Monday, January 6, 2014

Container and Bulk Ocean Shipping to Feature in US Maritime Strategy Symposium

Last Chance to Register to State Your View of the Future
Shipping News Feature

US – Stakeholders in the ocean shipping sector have just a couple of days left to register interest in the national maritime strategy symposium taking place between January 14 – 16 and arranged by MARAD, the US Maritime Administration. Information on registering for the symposium, which is intended to garner information on how to sculpt a national maritime transport strategy, can be found here, and the public meeting will also be broadcast live via web streaming and a listen-only telephone line. Individuals interested in participating through the listen-only telephone line must however also register in order to obtain the telephone number. Meanwhile the likely influence of Post Panamax bulk and container vessels on US port infrastructure is also under scrutiny.

Whilst shipping interests based overseas may object to what they see as a protectionist position with subjects such as the Jones Act being a perpetual source of controversy, the US administration is pushing on with numerous projects to strengthen America’s international position in the market. MARAD says the wider and deeper locks that open in 2015 on the Panama Canal will create new opportunities and jobs across the country as transportation officials and port authorities prepare for larger vessels to call at Gulf and East Coast ports.

To this end in November the organisation published Phase One of its study of the Canal to enable the industry to more fully understand the implications for ports, waterways and intermodal facilities of the shift in patterns likely to arise when the full complement of larger Post Panamax carriers gets under way. MARAD makes much of the fact that, via the TIGER grant system, the US has invested over $400 million in thirty three inland and coastal ports and pushed through marine highway schemes such as the West Sacramento-Stockton-Oakland ‘Green Trade Corridor’.

This scheme takes containers off the heavily overcrowded Interstate 580 and puts them on barges to interchange both full and empty boxes between the Port of Oakland and California’s central valley region. When fully operational it is estimated that an intermodal riverside hub at Stockton in San Joaquin County will remove up to one million trucks a year from the highway and with 40% of California’s pollution being attributed to the transport sector this solution has doubtless been popular locally.

The enthusiasm of the administration to support its native maritime industry extends to ship building with over $150 million invested by the current administration in US shipyards saying they account for in excess of 400,000 jobs and add $36 billion to the country’s gross domestic product and this month’s symposium gives anyone the chance to comment on this and other sectors involved in the maritime arena.