Although the Los Angeles Port Engineers were officially chartered on October 2, 1946, the Port Engineers of the various steamship companies had been meeting informally for several years. They shared many common problems, so it was natural that they would get together to exchange ideas and help each other. For example, during the war years, multiple and often conflicting inspections were required by the War Shipping Board, the American Bureau of Shipping and the Coast Guard. This made work difficult for the Port Engineers, to say the lease, so they banded together to discuss the problems and to try to get more cooperation from those groups.

Ross Marble, reporter for the Log (and later founder of Mayday Magazine), was traveling up and down the Coast and was in close touch with each of the local ship building communities. When the San Francisco Society formed in February 1946, Ross reported the event and encouraged a similar move by the Los Angeles-Long Beach group. He went so far as to set up a special meeting at the Virginia Country Club, and invited a group of the San Francisco Port Engineers down to help with the “official chartering’.

The first officers were: President, Paul Gaudin; Vice President, Leonard Landers; Secretary-Treasurer, George A. Robinson. At first, the society consisted of Port Engineers only, but others were allowed to attend the meetings. (Some shipyard executives, in fact, were expressly invited and expected to pay the dinner bill.) But with the war over there were massive layoffs at the shipyards, and the number of Port Engineers in the harbor dropped dramatically. The membership in the Society was gradually opened up in order to keep the group alive. First Chief Engineers were admitted, then anyone with a Marine Engineers license, and finally in 1951 the membership was opened up to associate members, meaning vendors. 

The Society of Port Engineers remained important as a forum for discussing problems in the industry and also for the introduction of new technological developments. The marine paints industry, for example, introduced many new products and procedures, many of which were shown and discussed at the meetings. The meeting places have been numerous in the harbor area; The Lafayette Hotel, The Star Cafe, The Persian Room, The Fireside Inn, The Tasman Sea, the Princess Louise and most recently the Ports O’Call Restaurant in San Pedro. 

The Society has changed in some ways over the years, and the membership has alternately risen and declined, but it has always represented those in the harbor who were serious about the business of ship repairs. The Port Engineers Family Picnic has been a tradition right from the start, and in recent years there has been increased emphasis on other social activities as well, but business comes first for these people. Weekends or evenings mean nothing when that ship has to sail. 

What often has to be explained to outsiders is that the society of Port Engineers is not just the Port Engineers themselves. One does not have to be a Port Engineer to be a member or to make an important contribution to the group. The business at hand is the efficient and economical operation of the ships, which requires the close cooperation of not only the Port Engineers but also the shipyards, machine shops, electricians, divers, government agencies, unions, suppliers of parts, paints, chemical, etc., etc., etc., in order to meet that end. The Society of Port Engineers represents the professional in the business of ship operations.  

Past Presidents

1946   Paul Gaudin*
1947   Paul Gaudin*
1948   Leonard Landers*
1949   Dan Dobler*
1950   Hampton Neergard*
1951   George W. Curran*
1952   Morris H. Kelley*
1953   James T. Murphy*
1954   John MacDonald*
1955   Glenn G. Gulvin*
1956   L.R. Allen*
1957   Bert L. Hale*
1958   Edward Rittenhouse*
1959   Edwin J Richards*
1960   Jack C. Folks*
1961   Carl B. Karfs*
1962   Chuck Trotman*
1963   Walter Duthie*
1964   Harold Ramsden*
1965   Edward A. Wilson*


1966   Gene Thompson*
1967   Vern Eshelby*
1968   Lewis Striplin*
1969   Peter Kosoff*
1970   Philip Hofmann*
1971   Richard Granger*
1972   Charles Carsten*
1973   Al Foss*
1974   Chris Larsen*
1975   Jack Hutchison*
1976   Jack A. Appelt*
1977   Ronald T. Nisbet
1978   Ivan F. Kraft*
1979   James H. Lee*
1980   Walter Leong*
1981   Don Costello*
1982   Dino Burelli*
1983   Jim McEachern*
1984   John McDonnell*

1985   Syd L. Carpenter, Jr.*
1986   Gary Duthie*
1987   John Lind*
1988   Carl Weigmann*
1989   Rod Scobie*
1990   Roul Gamsgaard
1991   Jack Wall
1992   Jack Guest*
1993   Jim Frassett
1994   Ray Nottingham
1995   Paul M. Goudsmit
1996   Joe Werner
1997   Jim Rea*
1998   Britton Muldoon
1999   John Chapman*
2000   Bill Dauley*
2001   Jim Eldridge
2002   Dennis Green
2003   Richard Barta

2004   Ron Calkins
2005   Jesse J. McPherson*
2006   Jeff Hawke
2007   Larry Castagnola
2008   Don McMickle
2009   Paul Murphy*
2010   Larry Cleberg
2011   Jim Eldridge
2012   Frank Whipple
2013   Frank Whipple
2014   Jerry Aspland
2015   Lisa Buchanan
2016   Russ Beauchamp
2017   Erik Duthie
2018   Peter Thornton
2019   Peter Thornton
2020   Eric Witten
2021   Eric Witten
2022   David Coyle