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Maritime Industry

The Maritime Industry
Regional Overview
BAHEP Maritime Initiatives
Maritime Education
Storm Surge Suppression System
BAHEP’s Maritime Members

Maritime Industry

In broad terms, the BAHEP region’s maritime industry might be defined in terms of its nine inter-related business categories:

1.    Ports and shipping;
2.    Ground-based transportation and handling of shipped materials;
3.    Support for the shipping industry to include tugs, cranes, barges, etc.;
4.    Services that support shipping industry such as legal, insurance, management and personnel services;
5.    Recreational boating and related business;
6.    Fishing and other sea-based business;
7.    Education and training to support maritime industry;
8.    Environmental and coastal protection; and
9.    Advocacy at the local, state, and national levels for regulations that benefit the region’s citizens and businesses.

According to the Texas Ports Association, Texas ports account for 564.7 million tons of cargo and generate 112,100 jobs directly related to marine cargo activities. This results in a total of $277.6 billion in economic activity to the state of Texas. Texas port activities represent approximately 25% of the total State Gross Domestic Product.

The regional economy is bolstered by three thriving ports: the Port of Houston, the Port of Texas City and the Port of Galveston. 

Port of Houston

"The Port of Houston is a 25-mile-long complex of diversified public and private facilities located just a few hours' sailing time from the Gulf of Mexico. The port is ranked first in the United States in foreign waterborne tonnage (14 consecutive years); first in U.S. imports (20 consecutive years); second in U.S. export tonnage and second in the U.S. in total tonnage (20 consecutive years).”  Re.: Port of Houston Authority

According to the Port of Houston, its 2012 study by Martin Associates found that "ship channel-related businesses contribute 1,026,820 jobs throughout Texas, up from more than 785,000 jobs cited in a 2007 study. This activity helped to generate more than $178.5 billion in statewide economic impact, up from nearly $118 billion. Additionally, more than $4.5 billion in state and local tax revenues are generated by business activities related to the port, up from $3.7 billion.”

The Port of Houston's economic activity helped to keep Texas the nation's top exporting state for the 11th straight year. In 2012, the Port reports, "Texas exports totaled $265 billion, up by 5.4 percent from 2011, according to annual trade data from the U.S. Department of Commerce.  The state's top export markets include Mexico ($94.8 billion), Canada ($23.7 billion), China ($10.3 billion), Brazil ($10 billion), and the Netherlands ($9.5 billion).”  Ref.:http://www.portofhouston.com/about-us/economic-impact/

According to the 2012 Statistical Abstract of the United States, Houston ranks #7 among the 10 busiest ports in the nation based on container traffic. http://listosaur.com/miscellaneous/top-10-busiest-ports-in-the-united-states.html

Look for the Port of Houston to assume an even bigger role in shipping in 2014 when a $5 billion project to widen the Panama Canal is completed.

Port of Texas City

The Port of Texas City, operated by the Port of Texas City / Texas City Terminal Railway, is the eighth largest port in the United States and the third largest in Texas with waterborne tonnage exceeding 78 million net tons. The Texas City Terminal Railway Company provides an important land link to the port, handling over 25,000 car loads per year. The Port of Texas City's success as a privately owned port has been aided by its shareholders, the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads, whose connections allow for expeditious interchange of their traffic.

The Port’s primary imports include crude oil and other petrochemical and specialty chemical products.  The Port’s primary exports include gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, intermediate chemicals, and petroleum coke.  Ref.:  Texas Ports Association

Port of Galveston

Established in 1825, the Port of Galveston has grown to 850 acres of port facilities.

The Port’s primary imports include wind power equipment, bananas, agricultural equipment, machinery, vehicles, fertilizer products, lumber products, and military-related cargo. The primary exports include bulk grains, containers, machinery, vehicles, linerboard and paper, carbon black, and light fuels.

In addition, the Port of Galveston is the only port in Texas to homeport vacation cruise ships with numerous cruises scheduled during the year. Ref.: Texas Ports Association, Port of Galveston

American Association of Port Authorities Data

According to the data of the American Association of Port Authorities, the ports of Houston-Galveston, TX, rank second in the nation by volume of cargo at 247,337 metric tons, just slightly behind New Orleans, LA, at 255,358 metric tons. View the table here for data on U.S. Waterborne Foreign Trade 2012 highlighting 35 ports.

Regional Overview

In addition to the ports, the regional maritime industry includes a variety of marine business interests and community initiatives. The region is home to the nation’s third largest marina, home to over 7,000 recreational boat slips. There is a robust fishing and shellfish industry. Kemah and other seaside communities boast exceptional dining and other recreational opportunities, resulting in over 4 million visitors each year. 

Supporting the ports and the other marine-related business are a network of warehouses, transportation and logistics companies, container handlers, towing and shipping services, and a full complement of professional support businesses.

