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Newport News Now

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Newport News Now is a daily e-newsletter that launched in March 2016. Articles that ran in our newsletter between March 2016 and March 2018 are available on these pages. Newsletters produced beginning in April 2018 can be viewed on our new daily newsletter page.

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May 04

Along the Downtown Waterfront-23rd Street Pier

Posted on May 4, 2016 at 9:59 AM by Communications Department

Anyone who has strolled the City’s Victory Landing Park or visited the Train Station Restaurant along the downtown waterfront is bound to have noticed the three large grey ships tied firmly to a pier jutting out into the James River. They appear to be part of the United States military fleet, but you may be wondering – what exactly are they doing there, whose pier are they tied to, and do they ever leave?
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On any given day roughly thirty Merchant Marines (civilian seafarers) walk the City of Newport News’ pier at the end of 23rd Street to board these ships for daily maintenance duties. Part of a larger US military ready reserve fleet, these ships are owned and operated by the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD).

The pier that these three ships call home is property of the City and is managed by the Department of Development. The Virginia Maritime Administration built the existing pier structure at no cost to the City. The pier is currently leased to Pacific-Gulf Marine, Inc., which is responsible for all maintenance to the pier and the adjacent property.

These ships responded to the earthquake in Haiti and were instrumental in delivery of equipment at the onset of Desert Storm. In 2010, the Flickertail State was enlisted by the Office of Naval Research to carry a mounted experimental crane capable of transferring cargo at sea between moving ships. To see the Flicker Tail State and this future of at sea cargo handling, watch this captivating video on YouTube.

The City has collected almost $3.75 million in rent for use of the pier in addition to tax revenue. While these may look to be ships just taking up space, they play a vital role in the United States military fleet and to the City of Newport News.