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Washington, D. ., June 13, 1923. Subject: Reports on the ports of Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Newport

News, Va.
To: The Chief of Engineers, United States Army.

1. There are transmitted herewith reports by the board on the ports of Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Newport News, Va., prepared for this department and the Shipping Board as a result of the cooperation prescribed by section 8 of the merchant marine act, and in furtherance of the objects entrusted to the War Department by section 500 of the transportation act of 1920.

2. The information contained in these reports relative to the terminal and shipping facilities of the ports mentioned was compiled by the statistical division of this office, under the supervision of Mr. A. H. Ritter, chief statistician of the board, who has devoted his personal attention thereto. After compilation, the tables showing the facilities of the ports were forwarded to the district engineer at Norfolk, Va., and the results checked under his supervision.

3. Information regarding our ports has not heretofore been available in such form as to afford for a selected port all data essential to a vessel desiring to call or to enable a shipper to make a comparison of facilities, services, and charges at one port with those at another for the particular class of business in which he is interested. The reports include information regarding the traffic movements through the ports and the development of foreign and domestic trade. On account of the value of the information to commerce and shipping interests, and to the successful operation of the American merchant marine, it is recommended that the reports be published with the accompanying illustrations. For the board:

G.R. YOUNG, Resident Member of the Board.

(First indorsement) Office, Chief of Engineers, June 13, 1923.—To the Board of Engineers

for Rivers and Harbors, Washington, D. C. Approved.


Chief of Engineers.

1 On sccount of changes in the control and operation of important general cargo terminals at Norfolk, the enactment of legislation creating the State Port Authority of Virginia, and important additions to the port's facilities, it was found desirable to revise and extend the report. The data now presented are Orect for 1926.


This is No. 15 of a series of reports on the principal ports of the United States, prepared to meet the needs of the War Department in its development of harbors and its encouragement of port facilities, of the Shipping Board in its promotion of an American merchant marine, and of commercial and shipping interests in the upbuilding of their business.

The War Department is required by law to assist the various ports in the design and construction of modern port terminals of such character as to handle the particular business of the port in the most expeditious and economical manner. The United States Shipping Board in its encouragement of an American-owned merchant marine can afford to overlook no detail which will contribute to the economy of ship operation, and the curtailment of the time spent by vessels in port is an important item in ship ecomonics. Before they can properly function in the encouragement of ports and ships, both the War Department and the Shipping Board must have the facts, without which the shipping business can not be successfully conducted, nor the port terminal correctly planned and economically operated.

Before establishing shipping agencies, the manufacturer must consider every factor influencing the prompt and economical movement of his products. Traffic does not always follow the shortest route, nor that having the lowest line-haul rate, but it will usually be found that there are sound reasons for this seeming disregard of economy. Frequently the principal of these reasons is to be found at the port. In order to attract business a port must first provide the facilities essential for handling the particular commodities which it is likely to be offered, and this requires a detailed study of production and consumption within the territory naturally tributary to the port, and the provision of equipment especially designed to meet the several requirements of this traffic. The ships calling, or likely to call, at the port must be studied in the endeavor to provide the facilities and render the service which will permit their most rapid turnaround. The railroad situation is frequently a controlling element in port success. There should be ample trackage serving the terminal or terminals, with the most economical interchange both between the several railroads entering the port and between these railroads and the ship. Not only should the physical characteristics of the terminal with regard to the coordination between railroad and ship be examined, but the railroad rates should be scrutinized, as in various instances a commensurate utilization of a port has been rendered impracticable by unfavorable rate conditions.

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