West Seattle, Washington
Thanks to Maggie for the tip: The long-laid-up cargo ship that was the latest Matson vessel to carry the name Lurline is off on its final voyage. From downtown, overlooking foggy Elliott Bay (photo at right), she spotted it being towed this morning from West Seattle’s Terminal 5, where it had arrived six weeks ago, as reported here, and we subsequently confirmed with the Port of Seattle that it had departed. It’s off to be scrapped. This report from last year says Matson has new vessels on order, including one that will be the sixth to carry the name Lurline.
3:28 PM: The Port of Seattle has announced that CEO Ted Fick has resigned:
The Port of Seattle Commissioners accepted the resignation of CEO Ted Fick today in public session. The special meeting was called for this specific action.
“We accept the resignation of Ted Fick, and acknowledge his desire to return to the private sector,” said Commission President Tom Albro. “We are currently working through the details of his departure and will defer further comment until those details are resolved.”
Chief Operating Officer Dave Soike will serve as interim CEO. Soike has over 35 years of experience at many levels and lines of business at the Port of Seattle. A public process for a replacement will begin later this year.
This comes one week after he was reported to have gone on paid leave. Fick, hired a little over two years ago, was “the Port’s first CEO from the private sector,” according to his now-taken-down bio page on the port’s website.
ADDED 4 PM: The port announcement now includes a link to Fick’s resignation letter.
11:57 AM: Just wrapped up at the still-underway Seattle Council morning-briefing meeting, a Q/A with John Wolfe, CEO of the Northwest Seaport Alliance (the joint enterprise of the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma). The planned modernization of Terminal 5 in West Seattle came up several times. First, after Wolfe talked about the shipping industry currently being in a “crisis mode,” he was asked why the port/NWSA is proceeding with a nine-digit investment in T-5 when its prospective customers are in so much trouble. He replied that the shipping industry is cyclical and they’re expecting it to recover. He also mentioned the current predominance of alliances, and how what are currently four industry alliances are morphing to three. Questions included when the T-5 project is expected to be done – “mid-2020.” What about shore power? “The good news is that the industry is wanting to do the right thing – cleaner fuels and the ability to plug into shore power,” Wolfe replied. He added that they believe allowing shippers to voluntarily pursue such initiatives is better than “requirements.” Monitoring environmental factors is crucial, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold interjected at that point.
Eventually, Wolfe said, they expect container traffic to be split 50-50 between Seattle and Tacoma. And in discussing competition with British Columbia ports, he talked about the federal Harbor Maintenance Tax adding $125 to each container’s cost for shippers here, and how the absence of that is an advantage for north-of-the-border shippers.
1:17 PM: Just added the meeting video from Seattle Channel, above this line. The NWSA briefing starts at 1 hour, 38 minutes into the meeting.
1:41 PM: Just noticed via MarineTraffic.com that the Military Sealift Command ship USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak has arrived at Terminal 5. The Port of Seattle told WSB on January 5th that it was due to stop at T-5 January 9-15, so we’ve been watching for it. The 821-foot Kocak is a “surge sealift ship,” as explained here. As previously reported, another Military Sealift Command ship, USNS Bob Hope, might berth here later this year – we haven’t heard yet whether the proposal by the port and Foss Maritime was accepted.
4:17 PM: Alki photographer David Hutchinson just sent photos of the Kocak’s arrival (thank you!) – added above.
The Port of Seattle doesn’t know yet whether the proposal to berth USNS Bob Hope at Terminal 5 in West Seattle will be accepted. But another Military Sealift Command ship is on the way for a short stay, according to port spokesperson Peter McGraw:
He says USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak is scheduled to arrive at T-5 next Monday and stay for about a week. It’s a “dry cargo-carrying surge sealift ship,” slightly smaller than the Bob Hope – 821 feet. According to MarineTraffic.com, it’s currently docked in Tacoma. The ship is named for a World War I U.S. Marine Corps hero. It made headlines two years ago for running aground off Okinawa. During its temporary T-5 stop, it will join the soon-to-be-scrapped Matson Lurline.
