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THE VIRGIN ISLANDS PORT AUTHORITY
An Overview

The Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) is an autonomous agency that owns and manages the two airports and the majority of the public seaports in the United States Virgin Islands. We are also charged with maintaining the harbors in the territory. The law stipulates that VIPA must make its properties available to the public so that the populace may reap the benefits of these facilities.

VIPA derives it operating revenues from user fees and rental fees charges to users of its airport and marine facilities on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. The agency is expected to be financially self-sufficient, and does not receive nor does it contribute any funds to the USVI government. Federal and state government grants are given to the Authority to support its capital construction programs - provided that VIPA meets all eligibility requirements. The federal government also offers Passenger Facility Charges (PFC's) to fund airport projects only. These airport related improvements must be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Just about everything that is used or consumed by the residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands enters the islands through boat or by plane.  Food, clothing, machinery, mail, furniture, vehicles, building supplies, medical equipment - it all enters through the ports.  Therefore, the Port Authority touches the lives of every single resident and visitor in the Virgin Islands.  In addition, the territory's major economic contributor is a bustling tourism industry which blossomed in the 1960's.  Tourism accounts for about 80 percent of the islands' gross domestic product and employment. The islands are a popular destination for travelers from every corner of the world seeking the perfect vacation.  These key factors make the airports and seaports in the territory a critical component in the strength and growth of islands' economy.  Any investment or improvement to our port facilities secures our territory's economic future.

The Port Authority is governed by a Board of Governors which sets policy. The executive director is responsible for implementing these policies, and overseeing the day-to-day operation of the agency. Board meetings are held every third Wednesday of each month.  At these meetings, the board reviews the Authority's financial reports, review and approve requests to lease port property, award contracts for port development projects and set policies that will efficiently manage our resources as well as keep our port facilities competitive with other destinations.

Note: The VI Port Authority does not control the mooring and anchoring of vessels in our ports.  This is coordinated through the VI Government's Department of Planning and Natural Resources.

 

 

Our Mission Statement

The Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) owns and manages two airports – the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas and the Henry E. Rohlsen International Airport on St. Croix. The Port Authority also manages the majority of the public seaports in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Its mandate is to promote the wise use of these facilities for the betterment of the Virgin Islands and its people, and to assist the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands in fostering and sustaining sound economic development. To this end, the Port Authority is committed to:

  • Maintaining and developing the airports and seaports of the Virgin Islands to accommodate the current and future demands of its users;

  • Making sure that the airports and seaports are accessible to all qualified users;

  • Providing efficient and quality service to the public;

  • Providing a safe and secure environment at all of its port facilities;

  • Working with the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands on initiatives to attract tourists and private investors to the territory;

  • Fostering commerce by providing incentives to airlines, cruise ships, cargo operators and other potential investors to entice them to do business in the Virgin Islands;

  • Making sure that all of its facilities are in full compliance with local and federal regulations; and

  • Improving port facilities to keep up with modern technology.

 


Aviation Division

The Virgin Islands Port Authority owns and operates the only two airports in the territory.  The international airport identifiers are: STT for the St. Thomas airport and STX for the St. Croix airport. There is no airport on St. John, VI.  The only way to get to St. John is via boat.

 

Marine Division

The Port Authority owns and operates the majority of the public marine cargo and passenger facilities on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix.

St. Thomas marine facilities:

  1. The Austin "Babe" Monsanto Marine Terminal and the Crown Bay Center

  2. The Crown Bay Cargo Port

  3. The Charlotte Amalie Waterfront

  4. The Edward Wilmoth Blyden, IV Marine Terminal

  5. The Charles F. Blair Seaplane Terminal in Charlotte Amalie

  6. The Urman Victor Fredericks Marine Terminal at Red Hook.

St. John marine facilities:

