Maritime officials focus on LNG-fueled ships, cybersecurity, federal rules

10/19/2017

, FLORIDA TODAY

​Maritime industry leaders from throughout the country have converged on the Space Coast this week, as Port Canaveral hosts the International Propeller Club's annual convention.

A high-powered lineup of speakers is addressing the more than 200 participants at the convention, which is focusing on modernizing ports for the future.

Among the speakers at the three-day event, which ends Friday, are Florida Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft, U.S. Maritime Administrator Mark Buzby, Federal Maritime Commissioner William Doyle and American Association of Port Authorities President and Chief Executive Officer Kurt Nagle.

This is the organization's 91st annual convention, but the first one hosted by the Propeller Club of Port Canaveral. 

A highlight for many convention-goers was a Wednesday night dinner at the space shuttle Atlantis pavilion at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, which included an up-close look at the Atlantis orbiter and remarks by the governor about his support for the seaport industry.

Here are five takeaways from Thursday's sessions, which were held at the Radisson Resort at the Port in Cape Canaveral.

LNG coming to Port Canaveral

Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray, one of the panelists at a session on liquefied natural gas, said he expects Port Canaveral to have one or more cruise ships fueled by LNG based there by 2021 or 2022.

While he had no specifics, Murray noted that there are 16 cruise ships now under construction that will be fueled by LNG. With Port Canaveral being the world's second-busiest cruise port, behind the Port of Miami, there is a great likelihood that one or more of these ships will be based at Port Canaveral, Murray said.

He said the cruise ships using LNG likely would be fueled at Port Canaveral via waterside barges.

Additionally, Murray said, he expects to have a private entity develop an LNG storage facility at the port in the future to accommodate the needs of companies in the space industry that plan to use LNG as one of their rocket fuel components.

Other speakers on the panel stressed the advantages of LNG in reducing air pollution, and contended that it is a safe fuel, despite concerns raised by some in the general public.

Concerns about cybersecurity

Several speakers raised concerns about cybersecurity in the shipping industry, noting a cyberattack in June in which units of the huge shipping company Maersk were severely affected by a disruption of business.

"It was somebody looking to do damage and create havoc," Doyle said.

Doyle said maritime companies should not look at cybersecurity as an expense, but rather as an investment.

Zukunft said, in the realm of 21st-century warfare, there is the potential of an enemy of the United States seeking to "use malware to bring down an industry."

Jones Act support

Speakers also addressed the federal Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which mandates that goods shipped between ports in the United States be carried on U.S.-flagged ships that were built, owned and primarily operated by Americans.

The Jones Act was in the news recently when President Donald Trump temporarily waived shipping restrictions for Puerto Rico at the request of the island's governor following Hurricane Maria.

Buzby said the Jones Act is beneficial to the U.S. shipping industry, U.S. ship repair industry, U.S. military interests and national security — and should not be repealed.

In discussing the mood in Congress, Buzby said: "I believe that it is still strongly supported on the Hill."

But he added that there are some people who feel differently, including U.S. Sen. John McCain.

"I scratch may head every time Sen. McCain opens up his mouth on the Jones Act," Buzby said.

Outdated military sealift fleet

The military sealift cargo ship fleet that is used to deploy supplies to military forces needs an overhaul, according to Zukunft.

"The status of our sealift fleet is abysmal," Zukunkt.

And that is not good in what Zukunkt described as "a world that is not necessarily breaking out in tranquility."

Preparing for sea-level rise

Zukunft also urged those in attendance to take sea-level rise seriously, to think about it and to prepare port infrastructure for it.

He said he anticipates a 6-foot rise in sea level over the next 100 years, which he said would impact such major ports as New York and Miami.

To view the original article, click here.