West Coast 2014

Inspired by Neptune voyages of years past, three intrepid Fletcher students utilized their graduate school winter break to learn more about the United States’ west coast maritime industry. We started with a bang at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. It was impressive to see the scale of the two largest intermodal ports in the US and learn about their environmental sustainability initiatives, community relations programs, and facilities handling enormous volumes of diversified international trade. We drove the beautiful Pacific coast highway north to the Port of Oakland. There, we learned more about labor unions role at port, long term strategic planning, and port competition. We then headed inland for the long drive to Portland, Oregon. It was fascinating to contrast the containerized import facilities we mostly saw further south and the bulk exporting facilities of the Columbia River. Lastly, we made our way westward to speak with Coast Guard Base Astoria and get on a Cutter at the confluence of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean – otherwise known as the “graveyard of the Pacific.”

Highlights included a lengthy discussion of port security underneath a container ship offloading at the Port of LB, a boat tour at the Port of LA with Professor Everett (instructor of Petroleum in the Global Economy here at Fletcher), an extensive van ride around all of Port of Oakland’s facilities, tour of Port of Portland’s grain and potash export terminals, and seeing all the bulk ships at anchorage waiting to proceed upriver for loading. We learned a tremendous amount and appreciate all of our welcoming hosts who took the time to educate us on the important role they play in the local, national, and global economy.

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