BAHEP’s Maritime Initiatives

The International Maritime Advisory Committee (IMAC) coordinates BAHEP’s industry efforts. Recent initiatives have included working to help establish new high school and college curricula for the maritime industry’s next generation workforce. Currently, IMAC is preparing for the impacts expected from the Panama Canal widening, supporting the need for a comprehensive storm surge suppression system, and fostering research about ways to protect life, property and the ecosystem.

Maritime Education

Independent school districts and institutions of higher education within Bay Area Houston are keenly aware of the need for an educational pipeline to prepare students for highly skilled, and well paying, positions in the exceedingly competitive maritime environment. BAHEP’s educational partners are meeting the workforce needs of both today and the future.

Pasadena Independent School District is offering a maritime course as part of its career and technical education curriculum. The course explores the process of moving goods through waterways. Students gain an in-depth understanding of the various transportation methods that move products from factories to stores. The course includes how ships transport products into and out of ports and looks at the obstacles and challenges that the industry must face.

La Porte Independent School District offers a maritime program at La Porte High School, which is a four-year program designed as an overview of the maritime industry. It covers the waterside and shoreside careers in the maritime industry and offers high school curriculum and college dual credit classes.

Launched in the fall semester of 2012 at the request of local industry for a higher quality, better educated, more well-rounded entry level professional mariner, San Jacinto College offers an Associate’s Degree in Maritime Technology, which combines U.S. Coast Guard and STCW (Standards for Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) approved maritime training with the college level academics required of a two-year college degree. The college’s goal is to provide new mariners to the industry with practiced knowledge in the areas of math, science and English that most closely relate to their maritime career path.

Texas A&M University at Galveston is a special-purpose institution of higher education for undergraduate and graduate instruction in marine and maritime studies in science, engineering and business for research and public service related to the general field of marine resources. The institution is under the management and control of the Board of Regents of The Texas A&M University System, with degrees offered under the name and authority of Texas A&M University at College Station.

Texas A&M University at Galveston houses the Texas Maritime Academy, which is one of six maritime academies in the U.S. preparing graduates for licensing as officers in the American Merchant Marine.

The Panama Canal extends for approximately 50 miles through the Isthmus of Panama to connect water traffic from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west.  A series of locks in the east, called the Gatun Locks, raise vessels up to the level of the man-made Gatun Lake at 87.6 ft. (26.7 m) above mean sea level, and then in the west, two sets of locks in series, the Miraflores Locks and the Pedro Miguel Locks, lower vessels back down the sea level.  The canal currently has two shipping lanes.

The expansion of the Panama Canal will excavate a new sets of locks to raise vessels up to Gatun Lake and back down to sea level.  These new set of locks in the east and in the west will completely bypass the existing locks and provide a third independent path for vessels to access Gatun Lake.  The new locks and channels will be deeper and wider than the existing locks to accommodate larger and heavier vessels.  Additionally, to accommodate the larger vessels, the man-made Gatun Lake will be raised from 87.6 ft. (26.7 m) above mean sea level to 88.9 ft. (27.1 m) above mean sea level.  Finally, a number of the channels and canals will be dredged to deepen them to accommodate heavier vessels.

Ships currently designed to transit the Panama Canal are constrained in size by the width and length of the current locks, the depth of water in the canal, and the height of the Bridge of the Americas that crosses the canal on the western side.  Ships that fit in these dimensions are termed "Panamax” and can be 965 ft. (294.1 m) long, 106 ft. (32.3 m) wide, with a draft up to 39.5 ft. (12.04 m).  The new locks will be much larger, which will allow significantly larger vessels termed Post-Panamax which can be 1,200 ft. (366 m) long, 160.8 ft. (49 m) wide, with a draft up to 49.9 ft. (15.2 m).

The ability for Post-Panamax ships to transit the Panama Canal will significantly increase the number of containers that can be transported on a container vessel.  The current canal can accommodate ships that can hold approximately 4,600 TEU.  TEU stands for "Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit” and is based on the volume of a 20-foot-long standard-sized metal box which can be easily transferred between different modes of transportation, such as ships, trains and trucks.  The larger Post-Panamax ships can hold approximately 12,000 TEU or nearly 3 times the number of containers.  The benefit for using larger ships to transport material is that the cost of shipping per each item onboard is lower.

Post-Panamax ships will also be able to transport significantly more bulk cargo (either liquid or dry cargo).  The current canal can accommodate ships that carry approximately 79,000 dead weight tons.  While the Post-Panamax ships will be able to carry bulk cargo of approximately 179,000 dead weight tons or over twice as much mass. 

The Panama Canal expansion is expected to be completed in mid-2015.  Currently there is more traffic wanting to transit the canal than the canal has the capacity to accommodate.  After the expansion, the canal will have the ability to accommodate all of the traffic expected.

