The U.S. Navy is opening facilities in Port Hueneme, which is located less than 100 miles north of the Port of Los Angeles. The opening is in direct support of decreasing port congestion. Port Hueneme is the West Coast homeport of the Navy’s famous construction battalion, the Seabees.
A standing Joint Use Agreement with Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) and the Oxnard Harbor District (OHD), allows the Navy to support commercial supply chain logistics when activated for emergency use.
“Naval Base Ventura County recently welcomed a large cargo vessel,” said Daniel J. Herrera, assistant program director for port operations, NBVC. “Ports of America already off-loaded a large number of forty-foot containers into lot 22 onboard Port Hueneme which is merchandise expected to have direct impact with helping to support holiday supply demands.”
The Navy entered into the joint agreement with local authorities in 2002, authorizing commercial use of a wharf at the Naval base plus approximately 21 acres of contiguous land, two buildings, and if available, overflow land.
Jason Hodge, President of the OHD which owns the Port of Hueneme (POH), stated that commercial business at the port has increased significantly over the past year and when it comes to moving cargo, the Port’s flexible “Can Do” attitude is similar to the Navy Seabees’ “Can Do” motto of completing a task no matter the condition or situation.
“The Port appreciates the partnership with NBVC and locating additional space to accommodate excess holiday shipments coming through the Port,” Hodge said. “We are delighted to come together to meet the challenge of providing a solution to help keep essential goods moving. Our long-standing history of partnership continues with this call-to-action to address the national supply chain challenge.”
The US Navy has not mentioned opening other ports in California but approximately 100 miles south is US Naval Base San Diego which is the second largest surface ship base operated by the United States Navy. There is also no mention of the Navy activating the US Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) extensive Ready Reserve Fleet or US Navy Military Sealift Command ships capable of moving containers up and down the coast in a process called short sea shipping.
“The opening of NBVC is a small step. The navy is making just one berth available for ships with gear to offload,” said maritime expert Dr. Sal Mercogliano, who suggested activating the ready reserve fleet last month in a YouTube segment titled How to Clear the Ports of Los Angeles. “The problem is that the ports of LA/LB offloaded less cargo in October than they did last October. The number of containers dwelling is not falling at any consistent rate and the number of ships waiting to offload is at record levels. The use of Hueneme is a step, but not enough to clear the backlog.”