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Vice Chariman Chris Fisher and Chairman Larry Kelley look on as the Navigation Subcommittee Report is provided.


Welcome to the Southeast Texas Waterways Advisory Council (SETWAC) web page.  Whether you are part of our association membership, or whether you are a visitor to our site looking for information about commercial waterway transportation and waterway facilities on the Sabine-Neches Waterway, we hope you will find useful information.  If you do not see what you are looking for, please give us a call.   


Our membership is open to any marine related entity or individual that uses or benefits from the Sabine-Neches Waterway.  There are no membership dues.  Participation in our quarterly meetings is open to all.   Managing Board members are elected by the members for three year terms. 


If you are interested in becoming a member of SETWAC, send a request to our webmaster.   If you are interested in becoming a member of the SETWAC Managing Board, please complete the membership application and e-mail it to the webmaster.


Larry Kelly


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Sheriff Mitch Woods Recognized

 for Service to SETWAC

Posted January 30, 2017


Sheriff Woods Award


On 26 January, 2017, Sheriff Mitch Woods was recognized by SETWAC and the U.S. Coast Guard for his exemplary service to the maritime industry and residents of southeast Texas.   Read the citation here.




Vessel Traffic Service Port Arthur

Celebrates 10 Years

Posted September 29, 2015


VTS Center

From the early days of VTS Port Arthur.



VTS Center 2

Today, September 29th, is the official 10-year anniversary of VTS Port Arthur.  Thank you Captain Ogrydziak for the birthday cake. I thought you might all enjoy the below account of our beginning: 




On September 29, 2005, in a hastily assembled gathering, LT Bryan Markland, the former project officer in charge of establishing a Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) at MSU Port Arthur, was handed the microphone for the honor of making the first official broadcast under the call-sign "Port Arthur Traffic".   This was the culmination of five years of planning and hard work by the U. S. Coast Guard and the entire Port Arthur maritime community.  It was also an aggressive and positive response to the disaster that had just struck the port complex.


Hurricane Rita had roared ashore in Southeast Texas and Port Arthur, Texas, only five days earlier, leaving an ugly path of devastation.  Over eighty commercial fishing boats had been damaged or sunk in the port.  Major refineries were shut down.  The ships had gone to sea.  The waterways were cluttered with debris.  The populations had been mostly evacuated.  Roads were nearly impassable.  Businesses were closed.  Trees and power lines were down. Industry and commerce had come to a standstill. Communication was difficult or impossible.  First responders were still digging out, and the area was struggling to recover.


Within 12 hours after the passage of Hurricane Rita, a small team of previously evacuated VTS and MSU Port Arthur watch center personnel were dispatched back to the MSU Port Arthur offices.  Their mission was to re-establish a command and communications center at the USCG offices and serve as a forward base for the still-evacuated MSU Port Arthur Command.  The four-person team, consisting of two VTS civilian personnel and two Coast Guard officers, arrived via USCG C-130 aircraft at the deserted and darkened Jefferson County Airport just after dark on September 24th.  The aircraft circled the field to inspect the unlit runway, and then turned for the final approach.  As the aircraft was near touchdown, hundreds, if not thousands, of sea-gulls who had apparently fled the storm to huddle on the warm concrete runway, suddenly rose from the runway - causing a flame-out of at least two of the engines and breaking the cockpit windshield.  The landing was reportedly harder than expected, but, in spite of the fire and the excitement, all passengers and crew were safe.  The plane was grounded, disabled.  The four-person VTS/MSU team, accompanied by the six stranded crew members from the USCG C-130 proceeded by vehicle in the dark to the MSU Port Arthur offices that were located four miles away.  They arrived at the MSU Port Arthur offices, found them relatively stable, fired up the back-up generators, and began the task of re-establishing the MSU OPCEN/VTS. 


Hurricane Rita had destroyed most of the newly installed, critical radar capability of the yet-to-be-establish Vessel Traffic Service, but the communications towers and AIS antennas were still intact. During the next three days, as recovery operations progressed and marine vessels began to prepare to get back underway, the now-returned MSU Command staff recognized the need for a traffic control system, a VTS, to aid in the port recovery.  The remaining evacuated VTS employees were recalled to duty.  VTS procedures were modified to address the current needs of the port and the available personnel and functioning equipment. 


VTS Port Arthur went live, on-the-air on September 29, 2005.  It was neither the ceremonious beginning nor the full-scale operation envisioned by the original planners and organizers, but it was a necessary and effective USCG tool initialized at a critical time for the Sabine-Neches Waterway.  It took almost five additional months for equipment, operations, and personnel training to advance to the point of a full-service, fully staffed, and fully operational VTS; but the VTS was there to bridge the communication gaps, coordinate with the port partners, and show the flag for the USCG during a critical time in the history of the Port. 

Happy 10th Anniversary VTS!! 



Mike Measells
VTS Port Arthur


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Mr. Beard

The SETWAC committee presented Mr. Paul Beard a gavel honoring his recent rocognition by the Texas State Legislature for his "outstanding leadership and longstanding committment" to improving Southeast Texas.


View the adopted resolution here:










The Beaumont Enterprise article is reprinted below.


From Beaumont Enterprise, April 21, 2015

By Dan Wallach


A resolution passed by the Texas House of Representatives today commended Paul Beard, chairman of the Sabine-Neches Navigation District for his "outstanding leadership and longstanding commitment" to improving Southeast Texas as he helped lead the effort to deepen the Sabine-Neches Ship Channel to 48 feet, a project authorized by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2014.


The ship channel supports tens of thousands of direct industrial jobs and many thousands more of indirect and induced jobs.

The deepening of the waterway, which will take several years to accomplish, will help Southeast Texas remain competitive in world commerce and will remain a key national defense waterway.

The ship channel, first dug in 1912, has deepened through the years as larger ships carried more cargoes. The last deepening - to 40 feet - occurred with an authorization in 1962 and took eight years to complete.


The channel deepening will affect all public and private ports along the waterway from the Port of Beaumont to several miles offshore from the Sabine buoys.


The deepening will support development of the liquefied natural gas terminals on the Louisiana and Texas sides of Sabine Pass for export and will help ExxonMobil's expansion plans in Beaumont as well as the Port of Beaumont's expansion on its Orange County side.

The waterway supports $32 billion in gross domestic product a year; $18 billion in personal income; 288,000 jobs, locally, in the state and nationally; supports refineries that produce 13 percent of America's daily fuel consumption; and is the No 1 refiner of jet fuel and the majority of military jet fuel and is the No. 1 port for bulk liquids, the No. 1 port for military outload and the overall No. 3 port in the nation by cargo volume.

The port is also on track to become the nation's No. 1 LNG port and contributes to 55 percent of the nation's strategic petroleum reserve.

Beard has served on the navigation district's board since 1999, when local leaders first began to pursue a deepening project.

State Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, submitted the resolution, HR 2040, to recognize Beard for his efforts.

"There are many honors that come with representing Southeast Texas. But one of my favorite is being able to bring statewide recognition to deserving constituents such as Paul Beard," Deshotel said. He is a true asset to us all and his work will positively affect all of Texas for years to come."




SETWAC Articles

The SETWAC board is soliciting short articles to be published on a regular basis. This is your opportunity to briefly share a thought, concern or perspective to the entire SETWAC community.  Please submit your articles here.