Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Port Corpus Christi Provide Reliable Data for Safe Ship Navigation

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Conrad Blucher Institute for Surveying and Science (CBI) recently entered into an interlocal cooperation contract with the Port of Corpus Christi Authority (POCCA) to install a Physical Oceanographic Real-time System, or PORTS®, that is now operational and live on the NOAA PORTS website. A top exporter of U.S.-produced crude oil and emerging export leader of liquefied natural gas, Port Corpus Christi is the fourth largest port in the U.S. in total tonnage. The agreement comes as the flourishing deep-water port is experiencing both a growth in vessel traffic and an increase in vessel size going through its facilities. With more growth on the horizon, PORTS® reliable, real-time data functionality is vital to the safe and efficient navigation of vessels in and out of the Port’s channel.

“CBI welcomes the opportunity to continue our long-standing collaboration with Port Corpus Christi,” said Dr. Gary Jeffress, Professor and CBI Director. “With the Port’s increasing vessel traffic, use of the latest real-time data collection technology will assist ship pilots and barge captains in reducing the risk of collisions and groundings.”

As part of the agreement, CBI will manage the installation as well as the operation, maintenance and repair functions of all systems included in the Port Corpus Christi PORTS®. Water level, meteorological and water current velocity data are collected in near-real-time and provided to the Aransas-Corpus Christi Pilots Association as well as the general public via the NOAA PORTS® website. The system collects this data through numerous sensors along the Port Corpus Christi ship channel, as well as from Texas Coastal Ocean Observation Network stations in the vicinity.

“Our outstanding railroad and highway network connectivity has launched Port Corpus Christi as a major gateway to international and domestic maritime commerce,” said Port Corpus Christi CEO Sean Strawbridge. “But the responsibility of being a leader in ‘Moving America’s Energy’ includes a commitment to one of the Port’s core values – safety is and will continue to be that core value, and the PORTS® agreement is another pillar of that commitment.” 

Since 1995, CBI has installed five of the ten PORTS® located along the northern Gulf Coast including in Mobile, Alabama; Pascagoula, Mississippi; Gulfport, Mississippi; Sabine-Neches, Texas and now Corpus Christi. CBI is also currently under contract to maintain the systems in Houston-Galveston; Sabine-Neches, Texas and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

“I like to think of PORTS® as a safety tool that increases and improves a ship pilot’s ability to navigate the waterways of Corpus Christi Bay,” explained James Rizzo, CBI Assistant Director for Operations. “For example, without PORTS®, vessel navigation is similar to driving down a highway without traffic lights or road signs. With this new system, the CBI has installed those ‘lights and road signs’ for Port Corpus Christi and the pilots that transit the waterways.”