Friday, May 10, 2013

World Ports Conference Attracts Hundreds

About 500 officials from ports across the globe gathered in downtown Los Angeles this week for the 28th World Ports Conference, a record number for the biennial gathering, which is organized by the Tokyo-based International Association of Ports and Harbors.

The IAPH, a nonprofit global alliance of roughly 200 ports and 150 maritime companies and institutes representing about 90 countries, is dedicated to fostering cooperation among ports and harbors and promoting the vital role they play in the world. IAPH member ports handle about 80 percent of world container traffic and more than 60 percent of all international maritime trade.

“This is the first IAPH conference for almost half of our registered delegates and the conference program reflects the breadth and depth of IAPH as the voice of the global ports community,” 2011-2013 IAPH President and Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said.

The conference, which was held May 6-10, conducted working sessions, with topics including the global economy, climate issues and logistics. The first day’s keynote speaker was Capt. Richard Phillips, who was the skipper of the M/V Maersk Alabama cargo ship when it was hijacked by four Somali pirates in 2009. The hijacking was the first successful pirate seizure of a US-flagged ship since the early 19th century.

During his remarks, Capt. Phillips recounted the details before, during and immediately after the hijacking, including how he was held hostage in a lifeboat until three of the four hijackers were killed by U.S. Navy SEAL snipers.

“The real heroes of this story are those Navy SEALs who risked their lives to save mine,” Phillips said. “The dedication that they have to one another and the precision in which they execute their missions proves beyond any doubt that a dedicated, motivated professional team can overcome most any obstacle and solve most problems.”

Among those in attendance was first-time attendee Ki-tack Lim, president of the Busan, South Korea Port Authority. Lim was installed as the head of the Port of Busan, the world’s fifth-busiest port, in July 2012. Lim said there were three reasons for being in attendance, with networking being chief among them.

“We hope to have interactions between Busan Port and other ports worldwide to make a global network,” he said. “Secondly, Busan is already well known within the country, but we would like to raise our reputation outside.”

He also said Busan, which moves about 17 million TEUs a year, would like to deepen its relations with lesser-developed nations as well as with the ports on the West Coast of North America.