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Port to Begin Voluntary Vessel Speed Reduction Program for Cruise and Cargo Ships

Contact: Marguerite Elicone (619) 686-6222 on .

Beginning March 1, 2009, the Port of San Diego will request that operators of cruise and cargo ships reduce ship speeds when entering and leaving San Diego Bay. 

At today's Board of Port Commissioners meeting, the Board unanimously approved a resolution allowing the Port to move forward with a voluntary vessel speed reduction program.  The program will solicit the assistance of cruise and cargo vessels in reducing air pollution.

As part of its Clean Air Program, approved by the Board of Port Commissioners in March 2008, the Port proposed reducing the speed limit used by cruise and cargo vessels when traveling in San Diego Bay.  The voluntary speed limit will be 12 knots for cargo ships and 15 knots for cruise ships.  The vessels will be asked to observe this speed limit when traveling in an area that extends 20 nautical miles seaward from Point Loma.  The difference in the speed limits is based on differing engine fuel efficiencies.

Studies have demonstrated that there is a significant reduction in air emissions when vessel speeds are reduced, which leads to improved air quality. 

The Port will keep track of vessel speeds by accessing data that all vessels transmit using automatic identification systems.  This data will be tracked by a web-based monitoring system.   A quarterly report acknowledging vessel operators that are participating in the program will be distributed by the Port to vessel operators, the general public and the Board of Port Commissioners.  Port staff is also developing a Green Port award program to further recognize those with 90 percent compliance for 12 consecutive months.  Participation in the program will also be announced regularly on the Port's website and in trade journals. 

To further encourage participation, the Port is working with stevedore companies to guarantee that participating vessel operators have the same access to labor as those that choose not to participate.  Currently, labor is assigned to a vessel once it reaches the terminal.  When this program begins, labor will be assigned to a vessel once it reaches the vessel speed reduction zone, instead of at the dock. 

The Port of San Diego is following in the footsteps of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on this voluntary program.  Both ports have established similar programs and are experiencing high levels of participation. 

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