Thomas H. Wakeman III who oversees The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s $2 billion port dredging program has been appointed by the U.S. Department of Defense to assist Iraq in rebuilding its national port system.
When he arrives in Iraq on March 1 Wakeman will work with the Ministry of Transportation’s Iraqi Port Authority to rebuild the country’s maritime transportation system including related port and waterway infrastructure and freight handling terminals. He will initially focus on Iraq’s major port the Port of Umm Qasr and also will focus on the country’s four other maritime facilities including the Port of Basrah.
Wakeman said the Iraqi ports and waterways are littered with wrecked vessels and major dredging work will be needed before they can handle the larger ships that are used by today’s ocean carriers.
“My role will be to help the Iraqi government to create a port system that meets the transportation and logistics needs of the country” said Wakeman. “The ports are a strategic asset for Iraq and their revitalization will greatly improve economic activity throughout the country” he said.
Wakeman will serve as the Principal Maritime Advisor to the Iraq Ministry of Transportation for up to 18 months. While in Iraq he will be on a leave of absence from his Port Authority job as general manager of Waterways Development in the Port Commerce Department. He will report to Ambassador Darrell Trent the Coalition Provisional Authority’s senior advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Transportation. Ambassador Trent reports to Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority.
“Tom is one of the leading experts in the nation on port development issues and has been a critical member of our team in our efforts to develop our world-class port. We will surely miss his presence as we continue our work here. However we support his decision to take on this challenge and respect his willingness to serve our country and help rebuild Iraq. We look forward to his safe return” said Richard M. Larrabee Port Commerce Director.
“The Port Authority has been a leader in developing the Port of New York and New Jersey into one of the top ports in the world which generates billions of dollars in economic activity and hundreds of thousands jobs annually for this region. Tom has been a key player in that effort. He is a talented engineer and manager well-suited for this important position. We wish him well and we wish him great success” said Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia.
“Since joining the Port Authority 10 years ago Tom has been instrumental in administering our ambitious $2 billion navigation program which will result in 50-foot channels in New York Harbor by 2012. Tom understands the importance of transportation efficiency to international shipping and his expertise will be a major asset for the people of Iraq as they work to rebuild and restore their economy” said Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour.
Wakeman was chosen for the position based on his more than 30 years of experience in the maritime industry.
He joined the Port Authority in September 1994 as manager of the Dredging Division part of the Port Commerce Department after a 20-year career with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers on the West Coast. He was promoted to his current position in 2001. He holds master’s degrees in Civil Engineering and Marine Biology and is a candidate for a doctoral degree in the Earth and Environmental Engineering Department of Columbia University in New York.
Wakeman has been active in PIANC the International Navigation Association for several years. Last year he was named an International Vice President of PIANC and was also appointed chair of the Transportation Research Board’s Marine Environmental Task Force. He is a co-editor of two books and has authored more than 80 scientific and engineering management publications.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates many of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International Newark Liberty International LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark; the George Washington Bridge; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid-transit rail system; the Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. The Port Authority is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.