The port was the vision of an Italian immigrant Louis Cobolini. The 17-mile long Brownsville ship channel has since welcomed foreign travelers and businesses to its shores. In the port’s early years, agricultural exports brought citrus fruits from local groves and shipped Texas cotton across the ocean.
The Brownsville Herald archives indicate that in 1937, nearly one year after the initial opening, British freighter Antigone called on the nascent port to load 4,000 tons of scrap metal from Brownsville Iron and Metal company and ship it to Japan. The Antigone was the first British flagged vessel to call on the Port of Brownsville.
Port continues growing, contributing
Since then, the port has established itself as the premier ship recycling and scrap metal location in the United States. It is also home to the nation’s principal U.S. Navy aircraft carrier dismantling program.
In addition to the ship recycling operations, the port has developed a versatile marine terminal operation for both liquid and dry cargoes. Petroleum products, steel break bulk materials, aggregates, minerals and windmill components are some of the many commodities handled today.
An economic impact study by Martin Associates in 2019 reports the port is responsible for more than 51,000 jobs. It also contributes $3 billion in annual state economic activity. Activities at the port employ more than 8,500 regional workers.
The port continues to seek opportunities to grow and its leaders know investing in infrastructure is key to its future success.
In 2019, construction of a new Liquid Cargo Dock 6 and improvements to Liquid Cargo Dock 3 and the Bulk Cargo Dock were finalized and are currently in operation. There was also the addition of two new additional mobile harbor cranes to the port’s inventory. With the new cranes, the port looks to meet the increasing workload of scheduled windmill and steel projects.
The port currently has more than $40 billion worth of projects currently in the works.