Michelle Kruger. Photo: Austal USA.

Austal USA Appoints New VP of Global Services and Support

Austal USA in mid-August welcomed Michelle Kruger as the company’s vice president of global services and support.

Kruger, who will work out of Austal’s San Diego waterfront services facility, is responsible for the company’s global post-delivery repair and warranty efforts, including the development of business strategy and strategic alliances. As the primary customer interface for ship repair and maintenance services, she now leads Austal’s pursuit of future government and commercial business opportunities and post-delivery initiatives.

Kruger is a marine engineer with decades of maritime industry experience in new construction, repair and maintenance operations. Prior to joining Austal USA, she was vice president of operations at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works.

Kruger worked for General Dynamics for over 25 years. Before her position as a vice president at BIW, she was responsible for the Littoral Combat Ship Program, completing nearly 150 maintenance availabilities worldwide. As General Dynamics NASSCO’s director of repair administration, Kruger was responsible for overseeing ship repair estimating, contracts, purchasing and planning functions, optimizing pre-production and production processes.

When she first joined NASSCO as the director of outfitting, Kruger led international benchmarking efforts that contributed to facility upgrades and maximizing outfitting on the ground.

“Michelle’s extensive maritime services industry experience will be invaluable to Austal USA’s global services team,” Austal USA President Rusty Murdaugh said. “She’s a proven leader and we are excited to have her leading our San Diego services center so we can leverage her expertise in vessel repair and maintenance and the many valuable relationships she has forged in our industry to best serve our customers.”

Kruger holds a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and a master’s degree in marine engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.

Austal USA, an Alabama-based shipbuilder, in late 2021 established a waterfront repair facility in the Port of San Diego adjacent to Naval Base San Diego. The 15-acre site focuses on ship repair for small combatant-size U.S. Navy, Military Sealift Command and U.S. Coast Guard ships.

Matthew Leech. Courtesy photo.

Ports America Appoints New CEO

Marine terminal operator Ports America on Aug. 26 announced the appointment of Matthew Leech as president and chief executive officer, effective in November. He will succeed Mark Montgomery, who is retiring, but plans to continue with the company in an advisory role.

Leech is a seasoned ports and terminal executive with more than 25 years of experience in the maritime industry. Previously, he was CEO and managing director for the Americas with logistics company DP World. Prior to DP World’s acquisition of CSX World Terminals in 2005, Leech oversaw key expansion initiatives for CSX in his role as vice president, operations and development.

“Ports America is poised for growth, and Matt is the right leader to take this exceptional business forward,” Montgomery said in a statement. “He has a deep understanding of Ports America and shares the value-driven focus that differentiates our organization.”

“I am honored to be named as the next CEO of Ports America,” Leech said. “I look forward to working with leadership and the entire team to continue driving strong performance, delivering on Ports America’s commitments and enhancing its already strong position in the industry.”

“We are pleased Matt will lead Ports America forward and build on the company’s momentum as it enters its next chapter of growth and success,” said Andrew Clarke, who chairs Ports America’s Board of Directors. “Matt brings strong industry experience and will be an outstanding addition to the team as we deliver on our mission to provide the highest quality operations for our customers.”

Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-CA. Photo: United States Congress.

Intermodal Assoc. Honors Retiring Congressman, Others

Rep. Alan Lowenthal of California’s 47th District has been honored by the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) with its Intermodal Achievement Award.

Lowenthal, who previously announced that he’s retiring at the end of his current term, is being lauded for his public service work in championing the supply chain by creating and/or pushing legislation that furthered those efforts, including his work in passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021.

He will be one of three to be honored by the organization. Ted Prince, chief strategy officer and co-founder of Tiger Cool Express, received the Silver Kingpin Award and Jim Newsome, executive advisor to the South Carolina Ports Authority, was presented with the 2022 Chairman’s Award.

They were recognized at Intermodal EXPO’s opening general session on Sept. 13 at the Long Beach Convention Center.

“On behalf of the board, I commend these three individuals for what they have brought to the intermodal industry over many decades,” said Noel Hacegaba, IANA chairman and deputy executive director of the Port of Long Beach. “The impact of their contributions will be felt by intermodal stakeholders as well as the general public well beyond their respective careers.”

