The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) continues working on the historic project to deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel (MRSC) to 50 feet. The USACE now estimates that seventy percent (70 %) for Phase 1 of the MRSC deepening has now been completed. The Phase 1 section of the Ship Channel extends from Venice at Mile 13 Above Head of Passes (AHP) to Mile 22 Below Head of Passes (BHP). The completion of Phase 1 of the Ship Channel Deepening is expected to open up the first 150-175 miles of the Ship Channel to vessels with deeper drafts.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER SHIP CHANNEL DEEPENING PHASE 1:
The three cutterhead dredges and the hopper dredge listed below continue dredging on their contractual deepening assignments for Phase 1 of the MRSC deepening. The USACE intends to deepen the Ship Channel from Venice to the Gulf of Mexico (Phase 1) with a total of three dredge contracts, specifically the two cutterhead dredge contracts detailed below and the one for the hopper dredge GLENN EDWARDS (Manson Construction). The USACE reported that the cutterhead dredges have completed all the west half areas of deepening in this reach of the Ship Channel that are safe for a cutterhead dredge to work. The USACE expects to complete the deepening project in four progressive upriver phases to the upper end of the MRSC at Mile 233.8 AHP (Baton Rouge). A document provided by the USACE with updated tables and information on the status of Phase 1 of the deepening project is here.
CUTTERHEAD DREDGES WORKING ON DEEPENING IN SOUTHWEST PASS:
Weeks Marine was awarded Southwest Pass Cutterhead Dredge Rental Contract #1-2020 on August 20, 2020. Weeks continues to respond to this deepening contract with the two cutterhead dredges listed below.
CAPTAIN FRANK: The industry cutterhead dredge CAPTAIN FRANK (Weeks Marine) officially commenced the historic project to deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel to 50 feet on September 11, 2020. The CAPTAIN FRANK is currently dredging at Mile 5.9 BHP on assignment from Mile 2.0 BHP to Mile 6.5 BHP on the eastern side of the Ship Channel.
E.W. ELLEFSEN: The industry cutterhead dredge E.W. ELLEFSEN (Weeks Marine) is presently dredging at Mile 8.10 BHP dredging on assignment from Mile 6.5 BHP to Mile 9.0 BHP on the eastern side of the Ship Channel. The cutterhead moved to Mile 7.5 BHP to provide proper spacing between the CAPTAIN FRANK and will return to complete the section between Mile 6.5 BHP to Mile 7.5 BHP upon reaching Mile 9.0 BHP. The E.W. ELLEFSEN started dredging on the deepening project on November 18, 2020.
ROBERT M. WHITE: The ROBERT M. WHITE (Manson Construction) is dredging at Mile 11.45 BHP and working on assignment from Mile 9.0 BHP to Mile 13.0 BHP on the eastern side of the channel. Manson Construction was awarded Southwest Pass Cutterhead Dredge Rental Contract #2-2020 for the Ship Channel deepening project, the cutterhead dredge started work on this contract on October 23, 2020. The cutterhead will move to start the assignment on South Pass in the first week of April after completing the current deepening assignment.
HOPPER DREDGES WORKING ON DEEPENING IN THE AREA OF SOUTHWEST PASS:
GLENN EDWARDS: The GLENN EDWARDS (Manson Construction) is dredging on an assignment under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #9-2020 on the deepening project from Mile 0 (Head of Passes) to Mile 2.0 BHP on the eastern side of the Ship Channel. The GLENN EDWARDS will complete the final portions of the Ship Channel deepening project. The hopper dredge is also under contract for Fiscal Year 2021 channel maintenance and will be moved between the two contracts by the MVN dependent upon channel conditions. The GLENN EDWARDS began dredging on the deepening project in Southwest Pass on January 14, 2021.
CUTTERHEAD DREDGE(S) IN THE HOPPER DREDGE DISPOSAL AREA (HDDA):
ILLINOIS: The cutterhead dredge ILLINOIS (Great Lakes Dredge and Dock) has removed and beneficially used approximately 1.5 million cubic yards (mcy) of material from the HDDA under Hopper Dredge Disposal Area Cutterhead Rental Contract #1-2019. The contract includes the removal of 10 mcy in the base with options to add an additional 4 mcy. The project is expected to be completed in late 2021 or early 2022. The material is beneficially being used in the West Bay Receiving Area through a submerged dredge pipeline that will have to be removed up completion of the project. The pipeline retrieval will require at least one complete closure on the Ship Channel in the immediate vicinity of the submerged pipeline (Mile 2.0 AHP to Mile 0 – the Head of Passes).
GOVERNMENT HOPPER DREDGES WORKING IN SOUTHWEST PASS (SWP):
WHEELER: The USACE’s hopper dredge WHEELER is expected to dredge in SWP under Readiness Exercise #1-2021 from March 3 until March 10 (2021). The WHEELER will most likely work on the jetty end of SWP.
The Carrollton Gauge (New Orleans) reading at 0900 hours today was 6.65 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.21 feet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Carrollton Gauge issued today predicts a steady rise in stages predicted to crest at 12.7 feet on March 24 and then fall to 12.5 feet on March 29 (2021).
The Baton Rouge Gauge reading at 0900 hours today was 20.84 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.41 feet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Baton Rouge Gauge issued today predicts a steady rise in stages predicted to crest at 33.5 feet on March 25 and then fall to 32.5 feet on March 29 (2021).
The graph below is reproduced from NOAA’s National Weather Service website and represents an experimental product to account for the complexity of accurately predicting long-range precipitation. This forecast projects stage levels based on expected precipitation for 2 days (top) and 16 days (bottom) and was developed within the North American Ensemble Forecast System (NAEFS) computer model and highlights Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts (QPF). Along with the forecasts, a shaded area is also provided to indicate uncertainty for the forecast each day in the future. These plots are experimental and not an official forecast product.