The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) continues channel maintenance dredging in Southwest Pass (Fiscal Year 2022). The USACE previously completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the historic project to deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel Deepening (MRSC) to 50 Feet. The areas of the Ship Channel that required dredging to provide the deeper draft channel were mechanically dredged up to Smoke Bend at Mile 175 Above Head of Passes (AHP). The Associated Branch Pilots of the Port of New Orleans (Bar Pilots) increased their maximum freshwater draft to 50 feet freshwater at 1200 hours yesterday (March 16, 2022) for their route. The Crescent River Port Pilots Association (Crescent Pilots) maximum draft recommendation remains at 49 feet (freshwater) for their route, the controlling draft will remain 49 feet (freshwater) until an additional adjustment is made.
HOPPER DREDGE(S) WORKING IN SOUTHWEST PASS (SWP):
GLENN EDWARDS: The industry hopper dredge GLENN EDWARDS (Manson Construction) is working on assignment from Mile 6.5 Above Head of Passes (AHP) to Mile 3.8 AHP. The GLENN EDWARDS is working under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #3-2020 that should be completed by early April (2022). The hopper dredge will then commence work under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #2-2021 that should keep it on the MRSC until late August (2022). The GLENN EDWARDS resumed (#3-2020) in SWP on January 13, 2022.
TERRAPIN ISLAND: The industry hopper dredge TERRAPIN ISLAND (Great Lakes Dredge & Dock) is now expected to start work under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #1-2021 by early April (2022). The scheduled arrival of the industry dredge was delayed through the cooperative and adaptive Regional USACE Contract approach based on the channel conditions in SWP (no restrictions).
WHEELER: The USACE hopper dredge WHEELER is working in SWP under Readiness Exercise #3-2022 on the bar end of the channel, Mile 20 Below Head of Passes (BHP) to Mile 22 BHP. The WHEELER is scheduled to complete RE #3 in SWP on April 4, 2022.
The USACE was able to award two “Early Award” contracts in Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 21) for dredging to be conducted in Fiscal Year 2022. The FY 21 contracts listed above for the TERRAPIN ISLAND and the GLENN EDWARDS are both early award contracts. The early award and regional dredging contracts allow the USACE to secure dredges for SWP in advance of shoaling with added flexibility that allows a dredge to work under contract between USACE Districts. These adjustments have proven beneficial and were implemented to reduce the negative impacts of severe shoaling that has often led to reduced maximum draft recommendations for vessels transiting Southwest Pass.
CUTTERHEAD DREDGE(S) WORKING IN SOUTHWEST PASS (SWP):
ROBERT M. WHITE: The cutterhead dredge ROBERT M. WHITE (Manson Construction) is dredging on assignment from Mile 9.15 BHP to Mile 12.2 BHP on the eastern side of the Ship Channel. The dredge is expected to complete Southwest Pass Cutterhead Dredge Rental Contract #2-2020 next month, the cutterhead is beneficially and strategically utilizing the dredged material to fortify the banks and wetlands along Southwest Pass.
MAXIMUM DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS PER PILOT ASSOCIATION:
Based on the channel deepening project and the continued efforts to provide surveys over pipelines in two key areas of the Ship Channel (Venice Corridor Mile 12 AHP to Mile 11 AHP and at Mile 158.2 AHP) the documentation of the present maximum draft recommendation for each Pilot Association is listed below:
Associated Branch Pilots of the Port of New Orleans (Bar Pilots): Based on the latest USACE channel surveys, the Bar Pilots increased their maximum draft recommendation to 50 feet (freshwater) at 1200 hours on March 16, 2022 (notice attached). The Bar Pilots had previously increased the maximum draft recommendation for their route to 49 feet (freshwater) on December 17, 2021. This is the first increase to the full maximum draft of the mechanically deepened Ship Channel at the operational authorization of 50 feet (freshwater).
Crescent River Port Pilots Association (CRPPA): The CPPRA raised their maximum draft recommendation to 49 feet (freshwater) on February 11, 2022, and this remains the controlling draft for vessels transiting the MRSC below the Port of New Orleans.
New Orleans Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots (NOBRA): The NOBRA raised their maximum draft to 48 feet (freshwater) from Mile 90.5 AHP to Mile 175 AHP on February 12, 2022. The maximum draft recommendation from Mile 175 to 180 remains 47 feet and from Mile 180 to Mile 233.8 it remains 45 feet.
Associated Federal Pilots and Docking Masters of Louisiana (Federal Pilots): The Federal Pilots increased their maximum draft recommendation on March 5, 2022 to the following: 49 feet from Sea Buoy to Mile 104.7 AHP; 48 feet from Mile 104.7 AHP to 175 AHP; 45 feet Mile 175 AHP to 232.4 AHP; and 40 feet Mile 232.4 AHP to 233.8 AHP.
The controlling maximum freshwater draft for the MRSC up to the Port of New Orleans is 49 feet, the maximum draft decreases to 48 feet from the Port of New Orleans to Mile 175.0 AHP (Smoke Bend) until additional adjustments are made.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER STAGE UPDATES:
The Carrollton Gauge (New Orleans) reading at 1200 hours today was 12.92 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.16 feet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Carrollton Gauge issued today forecasts stages will continue a steady rise until cresting at 13.3 feet on March 19 and forecast to remain steady a few days before beginning a slow fall to 9.8 feet on April 14 (2022). The current stage readings on the Carrollton Gauge (2022) are the highest stages of the year to date (2022).
The Baton Rouge Gauge reading at 1200 hours was 34.81 feet with a 24-hour change of + 1.07 feet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Baton Rouge Gauge issued today forecast indicates that stages are cresting now at 34.0 feet (March 17) and will soon begin a slow fall to 24.3 feet on April 14 (2022).