USCG issues warning on electrical deficiencies

MARCH 23, 2016 — Due to an increase in reported electrical deficiencies on commercial vessels, the U.S. Coast Guard District 9 (Great Lakes) is warning commercial vessel owners to inspect their vessels’

Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding busy with Laker winter work

FEBRUARY 22, 2016 — Fincantieri Marine Group reports that 14 Great Lakes vessels are currently undergoing winter repairs at its Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding division in Sturgeon Bay, WI. The vessels range in

Algoma adds more Equinox newbuilds to order book

Today, Algoma said that contracts for two ships had been made effective with the delivery of refund guarantees by the shipyard, China’s Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.

“Our search for a shipyard in China to replace the now-bankrupt Nantong Mingde Heavy Industries (“Mingde”) led us to Yangzijiang,” said Ken Bloch Soerensen, President and CEO of Algoma. “We have been pleased with the professionalism and enthusiasm the yard has shown for our project and the quality that they have shown on work done for other shipowners.”

The announcement of the two ship order at Yangzijiang follows a November 25 announcement that contracts for three Equinox newbuilds with Uljanik d.d. of Croatia had become effective with delivery by the yard of security for the contractually required construction installments.

Algoma now has five Equinox Class ships under construction at the Uljanik Group’s 3Maj shipyard in Rijeka.All the vessels will have an overall length of 225.55 metres (740 feet) and a beam of 23.77 metres (78 feet), qualifying as Seaway Max size ships. The vessels will carry 29,300 tonnes at maximum Seaway draft.

The two most recently ordered at Uljanik will feature a boom-forward configuration designed to provide greater flexibility in certain delivery situations. The others will feature a standard rear boom.

The new Equinox vessels will have all of the features of the existing Equinox design, including the exhaust gas scrubber technology pioneered by Algoma on the Great Lakes in its first Equinox Class gearless bulk carriers.

With seven ships now under construction, Algoma expects to invest approximately $450 million in this phase of its fleet renewal program. It is also reviewing its fleet plan and considering the retirement of certain older vessels.

Senators seek robust funding for new Lakes icebreaker

The letter was also signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (WI), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Al Franken (MN), Bob Casey (PA), Joe Donnelly (IN) and Sherrod Brown (OH).

Heavy ice cover seen in recent winters has seriously impaired commercial shipping and economic activity in the Great Lakes. Last winter, cargo shipping decreased by 3.2 million tons, costing $355 million in lost revenue and nearly 2,000 jobs.

“Heavy ice cover disrupts shipping and commerce on the Great Lakes, resulting in a severe loss of economic activity, revenue and jobs that depresses both the regional and national economy,” wrote the Senators in the letter. “It is essential that Congress provides the men and women of the Coast Guard with the resources they need to keep open shipping lanes in the Great Lakes and to conduct search and rescue missions to keep ships and their crews safe during winter’s cruelest months.”
The U.S. Coast Guard currently operates nine icebreaking-capable cutters on the Great Lakes, some of which date back to the 1970s.

With only one heavy icebreaker in the Great Lakes fleet, the USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB-30), the Coast Guard has struggled to combat near record-breaking ice cover on the Great Lakes in recent winters. As a member of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, Peters is focused on ensuring the Coast Guard has the resources it needs to maintain shipping lanes and conduct its law enforcement, port security, safety duties, and other vital services. He also called for the inclusion of a heavy icebreaker in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015.

Senator Stabenow is Co-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, which is a bipartisan working group that advocates for the protection of the Great Lakes. Earlier this year, Senator Stabenow called for Congress to support a new Great Lakes icebreaker.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

The Honorable John Hoeven
Chairman
Senate Committee on Appropriations,
Subcommittee on Homeland Security
135 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Appropriations,
Subcommittee on Homeland Security
125 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Hoeven and Ranking Member Shaheen:

As your Committee develops appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2016 (FY 2016), we urge you to provide the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) with robust funding for the design and construction of a new heavy icebreaker for the Great Lakes region.

The USCG currently operates an aging fleet on the Great Lakes that includes only nine icebreaking-capable cutters, some of which date back to the 1970s. In 2006 the USCG added a heavy icebreaker called the USCG MACKINAW, but despite its addition, the USCG continues to struggle to combat the near record-breaking levels of ice coverage that have plagued the region in recent winters. Heavy ice cover disrupts shipping and commerce on the Great Lakes, resulting in a severe loss of economic activity, revenue and jobs that depresses both the regional and national economy.

During the 2013/2014 winter, U.S. flag cargo movements on the Great Lakes dropped by nearly 7 million tons, causing at least two steelmakers to reduce production, several power plants to nearly exhaust their supply of coal, and a total estimated cost of nearly 4,000 jobs and $700 million in lost business revenue. This past winter resulted in an estimated decrease in cargo of 3.2 million tons, costing the economy $355 million in lost revenue and nearly 2,000 jobs.

During this Congress, the importance of Great Lakes icebreaking has received bipartisan and bicameral recognition, including by your Committee, which, in its report to accompany the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act for FY 2016, expresses concern, “that the Coast Guard does not possess adequate capacity to meet its statutorily required mission on the Great Lakes, with negative consequences to the regional and national economy as well as to the safety of local communities[1].”

We share your concern and appreciate the report’s requirement for an updated mission analysis. Furthermore, on May 18, 2015, the House unanimously passed by voice vote H.R. 1987, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015, which authorizes funding in FY 2016 and FY 2017 for the design and construction of a new USCG icebreaker for the Great Lakes. As the leaders of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure work toward a final bill, we support the retention of the House-passed authorizing language.

