Marine industry weathers superstorm

It’s been two weeks since Superstorm Sandy roared into New York and New Jersey like a reality television star — lots of hype and, for the marine industry, not a whole lot of substance. Yes, there were some individual companies that suffered and are still suffering, but, by and large, the marine industry was ready for Sandy — superstorm designation and all.

“I want to emphasize that each port has a hurricane preparedness and business recovery plan that they put in place in advance of potential approaching hurricanes, like Sandy,” said Aaron Ellis, public affairs director at the American Association of Port Authorities. “These measures are designed to first protect lives and worker safety, and then to secure equipment and facilities to minimize potential damage to cargo and/or facilities.”

The Port of New York/New Jersey is open and back on track, with the exception of some restrictions on the Arthur Kill, a tidal straight separating the two states.

“There’s some pollution in the water, and there are people picking it up,” said U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Charles W. Rowe. “It’s just very minor no-wake restrictions. Other than that, the port is 100 percent open.”

There are refineries in the area that are still shut down, and their immediate futures as far as coming back on line remain question marks. There are infrastructure problems that are affecting other modes of transportation in the area — particularly rail traffic.

“The infrastructure around here was bad already,” said Dr. Walter Kemmsies, chief economist, Moffit & Nichol. “We’ve been operating on vapor for a long time.”

While cleanup and recovery problems remain for the New York/New Jersey area, the majority of those problems are on land, where traffic in and out of the port may divert additional ships away from NY/NJ to Norfolk or Baltimore. “Distribution is going to be gummed up,” said Kemmsies.

And what about the economic impact on the maritime industry? Kemmsies said those numbers are still be calculated.


About the author

Ken Hocke

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.

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