The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) continues channel maintenance dredging efforts for the Mississippi River Ship Channel (MRSC) on the Crossings Above New Orleans and in the vicinity of Southwest Pass. The Associated Branch Pilots (Bar Pilots) reduced their maximum draft recommendation to 49 feet (freshwater) on May 22, 2023 (official notice attached). The USACE has moved hopper dredges to focus on areas of shoaling impacting the Bar and Crescent Pilots from Venice to the Southwest Pass Sea Buoy.
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 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. Due to the Bar Pilots reduced draft recommendation the controlling maximum freshwater draft for the MRSC is reduced to 49 feet.
DUSTPAN DREDGE(S) WORKING ON THE CROSSINGS ABOVE NEW ORLEANS:
HURLEY: The USACE dustpan dredge began dredging the central 250 feet of the Ship Channel at Red Eye Crossing (Mile 224 AHP) to 48 feet Low Water Reference Plane (LWRP) at 1300 hours on May 22, 2023.
JADWIN: The USACE dustpan dredge JADWIN is expected to begin dredging at Medora Crossing (Mile 212 AHP) later today and is working to restore the central 250 feet of channel to depths of 48 feet LWRP.
WALLACE McGEORGE: The industry dustpan dredge WALLACE McGEORGE commenced dredging half channel width (250 feet by 48 feet LWRP) at Alhambra Crossing (Mile 190.5 AHP) at 1145 hours today. To promote navigational safety around this dredging assignment the White Castle Anchorage (Mile 191.1 AHP to Mile 190.4 AHP) is off limits for vessel usage until dredging is completed (approximately two weeks).
HOPPER DREDGE(S) WORKING IN THE AREA OF SOUTHWEST PASS (SWP):
GLENN EDWARDS: The industry hopper dredge GLENN EDWARDS (Manson Construction) commenced dredging last night from Mile 6.0 AHP to Mile 5.0 AHP to respond to shoaling reported by the Crescent Pilots. The GLENN EDWARDS is working under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #1-2022 a Fiscal Year 2023 (FY 23) early award hopper dredge rental contract.
DODGE ISLAND: The industry hopper dredge DODGE ISLAND (Great Lakes Dredge & Dock) is dredging a shoal reported by the Bar Pilots below the Head of Passes (Mile 0.0 to Mile 2.0 BHP). The hopper dredge began work under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #2-2022 on March 28 (2023). This is the second of the two early award hopper contracts for FY 23. The hopper dredge PADRE ISLAND is expected to join the DODGE ISLAND working on this contract by early next week.
WHEELER: The USACE hopper dredge WHEELER is dredging a shoal reported by the Bar Pilots from Mile 9.0 BHP to Mile 10.0 BHP. The WHEELER is working under Readiness Exercise #4-2023 from May 16 (2023) and expects to complete work on May 29. The WHEELER completed Readiness Exercise #1-2023 (February 23 to March 11); Readiness Exercise #2-2023 (March 21 to April 2); and Readiness Exercise #3-2023 (April 19 to May 8). Readiness Exercise #5-2023 is scheduled from June 13 to June 23 and is the last Readiness Exercise of Fiscal Year 2023
MAXIMUM DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS PER PILOT ASSOCIATION:
(UPDATED BAR PILOT DRAFT REDUCTION May 22, 2023)
The updated maximum draft recommendation for each Pilot Association as adjusted due to the Mississippi River Ship Channel Deepening are listed below:
Associated Branch Pilots of the Port of New Orleans (Bar Pilots): The Bar Pilots have reduced their maximum draft recommendation to 49 feet (freshwater) effective at 1000 hours on May 22, 2023. The Bar Pilots had increased their maximum draft recommendation to 50 feet (freshwater) on March 16, 2022, prior to this reduction.
Crescent River Port Pilots Association (CRPPA): The CPPRA raised their maximum draft recommendation to 50 feet (freshwater) on July 20, 2022.
New Orleans Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots Association (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:
- 49 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 49 (freshwater) as adjusted on May 22, 2023.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER STAGE UPDATES:
The Carrollton Gage (New Orleans) reading at 1100 hours today was 8.4 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.03 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 slowly fall to 5.4 feet on June 21 (2023).
The Baton Rouge Gage reading at 1200 hours was 25.28 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.04 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 slowly fall 17.8 feet on June 21 (2023).