Maritime / Maritime & Transport

‘Port Expansion – The Challenges’ and the changing role of the Harbour Master

PaulORegan‘Port Expansion – The Challenges’ is the central focus of the 10th International Harbour Masters Association Congress which will take place in Vancouver in May this year. The changing role of the Harbour Master is one of the key themes to be discussed over this three day conference. Presentations will focus on both the challenges and the opportunities leading a modern port brings and how the role of the Harbour Master expands as the port grows. As we begin to count down to Congress we managed to grab a few moments with Captain Paul O’Regan, Habour Master, Port of Cork in Ireland. He gives us some insight into how he thinks the role of the Harbour Master is evolving as well discussing Port of Cork’s Company’s objectives and investment history.

Can you tell us a little bit more about Port of Cork Company and the Ports’ main objectives for 2016?

Captain O’Regan: The primary strategic objective is to secure funding and start the new port development in the lower harbour. The development will consist of a new deepwater berth and 300,000 TEU container terminal. The other objectives below relate to corporate objects.

  • Stakeholders and Shareholders: To enhance Shareholder Value by improved Economic and Financial Management and by optimising Financial Returns
  • Internal Processes: To develop the organisational culture, structures and work systems in the achievement of an improved performance and customer focus
  • Customers: To consolidate and grow our Customer Base and improve our responsiveness to and the care of our customers
  • Innovation and Growth: To grow and develop the company’s capital base and creative capacity

The Port of Cork Company has seen significant investment over the past 15 years, can you give some insight into some of the improvements in Port infrastructure and facilities during this time?

Captain O’Regan: The Port Of Cork Company has invested approx. 40 million euro in the last 15 years, the first development was a new deepwater berth that could accommodate fully laden panama vessels. This was a major step forward for the port and our customers. Cork is still the only Irish Port that can accommodate fully laden panamax’s.

Cork is still the only Irish Port that can accommodate fully laden panamax’s.

Other important initiatives were the purchase of modern plant and equipment to enable faster vessel turnarounds, the development of the container terminal and Ireland’s only dedicated cruise berth. Prior to the development of the cruise berth, the port had approx. 8 cruise ship calls annually. In 2016 we will accommodate 61 cruise vessel.

You will be joined by Port of Cork CEO, Brendan Keating for your presentation at the 10th Biennial IHMA Congress in May in Vancouver which is entitle ‘Examining the effect of large port infrastructure development on the business and operational structure of the port organisation and the role of the Harbour Master within this’, what can attendees can expect from your presentation? And why is it important to have Brendan’s input on this topic?

Captain O’Regan: I hope to be able to give a practical insight into the stress and strains that a large port development can have on a relatively small port. The role of the Harbour Master within such a project is vastly different to the normal day to day business of the HM.  

Brendan will be able to give an insight into how the port company may need to adapt and change in order to achieve the funding, permissions and partnerships needed when a large development is undertaken.

‘Port Expansion – The challenges’ is the central theme of the 2016 IHMA Congress. From your experience, how are ports changing and how are these changes redefining the role of the Harbour Master?

Captain O’Regan: As shipowners move to larger and larger vessels in all sectors, but primarily in the container and cruise sector, so too Ports must change and adapt to safely accommodate such vessels. Ports are expanding to cope with larger and faster cargo throughput’s in a very competitive market. Channels are being deepened, berths are being constructed and cargo handling equipment is bigger and advancing towards automation.

Pilots need upskilling, towage services need reappraising and the management of communications is now more critical than ever if a port is to remain competitive in this market.

Pilots need upskilling, towage services need reappraising and the management of communications is now more critical than ever if a port is to remain competitive in this market. The HM can play a critical and lead role in future port expansions. The HM has all the necessary practical knowledge required to advise and assist Directors, Senior Management and service providers on what may work best in his/her own port. Further to the practical knowledge, HMs should be able to function at senior management level when appraising development plans, compiling planning applications and working with financial institutions to assist them in understanding the dynamics of their particular ports.

The HM has all the necessary practical knowledge required to advise and assist Directors, Senior Management and service providers on what may work best in his/her own port.

Why is a Congress like this so important to the industry and what are you looking forward to about the 2016 IHMA Congress?

Captain O’Regan: Congress gives a fantastic opportunity for HM’s and other port professional’s to meet and discuss new initiatives and common issues that are being experienced right across the industry. It is also an opportunity to build up a valuable network of HMs and friends that will assist and offer advice when possible, in the future.

Captain O’Regan is also a member of the Papers’ Committee responsible for the selection of papers and development of the programme for this years Congress, a programme which IHMA President, Captain Kevin Richardson, is sure is “one of the best technical papers programmes we have ever put together”. If you are interested in learning more about the programme or the accompanying partners programme and social activities, visit the Congress website.

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