Celebrating Our Port Achievements
We had our94th Annual Maritime Dinner at the end of August, and it was a wonderful gathering of many friends of the Greater Houston Port Bureau. We had a record-breaking 86 tables sold, with over 800 people in attendance to recognize our 2023 Maritime Leader of the Year, David Grzebinski. Everything was perfect and a big THANKS to the Dinner Committee for their dedication and attention to detail to ensure the evening was memorable for our honoree and for all of us. Also - and very important to me - thanks to all for making me feel so welcome. I was able to spend quality time with so many of our members and their guests, and it was definitely a good way to meet everyone in my second month with the Port Bureau.
A big highlight of the evening was our lounge set up after the program ended. We had about 550 guests in that area enjoying an amazing networking time, and the hors d’oeuvres, gourmet coffee bar, jazz band, and caricaturist were splendid. If you missed it, I promise you it will be even better next year, so you must join us.
The contributions of our honoree to our port community were acknowledged with so many city, county, and state proclamations. As keynote speaker Karrie Trauth stated, David is leading Kirby in many safety and environmental initiatives and his commitment is inspirational. I urge you to take a quick glance at Kirby’s website to learn more about their goals and ongoing efforts towards decarbonization. I also invite you to learn about the Blue Sky Maritime Coalition (David is a founding member and director), as it will give you a good perspective of his ideas and projects to support the transition to net-zero emissions. I recently had the honor of attending the christening of the first U.S. hybrid electric towboat, Kirby’s M/V Green Diamond, and I can’t wait to see what else the future holds for Kirby under his leadership.
The topic of decarbonization is growing worldwide, and we are doing our part at the Port Bureau to facilitate discussion and collaboration in our area. At our last Commerce Club luncheon, we had board members Geoff Gauthier and Vincent DiCosimo, addressing decarbonization in the maritime sector. There are different ways to achieve decarbonization goals, such as switching to low-carbon or zero-carbon fuels for ships and vehicles, implementing hybridization and electrification of port equipment and infrastructure (cranes, trains, trucks, and shore power systems), and optimizing port operations and logistics through digitalization, automation, and data analytics to reduce energy consumption and emissions.
The Port Bureau is taking the lead in local port operations optimization with our PilotTracker and Synchronizer applications by PortXchange. We offer these tools to our members to keep track of vessels and accurately know real-time terminal arrivals. By knowing this, the terminals can optimize vessel speed, thus eliminating idle time on arrival. Companies can reduce fuel consumption, emission footprint, and consequently cost savings. The ultimate goal is to create more sustainable and resilient port communities that contribute to global efforts. Decarbonization efforts can also lead to improved air quality in our ports and surrounding areas, and a more competitive and attractive business environment.
As you can see, our 2023 honoree, our board members, and the Port Bureau are working together towards near-term reductions in emissions. I’m very proud to say that, once again, we are leading the nation in this effort -and I know we’ll be very successful in our collaborations. Why do I know that? It is simple: we have the best people in our ports! #myportcommunityisbetterthanyours.
About the Author
CAPT Eric Carrero, USCG (Ret.), joined the Greater Houston Port Bureau as president on July 1, 2023. He has 26 years of service in the U.S. Coast Guard, with experience in international affairs, port and vessel operations, and serving in the Sector Houston-Galveston from 2013-2021. CAPT Carrero holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Puerto Rico and a master’s degree in environmental management and policy from the American Public University System.