Fuel-Guzzling Yacht Industry Wades Into Hybrid Technology

hybrid propulsion yacht HOME
50-meter all aluminium yacht HOME features hybrid propulsion with just two MTU 12V 2000 M61 engines of 600 kW each. Photo: Heesen Yachts

By Nathan Crooks (Bloomberg) — Even the diesel-guzzling yacht industry is exploring hybrid engine technology.

Luxury boat makers have trailed behind automakers in the quest for new ways to power engines, but Thomas Conboy, North America sales agent for Dutch yacht company Heesen, said his industry is paying attention to the growing demand for environmentally-friendly technology.

“This is a topic that’s hot in the world today,” he said at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, where one of Heesen’s new hybrids, Home, is on display. “So if you’re not doing it, or at least looking at it, you’re probably not paying attention to what society is wanting.”

The 50-meter (165-foot) yacht costs about $38 million. A new hybrid mode allows it to travel at 9 knots in virtual silence for about 9,000 miles using less than 12 gallons of fuel an hour, compared to about 26 gallons per hour when it’s traveling at 12 knots with its traditional motors on. In the hybrid mode, it uses diesel generators to power electric shaft motors instead of batteries, according to Conboy. In that sense, Home is no Tesla, but it’s an improvement for an incredibly fuel-inefficient mode of transportation, which — as Conboy noted — can also be guilty of environmental sins such as killing wild animals in the name of interior design. When not using the electric motors Home has a range of about 4,000 miles at 12 knots.

While a few other ships use the technology, Home is the first to combine it with a fast displacement hull form that was designed by Dutch naval architect Van Oossanen.

“You can be in the Greek Isles or down in the BVI or the Grenadines, and you can run around virtually silent,” Conboy said Wednesday, adding that the yacht costs about the same as an equivalent diesel model because the size of the engines is dramatically smaller.

Conboy noted that hybrid technology yachts still represented a small percentage of overall sales, and accounted for less than 10 percent of Heesen’s current production.

“Yachts are still not the greenest things in the world, obviously, but we’re making inroads to try to be more conscientious,” he said.

Noting that the battery technology needed for a true hybrid isn’t quite there yet, the jury is still out for Conboy on whether the trend of more eco-conscious yachts will catch on in earnest anytime soon. Buyers willing to shell out the cash needed to purchase a yacht in the $30-million range want proven technology and not something viewed as a trend.

For Heesen, though, Home, which features interior design by Venice-based Cristiano Gatto, has been well received, winning the green award at the Monaco Yacht Show, according to Conboy, among other prizes.

“We’re going to be behind the auto business, but it’s going to be a similar trend,” said Conboy, adding that the yacht industry tends to follow technology advances in other industries instead of spending huge amounts on research and development itself. “A lot of the stuff that comes out for the first time is thought of as being gimmicky maybe. I think there will be more demand for it as time goes on because boat owners that are coming in today are more conscious about the environment.”

© 2017 Bloomberg L.P

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HMS Queen Elizabeth Back at Sea for Second Phase of Sea Trials

The HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier departs her homeport of Portsmouth for her second set of sea trials, October 30, 2017. UK Royal Navy Photo

The Royal Navy’s future flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed from her homeport of Portsmouth Naval Base for the first time this week, embarking on her second set of sea trials off the southern coast of England.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to be at sea for the next month and will be delivered to the Royal Navy by the end of the year.

During her first phase of sea trials, conducted earlier this year, the Royal Navy demonstrated the platform stability and manoeuvrability of the giant aircraft carrier. “She was stable and strong, which is important for aviation operations from an aircraft carrier flight deck,” Commanding Officer, Captain Jerry Kyd, said of the trials.

“Very quickly we were able to run her at full power and she performed extremely well.”

During this second phase of sea trials trials, the Queen Elizabeth already rendevoused with the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon. Once commissioned, Type 45 destroyers will provide air defense to the aircraft carrier and will sail as part of a carrier task group on operations.

“It’s good to put that skill of making a close approach to the carrier into practice. All of the bridge team feel privileged to have been on the first Type 45 destroyer to have sailed with the nation’s future flagship,” said HMS Dragon’s Navigating Officer Lieutenant Glyn Duffell.

The 65,000 tonne Queen Elizabeth is the biggest and most advanced warship to have ever been built by the Royal Navy and can accommodate up to 1,600 personnel. The design, build and development of the Queen Elizabeth-Class carriers has involved every region in the UK, including shipyards in six cities across the UK that have constructed sections of the aircraft carriers.

