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 provide the deeper draft channel were mechanically dredged up to Smoke Bend at Mile 175 Above Head of Passes (AHP).
HOPPER DREDGE(S) WORKING IN SOUTHWEST PASS (SWP):
GLENN EDWARDS: The industry hopper dredge GLENN EDWARDS (Manson Construction) continues dredging on assignment from Mile 3.8 Below Head of Passes (BHP) to Mile 6.5 BHP under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #3-2020. The dredge is expected to complete this contract in March (2022). The GLENN EDWARDS will then commence work under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #2-2021 that should keep it in SWP until late August (2022). The GLENN EDWARDS resumed dredging under #3-2020 in SWP on January 13, 2022.
TERRAPIN ISLAND: The industry hopper dredge TERRAPIN ISLAND (Great Lakes Dredge & Dock) is expected to start work under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #1-2021 later this month February (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) resumed dredging in Southwest Pass on February 11, 2022. The cutterhead is dredging from
Mile 7.1 BHP to Mile 7.95 BHP on the western channel side under Southwest Pass Cutterhead Dredge Rental Contract #2-2020. The ROBERT M. WHITE completed the contract to dredge South Pass restoring a channel of 20 feet deep by 300 feet wide on February 9, 2022.
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 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 USACE channel surveys in mid-December 2021, the Bar Pilots increased the maximum draft recommendation for their route to 49 feet (freshwater) on December 1 7, 2021.
Crescent River Port Pilots Association (CRPPA): The CRPPA raised their maximum draft recommendation to 49 feet (freshwater) on Friday, February 11, 2022 (Notice attached). The CRPPA had previously increased their maximum draft recommendation to 48 feet (freshwater) for their route on December 20, 2021.
New Orleans Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots (NOBRA): The NOBRA extended their maximum draft recommendation to 48 feet (freshwater) up to Mile 175 effective on Saturday, February 12, 2022 (Notice attached). NOBRA’s maximum draft recommendation from Mile 180 to Mile 175 AHP remains 47 feet and above Mile 180 AHP the maximum draft recommendation remains 45 feet.
NOBRA will continue to review their maximum draft recommendation based on updated channel surveys. NOBRA is aware of the 49 feet maximum draft recommendation for the Bar and Crescent Pilots but does not have all the information needed to make additional draft determinations at this time.
The controlling maximum freshwater draft for the MRSC is 49 feet below New Orleans and remains 48 feet above New Orleans to Mile 175 AHP (Smoke Bend).
Associated Federal Pilots and Docking Masters of Louisiana (Federal Pilots): The Federal Pilots continue to implement a maximum draft recommendation of 45 feet (freshwater) throughout their route (US Flagged Vessels).
MISSISSIPPI RIVER STAGE UPDATES:
The Carrollton Gauge (New Orleans) reading at 1200 hours today was 4.97 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.46 feet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Carrollton Gauge issued today forecasts the stages to rise to 8.6 feet on February 22 and will then slowly fall to 5.6 feet on March 14, 2022.
The highest reading on the Carrollton Gauge this year (2022) occurred with a stage of 11.1 feet recorded at 0800 hours on January 21, 2022.
The Baton Rouge Gauge reading at 1300 hours was 17.73 feet with a 24-hour change of +1.51 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 cresting at 23.7 feet on February 21 and then fall to 14.6 feet on March 14, 2022.