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Past, President & future

IHMA Member Highlight - Paul O'Regan

“My parents knew that if I went fishing, I’d not experience much of the world. It’s a way of life and you have to give everything to it. You don’t get many days of annual leave a year and must work to the weather as they say. They said, ‘If you want to go down that road, that’s fine, but go off and get some qualifications first’. After I’d finished school, they encouraged me to do Nautical Science – the first step towards a cadetship in Ireland.”

Not gone fishing

During his cadetship, Paul worked with OOCL in the Far East and North Atlantic and once qualified, he spent a few years offshore, working on tugs and other vessels.

“When I finished, my intention was always to go back and go fishing, but I was enjoying what I was doing,” he says.

On his return to Ireland, therefore, Paul took a job with Irish Ferries, first as a Training Officer, then as a Relief Master. At just 27 years of age, he’d covered a lot of ground in a short space of time. Eventually, a pilot position became available in the Port of Cork – a prized role.

“I did this for three years. This was unusual; usually if you land a pilot’s position, you keep it for life. But a competition opened up for Deputy Harbour Master in the port, so I applied and was lucky enough to get the role.”  

First contact

It was in this role, in 2012, that Paul first encountered the IHMA.

“My predecessor as Harbour Master in Cork, Pat Farnan, was a founding member of the IHMA. I developed a strong interest and went to a number of meetings around Europe when Pat was unable to attend. I found myself missing a council meeting one day and the next day I discovered I was on the council!”

“I always found the association a valuable form of collaboration and discussion. Back then, most of the members were older than me, but that didn’t matter; there was a feeling of ‘if you’re a Harbour Master, you’re a Harbour Master’. It didn’t matter what age you were, or what gender, it’s the profession you’re supporting,” he explains.

Any storm in a port

Such support, he says, is of vital importance, given the often solitary nature of the Harbour Master’s role.


“Many Harbour Masters draw the parallel of a Captain on a ship. In a lot of cases, the final decision will rest at your door. You’ll make your decisions based on the information you have, and with the best intentions of your port at heart, but if something goes wrong, you’ll be called out for it.

“You don’t have two or three Harbour Masters in a port, normally only one or a Chief Harbour Master in large ports with bigger teams. Therefore, a global network, and the opportunity to reach out to people in similar positions is very useful. You have access to colleagues experiencing the same challenges and the same pressure when making decisions. There’s a good chance that the situation you are facing will have happened to someone else in the past. The experience of other Harbour Masters gives you the insight to deal with a very diverse range of issues in a port and stops you from making fundamental mistakes. It gives a lot of confidence in tackling challenges.”


Given the amount of value he clearly places on the association, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Paul went on to become President of the IHMA. He didn’t, however, have the intention to do so initially.

“I didn’t have the ambition to become President,” he states. “A lot of founding members were coming up to retirement age, so that created the opportunity. I’d been on the Executive Council for several years and knew all the members and had their support. I also got a lot of support from the Port of Cork CEO & team– I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Paul believes that the role of President includes working towards the success of the organisation, not just today, but for the future. With that in mind, he has developed a vision for how he would like to leave the association when the time comes to hand over the reins to a successor.

“IHMA came about when a group of like-minded Harbour Masters who understood the value of shared knowledge and experience came together to support one another. The result was a global network, not just of colleagues, but of friends.

“There’s a sense at the present time that we are entering a new generation. A number of founding members have retired, and their successors are now in position. Harbour Masters don’t tend to move on from their roles very quickly. One of the legacies I would like to leave, therefore, is a succession of Harbour Masters who have become both colleagues and friends for the coming years.”

Reaching out

One way he has gone about this has been to implement a broader approach to communications, both internally and externally, to promote the association and what it is doing. This includes increased activity on social media and the trade press, engaging with members and potential members around the world.

“The idea is, when Harbour Masters step into a room together, for example in Tangier in 2024, they will know each other and the ports they work in. It makes collaboration easier.”

He believes this focus on good communication can be of benefit, not only to the Harbour Masters in the association, but also to the Commercial Membership.

