DHS To Require Container Seals: The Department of Homeland Security plans to require the use of non-electronic seals on all marine containers entering the U.S. Asa Hutchinson, DHS undersecretary for border and transportation security, made the announcement at last week's U.S. Maritime Security Expo in New York. The Maritime Transportation Security Act subcommittee of the Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) recommended that the DHS adopt a requirement for the use of container seals within the next year. DHS officials said the technology for electronic container seals - in which information about the contents or location of the box is contained in electronic form - has not matured to the point where it can be deployed on a large-scale basis without risking too many errors. Officials said the non-electronic container seals cost $1 to $25 each and that the cost would be borne by the importer while the responsibility for verifying the seals would lie with the carrier. About 7 million marine containers come into the U.S. each year.
DHS Awards Port-Security Grants: The Department of Homeland Security said it will provide $49.4 million to 154 recipients in its fourth round of port-security grants. The Port Security Grant Program provides resources for projects to improve dockside and perimeter security at U.S. ocean ports. It is designed to help ports upgrade their security programs, including surveillance equipment, access controls to restricted areas, communications equipment, and the construction of new command and control facilities. Previous awards under the program totaled $92 million in 2002 and $168 million in July 2003. The DHS also granted $179 million last December as part of the Port Security Grant Program, and $75 million from the Urban Area Security Initiative for port security in August 2003.
Temasek Takes Over NOL: Temasek Holdings is the new majority owner of Neptune Orient Lines. After weeks of speculation and pressure from other shareholders, Singapore's state-owned investment firm succeeded in its US$1.6 billion takeover of NOL. Temasek had acquired 53.5 percent of NOL's stock as of Wednesday, the deadline for the offer. It said it plans no major changes at NOL, parent of APL, the world's sixth-largest container line. Temasek, which owned 30 percent of NOL stock prior to the takeover, continues to pursue the rest of the shipping company. A stake higher than 50 percent made the offer unconditional, which means that Temasek is obligated to buy all the shares that are tendered at the offer price of S$2.80 (US$1.66) per share. Temasek said it would not extend the offer beyond Sept. 29. Another shareholder, New York-based Paulson & Co., had previously urged NOL's board to reject Temasek's offer as too low.
Maritime Attack 'Just A Matter Of Time': Although the U.S. is safer from air and land attacks by terrorists than it was three years ago, the nation has "a long way to go" to shield itself from seaborne attacks, said Air Force Gen. Ed Eberhart, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. "I believe that it is just a matter of time until the terrorists try to use a seaborne attack, a maritime attack against us," Eberhart said during a media tour of Norad facilities. He said such an attack could come in any form - from terrorists sailing into a harbor with high explosives or a weapon of mass destruction to the launch of an unmanned aerial vehicle or cruise missile from a distance. Such attacks are possible, he said, because the nation's awareness of maritime risks "is not as mature, not as sophisticated, or as elegant as (its) awareness of air space."
TACA, USSEC Confirm Rate Hikes: The Trans-Atlantic Conference Agreement and the United States South Europe Conference reaffirmed plans for fourth-quarter rate increases that were announced in August. The USSEC said volume was strong on the westbound and eastbound legs of the trade throughout the summer and that it expects high demand to continue in the fourth quarter. TACA also affirmed its earlier market projections that the strong demand it experienced throughout the summer would continue through the final quarter, when demand is heaviest. TACA's eastbound and westbound rates are scheduled to increase by $240 per TEU, $300 per FEU and $15 for all other cargo. The USSEC's rates will rise by $200 per TEU and $250 per FEU on westbound routes. Eastbound, the increases are $120 per TEU and $150 per FEU. Most cargo on the North Europe and Mediterranean routes moves under negotiated contracts, but tariffs are still used as a benchmark for contract negotiations.
Oracle, SeeCommerce Upgrade Technology: SeeCommerce Inc. and Oracle Corp. are rolling out upgrades to their enterprise applications, which help manufacturers maintain control when dealing with partners and suppliers. SeeCommerce, of Palo Alto, Calif., has introduced Version 5.0 of its SeeChain software, which enables users to maintain control over inventory. Oracle said the 11i.10 version of its E-Business Suite will be available within two months. The technology also includes radio-frequency identification support for supply-chain management processes.
Breakbulk Conference To Be Rescheduled: The Journal of Commerce's 15th Annual Breakbulk Transportation Conference and Exhibition will be rescheduled for sometime in the next two months. The threat of Hurricane Ivan forced the company to postpone the two-day conference, which had been scheduled for last week in New Orleans. Updates about the conference will be available at (760) 294-5563 and on JoC Online at www.joc.com/conferences/breakbulk.