  1. The Loredon Lawrence Boynes Sr. Dock in Cruz Bay

  2. The Victor William Sewer Marine Facility in Cruz Bay (locally referred to as "The Creek")

  3. The Theovald Eric Moorehead Dock and Terminal at Enighed Pond

St. Croix marine facilities:

  1. The Gallows Bay Dock in Christiansted

  2. The Svend Aage Ovesen Jr. Seaplane Terminal in Christiansted

  3. The Ann E. Abramson Marine Terminal in Frederiksted

  4. The Wilfred "Bomba" Allick Port and Transshipment Center at Krause Lagoon 
    (also known as "The Containerport")

  5. The Gordon A. Finch Molasses Pier at Krause Lagoon

 


 

THE VIRGIN ISLANDS PORT AUTHORITY
Our History

 

Charlotte Amalie Harbor Painting
Charlotte Amalie Harbor, St. Thomas

The United States Virgin Islands

The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) are an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States of America.  The territory consists of 68 islands, islets and keys located in the Lesser Antilles east of Puerto Rico. The main islands are St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John and Water Island, and have a combined population of about 108,612 (U.S. 2000 Census). Charlotte Amalie is the capital city and is located on St. Thomas.  The islands were originally inhabited by Arawak and Carib Indians when they were sited during Christopher Columbus’ journey in 1493.  The islands that comprise the US Virgin Islands have been governed by several different countries throughout history:

1.

Spain

2.

Holland

3.

Britain

4.

France

5.

The Knights of Malta

6.

Denmark

7.

The United States of America

The United States of America purchased St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John, Water Island and associated islets and cays from Denmark in 1917.  The territory was purchased for $25 million in gold to improve military positioning during critical times of World War I and prohibit German expansion into the Caribbean. The islands were renamed from the Danish West Indies to the United States Virgin Islands.

 

US Navy Submarine
A US Navy submarine in the waters off of St. Thomas, 1940s

 

Inter Island ferry
An inter-island ferry travelling between St. Thomas and St. John in 1949.

 

Management of the U.S. Virgin Islands' Ports

The VI Port Authority is last in a line of federal and local government agencies to manage the USVI’s ports. The US Navy was the first administrator of the islands and also managed the port facilities.  The US made a wartime decision to construct a submarine base on the island of St. Thomas. A naval airbase also replaced the modest airstrip located at Bourne Field in Lindbergh Bay with a military air hangar and 600-foot runway.  This airbase was later named the Harry S. Truman Airport, and renamed the Cyril E. King Airport on Oct. 3, 1984.

 

Old CEKA Airport Terminal
Bourne Field was the first airfield on St. Thomas.  The US Navy constructed a hangar which was later used as the first airport on St. Thomas: the Harry S. Truman Airport. The airport was renamed the Cyril E. King Airport in 1984, and the VI Port Authority extended the runway and constructed a new terminal.

 

The US military’s need for the U.S. Virgin Islands eventually ended.  Control of the ports was turned over to the US Department of Interior from 1931 through 1969.  The Department of Interior at one point leased the former military properties in the US Virgin Islands and some farmlands on St. Croix via a lessee the St. Thomas Development Authority, and in July 1954 it assigned the properties to the Virgin Islands Corporation (VI Corp).  VI Corp was a wholly-owned federal government corporation approved by the US Congress on June 30, 1949 and amended on Sep. 2, 1958. The Corporation operated the territory's electric power facilities and newly constructed salt water distillation facility on St. Thomas. VI Corp managed the submarine base, the St. Thomas airport, 80 housing-units rented to federal and insular government employees and private individuals, 6 hotels, 1 guesthouse, 4 piers, a beach club, a golf course and clubhouse, about 35 additional buildings, 3 water systems, transportation equipment, and other miscellaneous units. Dr. Kenneth Bartlett served as president, followed by former Massachusetts state senator, Robert “Bob” Cramer.

