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Alameda Corridor & LA/LB Harbor Tour Page 2

APTA Alameda Corridor and Los Angeles/

Long Beach Harbors Tour

April 2, 2005

Story and Photographs Copyright 2005 by Richard Elgenson, RailNews Network


Most people had signed up to to take a 2 hour cruise around the ports.  We crossed the street towards the Maritime Museum, formerly the ferry building, and down a ramp to a dock and onto the vessel "Spirit" captained by Marcus Wilson who also narrated much of the cruise.  The other narrator was Sue Lai, a transportation engineer from the Port of Los Angeles.  The harbor cruise basically did a counterclockwise loop around Terminal Island, the largest man made island in the world.  The first order of business on the cruise was towards the Vincent Thomas Bridge.  As we departed, the special Metrolink train was moved onto a yard track to allow the Port electric trolley to resume operation.


Just up the channel from our departure point, the City of Los Angeles has their dock for police patrol boats and a fire station. This is the one which was chronicled on California's Gold by Huell Howser.  The fire station has a covered dock and the old fire boat Ralph J. Scott is sitting on a cradle on dry land.


There was a large container ship at the Evergreen terminal being loaded with a container being loaded or unloaded every ninety seconds.  Captain Wilson explained that the bunker barge moving towards us under the bridge was for refueling the ships.  It is safer to take the fuel to the ship rather than moving a giant ship to a fuel dock.


Further on up the road, rather the channel, is the cruise ship dock where the Diamond Princess ship was being readied for a cruise.  A ship such as this one has the capacity for 2,000 guests and a crew of 1,200.  Just south of the bridge is the S.S. Lane Victory, a WWII merchant marine ship which also served in Korea and Vietnam and still goes out on cruises.  The Vincent Thomas Bridge, built somewhere around the 1960's collected a 50 cent toll for its first 35 years in the westbound direction only.  According to Captain Wilson, the state figured out that is cost 49 cents to collect the 50 cent toll and finally just stopped collecting and removed the toll plaza.  The bridge is lighted from 6 PM to midnight.  It is visible at night while travelling southbound on the Interstate 110 Harbor Freeway. 


On the San Pedro side of the bridge and north of it is a 2 year old ternimal which is environmentally friendly.  Most ships have to run their motors while docked, but at this new terminal, the ship plugs into the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power electric grid and thus can stop its motor and not generate fossil fuel pollution. 


The  Spirit  did a "U" turn in the West Basin and passed the former Delta Steamship Line terminal, which can still be used in for cruise ship operations.  We continued past the Evergreen Terminal  toward an arm of the Dominguez Channel.  Captain Wilson explained that containers are manufactured in a variety of sizes.  Most are 20 or 40 feet in length with others as large as 53 feet.  Ships contain many containers under the deck and piled above deck. 



Looking northerly up one channel arm, we could see Banning's Landing, formerly home to the S.S. Catalina, now a community center for Wilmington residents.  Once a year, the City of  Los Angeles has free harbor cruises similar to this one.  One the southerly side of the main channel, is Hugo-Neuproler, a scrap metal shipper.  This facility handles 3,000 carloads of scrap metal annually.  Steel mills will pay a higher price for scrap for more finely ground up metal.  Metal seems to have almost as many lifetimes as a cat.  Steel may travel across the Pacific Ocean as many as 7 times being product one direction and scrap the other direction.

Page 3 APTA Alameda Corridor & Harbor Cruise