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 achieve 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 for their route on March 16, 2022. 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) up to the Port of New Orleans until additional adjustments are made.
HOPPER DREDGE(S) WORKING IN SOUTHWEST PASS (SWP):
GLENN EDWARDS: The industry hopper dredge GLENN EDWARDS (Manson Construction) is working on assignment just below the Head of Passes (Mile 0.7 Below Head of Passes [BHP] to Mile 1.8 BHP). The GLENN EDWARDS is working under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #3-2020 that should be completed later this month (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 at the end of the month (April 2022). The scheduled arrival of the industry dredge has been delayed through the cooperative and adaptive Regional Dredge Contracting approach by the USACE based on the channel conditions in SWP (no restrictions).
WHEELER: The USACE hopper dredge WHEELER completed Readiness Exercise #3-2022 from March 15 to April 4 (2022). The WHEELER is scheduled to return to SWP for Readiness Exercise #4-2022 from April 19 to May 2 (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 11.0 BHP to Mile 13.0 BHP on the eastern side of the Ship Channel. The USACE has utilized options to extend the contract for the cutterhead dredge that will keep it working in SWP under Southwest Pass Cutterhead Dredge Rental Contract #2-2020 until May (2022). The cutterhead is beneficially and strategically utilizing the dredged material to fortify the banks and wetlands protecting 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 Gage (New Orleans) reading at 1000 hours today was 11.49 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 forecasts stages will continue a slow fall to 9.6 feet on May 9 (2022).
The last crest on the Carrollton Gage (2022) was 13.82 feet at 2100 hours on March 22, 2022 this remains the highest stage of the year to date (2022).
The Baton Rouge Gage reading at 1000 hours was 32.07 feet with a 24-hour change of – 0.31 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 that stages will continue a slow fall to 25.7 feet on May 9 (2022).