HMS Prince of Wales, the second of the fleet’s new aircraft carriers, is in the final phases of construction in Rosyth Dockyard and is expected to be floated out of its giant dock next spring.

“HMS Queen Elizabeth has been in Portsmouth Naval Base for two months of planned maintenance to allow her to sail to complete her sea trials today,” said Captain of Portsmouth Naval Base, Captain Bill Oliphant.

“This period at sea will mark an extremely significant milestone in the life of the ship leading towards her acceptance into the Royal Navy at her commissioning later this year, back in her home port of Portsmouth.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth at sunset during her sea trials. UK Royal Navy Photo
hms queen elizabeth sea trials
UK Royal Navy Photo

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Congressional Leaders Defend the Jones Act During Hearing on Hurricane Relief and Recovery Efforts

crowley flat-deck barge
A Crowley Maritime Corp. barge Photo: Crowley Maritime

Congressional leaders from both sides of the isle defended the Jones Act’s impact on hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico during a hearing this week exploring initial lessons learned from the 2017 hurricanes and key challenges and obstacles that may remain in the way of recovery.

The House Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing Wednesday on “Emergency Response and Recovery: Central Takeaways from the Unprecedented 2017 Hurricane Season” during which Congressman John Rutherford (R-FL) and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR) highlighted the importance of the American maritime industry for Puerto Rico recovery and the capacity and capability of Jones Act vessels to meet Puerto Rico’s present and future needs.

In his testimony, Congressman Rutherford recognized the critical role of American maritime first responders in the wake of Hurricane Maria and highlighted the significance of American maritime in supporting the long-term restoration of the island’s economy.

“The Jones Act has not added difficulties to the recovery in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The goods getting to the port were not the problem. It was the distribution from the port into the country where the need was at that was the difficulty,” said Congressman Rutherford. “The U.S. maritime industry are first responders in times of emergency like Hurricane Irma and Maria and Jacksonville is ground zero for getting shipments of goods to Puerto Rico quickly reliably and economically…Jones Act carriers to date have delivered tens of thousands of containers to the island via the Port of San Juan. They have worked closely with federal emergency responders, customers, and nonprofit organizations to meet the ever changing and increasing needs of the island. They have proven themselves committed to meeting Puerto Rico’s immediate needs while also supporting the long term restoration of the island’s economy.”

Congressman Rutherford further added:

“Part of the rebuilding effort is also making sure that the hundreds of maritime employees in San Juan and in Jacksonville are able to keep their jobs. The Jones Act provides stability to these American workers and certainty to industry, which in turn has reinvested more than a billion dollars into vessels and infrastructure in the shipping corridor between Jacksonville and San Juan…Consistent application of the Jones Act enables [a domestic maritime company] to make these 35 year investments that ensure consistent on time deliveries to the people of Puerto Rico and that ensure cargo shipments back to the mainland to support the island’s manufacturing sector, and it’s this continuity and certainty that position the U.S. maritime industry in Jacksonville to be so capable to respond to the needs of Puerto Rico as the Coast Guard reopened the port after Maria.”

Echoing Congressman Rutherford’s remarks, Ranking Member DeFazio also stressed the importance of the Jones Act for ensuring reliable delivery to the island and the challenge of moving relief containers out of the port due to infrastructure problems.

“Finally, I hope once and for all to put the idea to rest the idea that somehow the Jones Act is inhibiting the recovery of Puerto Rico. We’ve had more than 20,000 containers delivered,” said Ranking Member DeFazio. “The problem has been the logistics of getting those out of the port. The remote parts of the island want to hear more about the infrastructure problems that are inhibiting the distribution and what we can do about that in the short and the long term.”

These comments come after a prior hearing of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation on October 3, 2017 in which congressional members and leaders from the U.S. Coast Guard also discussed the importance of the law to Puerto Rico’s recovery.

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Cocaine Smuggled in Sea Chest

By MarEx 2017-11-01 20:53:53

A stash of cocaine worth around NZ$20 million ($18 million) was allegedly retrieved from the sea chest of the Maersk Antares in New Zealand on Tuesday night.

The crew of the container ship were apparently unaware that 46 kilograms of cocaine had been placed there by smugglers for the vessel’s voyage from South America. A boat came alongside the vessel while she was berthed at Tauranga to remove the drugs, and those on board were subsequently apprehended by Police. Four men, two Australians, one Croatian and one Serbian, have now been arrested after what was a five-month operation by Police and Customs, with the case being the largest cocaine bust in the nation’s history. 

