cranes, lowering container stacks, and taking other precautions as the storm approached. At Charleston, port workers moved BMW automobiles awaiting export from Charleston onto ships and rail cars, and covered gate kiosk equipment in plastic.

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Updated Procedures Regarding Hanjin Cargo and Equipment

The following  update concerns the latest procedures for handling Hanjin cargo and equipment at the Port of New York and New Jersey.

M/V Hanjin Miami

The Hanjin Miami is expected to dock at Maher Terminals on Thursday, September 22, 2016 for discharge.  Cargo availability information can be found at and/or

Please confirm availability before arranging delivery.

There will be no export containers loaded back onto the Hanjin Miami.

All bookings have been cancelled.

Cargo discharged from this vessel will not have to pay the Terminal Handling Charges and any ancillary charges separately.

In order to facilitate double moves, Maher will receive empty returns from the Hanjin Miami only.

M/V Hanjin Baltimore & Hanjin Switzerland

The Hanjin Baltimore has been arrested and is sitting in the Gulf of Panama.  Once released, we expect that she will make her way to the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The Hanjin Switzerland is currently awaiting orders in the Gulf of Suez.

We will provide updates regarding these expected port calls and cargo availability as they become available.  Hanjin is providing updates regarding the disposition of all of their ships twice daily at

Other Hanjin Imports at Maher Terminals 

Until directed otherwise, all other Hanjin import deliveries must be pre-paid in either cash or credit, if already established with Maher Terminals. Please contact the Maher Terminals Hot Line at 908-527-8200 Ext 3875 for information on the charges due.

Empty Hanjin Dry Containers

At this time, Hanjin empty containers (prefix of HJCU, HJSU or SENU) are not being accepted at the terminals or depots.

This is a dynamic situation and may change as inventory levels change or accounts are settled.

If you are looking to return an empty with a prefix other than those mentioned above, email the leasing company the full container number and location of the box so the leasing company can provide a redelivery location.

After dropping an empty, the motor carrier must then terminate the chassis at an authorized start / stop location or retain the chassis and transfer the billing to their own account upon leaving.

TRAC Intermodal Chassis

Effective September 24, 2016, all motor carriers who have initiated a door move for Hanjin Shipping prior to September 1st will be responsible for all usage charges from September 24th until the chassis if off hired at an authorized start / stop location.


The source:  The port of NY/NJ website

China Eases Zika rules for US exports

Chinese regulators have reduced the Zika-prevention requirements for US exports to China several times since they were first announced, according to an update from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA)Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

Chinese authorities have decided that the containers arriving in China from the United States don’t need to comply with special rules designed to prevent the spread of Zika, and instead say the mandates will apply only to vessels leaving Florida — the state most seriously affected by the disease, US officials say.

The updated rules mean that only vessels and containers that originate in Florida need to be disinsected — which can include spraying with chemicals, trapping, air curtains, or other integrated pest management techniques — to combat the disease, which is spread by mosquitos, the US Foreign Agricultural Service said.

FAS added, “However, if during the course of routine sampling and inspection, local CIQ officials discover any adult mosquitoes, eggs, larva or infected cases, the vessel and its contents will be subject to the full Zika requirements described below”

The decision will please shippers from states other than Florida, who worried that the rules could mean shipping delays and added costs.

China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine made its decision based on research that showed the “low risk of Zika transmission through shipments of cargo,” said the US Foreign Agricultural Service.

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LA-LB Terminals End Uniform Chassis Fee

Marine terminal operators at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have stopped assessing  a 5$ gate fee on chassis entering their facilities after a regulatory challenge from chassis lessors, as the Journal of Commerce reports.

The organization representing marine terminal operators in Los Angeles-Long Beach said that the individual terminals will negotiate directly with chassis-leasing companies on compensation for hosting their equipment.

Those individual negotiations are already underway, said PierPass Inc. President John Cushing, who represents the West Coast Marine Terminal Operating Agreement. Member companies will most likely be seeking compensation for chassis storage, the use of longshore labor to stack and unstack chassis and reimbursement for electronic data interchange transmission of data on chassis usage, which the intermodal equipment providers use to bill customers.

“WCMTOA’s member terminals affirm their right to seek compensation for the costly services they provide to chassis-leasing companies at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach,” the organization stated in a release. “It costs terminals more than $200,000 per acre per year to lease land from the ports, and the terminals each have many acres stacked with chassis.”

The $5 services fee, which the 13 container terminals intended to charge each time a chassis entered or left the facility, drew opposition from the IEPs, or intermodal equipment providers (Flexi-Van, Direct ContainerLink and TRAC Intermodal), since it was first proposed in July.

