R. Kenneth Johns, whose 54 year career in the shipping industry includes serving as president and chief operating officer of Sea-Land Service from 1979-1987, was presented with the Containerization and Intermodal Institute's "Connie Award" Monday.
Today Johns heads Hampshire Management Group--a firm that includes the NVOCC Network America Lines, the consulting business R.K. Johns & Associates, and Oiltest, a firm that provides inspection and testing services for the marine fuel and petroleum industries.
During his remarks accepting the award Johns touched on three issues facing the industry today.
- Deepening harbors at ports on the East Coast. Johns noted that 70 percent of the U.S. population live east of the Mississippi and he said it would be a shame if they are not able to reap the benefits of the larger ships being able to pass through the expanded Panama Canal after a new set of locks are completed in 2014
- The need for improved intermodal rail facilities both at ports and inland locations. While 6,000-8,000 TEU ships are calling U.S. with increased frequency, he questioned whether current rail capacity will be sufficient when greater numbers of those bigger ships start calling at multiple ports on a regular basis.
- Finally, he said the industry needs to find a way to make money and avoid the free fall in freight rates. He said shipping companies are not obtaining yields needed to support the massive investment in new capacity the industry is making.
The institute also presented a lifetime achievement award to Stanley O. Sher, an attorney whose firm Sher & Blackwell last year merged with Cozen O'Connor.
Sher, whose firm has worked closely with container shipping companies and industry groups, noted that when he began his practice, shipping was regulated by the 1961 Shipping Act and the newly created Federal Maritime Commission. The changes brought on by containerization and intermodalism resulted in a great deal of litigation, and he said the government had to "play catch-up" with the changes happening in the industry.
With the passage of the Shipping Act of 1984 and the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998, he said the regulatory system has become more flexible and litigation has been reduced.
Those changes did not come about by happenstance, he said, and demonstrated that when industry gets together and makes its case it can achieve change.