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FOLLOWUP: Terminal 5 shore power may still be months away

New estimate for shore-power use to start at Terminal 5 in West Seattle: Early next year. We’ve been reporting on the problems getting the modernized terminal’s new feature activated, so that many of the cargo ships using T-5 won’t have to burn fuel running their generators while in port. First, it was a subject of labor negotiations. Then once those were worked out, the Northwest Seaport Alliance – which oversees cargo terminals in Seattle and Tacoma – said a technical problem surfaced. They were still figuring out how to solve that problem at the time of our most recent report earlier this month. We followed up again this week; NWSA spokesperson Melanie Stambaugh told WSB that they’ve made progress: “The project team, alongside the terminal operator and ocean carrier, has identified a solution for the shore power plug-in configuration and will be installing and testing the shore power capability in December.” But, she says, that’s not expected to lead to operational use before January: “It is anticipated that the use of the shore power system is expected to begin in Q1 2023.” By that time T-1 will have been open a year.

TERMINAL 5: Updates from District 1 Community Network , Northwest Seaport Alliance meetings

Ten months after the Northwest Seaport Alliance – the cargo-focused partnership of the Seattle and Tacoma ports – opened the first modernized berth at Terminal 5 in West Seattle [map], work continues on the second. And the first is not yet fully operational – as we reported last Monday, the shore-power system hasn’t been used yet. That was one of the T-5 topics discussed at two meetings this past week – on Tuesday, the NWSA managing members (Seattle/Tacoma port commissioners), and on Wednesday, the District 1 Community Network (a coalition of advocates from organizations in West Seattle and South Park). Here are the highlights of what we saw and heard:

Terminal 5’s north berth had 52 vessel calls through August. More than 30 percent of those ships’ cargo was moved through the terminal on rail (one of the dock’s major attributes), 40 percent of the containers that move through the terminal are empties, being shipped back overseas. That still leaves a lot of cargo being handled with trucks, and a focus right now is to find close-by parking so the trucks don’t wind up overnighting in neighborhoods – they’re working to create about 100 spaces on Harbor Island, along 11th and 13th SW. They’re also working on creating parking at T-25 (map), which could hold more than 300 truck spots.

Back to rail – many residents near T-5 have eagerly awaited the Quiet Zone, crossing modifications that should result in less train-horn-blowing. Though it’s part of the T-5 project, SDOT is leading the construction, and expecting to put the project out to bid before year’s end. Here’s the overview of what it’ll involve:

Because of questions at a past briefing, the NWSA reps also brought this graphic showing the Quiet Zone in the context of the 5-way intersection by the major entrance to T-5:

But at both meetings, the shore-power issue sparked the most discussion. The attempt to connect a ship was apparently made on October 8th. The problem that got in the way was described as two computer systems talking to each other (or not, in this case). Wasn’t it tested earlier? staff was asked at the NWSA meeting. The reply was that training had been done, but “each ship is a little different” and they just didn’t know how it would play out until they actually tried to plug a ship into the system. So now they’re troubleshooting. An ILWU Local 19 rep at that meeting, there to comment on another agenda issue, pointed out that their workers had been connecting cruise ships at Pier 91 in Magnolia to shore power “for years.”

Full details of the NWSA briefing on T-5 are in this memo and this slide deck.

TERMINAL 5 UPDATES: Stilll no shore-power use; newest estimate for south-berth completion

October 31, 2022 5:08 pm
|    Comments Off on TERMINAL 5 UPDATES: Stilll no shore-power use; newest estimate for south-berth completion
 |   Port of Seattle | West Seattle news

(T-5 construction photo from NWSA slide deck)

Tomorrow, the Seattle and Tacoma port commissions meet together as managing members of the Northwest Seaport Alliance. Their agenda includes the quarterly update on West Seattle’s Terminal 5, and agenda documents reveal two notable updates:

STILL NO SHORE POWER: As we reported about a month ago, despite the modernized Berth 1 at T-5 having been built with the capability for ships to plug into “shore power” and therefore avoid burning fuel while docked, it still wasn’t happening. But it was finally going to start this month, NWSA told us. It hasn’t, according to an agenda document with this update:

The first shore power plug-in was scheduled for early October and had to be postponed due to configuration issues. A solution to the issues is being coordinated between the shipping line, the terminal operator, Port of Seattle, and NWSA.

