2024 Letter from Outgoing Chairman

Posted By: Bernt Netland Port Bureau News,

It has been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to serve as Greater Houston Port Bureau’s chairman over the last three years. Our Houston port region consistently ranks as number one in total tonnage, with more growth still coming our way. The Port Bureau sits in the middle of this, having grown to around 250 member companies representing over 50 different business segments that do business in and around the port.

At the start of my tenure as chairman, we embarked upon a strategic review with the aim to develop a strategic plan that would enable the Port Bureau to serve its diverse membership and support growth around the Houston Ship Channel. As a result, we have developed outreach and influence programs to become the top source of information our Houston port region by focusing advocacy efforts on governmental issues and developing deeper partnerships with other associations and organizations. We created an outreach committee to market, promote, and provide public relations to build Port Bureau thought leadership and brand.

 We further strengthened our investment in resources to become the major source of data, information, and operating knowledge in making the port more efficient. We have worked hard to build engagement through networking and working groups and to include more early-to-mid-career professionals as well as hosting several very successful “women in maritime” events. Through providing excellent value for our members, we have continued focus on growing our membership base to increase the strength of our collective voice in advocacy.

The Advocacy Committee has been very active, having spearheaded GHPB’s efforts to support the truly generational project to widen the Houston Ship Channel. Obtaining “new start” designation, and subsequently seeing the project being launched and getting well underway has been an absolute highlight for our port community.

Securing future growth of the Houston Ship Channel is paramount for the Port Bureau. As such, we have engaged constructively with the Gulf Coast Protection District to support the “coastal spine” flood control project. We conducted extensive simulations of ship transfers through the proposed Galveston-Bolivar gate system and provided our concerns related to safe navigation, future growth, barge traffic, anchorages and construction time. The Port Bureau supports flood control for our region, and will be a reliable partner to provide input from the port industries as the project progresses.

I have spent three decades of my professional career working on the Houston Ship Channel; fifteen of them on the GHPB board. One thing stands out: the people. The Houston port complex is successful because of the people that work here. When the ship channel faces adversity, such as closures due to hurricanes, accidents or prolonged fog, people come together to solve problems and GHPB is the natural place to turn for members to learn what is going on, share information and solve problems. The Port Bureau will continue to enhance networking opportunities and sharing of vessel and port information.

Over the last year, CAPT Bill Diehl retired from the Port Bureau. Once again, I wish to thank Bill for his tremendous contribution during his many years of service. CAPT Eric Carrero was hired in July as his successor. I wish him, Christine Schlenker and the rest of the eminent GHPB staff smooth sailing, with many thanks from me for a job well done. I also wish to thank the board, executive committee and the officers for their service. As Vincent DiCosimo takes over as our new chairman, I will remain on the Board as immediate past chairman. I look forward to seeing the next chapter of the Port Bureau and port region.


Bernt Netland

Immediate Past Chairman
Intercontinental Terminals Company