12:14 PM: The Port of Seattle says the long-idle Matson cargo ship Lurline will soon be at West Seattle’s Terminal 5 – as one of its last stops. The 1973-built, 826-foot roll-on-roll-off vessel has been laid up for years, currently at Terminal 25, and now it’s set to be scrapped. But first, port spokesperson Peter McGraw tells WSB, it’ll be towed to T-5 today. The Lurline will remain at T-5 several weeks, McGraw says, before it’s towed away to “a scrap yard in the Gulf.” We’ll update later when the ship shows up here.
1:20 PM: The Lurline has just arrived at T-5. Photo added above.
Last Thursday, we published the Northwest Seaport Alliance (ports of Seattle and Tacoma) announcement of a special meeting to authorize pursuit of an interim proposal for West Seattle’s Terminal 5 – serving as the berth for the Military Sealift Command‘s USNS Bob Hope. The meeting was held first thing Monday morning; we weren’t able to cover it in person but have just listened to the audio on the NWSA website. The meeting lasted less than half an hour, and no one from the public showed up to comment; when a question about public reaction came up, most of what was mentioned had to do with the comments on the WSB story. One commissioner wondered about security for the 950-foot-long Bob Hope; a staffer said the basic T-5 security plan “wouldn’t be affected that much,” though there would be a “restricted area” around the ship itself. After the discussion, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve having the NWSA join Foss Maritime in offering a proposal to get the ship here. The memo accompanying the Monday agenda this contract could bring the NWSA a little over half a million dollars a year. It would also extend Foss’s use of T-5, otherwise set to expire in early February.
(UPDATED to reflect that the meeting day, December 19th, is next Monday)
That’s a file photo of the USNS Bob Hope – a Military Sealift Command ship that might be berthed next year at West Seattle’s Terminal 5. Northwest Seaport Alliance (the joint Seattle-Tacoma ports’ organization) spokesperson Tara Mattina tells WSB that a special public meeting is set for next (updated) Monday (December 19th) to discuss a plan for the NWSA to join Foss Maritime in seeking a contract for the ship to be berthed at T-5. This would require Foss to have a deal with the port beyond the February expiration of its the one it has now. First, some background, from Mattina:
The USNS Bob Hope is the first ship in the Navy’s first class of large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships (LMSR), and is part of the United States Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC). The primary mission of these ships is to transport shore-based equipment and supplies in support of military and humanitarian operations.
This past summer the Bob Hope participated in the Cascadia Rising earthquake recovery exercise. These ships are a key asset in recovery efforts in the event of a widespread natural disaster.
The ships are operated by 30 civilian mariners who work for a private company under contract to MSC and up to 50 embarked military personnel who monitor and maintain the equipment being transported. The ships are maintained in reduced operational status, which means they are operationally ready in four days.
Should Foss and the NWSA be successful in winning this bid, the ship would berth at Terminal 5. The Navy plans to run the ship on shore power while at berth.
This type of interim use for Terminal 5 is part of the alliance’s strategic business plan to diversify cargo and maximize terminal use. It will in no way interfere with the modernization of the terminal and the goal of creating a first-class container terminal.
Lots of additional information is in this memo attached to the agenda for next (updated) Monday’s meeting. It says that the branch of General Dynamics that operates the Bob Hope and similar ships is seeking “berth space, facilities, services, equipment and support in order to maintain USNS Bob Hope in ready-reserve status for a base term of one year.” That year would be the entirety of 2017, with the possibility of extending the contract “up to four additional 1-year terms.” The document also says “The RFP provides for other vessels to moor during times when USNS Bob Hope is away from berth” and that this could bring in at least $300,000 a year. It also notes that Foss’s lease for T-5 ends in February, so the NWSA would have to make a new deal with Foss in order for that company to handle this. (The Bob Hope is currently in San Diego.)
