The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) recently awarded a cutterhead dredge rental contract to Weeks Marine to remove 4 million cubic yards (mcy) in the base of the contract with options to add up to another 4 mcy of dredged material to be removed from the Hopper Dredge Disposal Area (HDDA). Weeks Marine will utilize the cutterhead dredge CAPTAIN FRANK to begin this dredge contract with submerged dredge pipeline operations tentatively scheduled to begin in late September (2023).
The USACE advised that the previously scheduled channel closures for the HDDA submerged pipeline of September 12 and September 14 have been postponed, the closures will follow a similar pattern but will be rescheduled to occur in late September or early October.
The previously released Marine Safety Information Bulletins (MSIB) from the U.S. Coast Guard detailing both pipeline operations will be revised to show the actual dates of work when the new dates of work are available (maybe next week).
SCHEDULED CHANNEL RESTRICTIONS AND CLOSURES:
- SUNDAY, SEPTMEBER 10 and MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11: One-Way Traffic from Mile 2 Above Head of Passes (AHP) to Mile 0 (Head of Passes) for all vessels transiting this reach of the Mississippi River Ship Channel. This period will be utilized by Weeks Marine to allow the cutterhead dredge dig a trench on the western side of the Ship Channel that the submerged dredge pipeline will eventually be inserted into.
- TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2023: Complete Channel Closure from 0600 hours to 1800 hours for all vessel traffic from Mile 2 AHP to Mile 0 (Head of Passes). This closure will be utilized by Weeks Marine to have the CAPTAIN FRANK dredge on the eastern side of the Ship Channel. The trench will be utilized to insert the dredge pipeline sufficiently deep enough to ensure the top of the pipeline is installed at or below 59.5 feet Mean Lower Low Water.
- WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2023: NO TRANSIT CHANNEL RESTRICTIONS expected.
- THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2023: Complete Channel Closure from 0600 hours to 1800 hours for all vessel traffic from Mile 2 AHP to Mile 0 (Head of Passes). This closure will be utilized to install the submerged dredge pipeline into the cross-channel trench.
The Gulf South pipeline removal operations at Mile 11 Above Head of Passes work within the limits of the Ship Channel were also delayed and are now planned to be conducted from September 24 to September 28 and October 17 to October 21. Although these dates are also rather fluid and there could be a need to revise those dates as well. The U.S. Coast Guard just released the information below, to address the revised dates as an update on both pipeline operations scheduled in the vicinity of the Head of Passes (Mile 11 AHP to Mile 0).
“The Pipeline Removal at MM 11 AHP LMR and the Hopper Dredge Disposal Area (HDDA) MM 0-2 AHP LMR have been postponed until further notice. The Safety Measure for MM 11 remains in effect as follows: The Captain of the Port New Orleans is issuing a Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) Safety Measure for the waters of the Lower Mississippi River (LMR) at Mile Marker (MM) 11 Above Head of Passes (AHP) to protect persons and vessels from the potential safety hazards associated with the Gulf South pipeline removal operations. In-river operations to include the use of divers, multiple vessels – including anchored barges – will be working 24 hours per day and will impact the navigation channel. The following channel restrictions ARE in effect:
Vessels shall check in with the Contact Pilot onboard the BB-70 on VHF-FM Channel 67 at the following locations for the latest navigation information and direction:
- Transiting Southbound: MM 28 AHP (Empire Locks)
- Transiting Northbound: MM 2 AHP (Pilottown)
Future schedule updates will be communicated via BNM, MSIB, and/or industry-wide emails.”