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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Korean Ports are Disrupted with Three Strikes

Three simultaneous strikes by rail workers, truckers and bunker fuel tanker operators have severely disrupted operations at South Korea’s major ports, according to  Port Technology.

An ongoing rail strike, in which some 7,000 members of the rail union have stopped work across the country for the third week in a row, has halved the country’s rail capacity and severely impacted the ability for containers to move smoothly to and from Korea’s major ports.

In addition, the South Korean Cargo Transport Workers’ Federation launched a general strike on October 10th in opposition to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure & Transport’s cargo transport industry reform plan announced in August this year. According to the plan, the South Korean government is to stop controlling the number of small cargo trucks for business use so that the shortage of vehicles in the parcel delivery service market can be dealt with. The federation is calling for the government to repeal the plan.

A general strike launched by the Cargo Truckers Solidarity union has removed a third of container transport capacity at Busan alone, in addition to the problems already being experienced with rail freight.

Launched in response to government attempts to deregulate the number of small trucks used for making deliveries to homes, drivers want a standard rate to be introduced for the work they do, to protect their livelihoods.

To add to the misery for ports, fuel bunker operators at the ports of Busan, Ulsan, and Yeosu have gone on strike, demanding an increase in operating fees paid by refiners. More than 200 out of 680 bunker tankers across South Korea have been striking.

However today, the  barge owners have ended a week-long strike as they reached an agreement with oil refiner, the maritime ministry said on Monday.

The barge owners had called for a 40%-100% hike in operating fees, but accepted the compromise of a 10%-20% increase in fees. In return, oil refiners accepted a government’s proposal for research to be conducted by external specialists on the level of operating fees and other conditions for barge owners.

RCL Agencies will provide more updates once available. Please be guided accordingly.

US Ports Prepare for Hurricane Matthew

At 11:00 a.m. EST, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued a public advisory that said the Category 3 hurricane was 55 miles north/northeast of Cabo Lucrecia, Cuba and about 105 miles south of Long Island, Bahamas.

Various ports throughout the United States have announced their plans over the next few days as they brace for Hurricane Matthew.  Information is changing as the storm approaches so details may vary:

The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) released its third advisory on Hurricane Matthew late Wednesday afternoon, replacing all previous versions. The third advisory says SCPA will resume normal operating hours at all terminals on Thursday, including normal gate hours beginning at 6:00 a.m. for the Wando Welch and North Charleston Terminals.

Port Everglades on Wednesday the port was operating under the U.S. Coast Guard’s Port Condition Zulu, which is a 12-hour alert in anticipation of gale force winds.   Under this port condition, all port operations and vessel movements, with the exception of emergency vessels, must be secured in preparation for the oncoming hurricane by 10:00 p.m. Wednesday. As of Thursday morning, the port is closed until further notice.

Port Miami had an update on its home page that said cargo terminals SFCT and POMTOC would be closed Wednesday for all vessel and truck traffic until further notice. The advisory also said the U.S. Coast Guard anticipates implementing Port Condition Yankee (a 24-hour alert in anticipation of gale force winds) effective Wed, Oct. 5 at 4:00 a.m. The advisory is no longer on the port’s website, but the Miami Herald reported Port Miami would close at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday.
Port Everglades’ latest update on its home page says it is currently open and operating at this time under Port Condition Yankee.

Jaxport, Port Canaveral and the Port of Fernandina are also under Port Condition Yankee, the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville said Tuesday. Under this condition, no vessel over 500 gross tons may enter the port without the permission of the COTP.

Port Canaveral said Tuesday it will be closing at noon on Wednesday.

Jaxport said Wednesday afternoon its marine terminals will close Thursday at 3:00 p.m.

Savannah ports expected to close early on Thursday

North Carolina State Ports Authority’s update on its home page says its operating status has not changed due the hurricane and gates are currently operating under normal hours.

RCL Agencies Inc. will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates.

Please be guided accordingly.





Striking Montreal Old Port Workers Reach Agreement

The Société du Vieux-Port de Montréal (SEVPM) and the union representing 300 workers reached an agreement in principle this week, according to officials.

The Old port workers have been on strike for five months in a bid for higher pay and are expected to vote on the agreement Wednesday, October  5th.

Details of the agreement have yet to be released but union leader Konrad Lamour said the agreement will let the workers go back to work with their heads held high.

Since May 27 union workers have asked for a starting minimum wage $15 per hour and have rejected previous offers from the Société du Vieux-Port de Montréal to increase salaries by 9.5 per cent over four years.

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Port of Portland Faces Operations Disruption Due to Labor Dispute

A dispute between labor and the private third-party operator of the Port of Portland’s container terminal needs to be resolved in federal court before  service is restored in Oregon.

Resolution of the litigation will establish what the ground rules are for the two sides, said Sebastian Degens, General Manager of the port’s marine and terminal business development. Between the court case and other challenges in the container industry, the earliest container vessels will be back in Portland is in 12 to 18 months.