Subsequent searches uncovered another five kilograms of cocaine, a kilogram of methamphetamine and a large amount of cash. A money laundering operation sending hundreds of thousands of dollars out of New Zealand was also discovered.

Customs Group Manager Intelligence, Investigations & Enforcement, Jamie Bamford said: “We’re aware this is a way for drugs to make it into New Zealand. The ship had come through Columbia, Peru and Chile which are hotspots for this drug.

“New Zealand is being targeted by international crime syndicates as a market for cocaine. Our intelligence suggests an increase in demand and use, and this goes hand-in-hand with the increase in seizures we’re making at the border. Customs focuses on the maritime border and our regional ports.”

The charges laid against the men carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Police are not investigating the Maersk Antares crew.

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Three Dead as Ophelia Batters Ireland

Waves crash over the lighthouse as storm Ophelia passes Porthcawl, Wales, Britain, October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

By Clodagh Kilcoyne LAHINCH, Ireland, Oct 16 (Reuters) – Three people died as Tropical Storm Ophelia battered Ireland’s southern coast on Monday, knocking down trees and power lines and whipping up 10-metre (30-foot) waves.

Over 360,000 homes and businesses were without electricity with another 100,000 outages expected by nightfall, Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board said, describing it as an unprecedented event that would effect every part of the country for days.

Around 170 flights from Ireland’s two main airports at Dublin and Shannon were cancelled.

Two people were killed in separate incidents when trees fell on their cars — a woman in her 50s in the south east and a man on the east coast. Another man in his 30s died while trying to clear a fallen tree in an incident involving a chainsaw.

The storm, downgraded from a hurricane overnight, was the worst to hit Ireland in half a century. It made landfall after 10:40 a.m. (0940 GMT), the Irish National Meteorological Service said, with winds as strong as 190 kph (110 mph) hitting the most southerly tip of the country. Coastal flooding was likely.

“This storm is still very active and there are still very dangerous conditions in parts of the country. Do not be lulled into thinking this has passed,” the chairman of Ireland’s National Emergency Coordination Group, Sean Hogan, told national broadcaster RTE.

The armed forces were sent to bolster flood defences, public transport services and hospitals were closed and schools across Ireland and Northern Ireland will remain shut for a second day on Tuesday.

Hundreds of roads were blocked by fallen trees, Hogan said. Photos on social media showed roofs flying off buildings, including at Cork City soccer club’s Turner’s Cross stadium where the roof of one stand had collapsed.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar advised people to stay indoors. The transport minister said it was not safe to drive.

The storm winds were due to peak between 1600 GMT and 1800 GMT in Dublin and Galway, two of Ireland’s most populous cities, and later on Monday in northern areas.

Britain’s meteorological service put an Amber Weather Warning into effect for Northern Ireland from 1400-2100 GMT, saying the storm posed a danger to life and was likely to cause transport cancellations, power cuts and flying debris.

It is expected to move towards western Scotland overnight and “impactful weather” is expected in other western and northern parts of the United Kingdom, it said.

British media are comparing Ophelia to the “Great Storm” of 1987, which subjected parts of the United Kingdom to hurricane strength winds 30 years ago to the day.

The Irish government said the storm was likely to be the worst since Hurricane Debbie, which killed 11 in Ireland in 1961.

It passed close to a western Ireland golf course owned by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been planning a wall to protect its greens from coastal erosion.

Similar storms in the past have changed the shape of stretches of the Irish coastline, climatologists said. (Additional reporting and writing by Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries; Editing by Catherine Evans)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017.

One Missing, Six Injured in Platform Explosion on Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana

Flames are seen after an explosion at an oil rig in Lake Pontchartrain, in Louisiana, in this still image taken from social media video taken October 15, 2017. Roger Fernandez/via REUTERS

One person is missing and six others have been injured after an explosion on an oil platform in Lake Pontchartrain near Kenner, Louisiana, Sunday evening, the Coast Guard has confirmed.

Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a report from a witness at approximately 8 p.m. of an oil platform explosion.

The Coast Guard said Sunday night that one of the platform workers reported that eight people were aboard the platform at the time of the explosion, and one person did not make it to shore. Six of the seven people taken to shore were brought to the hospital, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard is coordinating search efforts for the missing man. Sector New Orleans has launched a 29-foot Response Boat-Small boatcrew, a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew, and a MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter air crew. Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Jefferson County Parish, and St. Charles Parish also have marine units on scene. Bayou Gauche Fire Department and a good Samaritan vessel are on scene fighting the fire, which has been reduced substantially, the Coast Guard said.

