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Port ready to navigate rough economic seas
The headlines have been dismal in recent months as a bundle of economic crises ripple through world markets. Despite the downturn, the Fisher Port of Beaumont continues full steam ahead with nearly $60 million in strategic improvements—based on sound, bold vision—that will help the port weather the market storms that may appear on the horizon. The last quarter of 2008 saw completion of a new $5.4 million military office building to consolidate military staff at the port into one operations center. The port kicked off 2009 with the arrival of a new, $5.3 million, 140HEADQUARTERS: Ceremony attendees tour the port’s new military office building in November. The $5.4 milton mobile harbor crane. Our $16 lion facility houses the U.S. Surface Deployment and Distribution Command’s 842nd Transportation Battalion. million rail expansion project will also get under way this year. By the end of 2009, the port will have a new 650-foot wharf on the east bank of the Sabine-Neches Waterway with an adjoining 20-acre New military building boasts latest storm– and terror-resistant designs storage yard. The port always actively seeks The office building is fortified U.S. Rep. Ted Poe (R, 2nd plying military equipment and additional business and these imDistrict of Texas) and U.S. Army resources to sustain U.S. forces with the latest anti-terrorist conCol. Craig B. Hymes – com- in action worldwide. struction methods including provements are attractive assets to The new building consolidates crash-resistant fencing and potential customers. As these mander of the U.S. Surface Deployment and Distribution Com- military personnel at the port and gates, said architect Dohn changes take effect we are optimismand’s 597th Transportation provides training and growth Labiche, principal with the tic that the port will be properly posiGroup – joined state and local opportunities. The facility’s com- LaBiche Architectural Group, tioned to come through this ecoofficials to officially open the Port pletion also brings the battalion who designed the structure. The nomic downturn and emerge of Beaumont’s new military office in compliance with the U.S. De- building is also has hurricane- stronger and in an even better posibuilding during a Nov. 13 cere- partment of Defense’s force pro- resistant window systems and tion to serve our community. mony. tection and security require- can handle wind loads of up to The two-story, 27,000 square- ments, battalion commander 150 mph, Labiche said. foot building was completed in U.S. Army Lt. Col. Marshall RamThe office building is one of David C. Fisher October at a cost of about $5.4 sey said. several projects in the port’s Director, Port of Beaumont million. The facility will serve as “In the post-9/11 world, extra aggressive capital improvement headquarters for the U.S. Sur- security is required of all Depart- program worth nearly $60 million. THIS ISSUE: face Deployment and Distribution ment of Defense activities,” Ram- Others include a new wharf on (Air)Port of Command’s 842nd Transporta- sey said prior to the ceremony. the east side of the SabineBeaumont tion Battalion. “Previously, with our split posture Neches Waterway and a new $5 Snow as ammo The battalion is part of the and our location next to Main million 140-ton harbor crane. Port scenes command’s 597th Transportation Street, we were not meeting the Continued on page 7 Group, which is tasked with sup- requirements.”
Port of Beaumont Navigation District of Jefferson County, Texas ● 1225 Main Street ● Beaumont, Texas 77701 ● ● (409) 835-5367 ● (409) 835-0512 FAX ●
Online at www.portofbeaumont.com
SOARING INTO HISTORY: Crew members look on as the Airship Ventures Zeppelin NT takes flight from Lot. No. 10 at the Port of Beaumont on October 17 en route to a layover at the Southeast Texas Regional Airport in Nederland. The moment marked the first Zeppelin flight in U.S. skies since the Hindenburg’s fiery crash at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey in 1937. (Photo by Image Specialists)
ABOVE: Crew members check the ropes harnessing the Zeppelin NT before they roll it out from the M.V. Combi Dock I. BELOW: Zeppelin pilot Fritz Günther monitors the winds. Wind speeds had to average less than 10 mph for a smooth rollout.
A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship first designed by German inventor Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. The first Zeppelin flew in 1900, and the airships were used both during peacetime and war until they went out of use at the start of World War II. The next Zeppelin test flights took place in Germany in 1997. Commercial service began there in 2001.
Source: Zeppelin, online interactive from the University of Colorado at Boulder
TOP: Longshoremen and crews with Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei load the Zeppelin NT onto the M.V. Combi Dock I in Finkenwerder, Germany in September. After more than two weeks at sea, the Zeppelin arrived at the Port of Beaumont on Oct. 11. ABOVE: The Zeppelin traveled from Germany to the Port of Beaumont stowed in the cargo hold of the M.V. Combi Dock I. The ship was turned to align with the port’s RO/RO ramp and some containers were removed before the Zeppelin and accompanying parts could be offloaded. RIGHT: Longshoremen offload one of the Zeppelin’s rudders from the cargo hold of the M.V. Combi Dock I.