We have an inquiry out asking what the “configuration issues” are and what kind of timeline is expected for their resolution. Added Tuesday morning: Here’s the response to our questions from NWSA spokesperson Melanie Stambaugh: “The shore power configuration issues indicated in the briefing memo are related to electrical issues that emerged when the initial plug-in was tested. The NWSA, Port of Seattle, and SSA are working toward a solution that will correct the electrical wiring and enable ships to plug-in. The timing is difficult to estimate at this time. Our team is hopeful the timeframe will be weeks or a month or two at the latest.”

SOUTH BERTH ESTIMATE: While the first modernized berth at T-5 opened early this year, the second berth – the south side of the dock – has been under construction. Last year, there were hopes it would be done by the end of this year. Agenda documents for tomorrow’s meeting say it’ll be closer to the end of next year:

Phase 2 (South Berth) construction project is currently behind the contract schedule date of December 31, 2022. Likely completion is September 2023, in time for the delivery of the South Berth cranes. … Activities are behind schedule due to concrete strike and the additional scope of the pile repair.

The public session of the meeting is expected to start around 12:30 pm Tuesday; here’s the agenda, and here’s where the meeting will be streamed.

FOLLOWUP: Shore power use expected to start soon at Terminal 5

One week ago, we reported on a protest at Terminal 5 that led the Northwest Seaport Alliance to close the dock for the day. Climate activists – whose chanting was heard in north West Seattle neighborhoods – were calling attention to the continued lack of shore-power use at T-5, even though it was built with that capability. Early in the year, NWSA told us it was still the subject of labor negotiations. That’s apparently been the continued holdup, almost nine months after the terminal’s first modernized berth opened. City Councilmember Lisa Herbold had a followup in her most-recent weekly newsletter, mentioning an agreement in those negotiations, but the update wasn’t clear on whether ships subsequently had plugged in. Not yet, NWSA spokesperson Melanie Stambaugh subsequently told WSB: “The NWSA has been made aware that an interim agreement has been reached for shore power use at Terminal 5. No vessels have plugged in (yet), however, we expect the first vessel to plug into the shore power at T5 starting in October.” So far the first ship on T-5’s October schedule is due in a week from Friday.

About the early-morning protest heard in north West Seattle

Some readers on the north side of the peninsula asked about what sounded like protesting/chanting early this morning. While we were trying to sleuth the source, a one-line alert from the Northwest Seaport Alliance that Terminal 5 was closed for the day helped us zero in on the port. The resulting inquiries finally pointed us to a tweet (since deleted) in which Climate Action Families took credit, saying “Today we shut down SSA Marine Port of Seattle Terminal 5. Cargo carrier MSC could plug ships into shore power, but chooses not to.” MSC is the shipping line that uses the recently overhauled north berth at Terminal 5 in West Seattle. In the initial months after it opened, we followed up repeatedly on whether the shore-power capability was being used; the answer was “no” last time we checked. Early on, it was described as an issue caught up in labor negotiations. We’re following up to learn its status; we also have an inquiry out with Climate Action Families.

FOLLOWUP: Port of Seattle chooses interim police chief Michael Villa for the permanent job

August 17, 2022 1:24 pm
|    Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: Port of Seattle chooses interim police chief Michael Villa for the permanent job
 |   Port of Seattle | West Seattle news

Back in June, we reported that the Port of Seattle was down to two finalists in its police-chief search. Today, port executive director Steve Metruck announced that he’s chosen interim chief Michael Villa for the permanent job. Villa has been with the department for five years and has been interim chief since last fall, after the previous chief was fired following a year-plus on leave during what regional media described as a misconduct investigation. Villa is a former Tukwila Police chief and will lead a Port department that today’s announcement says “s currently authorized with 130 commissioned police officers along with over 40 non-commissioned personnel.” The other finalist for the job was Seattle Police East Precinct commander Capt. Eric Sano.

FOLLOWUP: Terminal 5 ‘quiet zone’ not expected to be ready before next year

With windows open on warm summer nights, more people are noticing train horns. Several recent reader notes led us to check on the status of the “quiet zone” that’s part of the Terminal 5 modernization project – and while we were working on it, a mini-briefing turned up as part of a T-5 update at the District 1 Community Network‘s July meeting (WSB coverage here). The “quiet zone” is a package of crossing-safety improvements aimed at making it less likely that train operators will have to sound their horns at crossings along a six-tenths-of-a-mile stretch of track between T-5 and Riverside Mill.