The name of the missing man is not being released at this time.

The cause of the incident is unknown, the Coast Guard said.

Kenner Police Department spokesman Sergeant Brian McGregor told the Times-Picayune newspaper earlier that there were “a lot of injuries,” with at least six confirmed and more expected.

St. Charles Parish said on its Facebook page that an oil rig was on fire in the lake near New Orleans and had “caused the loud sound earlier tonight.”

Just Ten Rivers Contribute Most Plastic Pollution

By MarEx 2017-10-15 18:29:23

A group of scientists have found that up to 95 percent of plastic polluting the world’s oceans comes from just 10 rivers, eight of which are in Asia.

An estimated eight million of tons of plastic waste enter the world’s oceans every year, and rivers are major transporters of the pollution. 

Dr Christian Schmidt, a hydrogeologist from the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research in Germany, and colleagues analyzed existing research involving 79 sampling sites along 57 rivers around the world to come up with the top 10 polluting rivers. The researchers’ calculations indicated that the amount of plastic in rivers was related to the mismanagement of plastic waste in their watersheds. 

The 10 Most Polluting Rivers

Yangtze – East China Sea, Asia
Indus – Arabian Sea, Asia
Yellow – Yellow Sea, Asia
Hai He – Yellow Sea, Asia
Nile – Mediterranean Sea, Africa
Ganges – Bay of Bengal, Asia
Pearl – South China Sea, Asia
Amur – Sea of Okhotsk, Asia
Niger – Gulf of Guinea, Africa
Mekong – South China Sea, Asia 

It is estimated that the amount of plastic rubbish in the world’s oceans will outweigh fish by 2050 unless drastic action is taken. The Daily Mail reports that one million plastic bottles are sold every minute and less than half are recycled. More than half of the plastic waste that flows into the oceans comes from five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lankak, according to a study published in 2015. The only industrialized western country on the list of top 20 plastic polluters is the U.S. at position 20. 

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U.N. Imposes Global Ban for Ships Caught Carrying North Korean Contraband

The United Nations Security Council has banned four ships from ports globally for carrying coal from North Korea, including one vessel that also had ammunition, but the United States postponed a bid to blacklist four others pending further investigation.

The vessels are the first to be designated under stepped-up sanctions imposed on North Korea by the 15-member council in August and September over Pyongyang’s sixth and largest nuclear test and two long-range ballistic missile launches.

The Security Council North Korea sanctions committee, which operates by consensus, agreed at the request of the United States, to blacklist the ships on Oct. 3 for “transporting prohibited items from the DPRK” (North Korea), according to documents seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

A U.N. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the four blacklisted ships and the four vessels still being investigated had been linked to illicit trade in North Korean coal. In November last year, the Security Council capped North Korean coal exports and then in August imposed a complete ban.

The 193 U.N. member states are now required to prohibit port entry to the Comoros-flagged Petrel 8, St. Kitts and Nevis-flagged Hao Fan 6, North Korean-flagged Tong San 2 and Cambodia-flagged Jie Shun. Entry is only allowed in case of emergency or if the vessel is returning to its home port.

The Jie Shun was intercepted by Egypt on Aug. 11, 2016, carrying 30,000 rocket propelled grenades in wooden crates concealed under about 2,300 tonnes of iron ore, according to U.N. sanctions monitors.

It was “the largest interdicted ammunition consignment in the history of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the independent sanctions monitors told the Security Council in their annual report in February.

The ship had left the North Korean port of Haeju on July 23, 2016, and was interdicted in Egyptian territorial waters south of the Suez Canal, the experts said.

North Korea is under a U.N. arms embargo and the Security Council has banned trade in exports such as coal, textiles, seafood, iron and other minerals to choke funding for Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programs.

In an Oct. 3 note to the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee, seen by Reuters, the United States said it was withdrawing four ships it had proposed for listing – the South Korean-flagged Xin Shen Hai, the Palau-flagged East Glory 7, the Panama-flagged Kai Xiang and Cheng Hong.

“These four ships require further study with key parties and we will revert to the committee once that process is completed,” the U.S. mission to the United Nations wrote.

