Terminal 46 changes include longshore training

SEATTLE — Major changes are coming to Pier 46 near Pioneer Square, now that the Port of Seattle is not building a cruise ship terminal.

Plans are in the works to train future longshoremen and women.

There is a real shortage of people trained to offload the ships that are coming into the Port of Seattle.  So the port is offering space here at Terminal 46 to help do that work.

You are forgiven if you think this valuable piece of waterfront real estate is going unused, After all, the pandemic has put on hold any plans to build a new terminal for the battered cruise line industry.

“We’re doing plenty of things at 46, keeping it maritime and keeping those good-paying jobs in the region,” said Fred Felleman, Port of Seattle’s president. “There’s three separate projects going on right now.”

Felleman said the first project is to transform a portion of the pier into a training facility, using these red cranes to help instruct future longshoremen and women to offload container ships.  Many of those working now are retiring.

“There’s a whole graying tsunami going on,” said Felleman.  “These are great paying jobs, and crane operators need specialized training.”

The need is particularly acute because the port is awash in container ships filled with all of the goods people are buying that need offloading.

“It’s not clear whether this is going to continue into the future — unlikely at this volume,” predicted Felleman.

But he said they still need people to offload the ships.  “Absolutely,” he said. “They are skilled jobs.”

“Well, I know that clean energy means,” said Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.  “It means jobs here at the Port of Vancouver.”

Inslee tweeted about port jobs today nearly 170 miles to the south.

“Every time a ship comes in,” he said, “that means 30 longshore on each ship have great jobs.”

Terminal 46 in SoDo will also be used to store some of the container overflow from Terminal 18.  And the port is working on a short-term lease agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard to dock and service vessels like its red hull icebreakers.

“It’s a public asset meant to be able to not just create revenue,” said Felleman, “but to create the jobs of the future.”

Felleman thinks a cruise terminal will be built on Terminal 46 someday, likely to the chagrin of some Pioneer Square residents.

But first, the cruise industry has to recover from the steep losses it incurred during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, there is a great need for anyone who wants to work in the longshore business.