“Ports cannot work without good service industry support, whether it’s technology, equipment, expertise or advice. IHMA has done a good job of maintaining a network of commercial members. It doesn’t matter where the port is, the number of suppliers in our industry is not huge and we frequently end up working with the same suppliers. A lot of the value lies in understanding what the supplier can bring to the port and the port needs from the supplier, shared experiences can assist in making sound decisions.”

Expert practitioners in action

Another legacy Paul wants to ensure is the continued relationships that the IHMA has with industry bodies such as the IALA, IAPH and IMO, especially as the industry undergoes the changes that it is currently faced with.

“IHMA is very well regarded as a not for profit organisation which can contribute to topics such as safety and sustainability. IHMA has within its membership expert practitioners who understand what implications proposed legislation has for a port. The expertise of a Harbour Master is taken as a valuable contribution for forming guidelines and regulations. After all, it will be down to the Harbour Master and their teams to manage things when they come into force.”

Next gen network of global inclusivity

Paul is also keen to safeguard the association’s approach to inclusivity, seeing this as a vehicle for increased relevance internationally in the future.

“The IHMA has always been a very inclusive organisation and we want to make sure it continues on this track. The addition of the African Harbour Masters Committee in 2021 was fantastic. Recently, we had the first member from Vietnam joining and more new members from South America, where membership is currently underrepresented.”

Paul concludes, “These are all positive steps towards bringing the next generation of Harbour Masters together in a structure that can support them in their roles. We need a level of engagement from all members that will get the network moving and I think we have that.”

paul o'regan
Pictured: Paul visiting his former primary school in Castletownbere, Co. Cork, Ireland.


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Latest News & Events

The main approach channel and Berths 8&9 at Hutchison Ports Port of Felixstowe have been deepened to improve access for the world’s largest container ships.

The announcement was formally made today (4 October 2023) during the maiden call at the port of its namesake the OOCL Felixstowe, the latest in a series of 24,188 TEU mega container vessels operated by Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd. (“OOCL”).

Under the patronage of the Minsitry of Energy & Infrastructure and hosted by Fichte & Co and RAK Ports…

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Hollywood Beach Marriott
Navtech Conference, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Navtech Conference 2023

Attention deep water and ocean towing masters, pilots, fleet management administrators, regulators and navigation operations professionals!

Join us in Fort Lauderdale for the maritime industry’s premier annual navigation forum!

Navtech, 5th and 6th December 2023, Hollywood Beach Marriott, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

  • Learn about developments in navigational best practices, technology and regulation.

  • Engage with the regulatory and manufacturing sectors about your experiences, and your challenges.

  • Get access to the operations sector that actually uses navigation hardware and software.

Tanger Med Port Centre, Morocco
IHMA Congress 2024

Join us on a marine adventure in Morocco. The 14th International Harbour Master Congress will take place at Tanger Med Port Centre from 21-24 May 2024. This year’s theme is The Marine Adventure – Evolving and Adapting to Change in Today’s Ports. You are welcome to come along for three days of presentations, deliberations and discussions covering every step of the port call process. On the fourth day, you can enjoy a guided tour of the Port of Tranger Med. To learn more, or to register for the event, please visit the IHMA Congress EventBrite Page.

Introducing Tanger Med

Tanger Med is the 1st port in Africa and in the Mediterranean.

It’s a global logistics gateway located on the Strait of Gibraltar and connected to more than 180 ports worldwide with handling capacities of: 9 million containers, exports of 1 million new vehicles, transit of 7 million passengers and 700,000 trucks on an annual basis.

Cargoes handled


In 2021 7,173,870 TEU were handled in Tanger Med port complex, up by 24% compared to 2020. This traffic results from the steady increase of Tanger Med 2 port after the successive commissioning of the terminals TC4 in 2019 and TC3 in 2021.

This result confirms the leadership of Tanger Med in the Mediterranean and Africa, and consolidates the position of this major hub for global maritime alliances led respectively by Maersk Line, CMA CGM and Hapag Lloyd.


