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Statement of Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel on the Port of Gulfport Roundtable

On March 27, 2024, Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel participated in an industry roundtable hosted by the Port of Gulfport.

“I want to thank the Port of Gulfport for inviting me to participate in a timely port roundtable that included Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes, Congressman Mike Ezell, and representatives from Ports America and the National Association of Waterfront Employers,” said Commissioner Bentzel.

Following the roundtable, Port of Gulfport Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer John Nass hosted a tour of the port complex and facilitated meetings with tenants and businesses involved at the Port of Gulfport.

Included on the tour were representatives from the Taylor Group and Taylor Machine Works, manufacturers of port industrial lift equipment. Commissioner Bentzel remarked, “I am concerned that Chinese state-owned industries dominate the market for marine terminal equipment, so it was good to see a U.S. company building heavy lift equipment and vigorously competing in this market. We cannot be completely reliant on China for our equipment used in international ocean shipping and port operations.”

“The heavy congestion experienced during COVID at major U.S. port complexes made it apparent that the Nation needs multiple gateways capable of supporting not only existing maritime trade volumes, but future flows. International trade carried by container will continue to grow and shifts in trading patterns means that sources of imports could originate in new geographic locations. It’s important to have the Port of Gulfport within our national port network. The capacity to store cargo in close proximity to the port, the existence of intermodal connections and rebuilt and reinforced pier all are important factors in in Gulfport being prepared to meet future needs of shippers.” said Commissioner Bentzel.

Commissioner Bentzel commented that the Port of Gulfport is well positioned to handle a variety of cargoes from many different origins.

“While the Mississippi Congressional Delegation is supporting efforts to deepen the shipping channel so the Port of Gulfport can accommodate larger container vessels, I see the Port as a near-term attractive option for the emerging Gulf of Mexico market as U.S. companies increasingly use Mexico to nearshore manufacturing operations. I also see the potential for growth in the roll-on/roll-off shipping market, which is less dependent on channel depth than container shipping, and to provide greater access to the six automobile manufacturers building cars, trucks and vans in Mississippi and Alabama,” said Commissioner Bentzel.

Carl W. Bentzel is a Commissioner with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.