Robert T. Sakowitz, president and CEO of Hazak Corporation, is a member of the International Maritime Advisory Committee (IMAC) of Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. Listen as Dan Seal, BAHEP's executive director for Special Initiatives, and Sakowitz discuss what the opening of the Panama Canal expansion means to the Houston region.

The Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership’s International Maritime Advisory Committee (IMAC) endorses the concept of a regional storm surge suppression system. A storm surge suppression system is essential to protect the industries, citizens, and communities in the Houston/Galveston region and to preserve the region’s coastal ecosystem. Visit BAHEP's Storm Surge Suppression page for details.


Barlow Jones, L.L.P.
17225 El Camino Real, Suite 400
Houston, TX 77058
(281) 488-8440
Big League Dreams
1150 Big League Dreams Parkway
League City, TX 77573
www.bigleaguedreams.com (281) 316-3400
The Honorable Dave Martin
City of Houston
PO Box 1562
Houston, TX 77026

(832) 393-3008
The Honorable Darryl Leonard
City of La Porte
604 West Fairmont Parkway
La Porte, TX 77571
(281) 471-5020
Collins & Associates
3802 NASA Parkway
Seabrook, TX 77586
No website listed

(832) 326-3445

Crinion Davis & Richardson, LLP
17040 El Camino Real, Suite 200
Houston, TX 77058
www.cdrlegal.com (281) 990-8300
Economic Alliance Houston Port Region
203 Ivy  Avenue, Suite 200
Deer Park, TX 77536
www.allianceportregion.com (281) 476-9176
Galveston Economic Development Partnership
P.O. Box 8029
Galveston, TX 77553
www.gedp.org (409) 770-0216
GeoControl Systems, Inc.
2900 Woodridge, Suite 100
Houston, TX 77087
www.geocontrol.com (713) 649-8481
Greer, Herz & Adams, LLP
2525 South Shore Blvd., Suite 203
League City, TX 77573
www.greerherz.com (281) 480-5278
Mr. Mike Sullivan
Harris County
1001 Preston, 1st Floor
Houston, TX 77002


(713) 274-8002

John Manlove Marketing & Communications
5125 Preston Ave.
Pasadena, TX 77505


(281) 487-6767

Lakewood Yacht Club
2425 NASA Parkway
Seabrook, TX 77586


(281) 474-2511

The Law Office of Phil Griffis
2525 Bay Area Blvd., Suite 195
Houston, TX 77058


(832) 284-4013

Legacy Port Partners, LLC
2951 Marina Bay Drive, #130 - 531
League City, TX 77573


(512) 964-5525

Southwest Airport Services
11811 Brantly Bldg. 500 Ellington Field
Houston, TX 77034


(281) 484-6551

Texas Capital Bank
One Riverway, Suite 2100
Houston, TX 77056


(832) 308-7017

UHCL Center -Economic Development & Research
2700 Bay Area Blvd
Houston, TX 77058


(281) 283-3100

Wells Fargo
1150 Clear lake City Blvd.
Houston, TX 77062


(281) 282-2212

Whitley Penn
2000 loop 197 N., Suite 200
Texas City, TX 77590


(713) 621-1515

Amstel Holdings, Inc.
P.O. Box 429
Kemah, TX 77565
No website listed
(281) 339-0625
Port of Houston Authority
PO BOX 2562
Houston, TX 77252-2562
 www.porthouston.com (713) 670-2400
U.S. Development Group
9590 New Decade Drive
Pasadena, TX 77507
 www.us-dev.com (281) 291-0510
18050 Saturn Lane, Suite 200
Houston, TX 77058
 www.maximblue.com (281) 337-2516
San Jacinto College District
4624 Fairmont Parkway, Suite 202
Pasadena, TX 77504-3398
 www.sanjac.edu (281) 998-6100
Texas A&M University at Galveston
PO Box 1675
Galveston, TX 77553-1675
 www.tamug.edu (409) 740-4478
Gulf Coast Yacht Brokers Association
PO Box 263
Seabrook, TX 77586
 www.gcyba.com (832) 746-5702
Griffin Communications Group
3101 NASA Parkway, Suite L
Seabrook, TX 77586
 www.griffincg.com (281) 335-0200
3coast Services
P.O. Box 890646
Houston, TX 77289
 www.3coast-services.com (281) 956-2280
Pasadena Independent School District
1515 Cherrybrook Lane
Pasadena, TX 77502
 www.pasadenaisd.org/ (713) 920-6818
Lakewood Yacht Club
2425 NASA Parkway
Seabrook, TX 77586
 www.lakewoodyachtclub.com (281) 474-2511
University of Houston-Clear Lake
2700 Bay Area Boulevard
Houston, TX 77058
 www.uhcl.edu (281) 283-7600
Tommy's Restaurant Oyster Bar
2555 Bay Area Boulevard
Houston, TX 77058
 www.tommys.com (281) 480-2221
(281) 679-1112
Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc.
2925 Briarpark Drive
Houston, TX 77042
(713) 266-6900


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