 

Old photo of Alexander Hamilton Airport now the Henry Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix

Benedict Field was the first airfield on St. Croix and was constructed in 1941 by the US Army Air Corps. In the late 1940's, the Alexander Hamilton Airport was built.  The airport was renamed the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport in 1996.  The VI Port Authority completed the extension of the airport runway and remodeled the terminal in 2002.

In May 28, 1965, VI Corp sold its electric and desalination plants to the government of the Virgin Islands. In 1966, the Department of Interior transferred the management of the ports to a newly developed agency named The Virgin Islands Airport and Industrial Development Agency. The agency managed the airport on St. Croix which opened in 1950, the airport on St. Thomas, and the submarine base on St. Thomas. Alton Adams Jr., an engineer born in St. Thomas, was the agency’s first and only executive director. The agency managed a fairly self-sustaining marine division, but was faced with operational and equipment issues at the territory’s airports, which were used as former naval hangars and would now be used for commercial air traffic.

 

Old Christiansted Harbor
Christiansted Harbor, St. Croix Circa 1940

The Seventh Legislature of the US Virgin Islands passed Act 2375 which established the Virgin Islands Port Authority on December 24, 1968.  Act 2405 set the date of establishment of the Authority as February 11, 1969 which is recognized as VIPA's official anniversary date.  VIPA is charged with the ownership and management of the territory's public air and seaports.  Alton Adams Jr. continued as the agency's executive director until he resigned in Sept. 1971.  He was succeeded by Jack M. Monsanto of St. Thomas (1971-1975), John E. Harding of St. Thomas (1975-1991), Gordon A. Finch of St. Croix (1991–2002) and Darlan Brin of St. Thomas (2003-2008). Kenn Hobson, who is originally from Nevis but a longtime resident of St. Thomas, served as the director of the agency from 2008 until his retirement in Feb. 2012.  Attorney Don. C. Mills served as interim executive director from Feb. 2012 until Jan. 2013. Former USVI senator Carlton Dowe of St. Thomas was selected as the executive director on Jan. 16, 2013 through Dec. 2016.  David W. Mapp, Sr. of St. Croix served as VIPA's director from 2017 to 2019. Damian Cartwright of the Bahamas is currently VIPA's acting executive director.

 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS
of the Virgin Islands Port Authority

 

Alton Adams Jr. Jack Monsanto John Harding Gordon Finch Darlan Brin
Alton A. Adams, Jr.
1966-1971
Jack M. Monsanto
1971-1975
John Harding
1975-1991
 
Gordon A. Finch
1991-2002
Darlan A. Brin
2003-2008
Kenn Hobson Attorney Don Mills Carlton Dowe  
Kenneth Hobson
2008-2012
Don C. Mills, Esq.
2012-2013 (Interim)
Carlton "Ital" Dowe
2013 - 2016
 

David W. Mapp, Sr.
2016 - 2019

 

 

 

 

Cruz Bay Harbor
Cruz Bay Harbor, St. John Circa 1966


Today, the VI Port Authority manages some of the busiest and modern air and seaport facilities in the Caribbean. Since its establishment in 1969, the Authority has constructed new airport terminals and extended the runways on both St. Thomas and St. Croix. The agency also constructed several new seaports - and today manages a combination of 14 cruise, cargo and ferry seaports. VIPA is one of the largest government land owners in the territory with a complex portfolio of aviation, marine, beachfront and multi-industrial use properties. VIPA’s vision is to continue to improve its ports to ensure a first-class and memorable entry and exit experience for the travelling public.



Frederiksted Harbor, St. Croix Circa 1920s

 

VIRGIN ISLANDS PORT AUTHORITY
St. Thomas
St. John
St. Croix
161-A Subbase
PO Box 1707
St. Thomas, VI 00803
Theovald Moorehead
Dock & Terminal
Cruz Bay
PO Box 1707
St. Thomas, VI 00803
 
Henry E. Rohlsen Airport Terminal - 2nd Floor
Christiansted
PO Box 1134
St. Croix, VI 00821

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