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The Navy opened a port to merchant ships to relieve supply-chain congestion

Miguel Ortiz Avatar
Port Hueneme is the only deep-water port between San Francisco and Los Angeles capable of accommodating large merchant ships (U.S. Navy)

Across the country, retailers and consumers are feeling the effects of supply-chain congestion. A number of factors have led to merchant ships carrying goods from overseas being stuck outside of west coast ports unable to unload. Luckily, the US Navy has stepped in to help mitigate this California cargo crisis.

In November 2021, the Navy activated a 2002 Joint Use Agreement between Naval Base Ventura County and the Oxnard Harbor District. The standing JUA allows commercial use of the Navy’s facilities including the 1,000-foot Wharf 3, a 21-acre industrial area, and up to 10 additional acres of industrial land to support the loading, off-loading, and storing of cargo. Of course, this is all contingent on the commercial operations not interfering with military operations.

Large merchant vessels in port at NBVC (U.S. Navy)

“Naval Base Ventura County recently welcomed a large cargo vessel,” said Daniel J. Herrera, assistant program director for port operations, NBVC, in a press release. “Ports of America already off-loaded a large number of forty-foot containers into lot 22 onboard Port Hueneme which is merchandise expected to have direct impact with helping to support holiday supply demands.” Merchant ships arriving at NBVC can unload part of their cargo before continuing on to a Los Angeles County port or unload the entirety of their cargo to avoid the backlog of ships further south.

A cargo ship unloads commercial goods at Port Hueneme (U.S. Navy)

The Navy’s partnership with OHD is a military-civilian effort that aims to have a positive impact on the entire country. “The Port appreciates the partnership with NBVC and locating additional space to accommodate excess holiday shipments coming through the Port,” said Oxnard Harbor District President Jason Hodge in a press release. “We are delighted to come together to meet the challenge of providing a solution to help keep essential goods moving. Our long-standing history of partnership continues with this call-to-action to address the national supply chain challenge.”

The Navy and the Port of Hueneme have a strong tradition of partnership and joint use that dates back to the 1940s. NBVC is comprised of Point Mugu, Port Hueneme, and San Nicolas Island and is Ventura County’s largest employer.