Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2024  
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  Point Potrero Marine Terminal (Historic Shipyard 3)
February 5, 2024

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There are a lot of moving parts at play politically involving Point Potrero Marine Terminal (PPMT), historically known as “Shipyard 3,”mostly driven by an obsession of certain City Council members who are convinced the future of the Port of Richmond is to serve as a staging area for the offshore wind farm industry, and if not that, serve as a new shipyard serving what is left of the West Coast Naval fleet.

The recently completed Port of Richmond Report on Operations, Facilities, Finances and Economic Opportunities, includes:

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The fact is that the offshore wind sites in currently in play are hundreds of miles away, up and down the coast at Morro Bay and Humboldt County ( Other than wishful thinking, there is no credible argument that Richmond is well positioned to serve these projects. Aside from distance, there is no way that the gigantic wind structures can get under the Golden Gate Bridge. The logical sites to serve as staging and service areas for these windfarms are close to their location. Just this week, the Department of Transportation awarded $426 million to the Humboldt Bay Harbor District to “…to build a new marine terminal in Humboldt County near Eureka with huge cranes, warehouses and wharfs to assemble and deploy the giant turbines, the first facility of its kind on the West Coast. Some of the floating turbines could be up to 1,100 feet tall — taller than the tallest skyscrapers in San Francisco and Los Angeles — with huge triangular floating bases bigger than the baseball fields at Oracle Park or Dodger Stadium.”

An East Bay Times article dated January 25, 2024, “Biden Administration Awards Nearly Half a Billion Dollars for Northern California Offshore Wind Project,” included the following:

  • The structures are so large they can’t fit under the Golden Gate Bridge, which is one reason the more rural Humboldt Bay was selected.
  • The new offshore wind marine terminal has the potential to significantly revive and diversify the region’s economy, said U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Santa Rosa, whose district includes the area. “Humboldt Bay is going to become a hub of manufacturing and assembling these systems for the rest of California and for Oregon,” Huffman said. “We’re talking about thousands of good-paying union jobs.”
  • Huffman said Thursday that a private company, Crowley Maritime, has signed a preliminary agreement to build and operate the facility, offering to match this week’s federal grant. The federal money came mostly from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, which Biden signed in 2021. The total cost of the Humboldt project is estimated at about $1 billion, Huffman said, adding that other private, state and federal investment is still being sought.

Not to be deterred, the Richmond City Council, with Mayor Martinez and Councilmember Jimenez leading the charge, are continuing with an agenda to clear out Point Potrero Marine Terminal of existing tenants and uses in preparation for it to become a windfarm support base, and if not that, a new shipyard.

Part of that effort has been the proposed eviction, or at least reducing the lease term, of the Riggers Loft Wine Company. Martinez and Jimenez envision the building as a manufacturing facility for wind turbine parts. The eviction is currently on hold as the Riggers Loft Wine Company has pushed pack with litigation (See Riggers Loft Wine Company Sues to Protect Its Lease, October 21, 2023).

Another tenant the City Council would like to push out of PPMT is the Red Oak Victory. A discussion of moving the ship actually seems to have started sometime in 2022, when some of the volunteer ROV crew began advocating moving the ROV somewhere at or in the vicinity of Terminal 3, the idea being that it would have more public exposure, more accessibility, more visitors who would generate more revenue. At some point, these advocates contacted Congressman Garamendi, who at the time was candidate Garamendi.

Finally, the City Council is looking at how PPMT’s largest tenant, Auto Warehousing Company (AWC) can be moved out.

Congressman Garamendi seized on the concept of moving the Red Oak Victory, and finding it consistent with the City Council’s plans for PPMT, became obsessed and became the prime advocate without discussion or approval of the Richmond Museum of History, which owns the ship, or the National Park Service, which administers Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park.

From an October 6, 2022, email from one of the Red Oak volunteers:

I created a map (attached) showing our current location and the proposed new location indicating the important proximity to the Rosie Park, Craneway, and ferry dock.  I think this will be helpful in explaining it to people.  One picture worth a thousand words and all. In discussions with Garamendi, be sure to mention that Congressman Jerry Carl (R-AL) has established a new bipartisan caucus, the Congressional Museum Ships Caucus.  Representative Donald Norcross (D-NJ) has agreed to serve as the caucus vice-chair.  With ROV in his district and all the museum ships in the Bay Area, Garamendi should certainly be a member of this caucus and encourage the other Bay Area representatives to join also.

Figure 1 - Plan by Fred Klink

Figure 2 – Another sketch showing potential relocation of ROV

The movement gained additional traction from some City Council members, notably the mayor and Claudia Jimemez.

The Richmond Museum of History board has never taken a position on moving the ROV, and I understand neither the current nor the past president support such a move. If there is funding available for the ROV, the priority is maintenance, of which there is a desperate need. The ship needs to go to drydock and have its hull repaired. Exterior painting is also a desperate and continuing need.

The Navy and Shipyards

On October 23, 2023, an article in Forbes, “Desperate for New West Coast Shipyards, Navy Eyes San Francisco Bay National Park,”  focused almost entirely on the potential of reviving PPMT as a working shipyard, although the Navy visit it described was focused on Mare Island.. A Navy press release dated October 3, 2023, didn’t even mention Richmond, but a U.S. Department of Defense news release on October 2, 2023, about a visit to Mare Island included one paragraph that mentioned Richmond, “As part of the San Francisco Bay shipyard engagements, a senior member from SECNAV's staff conducted a site inspection of Richmond Shipyard to assess its capability and capacity including Richmond’s six graving docks, large railhead and expansive modular assembly area.”

There was a meeting in January with Garamendi and several players, including ROV board members and City of Richmond representative.

Moving the Red Oak Victory

Following are my opinions about the pros and cons of moving the ROV:


  1. Higher visibility, better access and exposure to more people may increase visitation and result in more revenue ( Editorial comment – this is speculation. Compared to the cost of moving and supporting infrastructure, any increase in revenue may be minimal.


  1. The locations proposed for a move do not have the parking or landside support space that the current location has. The ferry parking is already dedicated to the ferry and is typically full.
  2. The current location is consistent with the National Park Service General Management Plan
  3. The current location has excellent historical context, being in an actual graving dock and adjacent to the extant historic Shipyard 3 infrastructure with five extant historic buildings and the Whirley Crane.
  4. The primary critical need of the ROV is funding for deferred and ongoing maintenance, which could well be in the millions of dollars. Moving the ship will not help. If there is significant federal funding available, it should go towards maintenance.
  5. Proximity to the Riggers Loft is a valuable asset and should be exploited more with a joint marketing campaign.

I believe the Richmond Museum of History board should adopt a resolution regarding PPMT and the Red Oak Victory as soon as possible, stating that it:

  • Opposes relocation of the ROV, citing the pros and cons listed above.
  • Requesting our state and federal representatives to assist in obtaining funding for the continuing maintenance of the ROV, including paint the Whirley Crane ($850,000).