Los Fresnos News

Tour the Port of Brownsville aboard a charter boat

A view of the activity taking place at the port as seen from the ship channel. Photos: Tony Vindell / LFN


The Port of Brownsville is one of nearly a dozen deep-water facilities in the Lone Star State.

Yet, very few people have seen how it operates or what kind of businesses are found in this waterway that opened in 1936.

Though access to the port was not difficult, the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and the Pentagon put a damper on that as the Department of Homeland Security implemented new safety and security measures.

An offshore rig under construction at Amfels.

But did you know that anyone can see the port up close and personal from the same route commercial boats and other businesses use to take ships and bring commodities and other products in and out of the port?

Three South Padre-based boat operators have been taking people on tours that offer an invaluable wealth of information about what the port is all about.

Murphy’s Charter Services was the first business to do so, followed by Breakaway Cruises and Osprey Charter Services.

Blades for windmill turbines arrive at the port from overseas.

It takes about four hours to travel along the 17-mile long channel from the SPI jetty to Brownsville Turning Basin.

A tour includes stops at the Brownsville and Port Isabel Shrimp Basins and it comes with a complimentary continental breakfast and boiled shrimp.

The boat operators started offering the tours as another service to Winter Texans, or the seasonal visitors who come to the Rio Grande Valley to escape their harsh winter months from the Midwest region of the United States and from Canada as well.

A Navy destroyer waiting to be turned into scrap metal.

However, anyone is welcome to book a trip which costs from $25 to $50, depending on which company one chooses.

Some of the trip highlights include learning about the port history, the businesses that operate like the off-shore rig builder, Amfels of Singapore, its shipyard where Navy boats are turned into scrap metal and the port liquid and cargo docks and its giant grain elevator.

Also, the port has taken a leading role in the storage and distribution of wind farm components that arrive here from overseas.