A Committee of Errors

Our researchers came across some information that we’d like to pass on. It’s the kind of information that maritime consultants are supposed to provide to those who pay generous fees for sound advice.

One doesn’t always get one’s money’s worth, unfortunately, and port workers in Philadelphia area terminals would never have embraced the “Dredging = Jobs” formula if they had been told that:
• Of the 800 or so new containerships that will enter service in 2007 and 2008, only about 120 will be 6,000 TEUs or larger. The remaining 680, of course, will be much smaller.
• The largest container ship in the world, the fabled “Emma Maersk” with an 11,000 TEU capacity, measures 1,302 ft. in length and 183.7 ft. across the beam. This mammoth vessel, which will never be permitted to service an upriver port, draws just 45.9 ft. of water. The majority of container ships, therefore, being considerably smaller, draw much, much less.
• The owners of that majority of smaller container ships would be only too happy to service the Philadelphia area terminals, thereby enabling the port to achieve the 3.5 million TEU-status that daydreamers like to talk about … except for the fact that there’s no call for this amount of trade in the Philadelphia area.
• A double-hull product tanker, like the new 40,600-dwt “Seatrout” for instance, could easily steam up the Delaware. It has a draft of only 32.8 ft … but there’s no call for such service.

Or how about the new “Overseas Houston” with its 36-ft. draft. We’re sure this vessel could manage the Delaware. It was built at the Aker Philadelphia Shipyard, that’s why we’re sure. But ships of this size aren’t servicing the terminals in the area … because there’s no call for such service.

When the engaged maritime consultants were promoting their “pie-in-the-sky” ideas to the job-hungry port workers in Philadelphia and Camden, why didn’t they describe the downside of a “3.5 million TEU” container port? The pollution and traffic congestion problems in and around the LA/Long Beach port complex could have been cited, but there’s a perilous situation developing right under their noses in New Jersey which is being seriously attended to by New Jersey legislators.

Bill S2217, proposed by Bernard Kenny, D-Hoboken, prohibits “heavy-duty trucks from idling or queuing for more than 30 minutes while waiting to enter any marine terminal.” The bill also prohibits “any owner or operator of a marine terminal from taking any action intended to avoid complying with, or to circumvent, the requirements of the act, including, but not limited to:
• Diverting an idling truck to area highways or alternate staging areas.
• Requiring a truck to idle or queue inside the gate of a marine terminal.
• Requiring or directing a truck driver to turn on and off an engine while queuing”

The bill provides that the operator of a marine terminal is subject to a fine of $ 250 for each heavy-duty diesel truck found in violation of the idling or queuing prohibition, and is subject to a fine of $ 750 for each truck involved in a violation of avoiding compliance with or circumventing the act.

[Diesel emissions! Would Philadelphians welcome this facet of a glittering 3.5 million TEU port?]