The Coast Guard’s Vessel Traffic Service Lower Mississippi River (VTS LMR) adjusted the established Vessel Traffic Measure at Cubits Gap (Mile 4 Above Head of Passes (AHP) to Mile 2 AHP). The VTS Measure was originally enacted after the grounding of the M/V ANGLO ALEXANDRIA on Friday, January 4, 2019. The update to the VTS Measure completely removed the maximum allowable freshwater draft restriction that had been limited to 44 feet freshwater.
However, the no meeting or overtaking for vessels with drafts 40 feet or greater from Mile 4 AHP to Mile 2 AHP remains in effect.
The Notice as reproduced by the VTS LMR is reproduced below:
“Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) Lower Mississippi River, in accordance with the Navigation Safety Regulations, Code of Federal Regulations Title 33, Subpart 161.11,
will establish a VTS Measure for the waters of the Lower Mississippi River from Mile Marker (MM) 02 Above Head of Passes (AHP) to MM 04 AHP.
This Measure is needed to protect persons and vessels from the potential safety hazards associated with silting in the deep water channel in the vicinity of Cupits Gap.
Based on U.S. Army Corps surveys, the Coast Guard is rescinding the 44 foot maximum draft restriction at MM 02 to 04 AHP.
The maximum draft should be determined at Master/Pilot discretion.
A VTS Measure REMAINS in effect with the following provisions:
* Sea-going deep draft vessels from MM 02 to MM 04 AHP: One-way traffic, with no meeting or overtaking of vessels with drafts 40ft and above.”
The Crescent River Port Pilots Association established a maximum draft recommendation of 46 feet freshwater for all vessels transiting through Mile 4 AHP to Mile 2 AHP.
The Corps hopper dredge WHEELER is working under Readiness Exercise #1-2019 at the area of the worst shoaling in Cubits Gap, the latest survey is attached. The WHEELER is being utilized by the Corps to assist in recovering the channel while the industry hopper dredge GLENN EDWARDS is being repaired. The GLENN EDWARDS is expected to return to dredging by Thursday, January 10.
The National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (long range forecast) issued today (Monday, January 7, 2019) predicts the Carrollton Gauge (New Orleans) will continue to rise until cresting at 15 feet.
The Carrollton Gauge reading at 1200 hours today was 13.42 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.21 feet, the forecasted stage levels are expected to slowly rise until cresting at 15 feet from January 19 to January 25 and then beginning a slow fall.
The Corps is reviewing all options to secure additional dredges and will advertise a bid opening for Southwest Pass Hopper Rental Contract #2-2019 on Thursday, January 10, 2019.