, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

October 2, 2007

Port Arthur gets first military cargo since Vietnam

PORT ARTHUR — Waves of military cargo were unloaded from a U.S. Naval vessel Monday at the Port of Port Arthur — the first time the port has received such cargo since the Vietnam War.

Port security was tighter than usual with police, Coast Guard vessels and security forces visible as about 543 pieces of equipment, fresh from tour in Iraq, were unloaded from a military ship. The equipment will be sent out to locations around the country by rail and truck, Orlando Ciramella, senior director of trade development, said.

Ciramella said one of the biggest pluses to come from the project was the creation of between 250 to 300 jobs for Port Arthur and Jefferson County residents.

“Ultimately this puts the Port of Port Arthur on the map as being able to handle military equipment for the first time since the Vietnam War,” he said.

The unloading project should be completed by Tuesday afternoon.

Port officials said the equipment being unloaded is up to 30 tons and includes Humvees and Blackhawk helicopters.

Port Commissioner Linda Spears said the port’s efforts to have a military exercise began in 1993 when a bond issue was passed by Port Arthur voters. The Port’s Advisory Committee then contacted the military personnel for input on the planned terminal development. The military suggested a setback to accommodate their vessels, improvements to the rail holding yard and provided specifications for the unloading ramps and asphalt as much open dock area as possible.

The exercise that began Monday is an effort to support the 842 Military Command headquartered at the Port of Beaumont. This week’s work at the Port Arthur Port is considered an operation overflow meaning the Beaumont Port was busy with regular business.

The military has 14 strategic seaports throughout the U.S. with two in the Gulf of Mexico at the Ports of Beaumont and Corpus Christi.

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