The port’s project manager Curtis Stahlecker talked about it at D1CN’s meeting last week, and brought the rendering shown above. The track will have fencing on both sides, and two of the five current crossings in the “quiet zone” will be permanently closed, he said. Changes to the three remaining crossings include that #1 will be gated, and only pedestrians will be allowed to cross it; #5 will be a private, one-way-only crossing. Stahlecker was careful to remind everyone that train horns won’t be prohibited in the “quiet zone”; it’s hoped the changes will render them unnecessary, but if operators think they need to sund horns, they will still be able to.

Now the question is – how soon will the “quiet zone” be ready? At one point, it was expected to be ready before T-5’s first berth opened. That didn’t happen. Then back in February, SDOT told the West Seattle Transportation Coalition that the project would start after the West Seattle Bridge reopened. Just a few months before that, a port contingent had told HPAC it was expected to be ready in early 2023. But now it’s looking like construction will have barely begun by then, according to SDOT spokesperson Mariam Ali‘s reply when we asked for a status report (SDOT is responsible for getting the “quiet zone” built):

The project is currently at 95 percent design and expected to reach 100 percent this summer. The project team is finalizing design comments related to the rail crossing, which requires communication and approval from partner agencies, including the Port and BNSF. The project is estimated to advertise early this fall and issue notice to proceed for construction before the end of the year.

One more important reminder, the “quiet zone” won’t address all local train noise – it’s aimed at Terminal 5 rail traffic; trains you hear in our area may also be serving other facilities, such as industrial businesses along the Duwamish River. But this is the most progress that has been made in efforts related to reducing train noise, which date back many years (we first wrote about one community effort in 2008).

UPDATE: Finalists announced in the ‘other’ police-chief search

TUESDAY REPORT: The Seattle Police Department is actually one of two local PDs with a chief search under way. The Port of Seattle also is without a permanent police chief at the moment, but it’s getting closer to a hire, and that’s of interest with the Port PD’s jurisdiction including Terminal 5 and other sites here in West Seattle. This week, the port is expected to announce finalists for the job, and next Monday, the finalists are expected to answer questions at an online public forum. The previous chief was fired last fall, more than a year after he was placed on leave during what regional media described as a misconduct investigation. Mike Villa has been serving as interim chief. The port’s webpage about the chief search has information on how to watch the finalists’ forum at 4:30 pm June 27th, and how to send advance questions (requested by tomorrow).

ADDED WEDNESDAY: Two finalists have been announced – interim chief Villa, and Seattle Police Captain Eric Sano, currently commander of SPD’s East Precinct.

SOON-TO-BE-SEEN OFF WEST SEATTLE: Cruise season starts Saturday

(WSB reader photo sent in 2018 by Huck)

If you have a view of Elliott Bay, it’s about to get busier for the spring/summer: The Port of Seattle is expecting its first cruise-ship arrival of the season on Saturday (April 23rd) – the 4-year-old, 4,000-passenger-capacity Norwegian Bliss (above), docking at Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal at Pier 66 downtown. The port’s announcement says 296 ship calls are expected this summer, with “an expected 1.2 million revenue passengers.” According to the full-season schedule, the first multi-arrival day will be a week from Saturday, with three ships due in on April 30th. The season will last exactly six months, with the last ship call scheduled for October 23rd.

P.S. If you’ve noticed a cruise ship here recently, that was Ovation of the Seas, same one that was hanging around last fall because its Australian season was canceled. It will start Alaska cruises from here next month.

Why Terminal 5 and other Seattle cargo docks are closed today

This morning, the Northwest Seaport Alliance sent out notices saying Terminal 5 and other Seattle cargo docks would be closed for a day, effective immediately, because of a longshore workers’ “24-hour stop work.” We’ve had messages out since then to find out why; this is the NWSA response:

The Port of Seattle and The Northwest Seaport Alliance have been made aware of a member of International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 19 passing away at the Pier 86 grain facility. As is tradition after a member dies while at work, facilities in Seattle only will be closed for the remainder of the day, with shifts starting again tomorrow morning. We offer our deepest condolences to ILWU and the worker’s family and friends during this difficult time.

