COS Weekly News - Friday, 23 February 2024

COS Weekly News - Friday, 23 February 2024

‍‍COS Weekly News - Friday, 23 February 2024

In the news...

‍Local News

Teamsters Canada accuses CN and CPKC of avoiding serious negotiations

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), representing workers at Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC), accuses both companies of not seriously negotiating to avoid a work stoppage. The negotiations involve renewing three collective agreements for about 9300 workers. The TCRC claims CN and CPKC want to eliminate safety-critical rest provisions, which the union says are crucial for preventing crew fatigue and ensuring public safety. The union emphasizes that safety is non-negotiable and criticizes the railroads for prioritizing profits over supply chain integrity and worker welfare. With negotiations stalled and a legal process towards a potential strike or lockout initiated, a work stoppage could occur as early as May. In previous strikes at CN and CPKC, the unions have highlighted issues of fatigue and rail safety.

Baffinland to explore green steel exports from its Nunavut mine

Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation and ROGESA Roheisengesellschaft Saar mbH have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore the use of high-grade iron ore from Nunavut, Canada, in producing low-carbon "green" steel. This collaboration aims to reduce CO2 emissions across the entire supply chain, from mining to steel production, leveraging Baffinland's superior iron ore, which requires no concentration or processing, thus producing no tailings. This initiative is part of both companies' commitment to reducing emissions and contributing to global decarbonization efforts in the steel industry.

Parrish and Heimbecker announce capacity and processing expansion plans in Hamilton

Parrish and Heimbecker, a leading grain-handling giant, announced plans to expand its operations at the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA) with a new flour mill and two storage silos for processing soy-meal and distillers. This initiative, set to begin construction next spring at Pier 10, underscores the company's commitment to Canadian agriculture and the baking industry. This move follows the establishment of Ontario's first new flour mill in over seventy years by the company in 2015, which was a significant boost to its processing capacity. The expansion cements Parrish and Heimbecker's position as the largest user of Ontario wheat and marks another step in Hamilton's growth as an agrifood business hub. The city, which already hosts 120 food and beverage companies, sees this development as a reinforcement of its role in the agricultural sector, further highlighted by the recent announcement of SucroCan Sourcing's plans to build Canada's largest sugar refinery in the area.

Saint John, NB only Canadian port with growth in 2023 TEU throughput

Port Saint John's CEO, Craig Bell Estabrooks, reports container growth in 2023, making it the only Canadian port to record cargo growth, with over 153,000 TEUs handled. This follows the completion of a $205 million Westside container terminal modernization project, enhancing capacity to 325,000 TEUs. The port anticipates further growth in 2024, targeting between 150,000-200,000 TEUs. A $42M project is also underway to fill in historic slipways near the terminal, expected to significantly increase capacity. Despite MSC's equity stake in Halifax's terminals, Bell Estabrooks is confident in MSC's continued service at Saint John, highlighting the port's strategic advantages, including connections with three rail lines, compared to Halifax's single rail provider. Saint John's model focuses on niche services and faster transit times to markets like Toronto and the U.S. Midwest, differentiating it from Halifax, which handles larger ships.

‍Government News

Canadian shipyard worker loses life in workplace incident

A 43-year-old worker died at Halifax Shipyard on February 19 after being hit by equipment. Following the accident, Irving Shipbuilding cancelled shifts and offered counselling to employees. A stop-work order was issued, and the equipment involved will be inspected. Irving Shipbuilding expressed condolences and committed to cooperating with the investigation led by the Department of Labour and supported by the police. The identity of the deceased has not been disclosed as the investigation continues, focusing on determining the accident's cause and preventing future incidents.  Unifor also expressed condolences and promised to support the investigation and ensure safety measures are enforced.

Canada dedicates US$1.9 million towards supply chain initiatives

The Port of Montreal has received a significant boost from Transport Canada with funding exceeding US$1.9 million through the National Trade Corridors Fund, aimed at enhancing supply chain efficiency with innovative technological solutions. A substantial portion of this funding, close to US$1.9 million, is allocated to the Centre Interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organizations (CIRANO) for creating a center focused on data science and knowledge transfer in trade and intermodal transportation within the St. Lawrence—Great Lakes corridor. Additionally, up to US$37,100 is designated for CargoM to develop an automated tool for identifying available storage space in Greater Montreal, aimed at improving port territory management and the movement of goods near the Port of Montreal. These projects are set to commence with a symposium on March 21, fostering collaboration among researchers, partners, and stakeholders in the region.

Environment Minister’s comments on road infrastructure under scrutiny

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault will face pointed questions from the federal transport committee over recent remarks that the Liberal government will stop funding new roads across the country. On Feb. 12, Guilbeault spoke at a fundraising luncheon for a public transit advocacy group in Montreal. The Montreal Gazette published the transcript of his speech.

The House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities voted 11-0 on Wednesday to summon the minister. The motion also invites Housing Minister Sean Fraser and Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez to testify before the committee. The ministers are being asked to testify separately for one hour each within 14 days of the motion being passed.

