Port of Hueneme

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For the city of Port Hueneme, see Port Hueneme, California.
Port of Hueneme
Country United States
Location Port Hueneme, California
Coordinates 34°8′50″N 119°12′30″W / 34.14722°N 119.20833°W / 34.14722; -119.20833Coordinates: 34°8′50″N 119°12′30″W / 34.14722°N 119.20833°W / 34.14722; -119.20833
Opened July 4, 1940; 74 years ago (July 4, 1940)
Operated by Oxnard Harbor District
Owned by Oxnard Harbor District/Naval Base Ventura County: Port Hueneme
Type of harbor Artificial
Land area 120 acres (49 ha)[1]
Port CEO and Director Kristin Decas[2]
Motto We make cargo move.[3]

The Port of Hueneme in California, United States, is the only deep water harbor between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area. Located in Ventura County on the Santa Barbara Channel, the port complex not only serves international shipping businesses but is an operating facility of Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC).[4][5]

The Oxnard Harbor District (OHD) owns and operates the port.[6] The port has five deep-water berths.[7] As a shared port between NBVC and the Oxnard Harbor District, the U.S. Navy has over 4,500 feet (1,400 m) of berthing space for various ship platforms for use by tenant commands of NBVC: Port Hueneme and transient government contract/military shipping.[8]

The original wharf was built to serve the new farmers on the Oxnard Plain and became the largest grain-shipping port south of San Francisco. The modern port continues this legacy as a dominant port for fruit and other produce. The port also began providing support services for the offshore oil industry as it developed in the Santa Barbara Channel. Bulk cargo and automobiles are specialties of the port .[9] This general cargo is a category that covers household goods and oversized cargo, such as cryogenic tanks for Vandenburg Air Force Base and a Tunnel boring machine to be delivered to Las Vegas that have come though the port. The ability to handle a breadth of business is one way the port distinguishes itself from the much nearby larger ports such as Long Beach and Los Angeles. The port installed pumps to suck up squid from the holds of fishing vessels when the larger ports did not have the room and were not ready to provide this service.[10]

The District does not perform any cargo handling operations as the companies shipping through the port take responsibility in cooperation with the port district.[6] The port railroad line connects nationally to the Union Pacific Coast Route and is operated by the Ventura County Railroad.[6]

1857 U.S. Coast Survey Map has inset of Point Hueneme before the harbor was built


European immigrants began farming on the Oxnard Plain in the 1860s but the area was isolated due to the difficult overland routes. Thomas R. Bard chose Hueneme Point[11] as the site of a wharf to take advantage of the naturally occurring depth of a submarine canyon.[12] Before the construction of a 900-foot-long wharf (270 m) in 1872,[note 1] goods had been shuttled through the surf zone to reach offshore vessels.[13] Hueneme soon became the largest grain-shipping port south of San Francisco. Three and four-masted wooden schooners brought lumber from the north and carried grain, lima beans and sheep to markets in San Francisco.[14] Teams of horses pulling wagons waited for the load of grain to be weighed in lines that stretched six blocks.

The Harbor District was formed April 29, 1937 and a storm destroyed the wharf in 1938.[14] On February 4, 1939, the groundbreaking ceremony drew hundreds of people. This great endeavor was front-page news in Ventura County as the United States emerged from the Great Depression.[1] The U.S. military took control of the entire harbor after the outbreak of World War II and significantly enlarged the deep water port. The Advance Base Depot was established and began operating May 18, 1942 to provide support for the Naval Construction Force, commonly called the Seabees. Massive amounts of equipment and material were shipped from here to the war efforts in the Pacific. The base was renamed the Naval Construction Battalion Center in 1945 and became an operating facility of Naval Base Ventura County in 2000.[5]

The original harbor area was about 321 acres (130 ha), the District eventually regained control over 120 acres (49 ha).[1] Commercial shipping activities have expanded consistently.[5] The settlement of Hueneme grew up around the port and both the port and military base are within the corporate limits of the city of Port Hueneme.[15]

