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South Coast Port Channel Deepening Project Talked About For More Than A Quarter Of A Century Complete

(KCLU photo)
The Port of Hueneme has completed a dredging project to increase of the port channel from35 to 40 feet, making it more accessible to ships

Will allow more ships to use Port of Hueneme; Expected to mean 500 new port jobs

A tugboat is slowly moving through the Port of Hueneme, past a huge ship being unloaded by longshoremen. The tug has more than a dozen community leaders onboard, as the Port showcases its latest major improvement project. But, you can’t actually see it.

A more than ten million dollar project to make the port more accessible by deepening the channel is complete, increasing it from 35 to 40 feet.

Kristen Decas is CEO, and Director of the Port of Hueneme. She says it was a unique effort involving the Port, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Navy, which owns and operates part of the facility.

Port officials say the completion of the project couldn’t have come at a better time. The pandemic helped create a shipping backlog at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, creating an opportunity for the Port of Hueneme.

the Port of Hueneme could add more than 500 jobs as a result of a project to deepen its channel, allowing more access for ships.
(KCLU Photo)
the Port of Hueneme could add more than 500 jobs as a result of a project to deepen its channel, allowing more access for ships.

Mary Ann Rooney is an Oxnard Harbor District Commissioner. The Harbor District manages the port, which was created in the 1930’s. It operates as an independent agency, and not part of a city, or county.

The port moves nearly $11 billion dollars worth of goods a year, and directly employs about 2500 people. Despite the pandemic, business has been good, and growing.

Decas says if you buy a new BMW on the West Coast, it came through the port. And, she says they have been busy shipping Teslas to Japan, and South Korea.

But, she says what’s probably the port’s most famous cargo is bananas,

The $10 million dollar dredging project was paid for with a combination of federal funding and port money.

The port has made $86 million dollars in infrastructure improvements since 2012. The work includes the installation of electric power networks so ships no longer have to run polluting diesel engines while docked. Decas says even though business has climbed in recent years, pollution has dropped substantially,

Port officials say the ability to handle more cargo as a result of the channel deepening will translate into more than 500 new jobs, and $28 million dollars more a year in new business revenue.

And, port officials say one positive side effect of the dredging project is on nearby beaches. More than 360,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from the port’s channel has been used to nourish nearby beaches.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.