The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) continues working on the historic project to deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel (MRSC) to 50 feet. The USACE now estimates that over seventy-five percent (75 %) of Phase 1 of the MRSC deepening has been completed. The Phase 1 section of the Ship Channel extends from Venice at Mile 13 Above Head of Passes (AHP) to Mile 22 Below Head of Passes (BHP). The completion of Phase 1 of the Ship Channel Deepening is expected to open up the first 150-175 miles of the Ship Channel to vessels with deeper drafts.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER SHIP CHANNEL DEEPENING PHASE 1:
The two cutterhead dredges and the hopper dredge listed below continue dredging on their contractual deepening assignments for Phase 1 of the MRSC deepening. The USACE intends to deepen the Ship Channel from Venice to the Gulf of Mexico (Phase 1) with a total of three dredge contracts, specifically the two cutterhead dredge contracts detailed below and the one for the hopper dredge GLENN EDWARDS (Manson Construction). The cutterhead dredges are working on their last assignments on the eastern side of the Ship Channel, the cutterheads have completed their assignments on the western side of the channel. The USACE expects to complete the deepening project in four progressive upriver phases to the upper end of the MRSC at Mile 233.8 AHP (Baton Rouge).
CUTTERHEAD DREDGES WORKING ON DEEPENING IN SOUTHWEST PASS:
E.W. ELLEFSEN: The industry cutterhead dredge E.W. ELLEFSEN (Weeks Marine) is presently dredging at Mile 7.2 BHP dredging on its final assignment from Mile 6.0 BHP to Mile 7.5 BHP on the eastern side of the Ship Channel. The cutterhead has already completed the lower end of the assignment from Mile 7.5 BHP to Mile 9.0 BHP. Weeks Marine was awarded Southwest Pass Cutterhead Dredge Rental Contract #1-2020 on August 20, 2020 and worked the contract with both the CAPTAIN FRANK and E.W. ELLEFSEN the CAPTAIN FRANK completed its last deepening assignment on March 3, 2021. The E.W. ELLEFSEN started dredging on the deepening project on November 18, 2020.
ROBERT M. WHITE: The ROBERT M. WHITE (Manson Construction) is dredging at Mile 12.57 BHP and working on assignment from Mile 9.0 BHP to Mile 13.0 BHP on the eastern side of the channel. Manson Construction was awarded Southwest Pass Cutterhead Dredge Rental Contract #2-2020 for the Ship Channel deepening project, the cutterhead dredge started work on this contract on October 23, 2020. The cutterhead is presently working on its last assignment for the deepening project and is expected to start dredging in South Pass by the first week of April.
HOPPER DREDGES WORKING ON DEEPENING IN THE AREA OF SOUTHWEST PASS:
GLENN EDWARDS: The GLENN EDWARDS (Manson Construction) is presently undergoing repairs but is expected to resume dredging on assignment under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #9-2020 by Wednesday, March 17, 2021. The GLENN EDWARDS will complete the final portions of the Ship Channel deepening project. The hopper dredge is also under contract for Fiscal Year 2021 channel maintenance and will be moved between the two contracts by the MVN dependent upon channel conditions. The GLENN EDWARDS began dredging on the deepening project in Southwest Pass on January 14, 2021.
GOVERNMENT HOPPER DREDGES WORKING IN SOUTHWEST PASS (SWP):
WHEELER: The USACE’s hopper dredge WHEELER has been delayed again and is now expected to begin dredging in SWP under Readiness Exercise #1-2021 for a few days possibly by the end of the week. The WHEELER will most likely work on the jetty end of SWP.
INDUSTRY HOPPER DREDGES WORKING IN SOUTHWEST PASS (SWP):
STUYVEASNT: The industry hopper STUYVESANT (Dutra Group) is expected to start dredging in SWP on March 19, 2021. The STUYVEASNT will be responding to Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #6-2020 that was awarded to the Dutra Group in mid-2020.
CUTTERHEAD DREDGE(S) IN THE HOPPER DREDGE DISPOSAL AREA (HDDA):
ILLINOIS: The cutterhead dredge ILLINOIS (Great Lakes Dredge and Dock) has removed and beneficially used approximately 2.0 million cubic yards (mcy) of material from the HDDA under Hopper Dredge Disposal Area Cutterhead Rental Contract #1-2019. The contract includes the removal of 10 mcy in the base with options to add an additional 4 mcy. The project is expected to be completed in late 2021 or early 2022. The material is beneficially being used in the West Bay Receiving Area through a submerged dredge pipeline that will have to be removed up completion of the project. The pipeline retrieval will require at least one complete closure on the Ship Channel in the immediate vicinity of the submerged pipeline (Mile 2.0 AHP to Mile 0 – the Head of Passes).
The Carrollton Gauge (New Orleans) reading at 1200 hours today was 12.28 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.05 feet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Carrollton Gauge issued today predicts a steady rise in stages with a crest of 13.0 feet forecast on March 21 to remain steady for a few days before beginning to fall to 8.7 feet on April 12 (2021).
The Baton Rouge Gauge reading at 1300 hours today was 32.60 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.34 feet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Baton Rouge Gauge issued today predicts a steady rise in stages with a crest at 34.0 feet forecast on March 21 to remain steady for a few days before beginning to fall to 22.5 feet on April 12 (2021).