If you have something to say about this, there’s a public-comment period during the meeting at 8:30 am next (updated) Monday at Pier 69 downtown (2711 Alaskan Way), or you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. The tanker Evergreen State is the ship you’re currently seeing at T-5. We asked port spokesperson Peter McGraw about it after a Seattle Fire medical call to T-5 earlier this week. He explains, “Foss still has a 50-acre lease at T-5; they received a call over the weekend that the Evergreen State needed a berth to undertake some repair work to the piping. The vessel will be at T-5 until the work is complete. Although a tanker, its voids are dry and empty.”
(UPDATED 11:35 AM with “what’s next” now that this is public)
(January 2015 photo of Terminal 5 by Long Bach Nguyen)
10:23 AM: Just announced by the port: It’s finished the final environmental-impact statement for the proposed $200+-million modernization of Terminal 5 in West Seattle. We haven’t read the fine print yet but the news release says some community requests are addressed – including shore power so ships
aren’t running don’t have to run their engines while docked:
The Port of Seattle has completed the environmental analysis of Terminal 5 and has prepared the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the project to modernize the cargo-handling facility in order to serve larger cargo vessels. The proposed upgrades to Terminal 5 are wharf rehabilitation, berth deepening, electrical service and improvements to the upland portions of the property.
“Based on public comment we are including a number of improvements, such as shore power for vessels, installing gates for noise and safety mitigation for rail, and significant traffic improvement measures,” said John Creighton, Port of Seattle Commission president and co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance. “We want to thank the public for weighing in on this proposal during the comment period.”
“With this Final Environmental Impact Statement for Terminal 5, we are one step closer to making this prime maritime asset ‘Big Ship Ready’ and able to handle the largest container vessels working the market today,” said Connie Bacon, Port of Tacoma Commission president and co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance. “This region needs this terminal to remain competitive in today’s global economy.”
Mitigation measures for the project include construction of plug-in capability for shore power at two berths, tracking of air quality performance, establishment of a safety corridor between the Terminal 5 gate and the Duwamish river in order to minimize the need to use locomotive horns, required use of ambient-sensing broadband back up alarms, implementation of a Gate Queue Management plan, establishing a truck driver information system, comprehensive traffic signal improvements along SW Spokane Street and an operation noise management plan to ensure and monitor compliance with the Seattle noise code.
The FEIS evaluated potential impacts to earth, air, water, plants, animals, energy and natural resources, environmental health, noise, aesthetics (including light and glare), historic and cultural resources, transportation and public services. The Port of Seattle Commission must approve the recommended improvements in public session.
Copies of the FEIS are available for review at the Seattle Central Library, Delridge Library, Southwest Library, Highpoint Library, South Park Library, and West Seattle Library. Copies are also available at the Port of Seattle, Maritime Environment and Sustainability Department, Pier 69, 2711 Alaskan Way, Seattle, Washington, during business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
People interested in receiving a copy of the FEIS should contact Brenda Thomas at 206-787-3382 or email at: SEPA.email@example.com. The FEIS can also be reviewed and downloaded at the Port of Seattle website and at the Terminal 5 Improvements Project Online Open House.
The entire environmental review followed community concerns, including a petition drive, that followed the port’s original announcement that it didn’t believe a full-scale environmental impact statement would be needed. The purpose of the EIS (direct link here – use dropdown under “Current Projects”) is for use by agencies making decisions about permits for the project, which the port says is expected to be complete by 2020.
11:35 AM: We talked with port spokesperson Peter McGraw regarding “what’s next” now that this is out. For one, there is an appeals process – deadline, November 1st. That’s explained here, on the “Next Steps” page of the “online open house.” And, McGraw points out, a big part of the final EIS is the announcement of the port’s “preferred alternative” – it’s the one that does NOT include “upland improvements” beyond T-5’s existing footprint.
