Instead of leaving local maritime issues to a government-run agency, the shipping community at the Port of Hampton Roads, Va., the leading U.S. export port in terms of volume, has taken matters into its own hands.

The Hampton Roads Maritime Association, a self-supported, 600-member nonprofit organization, acts as a collective voice to promote and develop port related activity in Hampton Roads. Some members describe the association as ''a waterborne chamber of commerce," helping the businesses that comprise the port community to market internationally and to network internally.When state and federal agencies and legislative committees consider trade and transportation issues, HRMA provides an industry viewpoint. The association's broad membership - representing shippers, carriers and related service organizations - as well as its broad array of traffic and trade data make it an important resource, its members said.

"We consider the association a clearinghouse for port services and trade and traffic information," said J. Robert Bray, executive director of the Virginia Port Authority and a member of the HRMA board of directors.

"By compiling our own information, and getting business people together to discuss matters that directly affect them, we are helping to make intelligent decisions to market and maintain the port area."

Between 1987 and 1992, Hampton Roads exports, led by coal, increased about 48 percent to 59.7 million tons. To accommodate future growth, about $450 million has been invested in the last three years in port facilities. Other leading export commodities include grains, crude petroleum, fertilizers and general containerized cargo.

Already the world's leading coal export port, Hampton Roads' shipments are forecast by port officials to double over the next decade to more than 100 million tons annually.

In helping engender this growth, the association this year became one of the few service organizations to win the "E" Star, a presidential award generally given to manufacturers.


Chief executive: Rolf Williams, president.

Headquarters: Norfolk, Va.

Employees and facilities: Nine people work on the top floor of a three- story building above the Norfolk Convention and Visitor's Bureau, about two blocks from the Norfolk harbor. The executive board and several positions are held by members.

Basic business: The association is broadly open. In addition to direct users of the port, including carriers, freight forwarders, stevedores and terminal operators, the association is also open to accountants, attorneys, banks, hotels, insurance brokers and retail merchants that derive income indirectly through port activity.

The association is supported by $130 annual membership fees, services such as educational seminars, and information services.

The Port of Hampton Roads is comprised of shipping facilities in an area that includes Norfolk, Chesapeake, Newport News, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton and Suffolk, Va.


The Association's ability to collect and distribute trade and traffic data helps its members operate efficiently and helps substantiate the port's role in the economy.

HRMA's is linked by computer modem to the Virginia Pilot Association, allowing it to supply immediate information on vessel arrivals and sailings to all interested parties. Each day, the association supplies about 50 U.S. companies with the Vessel Due List, a fax advisory service that summarizes the day's expected vessel movements as well as the scheduled movements for the following day. A weekly version of this service is also available.

Once a vessel arrives or departs a Hampton Roads terminal, it is listed on the HRMA's Vessel Activity Report, which is provided to about 130 U.S. and European companies, either by mail or fax.

"The HRMA gives shippers a simple way to efficiently plan. This makes the port more attractive," said Mr. Bray.

HRMA membership includes a subscription to the monthly HRMA Maritime Bulletin, a six-page newsletter that lists statistics on inbound and outbound shipments, passenger traffic and news likely to have impact on the maritime community.

A Directory of Vessel Services, an HRMA Membership Roster and a comprehensive port guide are distributed internationally, helping the shipping community communicate better internally and reach potential trade partners abroad.

Committee programs and educational programs, which have grown in the past few years, allow specific sectors to gather and address specialized issues.



Fifty local maritime companies founded the Hampton Roads Maritime Association in 1920. Throughout its history, the association's mission has been "to promote, protect and encourage commercial shipping through the Port of Hampton Roads."

Before the Virginia General Assembly, HRMA has acted as the shipping community's voice on subjects such as dredging, worker's compensation, oil spill regulation and overweight vehicles. It recently helped Norfolk International Terminals receive $400 million in state financing for expansion.

HRMA is also active in Washington D.C., making sure its members interests are represented on issues such as immigration, hazardous materials, the Customs Modernization Act and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. In its fight for legislation that will help the port compete in world trade, HRMA has organized letter writing and telephone campaigns and has participated in Congressional committee meetings.

To help the maritime industry be more effective in national issues, HRMA became a founding member of the National Association of Maritime Organizations Inc., an umbrella organization for the industry, last year. HRMA is a 1979 winner of the "E" award.