Let me just say this, RMT’ers: Even if you are not a resident of Long Beach (CA), if you have a chance to take a free tour of the second largest port in the United States (only to Los Angeles) – and part of the eighth largest seaport in the world (when combined with Los Angeles) – please do it! It’s as educational as it is a breezy boat ride!
WOW, and what a lovely Thursday evening out on the water it was! The weather could not have been better, but even better than that, the Port of Long Beach’s Community Relations Department put on a fantastic and informative 90-minute program. Board of Harbor Commission Secretary Nick Sramek and Community Relations Manager John Pope guided our group through the various components that make up the Port of Long Beach, from container cargo management to bulk shipping operations. We got to see a 6000+-container ship being unloaded for train and truck land transport, and we got a close-up view of just one of the many metal scrap yards piled high awaiting loading onto boats headed out of port. We learned about the ships that leave the Port to launch a variety of satellites down by the Equator, and we heard stories of once-busier berths from earlier in the days of the 101-year-old Port.
RMT’ers, I never appreciated the enormity of the cargo ships, cranes, and other mechanics that comprise a port operation before taking this tour. Also, going on this tour made me realize first-hand just how much STUFF we Americans guzzle, from gas to groceries; it takes a lot of sea containers to be part of the top-eight ports worldwide after all! It also requires a lot of labor; despite the automation of the ports worldwide in recent years, the Port of Long Beach is still one of the area’s largest employers, boasting one in eight jobs in Long Beach’s local economy at 30,000 direct employment positions in port proper.
However, what’s not being guzzled as much as it once was down at the port are fossil fuels while boats and trucks sit idle in port awaiting loading and unloading. The Port of Long Beach is and should be extremely proud of their realized 72 percent reduction in emissions over the last five years thanks to several green transportation initiatives, such as the Clean Trucks Program and the Green Port Policy. The Port of Long Beach also has approximately $4.5 billion invested over the next 10 years to continue their positive progress towards an even cleaner, more efficient, and further modernized port. Projects include the updating and widening of the Gerald Desmond Bridge and adding more “green” berths to the port on now-vacant lots the port already owns (click here for more information on specific projects).
Along with a great tour, Port staff treated guests to even more freebies, including a light dinner on-board and a trivia contest that wrapped up the tour complete with – what else –port-branded books, hats, and other paraphernalia (go here for more fast and fun facts about the Port of Long Beach).
Thanks again to the Port of Long Beach for their hospitality and one heck of an educational evening out on the water! Our family is proud of our Port and we plan to make this a new summer family tradition! If you want to sign up for a tour of your own, visit the Port of Long Beach’s website on the first Monday of each month at 8am for the newly released list of the following month’s tour schedule (for example, the September 2012 cruises will be posted and reservations made available at 8am on August 6, 2012 – that’s THIS COMING MONDAY RMT’ers!). Also be forewarned that tours fill up fast; we learned that once sign-ups open, all of the spots can fill within 15 minutes, so as the Port likes to say, set your alarms for that designated Monday morning so you don’t miss the boat!