Two vessel-traffic notes:
USNS WALLY SCHIRRA: Thanks to Greg for sending that photo, right after we spotted the USNS Wally Schirra passing West Seattle, as shown on MarineTraffic.com. It appeared to be headed for the Manchester Fuel Depot. The ship, named for the astronaut, is a cargo ship that’s part of the Military Sealift Command. The seven-year-old, 689-foot ship is homeported in San Diego.
We noticed that ship while researching part of this:
HANJIN UPDATE: A month and a half after the Hanjin bankruptcy filing, one Hanjin ship is anchored off Manchester, while another one is en route to pick up empty containers. The Hanjin Marine is visible from West Seattle if you look west of here, north of Blake Island. Meantime, this Thursday (October 13th), the Hanjin Seattle is scheduled to dock at Terminal 46 downtown, and, according to the Northwest Seaport Alliance, tentatively scheduled to load 1,000 empty containers. The Wall Street Journal reported today that T-46 is one of two West Coast docks – along with a pier in Long Beach, California – that is accepting empty Hanjin containers.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Top topics: The proposed Terminal 5 expansion – and whether it would go forward without a tenant being signed – and the Hanjin bankruptcy.
First to speak, Port Commissioner John Creighton, who made note of the recent one-year anniversary of the teaming of Seattle and Tacoma in the Northwest Seaport Alliance. He said that from a variety of standpoints, “it’s really worked wonderfully. … We had to change what we were doing, to remain relevant …”
As for the Port of Seattle itself, Creighton declared it to be “at a good place … we still have a lot of challenges, but they’re good challenges,” such as “growing like gangbusters at the airport.”
3:24 PM: The Hanjin Scarlet is being offloaded at Prince Rupert. That’s news here because it was the next Hanjin ship scheduled to dock at Seattle’s Terminal 46, until its parent company filed for receivership in South Korea. Instead of docking at the British Columbia port, Hanjin Scarlet remained anchored in its harbor – until today. It docked at 6 am, according to an update from the Prince Rupert Port Authority. It had been scheduled to offload there in time to arrive here last Saturday. We’re checking with the Northwest Seaport Alliance – the combined Seattle/Tacoma port entity – to see what they’ve heard about a possible arrival here.
5:54 PM: NWSA spokesperson Tara Mattina says they have no new information yet on whether Hanjin Scarlet will head here from Prince Rupert, but hope to find out something tomorrow. Also tomorrow: The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce‘s monthly lunch meeting (11:30 am, Jack Block Park) looks at “the state of the port,” with commissioner John Creighton and deputy CEO Kurt Beckett scheduled to speak.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The news of shipping line Hanjin, a major Port of Seattle customer, filing for the equivalent of bankruptcy in its home country, South Korea, has sparked renewed discussion about the nine-digit-price-tag plan to modernize West Seattle’s Terminal 5.
Is the project really necessary, amid the turmoil in the shipping industry, with the port operating without T-5 for more than two years now? We put that question to the Northwest Seaport Alliance, the entity formed a year ago by the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma.
First, the latest on how Hanjin’s receivership filing on Wednesday is affecting the Port of Seattle: Read More
(SDOT webcam screenshot from June 2016 backup)
The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma are going to try something new starting next week in hopes of lessening truck backups as drivers wait to get into cargo terminals. From the announcement:
The Northwest Seaport Alliance will reimburse up to $2 million to extend gate hours at its international container terminals during peak season.
With cargo owners forecasting a 3 to 5 percent increase in volume during peak season, which will start in late August and continue through early November, the alliance proposes to help the marine terminal operators avoid congestion on surface streets in the port industrial area and keep import and export cargo flowing efficiently.
This program will reimburse terminal operators for some of the costs to operate flexed gates from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and lunch gate hours Monday through Friday during peak season.
It also would provide one off-shift gate per week. Off-shift gates are after 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or any shift on Saturday or Sunday.
This is set to start on Monday (August 22nd), according to the full announcement, which you can see here.