The Seattle Fire 911 log shows a medical call to that facility just after 7 am today.

TERMINAL 5: Biggest ship yet, but still not using shore power

Almost a month and a half after modernized Terminal 5 opened for international cargo shipping, it has yet to use a major feature of that modernization – shore power. We visited T-5 this morning as the largest vessel yet, MSC Virgo, was being unloaded:

Virgo is 1,200 feet long, with a capacity of 15,000 TEUs, the second-biggest ship ever to be served by the Northwest Seaport Alliance (the joint cargo authority of the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma) – the biggest was CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, the 18,000-TEU megaship that made a much-celebrated visit six years ago at Terminal 18 on Harbor Island. So why isn’t MSC Virgo using shore power? NWSA spokesperson Melanie Stambaugh says it’s a labor issue that terminal operator SSA is working on: “Currently, labor parties are negotiating the use of shore power equipment on the terminal and usage will be determined when negotiations are complete.” Meantime, what are literally the biggest aspects of the modernization work, the four giant cranes, are working well, Stambaugh says.

Some of the cargo brought in by Virgo will be transported away by rail, another key operational advantage of T-5. NWSA says there’s no ship backup currently here, but Canada still has issues, so it’s expecting to see more cargo that was originally intended to be offloaded there – a “huge win” as described at the most-recent NWSA managing-members meeting. Virgo, meantime, will be here until Monday; the shipping schedule changes frequently but you can watch it here to see what’s next.

WEST SEATTLE SCENE: Big ship at Terminal 5

Thanks to Amy Pieper for sending the photo! As noted in our morning traffic (etc.) watch, what might be the biggest ship yet to call at West Seattle’s Terminal 5, a month after its opening, is there today. The MSC Margrit‘s capacity is 13,600 TEUs – more than double the capacity of the first ship to call at T-5 last month. Though it’s only about a decade old, the Northwest Seaport Alliance says MSC Margrit is not shore-power capable, so T-5 has yet to see a ship plug in.

TERMINAL 5: ‘Huge win’ in first month

(WSB photo, last month)

One month after its first modernized berth opened for cargo shipping, Terminal 5 has ‘already had a huge win,” Northwest Seaport Alliance managing members were told at their February meeting.

The NWSA says the West Seattle terminal is benefiting from port and railroad congestion in Canada – two of the first three ships to call were sent here instead of Vancouver, B.C., and sent thousands of containers via rail to Montreal and Toronto. Terminal 5’s rail capability was a key selling point for the modernization project.

This was announced in the “operational update” during the meeting of the Seattle and Tacoma port commissioners (the NWSA is the two ports’ joint cargo-operations authority). They were told that the initial startup of T-5’s north berth “is going very well.” All four of the giant new cranes have operated with no downtime – something of a rarity, NWSA staff said – and unions have filled all the terminal operators’ orders for workers.

Next milestones for the north berth, as we’ve reported, will be the arrival of the first big ships later this month (the dates change frequently). These also tend to be newer as well as shore-power-capable, meaning they can use on-dock electricity rather than running their engines and burning fuel while docked.

The NWSA meeting this past Tuesday (here’s the video) also included a construction update on the overall T-5 project, which includes modernization of the south berth, on which work is well under way. Project manager Emma Del Vento said they’re seeing some effects of the concrete strike and supply-chain issues, but nothing affecting the “critical path” schedule overall. Here’s the slide deck she presented:

The total cost of the T-5 project is now projected at $368 million. That’s double the low end of the early projections back in 2015.

UPDATE: Rescue response to get injured man off ship at Terminal 5

8:10 PM: Big Seattle Fire response for Terminal 5 – the first crews to arrive are telling dispatch that someone has a head injury and needs to be pulled out from “inbetween cargo containers.”

8:19 PM: The victim is aboard the cargo ship that’s at Terminal 5 right now (that would be MSC Monterey). Radio exchanges indicate the firefighters are facing tricky logistics to get to him.

8:29 PM: They’ve told dispatch the victim is a 51-year-old man hit from above with a heavy object. He’s described as “alert and oriented.” They’re working toward being able to lift him off the ship. (added) The incident commander tells dispatch that may take another 20 minutes or so.

