Port Bureau’s Marine Exchange Superior in Vessel Tracking

Janette Molina Project Manager, Marine Exchange

Every day, a small team at the Port Bureau led by Janette Molina is focused on recording the ships transiting through the Texas Gulf. They fulfill the Port Bureau’s role as the Marine Exchange of Texas, the premier provider of vessel movement information for deepdraft vessels arriving to or departing from Texas ports. The Port Bureau joins 13 other marine exchanges across the coasts of the U.S. and Canada as a member of the Maritime Information Services of North America (MISNA), a coalition of non-profit maritime information service organizations dedicated to providing information, communications, and related services to ensure safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally sound maritime operations.

A Brief History of the Marine Exchange
The Port Bureau’s Marine Exchange has provided premium reporting services to members since it was established as subsidiary in 1983. However, the Port Bureau’s work with rates and vessel movement data reaches all the way back to 1929 when the organization was created to improve service through the port of Houston and supply information and data to shippers.

When Janette joined the Port Bureau 16 years ago frsh from San Jacito College, vessel reporting was still done the old-fashioned way – with binoculars. “We used to have ladies who kept watch with binoculars at a location near Morgan’s Point,” Janette explains. “As the ships would come by, the ladies would write down the vessel name and fax it to us.” Within two years, however, the system evolved and streamlined as electronic reporting became the norm.

Modern Operations
Electronic reporting does not mean easy reporting. Due to the disparity of reporting among the different ports, Janette and the Marine Exchange staff still dedicate hours each day to collecting data, validating reports, and filling in the gaps of missing data. This dedication allows the Port Bureau to deliver the most comprehensive vessel arrival and departure information on the market.

The data are used by Port Bureau members and staff for scheduling, efficiency improvements, analysis, and more. Readers of this magazine will recognize the data from the monthly “Port Watch” feature on pages 4 and 5 and from numerous analytical reports. Vessel reporting services are used by various service organizations, and not only by for-profit companies. The Houston International Seafarers’ Center’s chaplains check real-time information on Harborlights to efficiently schedule their daily ministry visits to vessels docked in the port of Houston.

One of the benefits of Port Bureau membership is receiving the monthly vessel movement statistical report free of charge. With summary vessel arrival data from all of the Texas deepdraft ports, Port Bureau members can quickly observe the trends of overall traffic flows. Enhanced summaries for Houston, Corpus Christi, Galveston, and Texas City include vessel counts by terminal and agent, allowing members to identify the successful companies in the market.
Port Bureau members can subscribe to reports offering comprehensive data for:

  • Daily vessel movements in the Houston Ship Channel each day
  • Daily arrivals/departures for the ports of Galveston, Freeport, Texas City, Sabine, Point Comfort/Port Lavaca, Corpus Christi, and Brownsville
  • Twice-weekly ETA reports for all Texas Gulf ports

Subscribing members can also utilize Harborlights to track vessels in the Houston Ship Channel in real-time.

The pursuit of better data, more data, and new applications of data is never ending. The Port Bureau staff are exploring ways to further enhance the data and reporting services available to members as 2018 unfolds. Contact Janette Molina for more details at jmolina@txgulf.org.

  • Date February 20, 2018
  • Tags February 2018