In 2021 101,054,713 tons of goods were handled for the first time in Tanger Med port complex, an increase of 25% compared to 2020. Indeed, the tonnage handled by Tanger Med port complex represents more than 50% of the overall tonnage handled by all Moroccan ports.


The port complex handled 407,459 trucks in 2021, a rise of 14% compared to 2020. This traffic was mainly driven by the resumption of industrial exports as well as by the good performance of the agricultural season and agro-industrial exports.


Regarding new vehicles 429,509 were handled at the two vehicle terminals of Tanger Med port in 2021, an increase of 20% compared to the previous year. The traffic included: 278,651 Renault vehicles including 250,532 for export. A rise in exports of PSA vehicles totalled 100,030 cars.

Liquid bulk

Liquid bulk traffic has increased by 9% compared to 2020. It recorded a total traffic of 8,744,900 tons of hydrocarbons handled.

Solid bulk

Solid bulk traffic recorded a total of 342,804 tons processed, an increase of 13% compared to 2020 driven by the traffic of steel coils, wind blades and grain.


Growing maritime traffic saw 10,902 vessels calling at Tanger Med in 2021, up by 12% from 2020. Over the past year, the port complex has welcomed nearly 929 mega-ships (over 290 metres loa).

The position of Tanger Med

This performance above accomplished during 2021 affirms the position of the port complex as a major strategic hub emphasising its role as a key logistics platform serving the nations logistic competitiveness.

Achievements are the result of the continued collaboration of all partners of Tanger Med port complex, particularly ship owners, concessionaires, local authorities and administrations.


Crown Towers, Perth, Australia

For 25 years AMPI has been recognised as the professional body for developing, setting and leading in the evolution of industry standards, safety management protocols and advising regulatory bodies on matters related to Marine Pilotage.

As a globally recognised organisation and partner of the International Maritime Pilots Association (IMPA), we directly contribute to the work of the International Maritime Organisation. With over 260 active pilot members, we have the experience and know-how to develop widely recognised industry guidelines including initial and continual pilotage training standards. AMPI continues to influence the development of world-leading practice and in doing so brings a higher level of safety to the ports and regions where our members operate.

Mayflower Park, Southampton, UK
SeaWork UK 2023


The 24th edition of Europe’s largest on-water commercial marine and workboat exhibition, is a proven platform to build business networks. Delivering an international audience of visitors supported by our trusted partners, Seawork is the meeting place for the commercial marine and workboat sector. 

Seawork encompasses 12,000m2 of undercover halls featuring 600 exhibitors and over 70 vessels and items of floating plant & equipment on the quayside and pontoons

Features include:

  • The European Commercial Marine Awards (ECMAs) and Innovations Showcase.
  • The Conference programme helps visitors to keep up to date with the latest challenges and emerging opportunities.
  • The Careers & Training Day on Thursday 15 June 2023 delivers a programme focused on careers in the commercial marine industry.
  • Speed@Seawork on Monday 12 June at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes offers a sector specific event for fast vessels operating at high speed for security interventions and Search & Rescue.

For more information and to register to attend see:

2023 Dates & Times
09:30 - 17:30 Tuesday 13 June 2023
09:30 - 17:30 Wednesday 14 June 2023
09:30 - 16:00 Thursday 15 June 2023

Exhibition Address
Mayflower Park
SO14 2AN, United Kingdom


Commercial Marine Sales Team:
Tel: +44 1329 825 335
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Latest News & Events

Harbour Master & Towage Conference

Under the patronage of the Minsitry of Energy & Infrastructure and hosted by Fichte & Co and RAK Ports in cooperation with KOTUG.


Latest News & Events

The main approach channel and Berths 8&9 at Hutchison Ports Port of Felixstowe have been deepened to improve access for the world’s largest container ships.

The announcement was formally made today (4 October 2023) during the maiden call at the port of its namesake the OOCL Felixstowe, the latest in a series of 24,188 TEU mega container vessels operated by Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd. (“OOCL”).

Under the patronage of the Minsitry of Energy & Infrastructure and hosted by Fichte & Co and RAK Ports…