Along with the ongoing environmental review of the big proposal to “modernize” the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 in West Seattle, a parallel process is under way for possible deepening of the water nearby. One week from tonight, a public meeting is planned for information and comments about the tentative plan announced recently by the port. From the official announcement:
The Army Corps of Engineers and the Port of Seattle have agreed on a tentatively selected plan of -57’ Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) for both the East and West Waterways. This depth will allow the Port of Seattle, part of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, to handle the current and future generations of ultra-large containerships. Comments on the Draft Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment may be submitted by email, at the upcoming public meeting, or in written form.
Details of the plan are here; the meeting is at 5:30 pm Thursday, August 18th, at South Seattle College‘s Georgetown campus (6737 Corson Ave. S.) If you want to comment by e-mail – the address is SeattleHarbor@usace.army.mil and the deadline is August 31st.
(WSB file photo of Terminal 5)
If you have something to say about the proposed “modernization” project at West Seattle’s Terminal 5 – especially something you hope the project will include, in response to environmental factors including traffic, noise, water quality, air quality – you’re running out of time to say it during this round of planning. You might recall that the comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement was extended, by community request, after last month’s public hearings; the new deadline is just two days away – 4 pm Friday, July 8th. Information that might help:
Official Port links:
Other links of potential interest:
WSB coverage of the first community meeting on June 5th
WSB coverage of the second community meeting on June 9th
WSB coverage of T-5 discussion at West Seattle Transportation Coalition in May
WSB coverage of official DEIS release announcement in May
So, you know what you want to say, but want to know how to say it? Here’s how to comment, from the Port website:
The comment period will end at 4 p.m., July 8. Comments can be submitted online at t5eis.publicmeeting.info and via email at SEPA.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written comments can be mailed to:
Paul Meyer (Email: email@example.com)
Port of Seattle
P.O. Box 1209
Seattle, WA 98111
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
We just confirmed this with Foss Maritime, which leased space at T-5 in February 2015, a half-year before Shell’s decision to abandon its Arctic-offshore-drilling plans.
While the protester-targeted drilling platform Polar Pioneer (which left T-5 almost exactly a year ago) did not return to T-5 after its Arctic efforts were stopped, assorted support vessels did, including the three that left today.
Our inquiry followed a tip from Jon in Luna Park, who reported seeing the three vessels – Aiviq, Dino Chouest, and Ross Chouest, heading out this morning.
Paul Gallagher of Foss Maritime, terminal manager for T-5, just confirmed the departures:
The three remaining Edison Chouest Offshore support vessels departed Terminal 5 this morning bound for the Arctic.
Over the past few months, the T5 team has been working closely with Edison Chouest and Fairweather LLC to prepare the vessels for the summer season and their mission to retrieve all of the mooring gear left on the seafloor by the Shell exploration rigs.
It is worth noting that the T5 team and associated partners (Jones Stevedoring, ILWU, Global Diving, Ness Cranes, Waste Management, USSA Security, etc.) had no recordable or lost time injuries during the project since we began in February 2015. I truly appreciate all the hard work and attention to safety which was evident in our day to day operations and engagement with our subcontractors and customers.
We are still looking for other business opportunities for the Terminal 5 facilities, but we do not have anything firmed up or contracted.
Under lease terms made public by the Port in February 2015, Foss’s lease is for $550,000 a month.
Separate from the interim Foss lease, Terminal 5 is proposed for a quarter-billion-dollar project to expand its capacity, and the comment period for that project continues until July 8th.
(WSB photo from November 2015, helicopters at Terminal 5 during drill)
Imagine a 9.0 earthquake so devastating that it impacts the entire Northwest Region. That is the basis for the Cascadia Rising earthquake exercise being held this week in multiple states. When a disaster of this magnitude strikes, a regional air response is necessary to face the challenges of saving lives over a large geographical area.
