The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) commenced channel maintenance dredging efforts in Southwest Pass for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY 23) on January 29, 2023, with the hopper dredge GLENN EDWARDS (Manson Construction). The Mississippi River Ship Channel deepening project has achieved another milestone today, the New Orleans Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots Association (NOBRA) increased their maximum draft recommendation to 50 feet from Mile 175 Above Head of Passes (AHP) to Mile 88 AHP. The previous draft recommendation had been limited to 49 feet above Mile 106 AHP (Huey P. Long Bridge). NOBRA began taking orders for vessels with a maximum draft recommendation of 50 feet to Mile 175 AHP today. A copy of the letter from NOBRA’s Safety Advisory Committee is attached.
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 deepened up to Smoke Bend at Mile 175 Above Head of Passes (AHP). The maximum draft recommendation on the Ship Channel was increased to 50 feet (freshwater) from the Huey P. Long Bridge (Mile 106 AHP) to the jetty end of Southwest Pass (Mile 20 Below Head of Passes [BHP]) on July 20, 2022. The channel above Mile 175 AHP is expected to be mechanically deepened in Phases 3-5 (estimated) by 2027.
HOPPER DREDGE(S) WORKING IN THE AREA OF SOUTHWEST PASS (SWP):
GLENN EDWARDS: The industry hopper dredge GLENN EDWARDS (Manson Construction) continues dredging at Cubits Gap (Mile 5.0 AHP to Mile 2.0 AHP). The GLENN EDWARDS is working under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #2-2021 and will complete the hours left on this contract tomorrow. The GLENN EDWARDS will depart the LMR tomorrow and return on March 11 to begin work under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #1-2022 an FY 23 early award hopper dredge rental contract, that is expected to be completed in late July (2023).
PADRE ISLAND: The industry hopper dredge PADRE ISLAND (Great Lakes Dredge & Dock) will begin work under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #2-2022 in late March 2023. This is the second of the two early award hopper contracts for FY 23.
USACE HOPPER DREDGE WORKING IN SOUTHWEST PASS:
WHEELER: The USACE hopper dredge WHEELER continues dredging from Mile 6.6 BHP to Mile 9.5 BHP in Southwest Pass working under Readiness Exercise #1-2023. The assignment began on February 23 and is scheduled to be completed on March 11 (2023).
MAXIMUM DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS PER PILOT ASSOCIATION:
(UPDATED on March 7, 2023)
The updated maximum draft recommendation for each Pilot Association as adjusted due to the Mississippi River Ship Channel Deepening are listed below:
The Associated Branch Pilots of the Port of New Orleans (Bar Pilots): The Bar Pilots increased their maximum draft recommendation to 50 feet (freshwater) on March 16, 2022.
The Crescent River Port Pilots Association (CRPPA): The CPPRA raised their maximum draft recommendation to 50 feet (freshwater) on July 20, 2022.
The New Orleans Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots (NOBRA): The NOBRA raised their maximum draft to 50 feet (freshwater) from Mile 175 AHP to Mile 88 AHP on March 7, 2023. NOBRA has previously limited the maximum draft recommendation to 49 feet from Mile 175 AHP to Mile 106 AHP on July 13, 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 recommendations to the following on July 21, 2022:
- 50 feet from Sea Buoy to Mile 104.7 AHP
- 49 feet from Mile 104.7 AHP to 175 AHP
- 45 feet Mile 175 AHP to 232.4 AHP
- 40 feet Mile 232.4 AHP to 233.8 AHP
The controlling maximum freshwater draft for the MRSC from Mile 175 AHP (Smoke Bend) to the Southwest Pass Sea Buoy is now set at 50 feet (freshwater) as implemented on March 7, 2023.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER STAGE UPDATES:
The Carrollton Gage (New Orleans) reading at 0900 hours today was 10.76 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.10 feet.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Carrollton Gage issued today forecasts stages will continue to rise before cresting at 12.2 feet on March 21 and will then begin a slow fall to 9.5feet on April 4 (2023).
The Baton Rouge Gage reading at 0900 hours was 30.05 feet with a 24-hour change of 0.00 feet.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Baton Rouge Gauge issued today forecasts stages will continue to rise to 33.5 feet on March 20 and then begin a slow fall to 25.2 feet on April 4 (2023).