BY STEVEN FRIEDERICH
More than 6,000 metric tons of pulp from Cosmo Specialty Fibers will set sail on board the Apalis Arrow tonight, bound for two Chinese ports.
On Tuesday, longshoremen started loading pallets of wrapped pulp, each bearing the Cosmo Specialty Fibers logo and a stamp reading "Made in the USA."
The occasion marks the largest shipment of pulp to date from the newly opened pulp mill in Cosmopolis and the first time that Cosmo has used the Port of Grays Harbor. Last month, Cosmo shipped a couple containers of pulp from the Port of Tacoma.
But Cosmo CEO Michael Entz said that he hopes this is the start of a long relationship working with both the Port of Grays Harbor and Gearbulk, which is handling the international shipping operations.
It also marks the return of Gearbulk doing regular business here. Kelly Williams, the general manager of Vancouver, B.C.-based Gearbulk, said the company has not had regular shipments out of Grays Harbor since the late 1990s.
"It's great to be back," Williams said. "We look forward to a long, mutually beneficial relationship."
The first shipment was marked by ceremonies on the bridge of the Apalis Arrow, with officials from all of the companies involved, along with Cosmopolis Mayor Vickie Raines, Aberdeen Mayor Bill Simpson and the three Port commissioners.
"This truly is a celebration for Cosmo Specialty FIbers," Entz said to applause. "We've taken a renewable resource and added 200 good, direct-paying jobs, plus the indirect (jobs) and we've made a good quality product we can sell on a worldwide basis. And today symbolizes that with 6,000 tons of product going oversees to the Asian market."
Entz said he hopes another shipment of pulp can be done next month and every month thereafter. The goal is to eventually export at least 10,000 metric tons of product each month. Entz said, right now, all of the customer base is in China, which uses the viscose pulp to create things such as rayon for clothing. At some point, when the mill creates an acetate pulp blend, Entz said the mill could find itself exporting to other Asian markets, including Japan.
Mill manager Jim Smith says the company has 182 days of working without an accident, a proud record to stand on.
The huge ship stands at 681 feet long and several levels tall. The bridge is located at the very top with all of the guests having to navigate multiple stairwells to get there.
Tours of the ship were part of the celebrations, including the massive engine room. The ship, out of Nassau in The Bahamas, has an international crew.
After leaving Grays Harbor, the Apalis Arrow will stop at Vancouver, B.C. before departing for Shanghai and Quindao in China.
Deputy Executive Director Leonard Barnes noted that on Tuesday, Terminal 4 appeared to be the busiest its been in recent memory.
"I can't remember the last time we had two huge ships occupying almost every bit of this terminal," Barnes said.
The second ship, the Eco Discovery, was loading logs also bound for China.