8:43 PM: Dispatch has just been told “patient extracted.” (added) SFD medics are taking the victim to Harborview.

TERMINAL 5: For everyone who’s asked about the noise

This week we’ve heard from several people wondering about noisy work at Terminal 5, most mentioning “pile-driving.” While the north–berth modernization work is complete and, as we’ve been reporting, the berth is in service, the south berth is now under construction. Our archives showed the window for “in-water” work – a deadline set to minimize fish impacts – is February 15th. We asked Northwest Seaport Alliance spokesperson Melanie Stambaugh for an update on the work and whether that deadline will be extended again this year. Here’s her response:

The questions regarding noise could be related to a combination of terminal operations and construction. The only new activity this week is dredging, while all other construction work has been underway at the same pace since September.

Yes, the in-water work window typically ends 2/15. We have applied for an extension to 2/28 as an effort to reduce any other in-water work being needed at a later time. We will abide by our permits and permissions from the appropriate regulatory authorities and only continue in-water work if the extension is granted.

For the South berth construction, landside work is expected to continue all year. The landside pile driving is complete, and only dock construction remains.

Meanwhile, ships continue to call at the newly opened north berth – here’s our latest update.

TERMINAL 5: Bigger ships on the way

(WSB photo, January 7)

Two and a half weeks after the first cargo-ship call at Terminal 5‘s modernized north berth, its schedule is starting to fill out. MSC Arica arrived early this morning. Its capacity is 8,886 TEUs – but ships with almost twice that capacity are on the way. While the schedule frequently changes, currently 5 more MSC ships are penciled in – Monterey (4,860 TEUs, making its second visit) next Monday (January 31st), then three big ships – Margrit (13,604 TEUs) on February 6th, Virgo (15,000 TEUs) on February 11th, and Camille (14,028 TEUs) on February 14th – followed by Lisbon (9,784 TEUs) on February 17th. The bigger ships are newer, which may mean they’re able to plug into the berth’s shore-power system. Also of note – while the north berth continues ramping up operations, construction continues on the south berth, which is expected to be complete around year’s end.

VIDEO: First cargo ship calls at newly modernized Terminal 5 in West Seattle

MSC Monterey arrived today at Terminal 5 in West Seattle, the first international-cargo ship to call there since July 2014. The expansive terminal hasn’t been idle all those years – it’s seen controversy with oil-drilling rigs as well as more-routine use such as domestic cargo via Matson – but the biggest activity has been the first phase of the half-billion-dollar “modernization” project. Now that phase of work is done and the first berth is in service. The Northwest Seaport Alliance invited news media onto the dock this morning for a quick (and soggy) look.

Two of Terminal 5’s giant cranes – which arrived last June – are being used to unload MSC Monterey; terminal operator SSA Marine‘s T-5 manager Dana Brand explained the other two aren’t in use because the carrier wants to stay a few days, rather than a quick in-and-out. This ship isn’t utilizing all of the newly opened berth’s capacity in other ways, either – for one, it’s a 6,500-TEU (container equivalent) capacity ship; a much-bigger and newer ship – MSC Virgo, 15,000 TEUs – will be here in a few weeks. That ship will use shore power, unlike this one. Also of note, this ship’s containers are all going out by truck, not by rail, though the latter will be used later this month.

Trucks move quickly through an automated gate – potentially seconds for what used to take minutes, including the efficiency of a central control for all three active Seattle terminals – 5, 18, and 30. And the second phase of T-5 work includes moving the gate complex further into the terminal, so there’s more on-dock room for queueing, taking pressure off the roads leading in. For even more efficiency, negotiations are under way toward direct ship-to-train offloading – that would require ships to be loaded in a way that groups all the containers set for a particular destination, which isn’t the way it works now.

Today’s mini-tour included key maritime-industry reps made available for media interviews. We asked Rich Austin, president of ILWU Local 19, what T-5’s opening means for his union’s local workforce, which had dozens of people working at T-5 today.

Terminal 5 now has a second berth to be modernized, and SSA has to decide whether to lease that one too. We talked with SSA Marine executive Edward DeNike and NWSA CEO John Wolfe about what’s next:

Terminal 5’s opening will take some pressure off the supply-chain backlog, DeNike acknowledged, though right now the maritime backup isn’t too bad around here – DeNike said three ships are waiting in this area, compared to more than 140 in Southern California. Prior to the berth opening, T-5 has been in use for months as extra container storage; the number of extra containers there is now down to 3,000, from a peak of 11,000.

