On her maiden voyage to St. Thomas, it seemed appropriate that the new luxury cruise ship Carnival Breeze provide the backdrop to the centennial celebration ceremony held at the West Indian Company dock Tuesday afternoon.
Heralding the accomplishments of the 100-year-old organization, President and Chief Operating Officer Joseph B. Boschulte spoke to a crowd of longtime employees and local dignitaries about the need for expansion and extensional growth to insure prosperity for the future.
Boschulte announced a $16 million capitol improvement plan that would include the future expansion of the current cruise ship dock by the 2013-14 season.
“With board approval we are now ready to proceed with our three-phase improvement project,” Boschulte said. The extension of the southern dock will require minor dredging, he said, as well as reinforcement of the overall structural integrity of the dock and the installation of new 150-ton mooring bollards.
Boschulte said, “Our next accomplishment will be at this time next year when we will be hosting three mega cruise ships at the same time.”
Edward E. Thomas, former WICO president and CEO, urged the new generation of company leaders to make the harbor more user friendly. “The time for water taxis has come,” said Thomas. “And it is time the taxi operators come to understand that they can own this. We have just celebrated 100 year years of a Virgin Islands-owned entity; we certainly do not need to go outside of the territory to find corporate ownership.”
Danish Consul Soren Blak. chose his time on the dais to single out three outstanding contributors to the longevity and success of the company both he and his father worked for in the past: former Danish Director Hans N. Andersen for transforming St. Thomas into a world leader in the cruise ship industry; first native born president, Edward E. Thomas, for overseeing the purchase of the company for the Virgin Islands; and Vernon “Shorty” Edwards, a 51 year employee of the company, who in his dedication to his work and his loyalty to the company best exemplifies the very reason the West Indian Company remains an integral part of the fabric of the Virgin Islands.