The Port of Hueneme is expected to have a record number of ships docking this month thanks to an improving economy, port officials said. By Friday, 35 ships are expected to call at the port.
The previous high was 32 ships, reached in July, 1994.
Harbor District Executive Officer William Buenger said the port has had an average of 30 ships loading and unloading shipments in recent months, up from previous years. He attributes the all-time high number of ships in March to a peak in the citrus shipment season.
Last year, citrus shipments out of Port Hueneme quadrupled, helped by the opening of the Japanese market to citrus producers. Buenger expects the numbers to increase this year.
Cool Carriers, which transports Sunkist citrus and Turbana bananas, has been operating out of the port since December, 1993, when port officials lured the business away from the Port of Long Beach by building an $11-million dockside refrigeration facility.
Buenger also attributes the rise in ships docking at the port to an improved market for cars in the United States. Besides fruit, automobiles are among the major products moving through the port.
BMW and Mitsubishi have recently opened vehicle preparation centers close to the port, which was granted foreign trade zone status last year.
At those centers, the auto makers can put finishing touches on cars, such as custom seats and stereos, and defer paying tariffs until they are transported to dealerships.