Captain’s Corner – Eclipse 2017

On August 21 a rare celestial event will occur in the U.S.: a total solar eclipse. For a brief few minutes, skywatchers in a 70 mile-wide path, stretching from Oregon to South Carolina, will be plunged into twilight and observe streamers of light revealed as the human eye is able to glimpse the sun’s corona. The temperature may drop 10 or more degrees and a few lucky viewers may see the stars become visible in the daytime. While much of the country may be able to see a minute part of this phenomenon, only those in its “path of totality” – the area where the sun will be totally obscured by the moon — will experience the remarkable wonders of a total solar eclipse. (For those of us who didn’t get our RSVP done two years ago, we can view it live through the NASA website.)

Throughout history any unusual celestial occurrence generally has had the effect stirring up angst among its viewers. However, the word “eclipsed” can also refer to a success becoming overshadowed by a new accomplishment. Happily for us on the Texas gulf, we can celebrate an eclipse in the heavenly bodies as well as on the port waters as growth and expansion promise to eclipse our achievements of the past.

Investment in the western gulf region has created growth and opportunities for many from Brownsville to Louisiana. Andy Lipow, our September Commerce Club speaker, does an excellent job of discussing this industry expansion across our ports in his guest article on page 10. This investment has brought money and jobs into our regional economy, but it also brings unique challenges. The trend of more and larger ships coming to the western Gulf region is climbing, and we have to be constantly improving our efficiency and capacity now to be able to serve trade needs in the future. Otherwise, ports outside this region will look to eclipse us for the business.

I believe continuing to work together will keep our advantageous position secure. Our efficiency committee strives to stay ahead of potential issues that could slow our ports down and looks toward systemic improvements, such as minimizing unneeded vessel movements. We want to be prepared for the ship coming into port today as well as the ship entering five years from now.
Dredging is another crucial, ongoing area of concern. Bigger ships mean deeper and wider channels, and the Army Corps of Engineers has limited resources to share among the all waterways of the country. When we factor in that almost one-half of the total cargo in the nation passes through Texas and Louisiana ports, it affirms the critical importance of building continued collaboration for the interests of the regional maritime community.

In the past, the movements of sun, moon, and stars were often thought of as harbingers of significant things to come. I can get on board with that. The next total solar eclipse through the U.S. will cross 13 states, including Texas, on April 8, 2024. The seven intervening years offers us a unique timeline to see how much we get accomplished in the port region during that time. I bet the ports on the Gulf coast will eclipse themselves again.

  • Date September 6, 2017
  • Tags Aug.-Sept. 2017