Ports & Terminals

IRPT Meets In Tulsa, Shines Light On McClellan-Kerr System

Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals Inc. (IRPT) held its annual meeting in Tulsa, Okla., October 3–6, with an overarching theme of close communications and collaboration among stakeholders of the nation’s inland waterways. 

The meeting had a strong start, with Tulsa Ports hosting attendees for a tour of the port’s facilities along the uppermost reaches of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS). Buses streamed past Tulsa Ports’ intermodal terminal and WATCO’s huge gantry crane. Crews were in the process of rigging a boiler, fabricated in the Tulsa region, that would be loaded, along with several other portions, onto a barge bound for Florida. Following the tour, Tulsa Ports hosted a welcome reception and dinner on site.

The spotlight on the MKARNS continued during day two of the conference as Tulsa Ports’ David Yarbrough, representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and John Anderson with Van Scoyoc & Associates looked at the construction, maintenance and development of that waterway.

Shortly thereafter, IRPT Executive Director Aimee Andres presented awards to three industry stalwarts who have had an enduring impact on the maritime industry and on IRPT. First, IRPT’s own Diedre Smith, longtime waterway leader in Oklahoma and Arkansas, received the Exceptional Service Award. Jack Long Jr., retired from Logistics Services Inc., received the Distinguished Advocate Award for his role in the growth of the MKARNS. Finally, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) was given the MKARNS Lifetime Achievement and Beyond Tribute Award.

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The intersection of technology and waterborne transportation was at the forefront for much of the conference. Jones Walker’s Jim Kearns and Andy Lee unveiled their firm’s newly released 2022 cybersecurity survey, which focused on cybersecurity resiliency at coastal and inland ports and terminals. Later, Joe Celano with Trabus Technologies demonstrated how aggregating big data can inform waterway and vessel traffic management. 

Day three of the conference took a close look at cargoes, commodities and supply chain issues, exploring both the global impact and how those issues are affecting inland waterway operations in the United States. For the afternoon sessions, attendees looked at how the pandemic is having a lingering effect on the industry’s workforce. Sessions then concluded with a panel discussion on commodities that move on the nation’s inland waterways, including sulfur, coal, fertilizer, steel and grains. Day three wrapped up with a party hosted by Oakley’s Port 33 and sponsored by 5R Enterprises.

IRPT’s board of directors met the following morning.

With its 2022 conference complete, IRPT leadership and members have already turned their attention to the 2023 conference, which will be held in Louisville, Ky.