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Patching up the Port of San Juan:
Shut down the Port of San Juan and Puerto Rico's economy, cut off from its life-giving connection with the rest of the world, would quickly founder and fail. The danger signs of this occuring are visible: increasing cargo volume, overcrowded facilities and a deteriorating infrastructure are severely hampering the port's ability to serve the growing needs of Puerto Rico's maritime transportation industry and its customers.
Puerto Rico depends on ocean-bound transportation for about 98% of its external trade, including about 85% of the food products consumed on the island each year. San Juan is the island's main port of entry for consumer products and for transporting the raw materials and finished goods that fuel Puerto Rico's export-oriented manufacturing sector, which accounted for nearly 40% of the island's gross national product of about $22.6 billion last year.
The shipping industry makes up a significant portion of the island's economy: more than 10,000 people work in it and draw a payroll in excess of $85 million.
The Port of San Juan
San Juan is the fourth-largest container port in the U.S., behind Long Beach, Oakland and New York. It also ranks among the top 12 ports in the world, with at least 650,000 container units moving through San Juan Harbor yearly. Indeed container shipping had its origins here in the early 60's.
Last year, 5,798 vessels docked in San Juan, or more than half of the 9,273 vessels calling on Puerto Rico's eight seaports. These included 2,540 cargo ships, 2,261 barges and tugboats, 919 cruise ships and 78 tanker ships. Approximately 7.9 million tons of cargo and 866,000 cruise ship passengers moved through San Juan last year. San Juan is the largest home port for cruise ships in the world.
"The amazing thing about the Port of San Juan is the amount of cargo that is squeezed through it with less that state-of-the-art facilities," one …