Steven Gray. Photo: WSP USA.

WSP USA Names New Maritime Engineering Team Manager

Steven Gray has been named a national maritime senior project manager with WSP USA, a Seattle-based engineering and professional services consultancy, the company announced Aug. 18.

As a vice president and national maritime civil leader, Gray will manage, oversee and review projects across the U.S. for a wide range of different clients, such as port authorities, terminal operators, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard. He also will oversee the maritime civil group and work towards expanding the group and the practice.

Gray has 26 years of civil engineering experience and has worked on numerous container, bulk and breakbulk terminal projects, as well as waterfront facilities for the U.S. Navy. He is a graduate of the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.

“We are excited to have Steven join our nationally recognized maritime engineering team,” WSP’s national maritime market leader, Kosal Krishnan, said. “Our maritime group has been a leader in waterfront design for more than 50 years, and Steven brings extensive project management and upland design experience that will help our dynamic group improve critical waterfront facilities for our clients.”

He was project manager and port planner for the Break Bulk and Ro-Ro Study in Seattle-Tacoma, as well as the lead project engineer for Naval Station Everett Small Craft Launch in Everett, Wash.. He also was part of the structural evaluation effort for Nisqually earthquake damage at various Navy facilities in the Puget Sound.

The WSP maritime group is comprised of analysts, planners and engineers with a variety of technical backgrounds, including economists, operations analysts, civil, environmental, ocean and structural engineers and port planners, all working in several key locations across the U.S. and internationally.

Michael Villa. Photo:
Port of Seattle.

New Port of Seattle Police Chief Chosen

Law enforcement veteran Michael Villa is the Port of Seattle’s new chief of police, after previously holding the role on an interim basis, Port Executive Director Steve Metruck announced Aug. 17.

Villa brings 30 years of law enforcement experience to the role. He began his career in 1990 at the Tukwila (Wash.) Police Department, where he established community programs and a neighborhood resource center and was a leader in developing an initiative that improved school safety. He rose through its ranks to become chief of police in 2011.

“I’ve had the privilege of knowing Chief Villa since he was a commander with the Tukwila Police Department,” Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste, a former Port of Seattle deputy police chief, said. “He is an excellent collaborator whose decision-making always places the public and agency personnel’s best interest first.”

Villa came to the port as deputy chief in 2017 following his long tenure with the Tukwila department. He had served as interim chief since October 2021.

Metruck spoke of Villa’s leadership as interim chief, where he showed his vision and integrity during an extensive internal assessment. The period included multiple legislative police reforms, a push for increased transparency through the department’s published annual reports and evaluation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement for recertification. That’s in addition to the department’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

The hiring process involved a national search, interviews with a panel of stakeholders and a public forum. Villa will oversee enforcement at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and the port’s maritime properties, as well as 130 commissioned police officers and more than 40 non-commissioned personnel.

Villa replaces former Chief Rod Covey, who was fired in September 2021 after an investigation found that he violated the port’s code of conduct and human resources policies. Prior to his termination, he had been on administrative leave since June 2020 after being accused by a black port police officer of racial discrimination.

Mayra Arreola.
Photo courtesy of
Port of Portland.

Port of Portland Hires New Chief Diversity and Social Impact Officer

The Port of Portland has hired new chief diversity and social impact officer, Mayra Arreola. She began her new role on Sept. 12.

Arreola was previously the director of resource management and operations for the Oregon Department of Education, and also previously worked as director of equity, governance and communications at Prosper Portland, a city government office previously known as the Portland Development Commission.

In the newly created position, Arreola will oversee the port’s Shared Prosperity Office, making sure there’s “action and accountability for the port’s shared prosperity work, including community engagement and the port’s diversity, equity and inclusion program.”

She reports to port Executive Director Curtis Robinhold.

“Mayra is a creative, thoughtful, experienced leader who has a strong vision around diversity, equity and inclusion and practical experience understanding public agency work,” Robinhold said in a statement. “Shared prosperity is key to the work of every port employee and critical to the future of our organization—and Mayra will provide the vision, systems and relationship-building to help center this work in our community.”