3 Top News Stories in International Shipping Current Events
Today’s blog does just that, giving you three top stories from international shipping news that affects importers and exporters of goods.
Stowaway at Port of Oakland Raises Security Concerns
Doug Oakley reported in the Contra Costa Times a federal criminal complaint was filed on Tuesday against a man for sneaking onto a cargo ship heading for South Korea from the Port of Oakland:
Andreas Guenther allegedly rowed an inflatable raft he bought at a sporting goods store across the bay and boarded the M/V Cosco Oceania at Berth 58, climbed a rope ladder and got on board the ship, according to an affidavit submitted by Coast Guard investigator Brian DuBois that is attached to a federal criminal complaint.
If convicted, Guenther could spend five years in prison….
After the ship got underway, crew members found Guenther, and the ship stopped and anchored in the bay, according to the affidavit. The U.S. Coast Guard then came and took him off…
Apparently, Guenther contacted Cosco about shipping a crate to South Korea in order to find out where the ship was moored and its departure schedule.
The incident raises security concerns and the final quote of Oakley’s story is not reassuring. “We have plenty of ways to secure the port from the land side, but this is a new issue with someone coming in from the bay.”
No Port Congestion Surcharges Till 2015
We’ve been keeping shippers informed about the up and down rollercoaster of carrier Port Congestion Surcharge announcements.
We’re still hoping shippers will never see these $1,000+ fees on the shipping containers they’re importing and exporting through West Coast ports. At the very least, shippers won’t have to worry about Port Congestion Surcharges until 2015.
Yes, that is just next month.
The Federal Maritime Commission released the following in a statement on December 4th:
The Commission has been advised that the 15 ocean carrier members of the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement have individually committed to forego imposition of any port congestion surcharges until 2015.
The Federal Maritime Commission has received numerous inquiries regarding congestion surcharges for “labor unrest” as announced in various ocean carriers’ tariff rules required to be published under the Shipping Act and the Commission’s regulations. On November 17, the Commission announced that it was collecting information regarding congestion surcharge rules published in carrier tariffs and undertaking a review. Ocean carriers in the transpacific trades were asked to respond to Commission inquiries into the timing and legal sufficiency of the surcharges, and all carriers timely responded.
During the week of November 24, following the Commission’s inquiries, many carriers announced temporary suspension of the surcharge.
Chairman Mario Cordero stated:
“I welcome the individual commitments of the ocean carriers to postpone port congestion surcharges into 2015. During this time, Commission staff will further address with the carriers our concerns for the lawfulness, fairness, and adequacy of notice of implementation. The carriers’ commitment to defer the congestion surcharge offers the opportunity to continue this important dialogue and pursue greater transparency as to the timing and the need for future carrier surcharges. The monitoring by Commission staff of port congestion and related surcharges will continue.”
We have a Port Congestion Surcharge file you can check out to keep updated on the details of these charges from the carriers.
Contentious ILWU Contract Negotiations Drag On
The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) has been reporting that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has been orchestrating slowdowns, making bad congestion worse, to gain leverage in contract negotiations. The ILWU refutes PMA’s claims, saying the PMA is deceitfully blaming congestion on the union.
Neither the PMA nor the ILWU are sharing what issues are constraining the negotiation of a new contract.
The last big news release from PMA said the ILWU were extending their slowdown tactics to the negotiating table by refusing to hold “big table” talks from November 20th through the end of the Thanksgiving weekend–a 12-day break.
Negotiations resumed last week, but no good news of progress has been released.
The ILWU has a coastwide caucus scheduled for Dec. 15th. Ideally, the ILWU would have a new contract to present at the caucus. Shippers and businesses fear that instead, the union could plan more slowdowns or even hold a vote to strike.
We just conducted an interview with an ILWU member that you can check out in UCM’s blog.
You can come back to UCM’s blog anytime to read more articles relating to international shipping and business. We post a new blog every Tuesday and Thursday.