TOP: The Zeppelin rolls out from the cargo hold of the M.V. Combi Dock I on Oct. 12. Longshoremen and crews were helped along by a mastwagen, or a truck with a tall post that attaches to the Zeppelin to anchor it in place.
MIDDLE: Workers peel the covering off of a rudder to reveal the Zeppelin’s N-number before hoisting and attaching the apparatus to the airship.
BOTTOM: Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei’s maintenance crew attaches a rudder to the rear of the Zeppelin after the airship was anchored in place at the port.
DON’T CALL IT A BLIMP . . .
A Zeppelin is known as a “rigid air-
ship,” meaning the envelope—the giant bladder-like formation that helps the airship float—keeps its shape because of a metallic frame underneath. Inside that frame are bags that are filled with gas to help the airship float. The term blimp typically refers to non-rigid airships. Blimps depend on the pressure of the gas to keep their envelopes inflated and help them fly. Because there is no metal frame, a blimp’s engines must be mounted to the gondola, or cabin.
Source: Airship Ventures
The crew that worked on the Zeppelin in Germany placed their signatures on a farewell note to the airship. The message reads: “Zeppelin NT SN004 D-LZNT (ex); loaded Sept. 26th on vessel Combi Dock I in Finkenwerder (Germany). Good bye, young lady! See you in America”
Zeppelin pilot Katharine Board stands by as KFDM photographer Jack Fitch counts down to a live shot. Board, pilot Fritz Günther and Airship Ventures president Brian Hall all participated in live television interviews while the airship was docked at the port.
From Southeast Texas, the Airship Ventures Zeppelin NT made six stops at points in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California and capped off its eight-day journey with a flight through Golden Gate Pass en route to its new home in the San Francisco Bay area. Passenger flight service began in late October. To date, Airship Ventures operates the Zeppelin on flight routes across the San Francisco-Oakland area and Northern California’s wine country.
After a few hours of weather delays, the Zeppelin lifts off about 2 p.m. on Oct. 17 (left) and soars past the flags in front of the administration building. 5
TOUCHDOWN: An Airship Ventures crew member reaches to connect one of the Zeppelin’s cables to its mastwagen as another rolls a staircase to the gondola to unload the crew after the airship successfully floated to a rest at the Southeast Texas Regional Airport on Oct. 17. The soft landing ended the first Zeppelin flight in American skies since the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. Crews anchored the airship at the airport for an overnight stay before departing for San Antonio—the first stop on its journey to California. 6
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The crane arrived in January. The federal government will lease the building for the next several years, which reaffirms the Port of Beaumont’s importance in military logistics. The military has been a loyal port customer since 1952. Today, the port is the largest military port in the United States and the second largest in the world, and has handled about one half of all the cargo shipped in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
RIBBON CUTTING: (left to right) Port director Chris Fisher; N&T Construction owner Charlie Jabbia; board secretary-treasurer Georgine Guillory; U.S. Army Lt. Col. Marshall Ramsey; Commissioner Lee Smith; Don Labiche, architect; Col. Craig B. Hymes; Commissioner Nell Clark; board vice president Henry Nix; U.S. Rep. Ted Poe and board president Pete Shelton.
THE VIPs: (from left to right) U.S. Army Lt. Col. Marshall Ramsey, 842nd Transportation Battalion commander, U.S. Army Col. Craig B. Hymes, 597th Transportation Group commander, U.S. Rep. Ted Poe and port board president Pete Shelton look on as invited guests take their seats.
THE REPS: (From left) Aaron Evans, senior business manager, Union Pacific Railroad; Audra Malotte, customer care manager, Union Pacific; Sharon Reeves, general director, Kansas City Southern Railroad; Fran Willis, traffic management specialist, 842nd Battalion; John Pinard Jr., sales manager, BNSF Railway; John Roby, port customer service director 7
U.S. Rep. Ted Poe talks with KBTV’s Ericka English about the importance of the Port of Beaumont’s new military facility as KBTV photographer Chip Fields films the interview. Poe and Col. Craig B. Hymes took time to talk with area media representatives present after the ribbon cutting.
World War II veteran and Beaumont resident Louis Knabeschuh (right), does a few lines about his experience as a sailor aboard the USS Lubbock to documentary producer Rick Mize of the Lubbock Independent School District’s LISDTV with the M.V. Cape Vincent and M.V. Cape Victory as backdrops on Nov. 8. Mize is creating a documentary about the history of the Lubbock, which was named for the Texas Panhandle city. The U.S. Navy acquired the ship in October 1944. Knabeschuh was aboard the Lubbock when the ship carried Marines and supplies to the historic storming of Iwo Jima in February 1945 and ferried casualties from that battle to Okinawa following the invasion.
