2018 is almost over...is there anything worthy of being added to stories of the year?

Not much in my opinion but can add these two

  1. MarAd (or more likely, this Administration) fails to release a National Maritime Strategy demanded by the Congress 4 years ago…personally I believe they are “refusing” to because any strategy involves the goobermint spending some money.

  2. offshore companies in the GoM are growing ever closer to collapsing as crude prices languish. HGIM now owned by its lenders. HOS likely to be next in 2019.

  3. ???

You’ve gone the whole year without getting banned.


but I know how much you really love me…

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Let’s not forget. It’s not over until it’s over, he still has time.

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I’m surprised there isn’t anything about subchapter M.

Short sea shipping resurrected - these barge costs seem ridiculously high but cheaper than trucks?


Interesting article.

The short sea tug and barge service between Stockton and Oakland (that’s actually a Bay and river service) failed because loading/unloading costs by the longshoremen’s Union comprised 85% of total costs.

Tug and barge costs 15%

Longshoremen 85%

This is a good example of why short sea shipping can never work in the US, if it is required to use the Longshoremen’s Union.

The proposed NY service has estimated Longshoremen’s costs of $180 to $220 per container move. Of course this does not include any longshoremen’s fees for lashing.

The tug and barge services between Seattle and Alaska only work because the barge lines load/unload at their own docks, and do not use any Longshoremen’s Union labor.

I think the proposed NY area service would work better with flat deck (single deck) Ro/Ro barges. Similar to Seaspan’s tug and barge Ro/Ro service between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

They already do cross harbor moves in NY on flat deck container barges. They work well, but the terminal operators see opportunity for improvement, hence the proposal for ATBs.

The real challenge is the teamsters getting in the way. Once that obstacle is overcome I would expect to see some significant growth in this area.

I very much hope not!

For the simple reason that no one is launching at this time of year, nor is anyone signing any good contracts as everyone is on holiday… So any “news” will most likely be bad news.

Don’t want to end the year with bad news.

Seaspan, and Island Tug & Barge (Canada) both use conventional tugs and barges and “pusher tugs” (what we call ATBs) mated to flat deck barges. Island Tug & Barge recently built two new ASD tugs with squarish bows that are pinned into two modified existing deck barges.

It’s been awhile since I watched Seaspan unloading, but it was pretty slick. They nosed into what looked like a small ferry pen with a ramp. The tug kept working ahead holding the barge into the pen. Two yard tractors drove onto the barge, hooked onto the container chassis, turned them around, and drove them off. They had a big barge unloaded in about an hour.

I’m sure NY has plenty of tugs and barges that need work. It’s protected waters that would not require much, if any lashings. While an ATB has some advantages over a conventional tug pushing ahead, or with a barge on the hip, I’m not sure it’s a big advantage on a short cross harbor run.

It’s much better to develop the service and prove it with existing equipment before building a very expensive fleet of ATBs. A fleet of large ferries, like the Washington State Ferries, would be even better than ATBs.

Longshoremen Union costs of $180 to $220 per container move will never compete with trucking, unless truck tolls for the bridges and tunnels are raised to astronomical levels.

please someone tell me what any of this has to do with any list of maritime stories of 2018?

NY has ferries too, the Staten Island Ferry, but they haven’t allowed vehicle carriage since 9/11. The ATBs are not for cross harbor but for the marine highway proposal from NY/NJ to Boston and possibly Portland, Maine. The convential tugs used now work, but ATBs would provide greater capacity, control and height of eye. No one working those runs now would say they are ideal as they crab along the harbor.

Some company will find a way to make it work. Maybe a trailer barge like the old Crowley PR run but smaller and and an ATB of some form, but it will happen.

I’d think some of the OSV mergers would be high on the list of top news stories.

The USCG icebreaker and lack of funding should be there.

The NTSB El Faro report

And ECO’s Alaska rollout

I’m sure there are some others I could think of without trying that are pretty big.

Most of us could care less what MARAD is failing to do. That’s not really news. It’s just another expensive do nothing government agency. If MARAD actually did something significant, that would be news.


May not be big global news but the approval of a 2nd 1000fter lock at Sault St. Marie was a pretty big deal in my corner of the maritime world


what is news is that 4 years ago Congress told MarAd to get them a comprehensive maritime policy for the nation and in that time it says it drafted one but now our present administration is sitting on it! This is a national security issue yet no movement towards getting something to both the Congress and us American mariners whom the goobermint says over and over and over again how critical we are to that very security! THIS IS CRIMINAL!

I sure would like to know what is in this draft and how it purports to at least stabilize the precipitous decline in the US merchant fleet.

The decision was made decades ago to allow American owners to operate under flags of convienance (so called effective US control) and let the American manned US flag fleet dwindle to damn near zero.

At 60 ships, and steadily declining, we are getting close to damn near zero. We have lost the critical mass necessary to sustain US flag shipping. It has no where to go but down.

The only way to reverse this would be to reserve some percentage of US foreign trade to US ships. Alternatively, require that some percentage of US foreign trade must enter the US in Guam, Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico which would require Jones Act Ships to carry it to the US mainland.

Most likely, foreign going US flag ships will just slowly continue to disappear. The military and government obviously doesn’t care. Walmart certainly doesn’t care.

The primary effect of Marad as a bumbling, infective, wasteful government agency involved in shipping is to keep the USCG from being the most useless government agency involved in shipping.

that is the 60 ships in the MSP but there still are Jones Act container carriers, ro/ro’s and tankers plus a few dozen ships on longterm MSC charter so believe we still have at least 150 ships over 1000grt out there sailing so this critical mass you speak of seems to be a bit off. There are other nations who have completely forsaken any flag merchant fleet like Canada so do not say we are headed to becoming extinct…


we need to have more ships flying the US flag employing US mariners if this nation is to expect to be able to man its large reserve fleet of ships when mobilized all at once like 1990. It cannot rely on retirees to come back or to be able to entice those who are of working age with licenses to leave shore jobs to go back to sea. If there aren’t enough qualified US citizen mariners available to answer the call then the government will have to waive all the statutes and hire foreign nationals which to me would be the most monstrous slap in the face since American citizens have always manned our ships when called upon in the 20th Century. American mariners will answer the call but that is only if we exist and today we are pathetically too few to fulfill our historic mandate.

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Back during Desert Storm, I made a shit load of overtime towing RRF ships back into port. 5 ships, all less than 50 miles from the sea buoy. One ship, I remember was crewing up and the CE needed 2 hands to assist him up the gangway.

and that was back almost 30 years ago when there still was a fleet twice the size of today’s and they were still calling for ancient WWII mariners to go back. I know because I was there and saw these old men who had no business being back on ships with their health problems, but the Government was desperate and was willing to take anyone just to put bodies on ships and get them headed out. Plenty of old ships and plenty of old mariners broke down enroute. Quite a crowning moment for the US merchant marine!