Build vs Buy, Decarbonization, and Maritime Day 2024

WA state ferry being towed

*This photo has been generated using artificial intelligence. While it may appear realistic, it is important to note that it was not captured by a human photographer.*

Buying Ships

Washington State Ferries should follow the Coast Guard’s lead and just buy a ferry (or 5). I’m referring to the Coast Guard’s plea to buy a commercially available icebreaker for $150 million. If it were up to the Coast Guard, this would’ve happened years ago as we’ve watched the heavy icebreaking capability erode slowly over time down at Pier 36. 

The level of urgency surrounding our lack of presence in the receding ice of the Arctic is now surpassing our level of commitment to lobbying for ship design and manufacturing dollars. Still, where there’s billions at stake, there’s a fight

But, alas — Politics. It’s not until we’re out of options that we loosen protectionist legislation. Looking at you, Jones Act.

  • PMSA West Coast Trade Report is out. Read the section on the export of recycled material. This is a “must read” for me and I always plan on at least an hour to absorb it. The short version for us is that the containerized cargo trade for the NW Seaport Alliance is down from 3.1 million TEUs a year ago to 2.7 million TEUs in November. This is below COVID numbers.
  • Port decarbonization buzz is everywhere. I attended 3 different discussions in the past week where this was a primary talking point.
  • Tug Escort Rulemaking workshop wrapped another session last week. I missed the last workshop but reviewed their timeline and finally read their public comments which closed last April. This isn’t over, but the major rub seems to be whether the increased tug traffic (emissions, noise, congestion) is worth the risk being bought down by the increased tug presence. Stay tuned.
  • Maritime Day is today! Members of the WA Maritime Federation will be engaging state legislators on a full spectrum of maritime-related policy and funding issues.
This is my first blog post, but it’s really just a way for me to keep track of top issues and what I’ve been paying attention to over the past two weeks. I realize some of my opinions or thoughts may not completely align with yours or your organization, but my goal is to simply provide some fact-based commentary and awareness that you may not get anywhere else.