ICTSI, the company contracted with the Port of Portland to handle its container operations, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union declined to comment for this story. Their conflict has been blamed for the withdrawal of container carriers who used to make regular calls at the Port of Portland in the first half of 2015.

Since that withdrawal, processors of dried peas and lentils have diverted their products from barges that traveled from Lewiston to Portland to more expensive forms of transportation in order to move the legumes to the Puget Sound and onto ocean-going ships. Some shipments travel by truck. Others are barged from Lewiston to Boardman, Oregon, and then make the final leg of the journey by train.

The source: Transport Topics


French Ports Workers to Join Strike on September 15th

Port workers in France are preparing for a nationwide strike which is set to begin on Thursday September 15th , 2016, to protest proposed labour reforms,  Reuters reports.

The reforms would mean that it would be much easier for companies to terminate employment; the CGT union led a protest earlier in the year demanding the proposal be dismissed.

On September 5, 2016 local Calais residents and Port of Calais truck workers staged a week long protest blocking exit from the port to demonstrate against the permanent status of the migrant camp known as ‘the jungle’, which the French government has announced is to be closed.

The planned move could disrupt oil, grains and other commodities shipment at French ports.

RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and provide more updates once available.

French Truck Drivers Blockade Port Of Calais To Protest Migrant Crisis

Truck drivers and farmers blocked traffic on the motorway approach to France’s northern port of Calais, demanding the closure of a migrants camp they blame for mounting insecurity and an ailing local economy, Reuters report.

In response to the blockade, Calais officials created a diversion through the town, updates from operator DFDS said ferries were operating as normal. However, the UK’s Road Haulage Association (RHA) claimed traffic crossing from the UK to France would find it “almost impossible” to leave Calais.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) warned that bringing traffic around Calais to a standstill would simply create new opportunities for migrants to attack drivers and trucks and advised  truckers to avoid the area and make alternative plans.

Numbers in the Jungle Camp have swelled to more than 9,000 and attacks by migrants have become more frequent and increasingly violent. FTA has asked for the camp to be be moved away from the port to prevent the ongoing attacks on truck drivers, and called for proper processing procedures to be put in place to ensure that genuine asylum seekers quickly receive the help they need

RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates once available.



Containership Fire at Port of Hamburg

A fire has broke out on a containership docked at the Port of Hamburg on Thursday September 1, 2016, according to data provided by the local fire department.

The fire reportedly started due to welding works being undertaken on the rear end of the ship, and spread  below the vessel’s deck.

The fire department said that the containers which are on fire were not loaded with dangerous materials.

More than a hundred firefighters have been at the scene, according to a Hamburg fire brigade spokesperson.

The fire allegedly began on the Liberian ship the CCNI Arauco and local residents have been asked to keep their doors and windows shut as reinforcements have been called to control the blaze.

RCL Agencies will provide more updates once available .

Road, Rail Traffic to LA/LB Ports Back to Normal After Fire Disruption

Truck and intermodal rail traffic in Southern California are back to normal after the Blue Cut fire in San Bernardino County disrupted commercial and vehicular traffic for five days last week , according to information in the Journal of Commerce. Cargo-handling at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex had not been impacted by the fire.

The Union Pacific track that had been closed last week reopened at 10 a.m. Saturday after bridge repair work.

California Trucking Association spokesman Alex Cherin said member carriers were able to work around the highway and road closures with only minimal problems last week.

Drayage companies in Los Angeles-Long Beach likewise experienced no significant issues because they were able to navigate around the closed areas, said Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association. Some HTA members reported equipment dislocations, but those problems were addressed, as he said.

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Louisiana Floods Causes Shipping Delays

Shippers moving intermodal rail and truckload shipments through southeastern Louisiana have to struggle with shipment delays as severe flooding slows the rail and road network in the region for the third time this year.

Louisiana is under a state of emergency after heavy rainfall inundated the region Friday.

According to the Journal of Commerce, the crisis has challenged the transportation sector in the region, which is served from the north by Kansas City Southern Railway and from the west by BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad.

The over-the-road sector, though, has been hit the hardest. The floodwaters have damaged multiple truck terminals in the area and made it difficult, if not impossible, for drivers and other industry workers to leave their homes, much less go to work. And even if drivers can reach terminals and hubs, floodwaters have taken out roadways, limiting where and how far they can travel.

Neither BNSF nor UP have posted any advisories online regarding service in the region and, according to KCS, the flooding has not taken out any of its main lines.

KCS spokeswoman Doniele Carlson said service may nevertheless be impacted as local industry trains in the Baton Rouge area were affected over the weekend.

Moreover, “KCS is warning customers that service in the region may slow as railway employees are forced to deal with the state of emergency,” Carlson said.

This is the third time this year that severe flooding has hit the Gulf Coast. Twice before, in March and June, torrential rain and dangerously high floodwaters forced KCS to declare force majeure and suspend service on main lines in the region.

Please be guided accordingly. RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates once available.