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January 22 2010

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More vessels join Haiti relief efforts

The January 12 earthquake in Haiti caused extensive damage to port facilities in Port au Prince. But with severe limitations on air cargo movements, sealift is now playing a major role in relief efforts, with efforts being made to get port facilities working, or find alternative means of getting cargo on shore. MARAD has contributed two former Hawaii Superferries to the effort along with five RRF vessels. Meantime, demand is being generated for a broad variety of commercial vessels to join the relief armada.

Here's some of what's been happening.

On Wednesday, Crowley Maritime reported that, working under contract with the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), it was unloading Haiti relief cargo in Rio Haina, Dominican Republic. Fifty six of the 68 20-foot containers of water and meals-ready-to-eat (MREs) will be trucked across the border into Haiti.

The remaining 12 loads aboard the container ship Marcajama will be transported by water to Port-au-Prince, Haiti and be offloaded in an experimental lightering operation and delivered across a beach on Friday. If successful, future shipments could be made directly to Port-au-Prince.

The Crowley plan calls for the Marcajama to anchor offshore near the port's damaged south pier and near the exposed beach. Using a shipboard crane on the Marcajama, the 12 remaining containers would be lowered onto a smaller vessel operated by G and G Shipping and delivered across the beach on wheels.

A team from Crowley's TITAN Salvage subsidiary surveyed the port area Monday and determined that such an operation was possible. They also determined that it would be possible to establish a temporary docking structure on the beach using a Crowley 400-foot-long by 100-foot-wide flat deck barge. Crowley is mobilizing such a barge (the 410) and a crane from Orange, Texas that could be used for cargo discharge, and plans to have both on the scene in Port-au-Prince on, or about, Feb. 2.

Crowley has extensive experience designing solutions to complex challenges, and has delivered a multitude of large production modules, equipment and supplies across beaches for energy companies in the Russian Far East, Alaska's North Slope and West Africa.

A new wave of Haiti relief supplies in approximately 100 20-foot containers was being loaded Wednesday at Crowley's Port Everglades facility on the Roll On / Roll Off ship Crowley Americas to be transported to Rio Haina for delivery on Saturday. Those containers, also moving under contract with USTRANSCOM, were consolidated and stuffed at Crowley's Miami warehouse. They will be trucked across the border into Haiti.

The Macajama is scheduled to return to Port Everglades over the weekend and load more relief cargo, which could be delivered directly to Port-au-Prince next week, if the test lightering operation is successful Friday.

Trailer Bridge, Inc. (NASDAQ Global Market: TRBR) reported yesterday that it had contracted with the Military Sealift Command (MSC), to provide one of its vessels in support of the U.S. government's relief efforts in Haiti. The contract term is a minimum of 90 days and may be extended by MSC.

Trailer Bridge said it has also partnered with one of its current shipping customers to provide free transportation and trailers for donated medical supplies to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, through the Trailer Bridge operation in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. It is expected that the company's donated trailers will remain in Haiti for local use or storage. A Jacksonville warehousing provider has also donated its services to make the move possible. Trailer Bridge will coordinate the freight move, which it expects to leave from Jacksonville, Florida, to Haiti today, January 22, 2010.

Trailer Bridge's Chief Executive Officer, Ivy Barton Suter, stated, "Everyone at Trailer Bridge expresses their deepest concern for the people of Haiti, and we will continue to work closely with U.S. and local governments to explore varying avenues to help. Given Trailer Bridge's available vessel capacity and service to the Dominican Republic, we believe our assets and transportation system can greatly assist in the ongoing relief and rebuilding effort."

Miami-headquartered Resolve Marine Group reported yesterday that its salvage tug Resolve Pioneer and crane barge RMG-300 had departed for Hawaii carrying a team of salvage technicians, equipment and humanitarian supplies departed for Haiti early this morning. Resolve is prepared to provide services to reopen Port-au-Prince including underwater survey, wreckage removal, cargo unloading and any other assistance that may be required. The team is scheduled to arrive later this week.

"We are eager to get there and help. After seeing the images of destruction and the desperation on the faces of the people on the news we knew we had to do something," said CEO Joseph E. Farrell while supervising the load out in Port Everglades, Florida.

In addition to crews, specialized equipment, and support materials, Resolve is carrying aid supplies on behalf of Food for the Poor and Agape to the devastated city. Resolve is looking to help clear berthing areas for cargo shipments arriving at the main seaport in Haiti. Ships containing food and medical supplies have been forced to dock elsewhere due to the damage left by the earthquake. Reopening the central port facilities should improve logistics.

Resolve has had frontline experience operating in emergency situations including the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Value Jet 592 recovery effort.

Military Sealift Command (MSC), one of the three components of USTRANSCOM, has been posting solicitations for a broad range oif vessels for Haiti relief operations. As we reported earlier, these include or one or two oceangoing tugboats in support of JLOTS operations in the vicinity of Port Au Prince, Haiti. Joint Logistics Over-The-Shore [JLOTS] consists of loading / unloading of ships without fixed port facilities, in friendly or nondefended territory.

Yesterday MSC posted a solicitation on www.fbo.gov for one clean, approved, double hull U.S or foreign-flag tank ship, ITB, ATB, or other suitable tug-barge unit capable of carrying a minimum 20,000 bbl clean petroleum products in cargo tanks with double valve isolation. Intentions are for vessel to lighter cargo in up to approximately 100,000 gallon parcels while at safe anchorage/mooring in/vicinity of Port Au Prince Harbor, Haiti to shallow-draft lighter barge or other suitable vessel for delivery to shore.

Other vessels that MSC has been looking for include a U.S. flag or foreign flag self-sustaining multipurpose cargo vessel or vessels to support the movement of cargo in support of Haiti relief efforts for a 90 day time charter with one 90 day option period and the right to redeliver with 5 days notice at any time.


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