July 25, 2023 Maria Verdin

Port of Long Beach Tour: Event Highlights and Photos

On July 13th, 2023 AIR CRE held its annual Port Tour, and it was a beautiful day on the water. This year we visited the Port of Long Beach and had a narrated tour given by special guest speaker, Assistant Port Captain Tyler Askari, of Harbor Breeze Cruises. Tyler is a US Coast Guard Licensed 100-Ton Master/Captain, the highest-level license a boat captain can earn.

In attendance were Members, AIR CRE > Next Members, Board of Directors, sponsors, and non-member guests. Everyone enjoyed appetizers, live music and the incredible views. As we cruised around the port, Tyler provided insightful live commentary about topics ranging from the operations of SpaceX in the port to the slated Pier Wind project that will provide renewable energy to the state.

Here are some interesting facts about the Port that were shared during the tour:

  • Comprising 4,600 acres of water, 10 piers, 80 berths, and 22 shipping terminals, the Port of Long Beach is one of the largest container ports in the world and the third largest in the United States. The Port moves about $200B in cargo each year, which added up to approximately 9.13 million container units in 2022. The Port’s loaded containers account for one-third moving through California ports and one-fourth moving through all West Coast ports. Tyler said these figures are expected to continue growing as the Covid era saw an increase in online shopping. Also, during the pandemic, the port started adding more anchorage space to accommodate the number of vessels waiting to dock.
  • The Port used to have the largest man-made breakwater in the world, which extends just over 8 miles in length among its three sections. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it has since been surpassed by Iraq’s breakwater in Al Faw Grand Port, which is 9.02 miles long.
  • The Port supports 1 in 5 or 51,000 jobs in the City of Long Beach, 576,000 jobs in Southern California, and 2.6 million jobs in the United States. One of the most important local jobs is that of the port pilot who directs the passage of vessels in the harbor. Each commercial harbor in the nation has its own crew of port pilots that are authorities in the nuances of the area. Tyler said, for example, before becoming port pilots, these specialists must pass an intricate exam that includes drawing the port’s navigational chart by memory.
  • Among other facts of note, Tyler also called our attention to the THUMS Islands: an oil field disguised as a set of four artificial land masses that were constructed in 1965 by a consortium of five major oil companies — Texaco, Humble, Union, Mobil, and Shell (THUMS). Local Long Beach residents were concerned about the aesthetics of the field, so Imagineers from Disneyland were invited to redesign it as artificial condos that look more like a resort.
  • The Port is highly invested in zero-emission projects such as Pier Wind, which will be the largest offshore wind turbine facility in any U.S. port. It will include anywhere between 1,000 to 1,600 wind turbines that will help California reach its goal of producing 25 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2045. Construction on the project is slated to begin as early as January 2027. It will be partially funded by a $383.35M grant from the California State Transportation Agency, the largest grant the Port has ever received.
  • In the vein of technological advancement, Tyler also enlightened us with other modern-day details. For example, did you know that the Long Beach Container Terminal is largely controlled by robots instead of manual labor? Also, did you know that SpaceX leases a former U.S. Navy complex in the Port of Long Beach? The company uses massive barges to retrieve test rockets and return them to the complex for further analysis.

Beyond what Tyler shared, there is so much more to know about the Port of Long Beach, so make sure to visit the Port website to read more. Thank you again to all our attendees and sponsors, we look forward to seeing you at our next event.