- posted at 10:00AM
- October 8, 2009
- by: John Nelson
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Newport may not be the only winner in the competition for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research vessel fleet. Oregon’s Port of Toledo plans to benefit from the new NOAA Marine Operations Center-Pacific at the Port of Newport, just a few miles downstream on the Yaquina River. When an Oregon port gets business, it means jobs for Oregon’s citizens and money injected into the local communities and state’s economy.
Why? Because the four NOAA vessels that will home port in Newport, and the two visiting ships, will require service and repairs, competing for space and labor in the region’s shipyards. We think that the increased demand will drive business to prime locations like Toledo.
The existing commercial, charter, and recreation fleet already provides steady business to the yards, and with the new ships, an overall pickup in business is expected. Opportunities should increase for a wide variety of locally based electricians, painters, welders, steamfitters, and towboat operators. The Port of Toledo anticipates that their planned shipyard—the former Fred Wahl yard—will host much of this work.
Locally owned vessels—the “Distant Water Fleet”—work the fishing grounds in Bristol Bay and the North Pacific for a year or two, then come home for refitting and repair. Smaller vessels working offshore visit the shipyards more regularly, along with the charter fleet and recreational yachts. Together these vessels create constant demand for service and repair, and with the addition of NOAA’s fleet, the Port of Toledo is positioning itself to increase business.
In July of this year, the Port of Toledo Commission approved a strategic business plan, prepared by Bill Cook, Paul Sorenson of BST Associates, and me. The plan provided commissioners and management with acquisition and operation costs, and potential income, for the shipyard. The Strategic Business Plan follows a three-year effort by the Port to capitalize on available and underutilized waterfront real estate and to garner public support for maintaining traditional maritime industries. With assistance from Maul Foster & Alongi, Inc., the Port of Toledo has also planned a light industrial park, waterfront trail, and recreational marina improvements.