The IEPs on Aug. 9 filed a petition for an order to show cause with the Federal Maritime Commission, charging that the fee would violate the Shipping Act of 1984. The IEPs said that from the beginning any negotiations for compensation should be handled on a terminal-by-terminal basis because each facility is different in terms of how much land it reserves for container storage, its individual operating costs and requirements for how many chassis it needs on hand to run its business.

Harbor truckers have been involved in the issue as well because chassis availability and the location of chassis storage sites have a direct impact on their operations.

Stay informed with RCL updates about the latest maritime news.

Proposed U.S. Rule Railroads to Allow Shippers to Switch Cargo to Rivals

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board proposed a rule that allows shippers to switch cargo among large railroads if there’s reasonable access to competing tracks, Bloomberg reports.

The regulation would potentially change restrictions that limit shippers’ control of their own rail freight. Currently, rail carriers pick up cargo and carry it to its final destination without customers being able to request that it be dropped off for a competitor to handle.

The proposal to force railroads to allow some manufacturers to hire a competing railroad to haul their products has been championed by the National Industrial Transportation League. The STB, as the agency is known, will take comments on the proposed rule until September 26th.

Shippers have pushed for so-called reciprocal switching to give them more options and help mitigate rising rail rates by increasing competition among carriers.

But railroads maintain this rule is a bad idea, and they  continue opposing  which they call “forced access,” saying it would gum up rail traffic by increasing switching operations. The Association of American Railroads, a trade group, said the existing system allows for voluntary switching and compels railroads to cooperate if cargo is moved by two or more carriers.

President and CEO Cal Dooley of the American Chemistry Council said the new rule should help keep freight rail and manufacturing healthy.

New U.S., Mexico Air Transport Agreement

Reuters report that  the U.S. government has established an air transport agreement with the Mexican government designed to boost travel and clear the way for any city to have direct airline service to the neighboring nation, the U.S. Transportation Department said last week.

The two governments exchanged the necessary diplomatic notes for the agreement to move forward after four years of talks.

The agreement increases market access for both passenger and cargo airlines to fly between any city in Mexico and any U.S. city, the U.S. Transportation Department said, adding that in particular, cargo airlines will “have expanded opportunities to provide services that were not available under the more restrictive agreement.”

“This agreement will allow carriers on both sides of the border to better meet increasing demand in our countries, helping to drive economic growth in sectors beyond aviation, including tourism and manufacturing,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement

The expanded access under the agreement starts August  21st.

Stay informed with RCL Agencies updates about global trade and international shipping.

U.S. Customs Proposes Expanded Definition of ‘Importer Security Filing Importer’

The Journal of Commerce reported that earlier this month U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published a notice of proposed rulemaking [USCBP-2016-0040] to amend the CBP regulations to expand- for certain types of shipments- the definition of the party required to electronically submit the Importer Security Filing (ISF) 24 hours prior to vessel loading at an overseas port.

The ISF rule was implemented in 2009 to gather advance data about ocean cargo so it can be screened by CBP’s computers for potential security risks, such as nuclear smuggling, before the vessel reaches U.S. shores.The ISF consists of 10 data elements that provide details about the contents, origin, destination, shipper and receiver of the cargo. It is supposed to be filed by importers – the party causing the goods to be imported – or their customs brokers.

Shipments that remain on board the vessel at port, or are directly transported to another U.S. location under bond before goods are released for pick up or are re-exported, only require five data elements.  CBP stating that the existing definition of an importer doesn’t work well for those types of shipments, as well as shipments to Foreign Trade Zones. The ocean carrier is technically the importer for Freight Remaining on Board (FROB), and in many cases, a third party with no commercial interest in the shipment and limited access to the ISF data is the ISF filer for in-bond and FTZ entries.

The proposed change would give NVOs and import buyers the ability to directly transmit the Importer Security Filing, which is expected to improve security and eliminate confusion over who should file.

Third parties, such as a Foreign Trade Zone operator, may not have access to the required ISF data and inbond export and transportation entries are frequently not filed until after the cargo has arrived at a port of entry, which means there is not yet a party that files the bond documentation 24 hours prior to lading. In these cases, the party filing the entries with CBP didn’t cause the goods to be shipped to the United States and may not have direct knowledge of the required info. Instead, the purchaser or broker often will simply file the ISF with 10 data elements.

To address these issues, CBP is proposing to expand the definition of an ISF Importer for IE and T&E in-bond shipments, and for goods to be delivered to an FTZ, to also include the goods’ owner, purchaser, consignee or agent. The proposal would significantly reduce confidentiality concerns that may be caused by the current requirements. This rule would ensure the party with the best access to the information is the party who files the information, which will improve the accuracy of the information CBP uses for targeting. Finally, eliminating a step in the transmission process (sending the ISF information from the third party to the current ISF importer) will result in CBP getting the information sooner.

The agency is receiving public comments on the ISF proposal through September  6th.

RCL Agencies will provide more update once available