It is essential that Congress provides the men and women of the Coast Guard with the resources they need to keep open shipping lanes in the Great Lakes and to conduct search and rescue missions to keep ships and their crews safe during winter’s cruelest months. We look forward to working with you on this important matter.

Great Lakes bulker operator reports increased net

Before a tax benefit of approximately $0.22, net income per share increased to $0.36 on a fully diluted basis or 12.5% over the prior year period.

“The 2015 sailing season has remained consistent with our initial outlook,” commented Ed Levy, President and CEO of Rand. “We continue to focus our efforts on the factors of our business that we can control. We have experienced continued improvement in the key operating and financial metrics that drive our business, including lower vessel delays and days out of service, combined with improvements in tons hauled, freight and related revenue, and vessel margin per day. The year to date financial impact of these improvements has been masked by a 14% decline in the value of the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar compared to last sailing season.”

Through its subsidiaries, Rand Logistics operates a fleet of four conventional bulk carriers and twelve self-unloading bulk carriers including three tug/barge units. The company is the only carrier able to offer significant domestic port-to-port services in both Canada and the U.S. on the Great Lakes. Its vessels operate under the U.S. Jones Act – which reserves domestic waterborne commerce to vessels that are U.S. owned, built and crewed, – and the Canada Coasting Trade Act – which reserves domestic waterborne commerce to Canadian registered and crewed vessels that operate between Canadian ports.

Freight and other related revenue from company operated vessels (which excludes fuel and other surcharges) decreased $2.3 million, or 4.9%, to $43.8 million during the three-month period compared to $46.1 million in the year ago period. On a constant currency basis, freight and other related revenue increased 4.0%, or $1.9 million.

Total Sailing Days were 1,278 compared to 1,351 in the prior year. The 73-day decline in sailing days was due to 92 lost days attributable to the company’s time chartered bulk carriers. Although these vessels did not operate for the entire quarter, Rand continued to receive daily charter payments at a reduced rate. These lost days were partially offset by a 19 day reduction in days out of service.

Delay Days decreased to 68 from 72. Delay Days as a percentage of total Sailing Days remained relatively constant year over year.

Freight and related revenue per Sailing Day increased $176, or 0.5%, to $34,300 compared to $34,124 per Sailing Day in the year ago period. On a constant currency basis, freight and related revenue per Sailing Day increased 10.0%, or $3,409.Vessel operating expenses decreased $3.6 million, or 10.7%, to $30.0 million compared to $33.6 million during the year ago period. Vessel operating expenses per Sailing Day decreased $1,381, or 5.6%, to $23,498 from $24,879 during the year ago period. On a constant currency basis, vessel operating expenses per Sailing Day decreased 0.9%, or $0.3 million.

Adjusted EBITDA decreased $1.3 million, or 7.3%, to $16.1 million from $17.4 million during the year ago period. On a constant currency basis, Adjusted EBITDA increased 2.0%, or $0.3 million.

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Fednav takes delivery of first BWTS equipped Laker

The ship, the 34,500 dwt ocean going laker Federal Biscay, is fitted with a ballast water treatment system (BWTS) — a first for ships transiting the Great Lakes, says Fednav, the largest international operator in the Great Lakes/Saint Lawrence Seaway System.

Fednav announced in April that it would equip all 12 ships in its Oshima shipyard newbuild program with BallastAce ballast water treatment systems (BWTS) (see earlier story).

Developed by JFE Engineering Corporation in Japan, the BallastAce system will be effective in both fresh and salt water. BallastAce operates through a combination of filtration and sodium hypochlorite (bleach) injection into the ship’s ballast system.

“This is a pivotal step in protecting the Great Lakes against invasive species and preserving biodiversity in the region,” said Paul Pathy, president and co-CEO of Fednav Limited. “Fednav is proud to be the first shipping company to deploy such systems, and we are pleased that the Federal Biscay is serving as a test ship for this technology.”

Fednav will start using BallastAce in the Great Lakes at the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 2016.

With the assistance of Fednav, the BallastAce system (which is already USCG AMS approved) will continue the necessary testing for full U.S .Coast Guard type approval for fresh, brackish, and salt water at the GSI facility in Superior, WI, and at MERC in Baltimore, MD. During the first six months of 2016, the system installed on the Federal Biscay will be be used for the shipboard testing element of the type approval requirements.

Fednav expects that the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention, to which Canada is a signatory, will most likely enter into force in 2016, the year the U.S. Coast Guard and EPA require the installation of systems on ships trading in US waters.

Rand Logistics appoints Corporate VP of Procurement

SEPTEMBER 29, 2015 — Great Lakes bulker operator Rand Logistics, Inc. (NASDAQ:RLOG) has appointed Christopher J. Garwood to the position of Corporate Vice President of Procurement, responsible for managing the company’s strategic

Historic “Boblo boat” heads for renovation

SEPTEMBER 2, 2015 — The Great Lakes Towing Company has been completing a historic contract for the SS Columbia Project — towing the 113 year old “Boblo boat” SS Columbia from Toledo,

Interlake to fit two more bulkers with Dupont scrubbers

AUGUST 17, 2015 — Ohio-based Interlake Steamship Company is to fit two more of its ships with DuPont Marine Scrubber systems supplied by DuPont Sustainable Solutions subsidiary Belco Technologies Corporation (BELCO). The

Great Lakes dry bulk cargo surges in May

JUNE 22, 2015—U.S.-flag Great Lakes carriers had a bit sunny outlook in May then they had the same time a year ago. That’s because lakers moved 10.8 million tons of dry-bulk cargo

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