San Diego's maritime industry and the men and women of the region's Working Waterfront are being celebrated on Tuesday, May 22, as the Port of San Diego, along with its five member cities of San Diego, Coronado, Chula Vista, National City and Imperial Beach, officially recognize National Maritime Day.
Maritime Day was established by Congress in 1933 and honors those in the U.S. maritime industry who handle imports, exports and domestic cargo shipments. It also honors those who assist in the movement of millions of annual cruise passengers, military shipments and the merchant mariners who serve the country each day.
The Port, the County of San Diego and all five member cities issued proclamations recognizing Maritime Day.
The Port of San Diego hosted a special breakfast on Tuesday, May 15 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. California State Controller John Chiang was among a panel of speakers who addressed more than 300 people who attended. Employees of various maritime businesses were honored as well.
"This is a maritime city," San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders told the audience. "We rely on cargo vessels to transport steel for ship building, lumber to build our homes, and for those of you who drove an import, it probably came from the National City Marine Terminal."
A four-member panel including Richard Lambros, Managing Director of the Southern California Leadership Council; George Pasha IV – Chief Executive Officer, The Pasha Group; Rear Admiral Dixon Smith, Commander, Navy Region Southwest and Captain Sean Mahoney, U.S. Coast Guard also stressed the importance of the maritime industry.
"Your port is critical to the region's economy," Lambrose said. "California is absolutely the international trade leader. Our ports are part of a vital, cost efficient, global shipping network and they provide a gateway to the dynamic economies of the Pacific Rim."
Lambrose said the Port of San Diego ranks in the top third of the 360 ports in the United States. San Diego is also the fourth largest of California's deepwater ports.
"In 2011, San Diego customs district accounted for $52.6 billion in total trade value," he said. "It's needless to say, this (port) is an important (economic) engine."
Chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners Lou Smith stressed the importance of San Diego and the nation's port system.
"Deep water ports are the lynchpin for the economic success of this state and nation. They are essential," said Chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners Lou Smith.
"Our deep water berth in San Diego is priceless and irreplaceable. California's 11 ports are crucial to this state's economy, and so are the manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade, construction, transportation and warehousing sectors that are part of the supply network. Our Port provides good paying jobs for hard working San Diego families."
The Port of San Diego's two deep-water marine cargo terminals provide customized service.
The Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal is 96 acres and is a key import facility for wind turbine products, bananas and other perishables, cement, fertilizer, steel, sand, along with jet, bunker and diesel fuels. Dole, CEMEX and Searles Valley are anchor tenants. More than 185 million bananas pass through Tenth Avenue each month.
The National City Marine Terminal is 125 acres. Pasha Automotive Services, which processes automobiles, has a lease through 2030. Space near the terminal is used as a staging area for automobiles and lumber arriving from the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, more than 273,000 automobiles, 1 in 10 imported cars on our nation's highways, came through the Port.
Throughout the year, cargo arrives from Asia, Europe, India, Central America and South America. Outbound cargo is shipped to Asia, India, Central America and South America.
Additionally, the Port is actively working to attract new business. Ongoing efforts have resulted in new cargo arriving from Asia and Latin America.
The Port District's maritime staff and the union's administration have partnered in joint marketing and trade efforts to expand and sustain the Port's maritime business.
The Port of San Diego is one of only 17 strategic ports in the United States as identified by the U.S. Transportation Command.
In its role, the Port District provides the infrastructure and services necessary to support military deployment activities in terms of shipping vehicles and military equipment into and out of the United States.
"In the last two years, 18.4 million pounds of unit cargo has gone through the Tenth Avenue and National City Marine Terminals," said Dixon. "That ranks the Port of San Diego number six out of the 17 strategic ports throughout the United States. It also ranks the Port of San Diego as the number one strategic port on the West Coast."
Dixon also spoke of the importance of the Working Waterfront, shipyards and maritime industry businesses that are important.
General Dynamics/NASSCO imported 7,000 tons of steel through the Port of San Diego to build ships for the Navy last year, Dixon said.
"It comes down to being able to repair and maintain the ships where we live," Dixon said.
The Port of San Diego is also a partner in homeland and port security.
"The Coast Guard built a multi-million joint harbor operations center (JHOC) on Harbor Drive," said Mahoney. "We are thrilled to have the Port of San Diego participate in the JHOC. We have port security camera operators there. That provides tremendous situational awareness for our people.
The Coast Guard and the Port work together on a variety of missions, from search and rescue, law enforcement, port security and pollution response.
About the Port:
The Port of San Diego is the fourth largest of the 11 ports in California. It was created by the state legislature in 1962. Since then, it has invested millions of dollars in public improvements in its five member cities – Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego.
The Port oversees two maritime cargo terminals, two cruise ship terminals, 17 public parks, the Harbor Police Department, and the leases of more than 600 tenant and sub tenant businesses around San Diego Bay.