Ocean Industries awarded lifetime extension contract for CCGS Griffon

The Canadian government has awarded a $44 million contract to Ocean Industries Inc., a related corporation of Ocean Group Inc, for the life extension of the Canadian Coast Guard ship CCGS Griffon. Scheduled from June 2025 to October 2026, the refurbishment will enhance the vessel's operational life and safety, including upgrades to the propulsion motors, generators, and steering gear system, along with new installations like a crane, mast, and sewage treatment plant. The CCGS Griffon, which performs crucial duties such as light icebreaking and buoy-tending mainly in the Great Lakes and Atlantic Canada, will also support emergency operations. This contract, part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, aims to maintain a reliable fleet while sustaining up to 50 skilled jobs.

‍US News

President Biden signs executive order to tackle cyber-threats at US ports

President Joe Biden signed an executive order to enhance cybersecurity at U.S. ports, introducing regulations for port operators to guard against cyberattacks. The move, reflecting the administration's broader effort to modernize the protection of critical infrastructure, aims to mitigate risks from increasing cyber threats. Highlighting the economic significance of ports and their vulnerability to digital attacks, the initiative mandates nationwide cybersecurity standards similar to physical safety regulations. The 2021 Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack exemplifies the potential disruption from cyber threats. With a significant portion of port cargo handling equipment coming from China and controlled remotely, the risk of espionage or sabotage is heightened. The new rules, enforced by the Coast Guard, will require port operators to report cyber incidents and comply with established cybersecurity measures.

‍International News

Shipping industry calls for release of Galaxy Leader crew

Monday, February 19th, marked the three-month anniversary since the Houthis seized the Galaxy Leader and its 25 seafarers in the Red Sea. The vessel, a roll-on/roll-off vehicle carrier, was seized on the 19 November. The maritime industry has joined together from around the world to express their concern for the seafarers who have been held hostage, and call on the Houthis to release the crew of the Galaxy Leader. The crew includes 17 from the Philippines and the remaining crew came from Bulgaria (including the captain and first mate), Ukraine, Mexico, and Romania.

Container ship pioneers CO2 onboard capture system testing

A container ship tested an onboard carbon capture system in the Persian Gulf, aiming to reduce shipping's climate impact. The industry, contributing to 3% of global CO2 emissions, explores various solutions for net-zero emissions by 2050, including cleaner fuels and innovative technologies. However, onboard carbon capture faces challenges such as energy demand for CO2 absorption and limited space for captured carbon storage, impacting cargo space and ship stability. UK-based Seabound and Dutch company Value Maritime are developing systems to capture a significant portion of emissions, with Seabound targeting 95% capture efficiency. Their approaches involve storing captured CO2 onboard and processing it onshore or at ports, but the future relevance of such technologies depends on the advancement of cleaner shipping fuels.

Plimsoll at 200: Legacy behind the Load-line

Samuel Plimsoll, born 200 years ago, is celebrated for creating the Plimsoll Line, a critical safety mark on ships that prevents overloading and has saved countless lives. Alongside his wife Eliza, Plimsoll fought for legal reforms against overloading ships, which was a common and dangerous practice leading to many fatalities at sea. Despite resistance and challenges, including personal vilification, their efforts led to the compulsory use of the load line on ships entering British ports from 1876, with the independent setting of rules by 1890. The International Convention of Load Lines, adopted in 1966 and now signed by 162 countries, governs load lines globally. The Plimsolls' campaign significantly reduced shipwrecks and loss of life, illustrating the importance of safety regulations in maritime and other industries. Despite modern advancements, challenges to maritime safety, such as cargo liquefaction and overloading, persist, underscoring the ongoing relevance of Plimsoll's work in advocating for safety and risk awareness.

‍Upcoming Events


Feb. 27 - COS Spill Preparedness and Response Workshop 0900-1200

Feb. 28 - WMCC PACMAR / NANS Meeting @ 10:00

Feb. 29 - WMCC Workforce Recruitment and Retention Committee @ 10:00
Feb. 29 - COS Operations Committee Meeting @ 12:00

Feb. 29 - The Plimsoll Club Pub Night - SOLD OUT

Mar. 5 - Regional Canadian Marine Advisory Committee Meetings

Mar. 6  COS Board of Directors Meeting @ 12:00
Mar. 7 - VMAA Board Meeting @ 12:00
Mar. 14 - COS Annual General Meeting @ 15:00
Mar. 14 - COS Appreciation Reception @ 16:30



‍Ship of the Week

23 February - Signet Sirius

The Signet Sirius, the inaugural ART 92-32W Rotortug®, has been successfully delivered by Signet Maritime at their Pascagoula Shipbuilding and Repair facility, marking the first such vessel in Signet's fleet. This advanced tug, designed through a collaboration between Robert Allan Ltd. and RotorTug BV, features the unique triple Z-drive Rotortug® propulsion system, offering unparalleled omnidirectional maneuverability and redundancy. This design enhances ship-handling, terminal support, and escort towing capabilities, while significantly improving safety for the crew. With a length of 103 feet, a beam of 45.5 feet, a depth of 15.58 feet, and a maximum draft of 21.5 feet, the tug is powered by three engines, producing a total of 7,725 hp and can achieve a bollard pull of 92 metric tons.


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