A ninth ship, the Fiji-flagged Toyo Maru, had been proposed for listing in an annex to the initial U.S. draft of a resolution adopted by the Security Council on Sept. 11. It was not clear if the United States still planned to put the ship forward for designation.

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously adopted nine sanctions resolutions on North Korea since 2006. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool and Tom Brown)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017.

By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS, Oct 10 (Reuters)

North Sea Oil Squeezed as U.S. Ships Crude Like Never Before

The Bahamas-flagged Theo T departs Corpus Christi, Texas carrying the first U.S. crude export in 40 years, December 31, 2015. Photo: Port of Corpus Christi

By Javier Blas, Laura Hurst and Julian Lee (Bloomberg) — As crude oil gushes out of the U.S. like never before, it looks increasingly like North Sea oil will suffer collateral damage.

America exported a record high 1.98 million barrels a day of crude in the week ended Sept. 29, equal to the crude that normally gets shipped every day in the North Sea. Much of the U.S. outflow is going to Asia, which has become increasingly important in recent years in determining North Sea oil prices, effectively sandwiching Brent crude between bearish forces.

“It’s direct competition to North Sea production on many different fronts,” said Olivier Jakob, managing director at Petromatrix GmbH in Zug, Switzerland. Where U.S. exports go to Asia, “it will be more difficult for the North Sea to push some of its barrels outside of the region. It creates competition. It’s going to be a bearish factor for the North Sea market.”

The impact of rising American oil shipments on Brent — for many in the industry the most important crude benchmark — shows the increasingly disruptive force of U.S. crude in international markets. Washington in late 2015 lifted a 40-year ban on most oil exports, in the process reshaping the world’s energy map with U.S. crude being sent by trading houses such as Vitol Group and Trafigura Group to faraway locations including Switzerland, China and Israel. The U.S. export restrictions were imposed in the aftermath of the 1973-74 oil crisis.

U.S. producers ship barrels directly to refineries in Europe, placing the cargoes in competition with North Sea supply. At the same time, they’re sending a growing share to the prized Asian market. Refineries in China and South Korea in particular have become a critical source of demand for North Sea oil in recent years, helping to clear any oversupply out of the European market.

Of the flood of crude exported by the U.S. late last month, more than half went to East Asia and nearly a third was shipped to Northwest Europe and the Mediterranean region, according to a trader who’s monitoring the region’s exports. The remainder was shipped to the Caribbean and Latin America, the trader said. That’s in line with exports so far this year, according to data from the EIA and Kpler, a company that monitors ship movements.

The size of the U.S. exports — which has jumped from 25,000 barrels a day a decade ago to nearly 2 million barrels a day now — is now rivaling those from the North Sea. As a whole, North Sea flows have averaged 1.98 million barrels a day this year, according to loading programs compiled by Bloomberg. The flow of the key four regional crude streams — Brent, Forties, Oseberg and Ekofisk, which largely set the price of the benchmark — will run at about 820,000 barrels a day in November.

Widening Spread

U.S. crude has become increasingly attractive to foreign buyers in recent months due to the widening discount of West Texas Intermediate crude to Brent, the global benchmark. The spread started to expand in late July amid a tightening market for Brent and then ballooned in late August amid Hurricane Harvey. It reached $5.99 a barrel in intraday trading on Tuesday, remaining near its widest level in two years.

The exports surge has coincided with WTI becoming more of an international crude. Trading during Asian hours has risen sharply this year and stood at 18 percent of all activity in the third quarter, according to Owain Johnson, head of the energy research and product development team at CME Group Inc.

It’s not just the relative cheapness of WTI that’s hurting North Sea prices. Margins from turning crude into fuels are also sliding, creating downward pressure on Brent, according to Florian Thaler, an oil strategist at Signal Ocean. So-called hydroskimming margins, one of the simpler processes by which refineries can make fuels, fell to $3.15 a barrel on Oct. 9 for North Sea oil, data from Oil Analytics show. That’s down by more than 50 percent from the start of September, when Harvey temporarily slashed a quarter of U.S. processing capacity.

Slow Clearance

Added to that, U.S. exports are “clearly not helping the sweet-crude picture either,” with Brent-priced West African oil taking longer than normal to find buyers to Asia, Thaler said. Along with margins, that means prices for crudes with lower sulfur content in the Atlantic Basin are “a bit under pressure.”

Physical North Sea oil trades at differentials to regional benchmarks, and in late September, Forties was at three-year highs to its yardstick. Hurricane-related disruptions in the U.S. Gulf, which have now abated, originally helped to account for the high differentials, according to Petromatrix’s Jakob. Forties slipped to parity on Oct. 2 and other prices have been around that level in recent days.

