Among the hardest-hit U.S. port cities from Hurricane Ike last year was Galveston, Texas, which has made a remarkable recovery since the hurricane’s vicious winds and storm surge caused billions of dollars in damage. As a testament to Galveston’s phoenix-like revival, it will be the site of the American Association of Port Authorities’ (AAPA) 98th Annual Convention and Exhibition, Oct. 25-29.

According to Port of Galveston Director Steve Cernak, those who haven’t been to Galveston since the September 2008 devastation may be surprised at the newly re-nourished beaches, spotless tourist infrastructure, fresh landscaping and new paint. “We’ve had some big storms over the years, so we’ve learned to be very resilient here in Galveston” he said, remarking that in addition to 32 miles of relaxing beaches, superb restaurants, incredible art galleries and fabulous entertainment, “we still have one of the largest and most well-preserved concentrations of Victorian architecture in the country.”

Mr. Cernak said that hundreds of seaport and maritime transportation leaders, industry experts and service providers from throughout the hemisphere have already registered to participate in the AAPA convention, which features many of the seaport industry’s key issues and experts.

Providing the Oct. 27 keynote luncheon address, “Leadership and Accountability When It Matters,” will be Kirk Lippold, commanding officer of the USS Cole when it came under an al Qaeda suicide terrorist attack on Oct. 12, 2000, in the port of Aden, Yemen. During his command, Cmdr. Lippold and his crew distinguished themselves by saving the American war ship from sinking. Since then, he has briefed more than 2,500 military officers and has given over 125 presentations on this seminal event in the war on terrorism.

Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and CEO, remarked that those attending this year’s Port of Galveston-hosted convention will be treated to a diverse program of industry forecasts, strategic advice, lessons learned and networking opportunities that’s “proportionately as big as Texas.”

“Convention participants,” said Mr. Nagle, “are in for a great experience. They’ll take part in a comprehensive business program with some of the seaport industry’s top leaders who’ll be discussing challenges ranging from the economic downturn and recovering from hurricanes and other disasters, to meeting port infrastructure needs and communicating the value of seaports.”

On Wednesday, Oct. 28, from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m., Mr. Nagle and AAPA’s 2008-2009 chairman of the board and chairman of the board-elect, will hold an informal media briefing in the convention center’s first floor Spinaker Room to discuss seaport industry issues and answer questions. The convention will conclude with a members-only annual meeting and installation of new officers for the Association’s upcoming year, including appointment of Massachusetts Port Authority Port Director Michael A. Leone as chairman of the board for 2009-2010.