Gulf Copper

Oil platforms and a ship are docked at Gulf Copper on the Galveston Ship Channel on Monday, Sept. 30, 2019.


As a long-awaited effort to write a master plan for the Port of Galveston comes to a close, some of the port’s longtime tenants are at the center of discussions about how they’re doing now and what kind of return they’ll bring to the port in the future.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


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(9) comments

Charlotte O'rourke

This is very disappointing. The Master Plan is a 20-25 year plan. The board shouldn’t be discussing getting rid of long term customers, but doing a proforma on each line of business and seeking ways to increase and diversify business.

Bad for the port’s image and bad for Galveston.

Lisa Blair

Exactly, Charlotte. It’s disrespectful to speak about long term customers this way and in public. Once again the new chair and vice chair are applying different standards for themselves.

Bill Broussard

my thought also. Besides, customers know as much about how the Port has and does operate as the

board does and i don't think the Port would appreciate a customer talking about the Port's functioning to the GDN. At the very least, Brown is right and its a very poor example of board discipline..

Miceal O'Laochdha

Passenger ships are essentially floating hotel/resorts and, as such, their business is easy for lawyers, bankers, and non-maritime business people to understand. It requires a little education from experts to understand the full range of the maritime industry. 90% of world trade is carried on cargo ships. Do we think that might qualify as an important business? Those ships not only require shore facilities for their cargos, they also require shipyards to maintain their vessels. Has anybody needed to take their car for repairs or maintenance lately? The other ports on the US Gulf Coast have leadership who understand the maritime business, and understand the importance of it to the health of a seaport community. Take a glance at Corpus Christi or Mobile. The consultants to whom the POG has paid substantial sums of money, together with the port director, have said for the past year at public meetings about the relentlessly-heralded "Master Plan" that they gave absolutely no consideration for ship repair tenants and were conceding the loss of the fresh fruit cargo business without effort to stop it. One long term (20+ years) ship repair tenant has already been lost. That only made the Port leadership happy because it gave them a chance to avoid losing another 20+ year cargo tenant by giving them somewhere to move without leaving Galveston. That is robbing Peter to ay Paul and is caused by a lack of understanding anything about the ships that don't come with all-you-can-eat buffets and a hairdressing salon on them. Maritime people are already moving to ports that have vision for the future that includes cargo ships and shipyards, as well as passenger ships. Galveston ignores cargo ships and shipyards at its own peril; and squanders the legacy of those Galvestonians who built a port that was the foundation of the City itself. Suddenly a member of the Wharves Board is interested in revenue from lay dockage. But, it was only 2 years ago that another member of the current Board actually had to ask staff at a monthly meeting what a ship listed as "Lay" on the dockage report even meant. And the rest of the Board quickly chimed in asking: "yeah, what does "Lay" mean? The Wharves Board needs more than 2 members who actually know what a ship is.

Josh Moore

Wow, that really is sad. I work as a ship agent and sometimes we need to get coast guard inspections done before a ship can make call in Houston. Not every terminal allows COC inspections alongside the dock, so we bring them into Galveston. It brings money to the port, but as you have said, they seem to only think about cruise ships as a market driver for POG. Seems like an opportunity not completely realized.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Josh, do not worry, at least not for the foreseeable future. The evolution you are describing is a current focus of the POG staff. USCG Inspections for Certification, or Re-Inspections, Port State Control Inspections, Class Surveys, or charterer vetting surveys are exactly the sort of lay berth usage that the POG staff have been pursuing with increasing success for the last 2 years. As long as the POG has an unoccupied berth, your vessels' inspections and surveys will be accommodated, as will minor voyage repair tasks, because these ships need no support of shorepower or substantial labor and fixed dockside equipment to accomplish them. It is the workscope demands of long term lay up vessels and those ships needing significant planned and emergency repairs and maintenance that mainly only Gulf Copper's facility can provide in Galveston at this time. The POG and Wharves Board should be looking for ways to support that tenant, not looking to break their chops over vessel operations the Board does not even understand. And no...I do not work for the shipyard and never have. I represent shipyard customers...

Charlotte O'rourke


The planning focus should be on updating outdated facilities that haven’t been improved in decades, and increasing business and overall port profits while ensuring that the board actually votes on policy, planning, and contractual decisions (before the public presentations).

Until 4 votes decisively mandates that information is provided to the board or any member upon request, the port will remain dysfunctional, the chair ineffective, and the public and the board will be kept in the dark on major issues normally under the board’s purview and requiring a public vote.

This includes the unknown termination payouts discussed but not fully answered at the last meeting. The meeting was strange because 2 board members kept contradicting the port attorney’s opinion that termination pay could be either a benefit or post termination employment pay and waiver of liability depending on how it was structured.

It was a needless argument as the port director does not have the authority for either. No one on staff could or would answer the number of times this payout has occurred or the total financial impact. If the board changes another policy under its purview, to accommodate violation of policies, then another area of how money is spent will be hidden from public view.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Agreed. Also seeming odd: don't they normally decide what subjects should be discussed in executive session before the meeting; not in the midst of the public meeting discussion?

Charlotte O'rourke

Yes it’s odd. It was also odd that the topic on Whistleblowers was pulled without any discussion. I can’t figure out this board as a group - do they really believe what they say or only pretend to believe it? Definitely odd .... if they really believe “operational interference” is talking and listening to maritime customers?


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