In the rough and tumble world of elections and market meltdowns, it’s easy to overlook one of the region’s most important commercial assets.
That would be the Port of Hueneme. Once a poor sister to the adjacent Naval Base Ventura County operations, the port remains an important hub for international commerce right on our doorstep.
The port’s inbound shipments of automobiles and produce help keep America fed and on the road. Outbound shipments of citrus and, increasingly, American-made cars are an important source of export income for American producers.
Recently, John Vickerman a Virginia-based consultant in transportation and logistics, took a look at what the port might look like on its 100th birthday, in 2037.
Vickerman painted a picture of seagoing facilities that are far different from anything we could envision now. For the U.S. Navy, that means ultra-fast littoral combat ships and patrol boats.
He envisions entire logistics centers, massive, mobile docking and refueling stations that literally can be a port on the move to hot spots around the world.
Vickerman’s view of the commercial shipping business is just as fanciful. He envisions floating cruise ship and cargo terminals where freight and people can be off- loaded quickly. He envisions cargo-container ships that are at a minimum 50 percent larger than the state-of-the-art ships today.
But coming back to earth, the ports up and down the West Coast confront some huge challenges.
Perhaps the most severe is diesel fuel pollution and diesel particulates. These account for a big chunk of health problems in adjacent communities and they also contribute to global warming.
Cleaning up old diesel and providing generation 2.0 security for containers are key. But ports also face economic challenges.
The West Coast operations are dangerously crowded and cutting turnaround times is necessary but expensive. The future challenges on turnaround almost certainly mean the Port of Hueneme will have the ability to use overhead cranes to offload containers. But the port also will have to accommodate larger and larger ships and make it easier and easier for traffic to move by truck or possibly rail to central gathering stations that can cut days off of transit time.
The future of the Port of Hueneme is both bright and challenging. But with global trade poised to rebound in a few years from its current recession-induced slowdown, the port seems well positioned to meet the challenges and face the future.