PORT OF BEAUMONT!
(But is this your 60th or 93rd?)
“IT’S GOTTA BE PERFECT!”: Port utility man Kenneth Lynch (left) helps port sales secretary Peggy Burris tie and arrange a red, white and blue bow as they decorate in preparation for the ribbon cutting ceremony at the port’s new military office building in November.
The answer is both. The Port of Beaumont Navigation District of Jefferson County, Texas — the independent, taxing entity that the port is today — was created by the 51st Texas Legislature in 1949. However, the port traces its roots to a few decades earlier. A new channel along the Neches River linking the downtown Beaumont waterfront with the Port Arthur Ship Channel was completed in 1908. It was by 1916 that local businessmen completed dock facilities and navigation improvements along the river, and steady ship traffic increased at Beaumont.
DOUBLE, DOUBLE TOIL AND TROUBLE, PAY THOSE BILLS OR I’LL REDUCE YOU TO RUBBLE: Director of finance Brenda Whitworth was the only brave soul at the Port of Beaumont to don a costume on Halloween. Trade and development director Ernest Bezdek snapped this photo just before he dashed and hid in his office to avoid her wrath.
The Port of Beaumont recognized six employees who have reached anniversary milestones in their service to the port during the annual service and safety awards ceremony in November. The following employees were honored: 35 years Kenneth Tarnow Maintenance carpenter 30 years Bill Carpenter Deputy port director 25 years Randy Spell Crane operator 20 years Kenneth Hebert Utility man 15 years Creig Blanchard Working foreman 10 years Ernest Bezdek Trade development director
From the archives
WINTER WONDERLAND: A blanket of fresh snow covers the Port of Beaumont, looking north from the present-day Harbor Island Marine Terminal, in this photo dated Jan. 12, 1973. (See page 10 for scenes from Southeast Texas’ most recent snow event.)
HELPING HAND: Longshoremen load pallets of bagged lentils, split peas and flour onto the M/V TSGT John A Chapman. The food was shipped to Algeria, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Sudan and several humanitarian groups.
SANTA’S LITTLE HELPERS: Port utility foreman Creig Blanchard (left) and utility man Kenneth Lynch ring the ground near Santa’s feet with Christmas lights to prepare the port for the Christmas holidays.
FOLLOW THE LEADER: A flock of seagulls takes flight after being startled by the horn from the Port of Beaumont train engine nearby. The M/V Advantage is docked at the Main Street Wharves in the background.
An unusually cold air mass swept into Southeast Texas during the second week of December. On Dec. 11, area residents woke up to a blanket of snow between 3 and 6 inches deep across the region. The snowfall shattered several records for Beaumont: the earliest snowfall on record for the fall/winter season, the most ever for the month of December and the first major accumulation since 1973, according to the National Weather Service. TOP: The port’s Christmas decorations rise from a layer of snow a few inches thick coats the entrance on Dec. 11. The snow was mostly gone by noon that day. LEFT: Port director Chris Fisher prepares to mount a winter offensive against the photographer. He missed, but may have been taking it easy on the photographer. BELOW: Snowfall left aggregate mounds at the port’s Kinder Morgan bulk terminal resembling gleaming mountain peaks.
Port of Beaumont Navigation District of Jefferson County, Texas
MISSION STATEMENT: The Port of Beaumont Navigation District of Jefferson County, Texas is responsible to the taxpayers of its district for the improvement of navigation and the development of maritime shipping and waterborne related commerce to and from its wharves; and for maintenance, development, extension and improvement of wharf and dock facilities of the Port of Beaumont to promote economic growth in our district, the State of Texas and in the interest of national defense.
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS C.A. “Pete” Shelton, president H.M. “Henry” Nix, Jr., vice president Georgine Guillory, secretary-treasurer Floy Nell Clark Louis Broussard, Jr. Lee E. Smith
STAFF David C. Fisher, port director Bill Carpenter, deputy director Ernest L. Bezdek, trade development director John Roby, customer service director Kirby Dartez, operations director Al Matulich, dock superintendent Sam Serio, maintenance supervisor Brenda Whitworth, finance director Janet Floyd, human resources manager Norman Reynolds, port authority police chief Mike D. Smith, public relations manager
Comments, questions and suggestions about this publication should be directed to Mike D. Smith, at (409) 835-5367 or email@example.com.