VIDEO: ‘Historic day’ as two new Port of Seattle Commissioners take office

January 4, 2022 6:18 pm
|    Comments Off on VIDEO: ‘Historic day’ as two new Port of Seattle Commissioners take office
 |   Port of Seattle | West Seattle news

A “historic day” for the Port of Seattle Commission – with Commissioners Toshiko Grace Hasegawa and Hamdi Mohamed taking office today, the commission has its first People of Color majority. The five-member commission’s other POC member, Sam Cho, was elected today as commission vice president, while Ryan Calkins will serve as president, and Hasegawa as secretary. Calkins was the only incumbent re-elected in November; the other two who were on the ballot were defeated by Hasegawa and Mohamed. The two new commissioners spoke to news media this morning, before the commission’s regular monthly meeting. Hasegawa said it’s “our responsibility to address the generations of environmental harm,” while Mohamed voiced priorities including “addressing the root causes of the supply-chain crisis.” We asked both about how they plan to be more accessible to their constituents (commissioners are elected in a countywide vote). Mohamed promised “listening sessions, town halls” and a “boots on the ground” presence in the community, while Hasegawa promised to be “authentically engaging” and to work to close the “equity gap.” Both also spoke of advocating for a new generation to join the maritime workforce, which is facing a ‘silver tsunami,” as Hasegawa put it, of retirements.

The imminent opening of cargo operations at Terminal 5‘s first modernized berth in West Seattle (with the first ship calling later this week, as we ” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>first reported Monday) was briefly mentioned – Hasegawa called it “exciting,” while Calkins described it as one of the “investments we’e been making (that) are starting to pay off.” During the commission meeting this afternoon, port executive director Steve Metruck noted that the first phase of T-5 construction officially concluded just last week.

TERMINAL 5: First cargo-ship call scheduled for this week

(Wikimedia file photo of MSC Monterey)

MONDAY MORNING: We’ve been watching for word of the first cargo-ship call at the first modernized berth at West Seattle’s Terminal 5, and it’s just appeared on the newest Northwest Seaport Alliance calendar update: MSC Monterey is due at Terminal 5 on Thursday afternoon (January 6th). The schedule also shows MSC Margarita scheduled for T-5 two weeks later. Monterey, built in 2007, carries up to 5,000 containers (TEU); Margarita is slightly older and slightly larger, with a capacity of up to 6,000 containers. (That’s about a third of the potential capacity the revamped berth was designed to handle.) According to MarineTraffic.com, Monterey’s last port was Manzanillo, Mexico, from which it departed one week ago. We may hear more about T-5 when the Port of Seattle Commission meets online at noon tomorrow; that’ll be the first meeting for its newly elected commissioners Toshiko Grace Hasegawa and Hamdi Mohamed.

TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE: The schedule has changed (as, with ships, it often does) and MSC Monterey is now due in Friday morning.

THURSDAY MORNING: Online ‘State of the Port’ presentation

December 8, 2021 8:53 pm
|    Comments Off on THURSDAY MORNING: Online ‘State of the Port’ presentation
 |   Port of Seattle | West Seattle news

Just got word of this from the Port of Seattle tonight, and it’s in the morning, so it’ll be too late for our reminder list, and therefore we’re publishing the announcement now:

This year, the Port of Seattle marks 110 years of working for the people of King County and Washington state. Join us as we reflect on this milestone, recognize the efforts this year to help lead an equitable recovery, and set our sights on 2022. Participants include Port Commissioners and Executive Director Steve Metruck. The presentation features community events and accomplishments from throughout the year. More on our event page.

Date: Thursday, December 9, 2021
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. — Virtual Presentation
Join the Virtual Presentation Here
Call in Option (Audio Only)
+15717484021
Pin: 149 1850#

If you can’t watch live, we’re told a recording will be published later in the day.