“Two forces are at work” in weakening North Sea oil prices, said Eugene Lindell, an analyst at JBC Energy GmbH in Vienna. “Arbitrage inflows of U.S. crude into Europe are weighing” while WTI-priced crude is growing in appeal the world over due to its relative cheapness to Brent.

© 2017 Bloomberg L.P

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Trucking Problems Slow Aid Delivery in Puerto Rico

By MarEx 2017-10-09 21:12:15

The relief and recovery effort in Puerto Rico continues to pose unique difficulties for aid organizations and businesses alike: the destruction of the island’s electrical grid and communications infrastructure has made routine tasks much more difficult, adding friction to every point of the shoreside supply chain. 

With a shortage of truckers and extensive damage to the island’s roads, surface transportation has been a serious bottleneck. In addition, 70 percent of the island’s cell towers are down, making it difficult for dispatchers to reach customers and truckers. But one firm had its operations up and running as soon as cargo started to come in. “We were the only logistics provider that had truck power – albeit limited at the time – available as soon as the U.S. Coast Guard reopened the port in San Juan,” said Frank Larkin, senior vice president and general manager, Crowley logistics and commercial services “The port was reopened at 8 a.m. on Sept. 23, the first Crowley vessel was in discharging cargo at 10 a.m., and many of our truckers were right there to deliver relief cargo . . . when no other trucking or logistics company was providing transportation services.”

Since the storm ended, Crowley has handled 6,500 loads of cargo and 20 vessels, about one per day. It’s a mixture of aid and commercial goods, but the line between the two is thin, says Jose “Pache” Ayala, Crowley’s vice president for Puerto Rico services “When you consider that many people lost everything in the storm, all cargo is relief cargo, whether it comes from FEMA, a retail store or a grocery,” Ayala said. “That’s why the recovery of our commercial customers is so important.” 

These goods are mission-critical critical, but Ayala told USA Today that getting cargo to customers is still difficult due to the ongoing surface transportation problems. Three weeks after the storm, the terminal is sending boxes out the gate at about 70 percent of its normal rate, he said. It is storing about 3,400 containers, about twice the normal amount.

Jones Act waiver expires

As expected, the Trump administration allowed Puerto Rico’s 10-day Jones Act waiver to expire on Sunday, closing the door on the possibility of foreign-flagged ships carrying cargo between the U.S. mainland and the island territory. “We believe that extending the waiver is unnecessary to support the humanitarian relief efforts on the island,” Department of Homeland Security (DHS) press secretary David Lapan told CBS News. “There is an ample supply of Jones Act-qualified vessels to ensure that cargo is able to reach Puerto Rico.”

After the storm, the Jones Act came under fire from long-time critics like Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who argues that it raises costs for everyday goods and will impede the island’s economic recovery. DHS signaled last week that it would not bow to pressure from McCain and other critics of cabotage restrictions, who had called on the administration for a permanent waiver.

Hospitals still struggling

With most of the electrical grid offline, many of Puerto Rico’s hospitals are running on emergency backup power, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has a plan in place for the growing possibility of generator failures. FEMA director Brock Long told media on Monday that when a hospital generator goes down, the patients in critical condition are flown to the hospital ship USNS Comfort, presently off the coast of the Arecibo-Manati region. 

On Saturday, Comfort took her second medevac flight of patients from a hospital with a failed generator, this time from Hospital Menonita in Caguas. The four patients were medevaced by aviators from the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp and USNS Comfort’s aircraft from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, the “Sea Knights.” “The teamwork of Puerto Rico Department of Health, U.S. Health and Human Services, the JFLCC, USS Wasp, and Comfort led to the successful medevac,” said Capt. Kevin Robinson, mission commander aboard Comfort.

Navy aircrew medevacs patient from Hospital Menonita

Comfort has one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States – afloat or on shore – and she brought 800 Navy medical personnel to assist in the relief effort. Her crew has treated 75 Puerto Rican patients ranging from six months to 89 years in age, and have performed numerous procedures, including gastrostomy tube placement, colectomies, ulcer debridement, and treatment for wounds, hernias and pneumonia.

Comfort departed San Juan on October 5 to serve other communities around Puerto Rico. According to the Navy, her future itinerary will be based on assessments from the Department of Defense, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Puerto Rico’s Office of Emergency Management. 

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