The Delaware River and Bay is one of the busiest waterways in the nation. Annually, more than 3,000 ships call on the ports of Philadelphia, Camden, Gloucester City, Salem, and Wilmington. The tri-state complex ranks as the fifth largest port in the United States, handling over 70 million tons of cargo a year.
Yet the Delaware River and Bay also is among the higher-risk ports in the United States because of the large concentration of oil tankers that use it. About 2 million barrels of crude oil is carried on the waterway each day. It is the top port for petroleum imports on the East Coast.
On Wednesday, March 31, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, James Corbett, assistant professor of marine policy at the University of Delaware, will present “Delaware’s River of Global Commerce.” The lecture is part of the Wilmington Lunch and Lecture Series sponsored by the UD College of Marine Studies and the Sea Grant College Program.
During his presentation, Corbett will provide an overview of the vessels that visit the ports on the Delaware River and Bay, where they come from, and what cargo they carry. He’ll also talk about major issues facing the marine transportation industry — from port security to ship pollution — and new UD research initiatives to help address them.
“The Delaware River is a major node in the U.S. Marine Transportation System, an extensive network of ports and highways that carries consumer goods,” Corbett says. “Some 67% of the products purchased by Americans move along this system.”
In just 20 years, Corbett says, the 2 billion tons of domestic and international freight currently handled by the Marine Transportation System is expected to more than double, bringing with it increased concerns about port security, pollution, aquatic species invasions, and other issues.
“The system faces critical policy decisions that require an understanding of science, technology, economics, and the environment to help set future priorities,” Corbett notes.
The college recently launched new research initiatives focusing on the maritime industry’s policy challenges, including port security, ship modernization, port development, and trade growth. A major emphasis is on technologies and policies to improve the energy and environmental performance of ship transportation.
Currently, Corbett is involved in a cooperative study with Rutgers University to evaluate public-private incentives to reduce emissions from New York Harbor ferries.
In recent work relating to cargo and passenger vessels, he determined that ships could reduce emissions by as much as 80–95% depending on the policies and technologies implemented. His research has been cited in policies developed by the International Maritime Organization and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Corbett earned his doctorate in engineering and public policy, and master’s degrees in both mechanical engineering and engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering technology from the California Maritime Academy and sailed as a Merchant Marine Officer in the U.S. fleet.
The lecture includes lunch at the award-winning Hotel du Pont. To reserve your seat, at $15 per person, call (302) 831-8062. Or e-mail your reservations to MarineCom@udel.edu.