In 2008 the port repaired the 3,050-foot seawall (930 m) on the south side of the entrance that protects the shoreline and marine terminals from coastal erosion. The project included construction of the Waterfront Promenade, also known as the Lighthouse Promenade. Three historic sites are highlighted at viewing points: the 1872 Wharf, the Oxnard Packing House, and extant Point Hueneme Light. The path is wide enough to accommodate emergency or service vehicles and is lighted. The path provides paved public access along the shore by replacing a dirt path and connecting with the pathways at Hueneme Beach. The old seawall material was recycled by crushing the rock and using it as base material for the pathway.[16] The Ventura County Cultural Heritage Board designated the "Original Hueneme Wharf Site" as County Landmark #24 in 1972.[14]

District governance[edit]

The Oxnard Harbor District is an independent special district formed in 1937. The district is governed by a five member commission elected at-large to staggered four year terms by the voters within the district boundary. The port is one of the five of the deep water ports governed by special districts in the state of California. The state's other six deep water ports are a function of the city in which the port is located. The District boundary includes the City of Port Hueneme, most of the City of Oxnard, and the unincorporated communities of El Rio, Nyeland Acres, Silver Strand, Hollywood Beach and Hollywood by the Sea.[6] The district formed using the existing boundary of the Oxnard Union High School District which also encompassed Camarillo, a portion of Thousand Oaks and additional unincorporated areas of the county. At the time, this seemed like the best arrangement to provide a bond measure that would provide for construction of the port. Dissatisfaction with the boundary grew over the years and the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) recommended in 1972 and 1985 that the boundaries be changed to encompass the entire county.[17] LAFCO officially changed the boundary to the current configuration in January, 1991. Oxnard and Port Hueneme officials requested that the boundaries be dramatically reduced in 1989 after a report showed that these two cities experienced a high percentage of the economic benefits of the port and suffered from heavy truck traffic on city streets, noise and congestion. The commissioners must live within the district and LAFCO agreed with the cities that the boundary should match the area that is most influenced by actions taken by the port.[18]

In 1983, the district and the City of Port Hueneme developed an agreement that provided a payment to the the city of 3.33 percent of the port's gross revenues for improvements and services. The agreement recognized that city roads need maintenance due to the port truck traffic and provided for improvements such as road widening. After 9/11, security was increased and the entrance to the port was moved to another street. Some improvements were no longer needed and the port no longer used additional police services from the city. By 2009, the city and port officials were at odds over the need to renegotiate the agreement. The disagreement became particularly heated as the port resolved in 2013 to stop paying a percentage of gross revenues and to only pay for the actual costs of road repair. They also accused the city of using the funds for other municipal purposes.[19]

District operations[edit]

The five deep-water berths are being equipped with shore-side power capacity for vessels to plug in. The system was installed to comply with a California Air Resources Board rule requiring land-based power systems to reduce pollution coming from ships by shutting down diesel engines in order to prevent the emission of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter into the air.[7]

The Oxnard Harbor District owns the Ventura County Railway Company LLC, a 12.9-mile (20.8 km) short line railroad.[6] Ventura County Railroad operates the lines which connect the port and other facilities in south Oxnard with the Union Pacific Coast Route in downtown Oxnard.