The Northwest Regional Aviation team will come together at the Port of Seattle Terminal 5 for a daylong series of helicopter drills that will utilize lifesaving skills necessary to meet the challenges of a regional disaster. In coordination with the Washington State Department of Emergency Management, a unified response with aviation resources from 10 different city, county and state jurisdictions including 6 aircraft will demonstrate the technical aspects of search and rescue, moving resources and transporting injured patients.
Observe landing and take-off procedures as multiple helicopters hoist and transport equipment and personnel in and out of the heliport base at Terminal 5. The community is invited to watch the helicopter rescue activities from the view platform located at Jack Block Park.
Agencies participating in the training:
Bainbridge Island Fire Department
King County Sheriff’s Office
Port of Seattle
Seattle Fire Department
Seattle Police Department
Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office
Tacoma Fire Department
Washington National Guard
The drill is scheduled to start around 10 am and continue until about 2, according to SFD’s media advisory.
(Port of Seattle image with proposed project’s toplines)
They asked for it … they got it. As we reported in our coverage of both public hearings this week on the Terminal 5 Improvements Project, community members asked for an extension of the comment period; last night, Port of Seattle reps promised a decision by “early next week.” They’ve just announced the decision is in and the new deadline for comments is 5 pm July 8th. Go to the “online open house” to see how to comment.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
You have 12 more days to comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Terminal 5 Improvements Project in West Seattle – unless the comment period is extended.
(Friday afternoon update: It has been.)
Both hearings for this stage of the process are now history, after tonight’s hearing, which was in West Seattle, at the Alki Masonic Center in The Junction. As we’d been told Tuesday in Georgetown (WSB coverage here), the format was exactly the same, though there were some divergences along the way.
Again tonight, Commissioner Fred Felleman opened, this time making a point to say “we don’t have a tenant yet” but promising they will “do it right” no matter what they wind up doing.
Paul Meyer, the port’s environmental manager, gave the presentation instead of deputy CEO Kurt Beckett, who was reported to have undergone “emergency dental surgery” earlier in the day, but did arrive around 6:15 pm. First, Commissioner Felleman said he wanted to be sure everyone understood that the Northwest Seaport Alliance jointly manages the Seattle and Tacoma container terminals, but not everything associated with both ports.
Just found out tonight that Terminal 5 will host yet another drill with helicopters on Saturday – this time, as part of the Cascadia Rising megaquake drill that’s been happening at a variety of locations around the region. Susan Stoltzfus with the Port of Seattle told us about it at tonight’s T-5 Draft Environmental Impact Report public hearing (report to come). She says multiple agencies are participating with simulations including a collapsed building, and it’s scheduled between 10 am and 3 pm. If you’re interested in taking a look, she says you’ll be able to view it from the Jack Block Park overlook. In the meantime, if you notice the helicopters and/or other unusual activity at T-5 on Saturday, don’t fret, it’s only a drill.
P.S. As we’ve already reported, a much-more low-key – but no less vital – drill will be happening in High Point, and your direct participation is welcome – here’s where, when, and how.
1:36 PM: Five hours ago, we got a tip that port trucks were backed up in a big way on East Marginal Way, north of Spokane. It’s apparently continued since then – but, per the scanner, the trucks are now dispersing, about 15 minutes after we took the screengrab you see above. They have reportedly been waiting to get into Terminal 46 off Alaskan Way, but, also per scanner discussion, police are saying that terminal is now closed for the day. We have an inquiry out to the port in hopes of finding out more. Truck traffic is of particular interest right now as one of the issues factoring into the environmental review of the Terminal 5 big-ship-readiness project, which has another hearing 5-8:30 pm tonight in The Junction (as previewed earlier).
2:35 PM: Haven’t heard back from the port yet but we’ve just heard police via scanner say that 46 is “open again.”
6:48 PM: Port spokesperson Susan Stoltzfus talked with us briefly at the T-5 hearing, saying all they could figure is that the trucks were “over-dispatched.”