Naming Rights: New Navigation Vessel Honors Former Employee

Orin L Green navigation boat

Working at the Port of Portland, especially as part of the Navigation team, is often a family affair. Siblings, parents and grandparents have all worked together on the Dredge Oregon and, even when there’s no blood relation, many say the team feels close as kin.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that when the opportunity arose to name our newest Navigation vessel, we kept it all in the family. Say hello to our new 34’ utility landing craft, which was named in honor of former employee Orin L. Green, who retired in 2011, returned in 2012 and then retired again – officially this time – in 2014.

What’s In a Name?

Orin L. Green

When Doyle Anderson, director of navigation at the Port of Portland in 2019, learned we were getting a new vessel, he asked the Dredge Oregon crew for name nominations. Engineer John Holt was among those who put forward Orin’s name, which quickly rose to the top of the suggestion pile and ended up with the most overall votes.

“I like the history of someone who has a boat named after them,” John said. “It keeps their memory in the forefront.”

The news of the naming also brought a smile to the face of the man himself.

“I thought you had to die for that!” Orin said. “When I heard the news, I couldn’t believe it. It made me feel good inside. Quite a compliment!”

Orin’s first job was to trim wicks and refuel lanterns on a Coos Bay pipeline. He enjoyed it so much he wanted to make sure he stayed out on the water from then on, so he joined the Port in 1984 as a deck hand. Over the next three decades, Orin held a number of roles, including as a mate and a bulldozer operator. In the last few years before retirement, he ran the Navigation survey boat, the Sounder.

Orin was known to run a fastidious ship. “He took such pride in the boat and treated it like he bought it,” John said. “He polished the handrails, spent his spare time cleaning. It was just as meticulous and immaculate when he was done with it.”

Right now, the Orin L. Green is as clean as Orin would have kept it.

Orin also liked to devise improvements for the boat. For example, he asked his wife to knit covers for the boat’s monitors so the screens wouldn’t get scratched. Outside of work, he was just as detail-driven: He refurbished a Harley Davidson motorcycle and kept it in tip-top shape once it was road-ready.

“You could not find a speck of dust on that Harley,” John said.

Orin agrees that he’s a bit of a clean-o-holic. “I did treat the Sounder like my own,” he said. “It was such a nice vessel that I didn’t want to get it scarred up or have the aluminum be dull. I didn’t let hard hats in the cabin: It was all white felt inside on the ceiling. Any grease would make a mark. You can’t get that out.”

He was a bit more forgiving about footwear: “As far as the sand, we had rubber mats. You could rinse those off and vacuum dirt up.”

A Special Delivery

The job of the Dredge Oregon – and the original mission of the Port of Portland – is to create and maintain a safe navigation channel for the cost-effective movement of goods from Portland to the Pacific Ocean. Key to this important work is maintaining the depth of the channel at approximately 43 feet, or about the length of a truck’s semi-trailer.

Before dredging begins, surveyors must measure the depth of the Columbia River and share that information with the dredge operator. Hydrographic surveys are also performed after dredging to ensure that only what’s needed is dug up.

When on land, surveyors ride on a quad – a four-wheeled vehicle that resembles an ATV – to get to the various locations they need to inspect. Transporting a quad is complex: It usually involves a push boat which then maneuvers a barge carrying the quad to shore. Even without vehicles to drive onto the beach, it’s difficult to disembark without a dock. Usually, workers hook a ladder off the front of the boat and climb down to shore, getting muddy in the process.

A view of the new

Our new utility landing craft has a ramp that can fold down when the push boat approaches the shore, making it easy to walk or drive a vehicle off the boat and onto land. In short, the Orin L. Green is safer and makes surveying and dredging more efficient, as we can have just one boat operator and one quad operator who can drive right onto the beach.

One for the Team

While Orin, who currently lives in sunny Arizona, couldn’t make it to Portland for the launch of his namesake, he remains loyal to the Port and the Navigation team.

“I enjoyed working on the water and working with Navigation. Everyone helped each other, all the time,” Orin said. “If I could, I would come back in a heartbeat.”