PORT: Congestion easing, but Northwest Seaport Alliance hopes to get more containers moving

December 7, 2021 9:35 pm
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 |   Port of Seattle | West Seattle news

(WSB photo, view from West Seattle Bridge last week)

The maritime links in the supply chain are loosening, port commissioners from Seattle and Tacoma were told today. Meeting as the managing members of the Northwest Seaport Alliance, they heard from staff that rail-cargo backups have cleared, and that fewer vessels are waiting at anchor. The latter numbers had been in double digits daily for a while, but are now “5 to 7 on a typical day.” The biggest chokepoint, as described in the briefing, remains getting trucks to transport containers off the docks. Containers are covering a relatively sizable amount of space at docks, including 50 acres at Terminal 46 along the south end of downtown Seattle. So they’re looking at a variety of ways to try to address that, including using short-distance rail to get containers off the docks, and charging “long-stay” fees. The NWSA sent a notice about storage charges two weeks ago – from that notice:

… As with other ports on the West Coast who either have already implemented additional storage charges or will soon be doing so, the failure of importers picking up their containers in a timely manner has created severe congestion issues that has prevented terminal operators from properly servicing vessels destined for their terminals. We sincerely hope the additional storage charge will encourage cargo owners to pick up their containers which will allow the terminals in Seattle to again properly service vessels destined to our port and once that has been accomplished, the temporary storage charges will cease….

The opening of the first modernized berth at West Seattle’s Terminal 5 is expected to take more pressure off the vessel backlog; no date’s been announced yet for the first ship to call, but NWSA spokesperson Melanie Stambaugh tells WSB, “At this time, the NWSA is set to transfer operation of Terminal 5 to [tenant] SSA Terminals at the beginning of January.”

SEEN FROM WEST SEATTLE: The cruise ship that’s not cruising

In today’s bright sunlight, the cruise ship anchored off Manchester – Ovation of the Seas – was particularly eye-catching from west-facing West Seattle. As we’ve reported previously, after concluding the Alaska cruise season, it was supposed to head to the Southern Hemisphere for an Australia cruise season, but that was canceled due to COVID-related travel restrictions. So it’s been hanging around in Washington waters. Port of Seattle spokesperson Peter McGraw sent an update at week’s end:

Royal Caribbean International’s the Ovation of Seas will continue to spend more time around Puget Sound in the coming winter months under minimal operations. Currently, she is anchored in Yukon Harbor in Kitsap County, where the U.S. Coast Guard determines the berthing locations. She’ll spend approximately one week at anchor before heading out to coastal and international waters. She’ll then return to Pier 66 for the day on Friday, Nov. 12 for provisioning, bunkering, and crew movements. Then it’s back to Yukon Harbor and other movements out to sea before coming back to Pier 66 on Monday, Dec. 13 for more operations during the day. While in our waters, Ovation of the Seas utilizes marine gas oil (MGO), a low-sulfur fuel. In between these locations, it will be very possible to continue to see the Ovation of the Seas throughout our area.

For those who have wondered about discharges, Puget Sound is a no-discharge zone for sewage, even treated; here are rules for other types of wastewater.

It’s more common to see cargo ships at anchor where the cruise ship is now; we reported on the ongoing cargo backup earlier this week.

ELECTION 2021: One last look at Seattle Port Commission candidates

October 29, 2021 11:56 pm
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 |   Port of Seattle | West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Most of the spotlight this election season has shone on candidates for Seattle city offices. But that’s not all you’ll find on your ballot (if you’re among the 80+% of local voters whose ballots haven’t been turned in yet). You have 17 choice to make – including three races for Seattle Port Commission.

Five commissioners, all elected countywide, comprise the board, serving four-year terms. This year, Positions 1, 3, and 4 are up for election. In each race, the incumbent and a challenger filed for the seat, so there were no primary votes – all six candidates went directly to the general election. Thursday night, five of them participated in an online forum presented by the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition and Seattle Parks Foundation – for Position 1, first-term incumbent Ryan Calkins; for Position 3, two-term incumbent Stephanie Bowman and King County policy adviser Hamdi Mohamed; and for Position 4, first-term incumbent Peter Steinbrueck and state Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs executive director Toshiko Grace Hasegawa.

DRCC executive director Paulina López co-hosted with SPF CEO Rebecca Bear. In opening comments, they pointed out the enormity of the Port of Seattle‘s impact on our region, both seaport and airport operations. The forum was only allotted an hour, so after introductory opening statements, questions were asked randomly of one or more participants. What we’ve written below is our summarizing/paraphrasing of the questions and answers, not direct quotes unless designated as such by quotation marks.

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