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Port Report: Port Of Brunswick Ready For "Substantial New Business"


Georgia Ports Authority executive director Griff Lynch says completion of a 40-acre dockside parcel dedicated to auto processing at the Port of Brunswick's roll-on/roll-off Colonel's Island Terminal means the port "is ready to take on substantial new business."

New dockside expansion will also "increase GPA's rail capacity for autos at Brunswick, adding 14,100 feet of track. This, in turn, will allow Brunswick to expand service in markets west of the Mississippi River and into the American Midwest. In FY2019, more than 110,000 vehicles were transported to inland markets from Brunswick by rail."

GPA says the development "increases the car-storage area by approximately 6,000 spaces and provides a 9-acre staging area for high and heavy equipment being loaded or unloaded from vessels. The benefits will include additional capacity and speedier vessel processing."

The Port of Brunswick handled a total of 614,000 units of ro-ro cargo in its fiscal year which ended on June 30.

BMW has moved nearly that many automobiles through Colonel's Island Terminal in the past 15 years—612,000. During a "state of the port" address on the Port of Brunswick on Oct. 2, Lynch said the German carmaker has signed a new 20-year contract to use the port.

Lynch thanked the U.S. Coast Guard, Brunswick Bar Pilots and port workers for their efforts in the crew rescue, ongoing vessel salvage and reopening of the Port of Brunswick after the car carrier ship Golden Ray capsized in St. Simons Sound while departing the port on Sept. 8. 

"In only four days, we were able to reopen the port, protecting the livelihoods of our direct employees and thousands of others across the region. On behalf of the Georgia Ports Authority, I would like to thank all those involved in the rescue and salvage operations." 

Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael Himes said on Oct. 9 that efforts to recover fuel from the Golden Ray are continuing, though they have to be periodically halted because of wind or rough seas. To date, about 198,000 gallons of fuel have been recovered from the ship, which was estimated to have around 300,000 gallons at the time the ship overturned.

Response teams continue to clean oil from beaches and wetlands. The massive clean-up effort involves 487 people and 87 vessels, according to a unified command center that has been set up by the Coast Guard, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Gallagher Marine Services.

Himes said salvage efforts are currently focused on recovering oil while a plan is made for further recovery of the ship. He added that port traffic is restricted during daylight hours to avoid interfering with salvage operations, but ships are allowed to move to and from berths at Brunswick between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. 

Three-way Stevedoring Joint Venture

As reported last month in American Shipper, a request to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) by units of three stevedoring companies—SSA Marine, Ports America and Ceres Terminals—to form a joint venture that would operate in the Ports of Charleston and Savannah was withdrawn from the federal agency.

The FMC had asked for more information on the proposal in May, but ultimately decided that since the three companies are stevedores and not marine terminal operators in the two state-owned ports, the joint venture did not require its review under the Shipping Act.

The Charleston Post and Courier reported this week that the three companies plan to move forward with their plans for the joint venture, called Newco.

Bob Watters, a senior vice president at SSA Marine, said earlier this year that Newco is supported by the Georgia Port Authority and South Carolina Port Authority, and that "the purpose of such new entity will be to: improve customer service; provide a secure, safe and stable environment for employees; and strengthen the ports' competitive positions within the global container market."

Barbara Melvin, chief operating officer for the South Carolina Ports Authority, said in May that the agency is supportive of the Newco proposal, which it understands to be a response to the wave of consolidation among container carriers that has led to a need for fewer suppliers in the stevedoring industry.

"It's almost mimicking some of the behavior of the ocean carriers in trying to gain some efficiencies and economies of scale by working together. I think that the service providers saw that as an opportunity for them to somewhat do the same thing," she said.

The International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) had opposed the joint venture. ILA attorneys Andre Mazzola Mardon and Nicholas M. Graziano wrote to the FMC in April, saying the three companies were proposing "an arrangement in violation of the DOJ's antitrust laws."

They contended the agreement would grant Newco "a veritable lock on competition in the context of both market share and market concentration. Newco will become, in all but name, the sole terminal operator servicing the two largest ports within the southeastern region of the United States" and permit it "to completely restrict competitive pricing in the area."

The ILA attorneys argued that the agreement "constitutes a merger" and "should not be permitted to go into effect until the Federal Trade Commission has determined the anti-competitive effect of the proposed merger under the Horizontal Merger Guidelines."

Breaking Ground in Oakland

The Port of Oakland and CenterPoint Properties will hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 11 for a new 466,830-square-foot logistics facility in the Port of Oakland. The port said "the new facility will enhance logistics in the region by reducing truck travel times, distance and cost and provide living-wage jobs for Oakland residents."

Scheduled speakers at the event include Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Board of Oakland Commission President Ces Butner and a variety of community leaders. 

The port's commissioners approved a final permit for the building in July,though CenterPoint had begun preparation and ground stabilization work on the building in 2018. Completion of the building is expected in mid-2020.

CenterPoint's $52 million project will "anchor a logistics campus planned for 180 acres at the decommissioned Oakland Army Base," the port said, adding that it had inherited the property 15 years ago and has been planning for its use ever since." CenterPoint plans to lease the building to tenants engaged in cargo transportation or logistics.

Catalan Cargo

APM Terminals Barcelona says it reached "a new milestone in its history, breaking the record for movements during a call by registering 5,394 movements on the Millau Bridge ship, which [is operated by] THE Alliance, the terminal's main service [provider]. It's the highest level of activity registered on a ship in the Catalan terminal since the arrival of the OOCL Brussels in 2017, when 5,323 movements were performed."

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