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Port of San Diego Approves NOAA Vessel Lease

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Vessel-Reuben-Lasker-USAAs part of continuing efforts to strengthen and diversify maritime business in San Diego Bay, the Port of San Diego is pleased to welcome an ocean research vessel operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at Crosby Street Pier adjacent to the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.

The Board of Port Commissioners, on Nov. 13, 2012, approved a 10-year lease, with one five-year option, to the General Services Administration (GSA), allowing for the berthing of the newest NOAA vessel, the Reuben Lasker, at the Crosby Street Pier.

NOAA is expected to begin its lease in September 2013.

The lease is anticipated to create approximately 24 new jobs and generate an estimated $27 million annually in direct and indirect economic contributions.

"The home-porting of NOAA's new vessel in San Diego promotes the city's legacy as a world leader in marine science, education, and environmental stewardship," said Chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners Lou Smith.

The agreement strengthens and diversifies the Port's terminal operations, provides the Port the opportunity to partner with a well-respected and globally known fisheries and oceanographic agency, and strengthens and continues the Port District's partnership with another branch of the federal government.

This agreement also provides the Port the opportunity to fulfill its goal of being an environmental steward and promotes regional partnerships with such organizations as NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, World Wildlife Fund, Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute, Sportfishing Association of California, and National Marine Mammal Foundation.

NOAA estimates that the vessel's annual operating budget will be approximately $6 million, the bulk of which will be spent in San Diego on fuel, supplies, food, and salaries. Other direct economic impacts to the region include multiple marine engineering support contractors for vessel repairs and maintenance.

GSA examined other West Coast ports before selecting San Diego.

"This long-term commitment by the federal government sends a strong message to the local maritime community that San Diego is a good place to do business," said the Port's Director of Maritime Operations, Joel Valenzuela.

During the first five years of the proposed lease, the Port will receive initial annual revenue of $150,000, with an approximate $2.3 million in total revenue over the 15-year lease term.

With NOAA's vessel being berthed at the Crosby Street pier, cargo operations at Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal will not be negatively impacted, said Valenzuela.

The Reuben Lasker is the fifth and newest fisheries research vessel in NOAA's fleet, equipped with the latest technology for fisheries and oceanographic research. The vessel will provide the basis for the at-sea scientific research conducted by more than 270 scientists at NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center, headquartered in La Jolla, CA. It will primarily support fish, marine mammal and turtle surveys off the U.S. West Coast and in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

The Port and NOAA are also discussing options for using the home-ported research vessel for educational public outreach, including open houses and educational tours for the public.

The vessel is named after the late Dr. Reuben Lasker, a pioneering fisheries biologist who served as the director of the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center's Coastal Fisheries Division and as adjunct professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego.

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 hundreds of millions of dollars in public improvements in its five member cities – Chula Vista, CoronadoImperial BeachNational City, and San Diego.

The port oversees two maritime cargo terminals, two cruise ship terminals, 18 public parks, the Harbor Police Department and the leases of hundreds of tenant and sub tenant businesses around San Diego Bay.

The Port of San Diego is an economic engine, an environmental steward of San Diego Bay and the surrounding tidelands, and a provider of community services and public safety.