While importing automobiles has long been a staple of the port, exporting them internationally began in 1996. This resulted from foreign automakers starting to build factories on U.S. soil in the early 1980s and domestic manufacturers seeking expansion in the international market.[20]

Bananas were the ports largest volume product in 2014 and were continuing to increase. Chiquita Brands International Inc. was importing 7,500 pounds of bananas a week making the port No. 2 in the nation for the company. The port’s goal is to be “the nation’s No. 1 port of choice for food production."[2]

The port and Ecuador’s Port Bolivar agreed to become “sister ports” in 2014 and promote the banana industry together. 40 percent of the Ecuador's banana exports go through Port Bolivar and 650,600-short-ton of fruit (590,200-metric-ton) were imported through the Port of Hueneme in 2013. The ports want to be more competitive and more attractive by sharing knowledge, policies and best practices on training, facilities development, engineering and technical services, security, supply chain logistics and environmental protection. Working together on technology and policy will be of mutual benefit of their customers.[2]

Military operations[edit]

USS Pinckney (DDG-91) guided missile destroyer

NBVC Port Operations controls all vessels entering and exiting the harbor. NBVC:Port Hueneme and OHD have a Joint Use Agreement that provides up to 25 acres (10 ha) of secondary parcels for staging. There is more than 300 acres (120 ha) of lay-down space with portside access for 16 miles (26 km) of rail for on- and off-loading military freight for the various branches of service.[5] Response to any "on water" hazardous materials spill is provided by Navy Port Operations personnel as they are first responder qualified.[21]

The deep water port at NBVC:Port Hueneme is one of the few military ports on the West Coast[8] and has been the site of a centuries old naval tradition of ship commissioning. A ceremony at the harbor placed the following ships into into active service

See also[edit]

Maritime history of California


  1. ^ Some sources say 1,500-foot-long (460 m)


  1. ^ a b c Hoops, Stephanie (April 28, 2012) "Port of Hueneme celebrates 75 years" Ventura County Star
  2. ^ a b c Lawrence, Carol (May 22, 2014) "Business development trip puts Port of Hueneme on exporters' radar" Ventura County Star
  3. ^ Dubroff, Henry (July 26, 2013) "With new leaders and branding, Port of Hueneme's ship comes in" Pacific Coast Business Times
  4. ^ "Welcome to Naval Base Ventura County" U.S. Navy Accessed 27 May 2014<
  5. ^ a b c d "Naval Base Ventura County: About" U.S. Navy Accessed 27 May 2014<
  6. ^ a b c d e "Municipal Service Review: Oxnard Harbor District" Ventura Local Agency Formation Commission (September 19, 2007)
  7. ^ a b Hoops, Stephanie (April 4, 2014) "Port of Hueneme flips switch on shore power system for ships" Ventura County Star
  8. ^ a b Commanding Officer, Naval Base Ventura County (2011) "NAVAL BASE VENTURA COUNTY ECONOMIC IMPACT AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT" U.S. Navy
  9. ^ Office of System and Freight Planning (3 July 2012) "Freight Planning Fact Sheet:Port of Hueneme/Oxnard Harbor District" Caltrans
  10. ^ White, Ronald D. (October 28, 2009) "Tiny Port of Hueneme is hit by a perfect storm" Los Angeles Times
  11. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Hueneme Point
  12. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Hueneme Canyon
  13. ^ Waters, Mark E., Publisher "Port of Hueneme" World Port Source
  14. ^ a b c Cultural Heritage Board. "Ventura County Landmark Map" County of Ventura Planning Division Accessed 5 April 2014
  15. ^ The Port of Hueneme: About Us: History The Port of Hueneme
  16. ^ Klampe, Michelle L. (March 21, 2008) "Waterfront Promenade officially opens today" Ventura County Star
  17. ^ Watson, Carol (January 18, 1990) "More Cities Enter Fray Over Port of Hueneme" Los Angeles Times
  18. ^ Murphy, Barbara (June 03, 1993) "District's New Boundaries Are Upheld" Los Angeles Times
  19. ^ Hoops, Stephanie (June 24, 2014) "Port considers cut in funding the city of Port Hueneme" Ventura County Star
  20. ^ Hoops, Stephanie (December 22, 2012) "Vehicle exports expected to rise at Port of Hueneme" Ventura County Star
  21. ^ "Naval Base Ventura County: Port Operations" U.S. Navy Accessed 27 May 2014