Proceedings Summer 2016
every private and public entity on the ship channel — meets
to share information and prioritize vessel movements in
a show of unparalleled cooperation to get traffic restarted
after a closure.
At the end of the day, moving through the Houston Ship
Channel involves a multitude of parties and an unprece-
dented amount of teamwork. Owners, operators, agents,
masters, pilots, seafarers, tugs, terminals, longshoremen,
federal agencies, and even more entities work together
closely to ensure the safe and reliable flow of commerce
About the authors:
Captain Bill Diehl (USCG, Ret.) is president of the Greater Houston Port
Bureau, a maritime trade organization of 210 companies that supplies its
companies with detailed vessel traffic information and maritime expertise in
safety, security, and environmental issues. Before coming to the Port Bureau
in 2009, Captain Diehl served for 31 years in the Coast Guard.
Bob Mitchell is president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
(BAHEP). For the past 40 years, BAHEP has provided the leadership to
stimulate regional economic development and employment, creating a great
quality of life for the 800,000 people who live and work within the BAHEP
Mr. Stan L. Swigart is the director of marketing and external communica-
tions for the Port of Houston Authority. He has over fifteen years of experi-
ence specializing in market research and analysis, business development, and
strategic planning in the liner shipping, maritime and intermodal transpor-
tation sector. A native of Louisiana, Mr. Swigart earned a bachelor's degree
in marketing from Loyola University of the South.
CAPT Randal Ogrydziak is the commander of Marine Safety Unit Port
Arthur. Previous assignments include: executive officer, Marine Safety Unit
Port Arthur; supervisor, Liquefied Gas Carrier National Center of Exper-
tise; deputy commander, Air Station Corpus Christi; maintenance and
repair supervisor, Coast Guard Base Milwaukee; salvage diver, National
Strike Force Dive Team; Chemical Division response and operations officer,
Pacific Strike Team; and marine inspector, Marine Safety Office Honolulu.
He holds a master's degree in public health from the University Of Hawaii.
CAPT Malcolm R. McLellan III has served in the U.S. Coast Guard for over
24 years, supporting the Coast Guard strategic missions of marine safety,
security, and environmental protection for the majority of his career. He
is currently assigned as the deputy sector commander of Sector Houston-
CAPT Brian Penoyer, USCG, is the sector commander and captain of the
port in Houston-Galveston. The sector encompasses an area extending from
60 miles east of Lake Charles, Louisiana; to the east bank of the Colorado
River; 40 miles west of Freeport, Texas; and from the Texas/Oklahoma bor-
der on Lake Texoma extending 200 nautical miles offshore into the Gulf of
Mexico. Captain Penoyer has served in the Coast Guard for 27 years.
Port of Houston Authority, www.portofhouston.com/inside-the-port-authority/
Port of Galveston, www.portofgalveston.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=32.
Texas City Terminal Railway Co., www.tctrr.com/.
Port of Houston Authority, www.portofhouston.com/about-us/overview/.
Customs and Border Protection officers obtain information
about their voyage, gross and net tonnage, and crew details.
While importers of record submit electronic cargo mani-
fests to CBP, all personnel (and their accompanied baggage,
property, cargo, and associated documentation, as well) are
subject to inspection.
The port agent also deals with other issues while a vessel is
tied up, including arranging for bunkering, provisioning, or
inspections; facilitating crew changes; or clearing equipment
delivery. While these may seem to be simple tasks, safety
and security regulations — especially those promulgated
since the 2003 Maritime Transportation Security Act — have
created significant disincentives for terminal operators to
allow personnel and material transit through their facilities.
Port calls in Houston can last anywhere from 10 hours for a
cruise or container ship to sail in, churn cargo, and depart,
to more than a month for a chemical tanker to make pre-
cisely ordered stops across many terminals. As a vessel
readies to depart, the port agent ensures that cargo filings
are completed, the electronic notice of departure has been
filed, and the crew lists have been updated with CBP. They
will also reverse the process of arrival by arranging for line
handlers to untie the vessel, tugs to push it out, and a pilot
to guide the ship back out to sea.
But the job is not quite over yet; when all is said and done,
it is time to reconcile accounts. While a port call in Houston
starts at nearly $25,000 for a single voyage (consistent with
many other regional ports), it can be far more expensive if
the schedule outlined in the charter party isn't met. Demur-
rage charges, extra movements, and additional terminal
charges add to the cost of doing business, and extenuating
circumstances may contribute to the delay if, for example,
the vessel needs to be repaired, a crewmember needs to be
hospitalized, or hazardous material must be removed from
In addition, external forces such as fog, channel closures,
or regional incidents can cause delays for everyone doing
business in the port. Regional stakeholder groups work dili-
gently to ensure that closures are minimized and normal
operating practices keep costs down. The Lone Star Harbor
Safety Committee, area maritime security committee, and
Central Texas Area Committee meet regularly to advise the
Coast Guard's captain of the port on issues affecting safety,
security, and the environment. During times of crisis, the
port coordination team — a group that represents nearly