The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) continues channel maintenance dredging in Southwest Pass (Fiscal Year 2022) and has also commenced dredging on the Crossings. 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).
DUSTPAN DREDGES WORKING ON THE CROSSINGS ABOVE NEW ORLEANS:
WALLACE McGEORGE: The dustpan dredge WALLACE McGEORGE commenced dredging operations at Smoke Bend (Mile 175 AHP) at 1200 hours today. The other two dustpan dredges are expected to start dredging on the Crossings later this month.
HOPPER DREDGE(S) WORKING IN THE AREA OF SOUTHWEST PASS (SWP):
GLENN EDWARDS: The industry hopper dredge GLENN EDWARDS (Manson Construction) is undergoing repairs and is now expected to resume dredging in SWP on Thursday (May 12, 2022). The GLENN EDWARDS completed work under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #3-2020 in late April (2022) and began work under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #2-2021 that will keep the hopper dredge on the MRSC until late August (2022). The GLENN EDWARDS resumed (#3-2020) in SWP on January 13, 2022.
TERRAPIN ISLAND: The industry hopper dredge TERRAPIN ISLAND (Great Lakes Dredge & Dock) is now working in Galveston (TX) under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #1-2021 due to the channel present conditions in SWP. The two USACE Districts utilized the Regional Dredge Contract approach that allowed the hopper dredge to work in Galveston where it is needed.
WHEELER: The USACE hopper dredge WHEELER worked under Readiness Exercise #4-2022 in SWP from to April 19 to May 2 (2022). The last 2022 Readiness Exercise #5-2022 is scheduled from May 17 to May 30 (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) is dredging at Mile 14.21 Below Head of Passes (BHP) on assignment from Mile 12.2 BHP to Mile 16.0 BHP on eastern side of the Ship Channel. The USACE has exercised contract options that will extend the work under Southwest Pass Cutterhead Dredge Rental Contract #2-2020 until June (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 Mile 12 AHP to Mile 11 AHP and at Mile 158.2 AHP) the documentation of the present maximum draft recommendation for each Pilot Association are listed below:
Associated Branch Pilots of the Port of New Orleans (Bar Pilots): The Bar Pilots increased their maximum freshwater draft to 50 feet freshwater at 1200 hours on March 16, 2022 specific to their route.
Crescent River Port Pilots Association (CRPPA): The CPPRA raised their maximum draft recommendation to 49 feet (freshwater) on Friday, February 11, 2022. The CRPPA continue to monitor channel conditions and the latest surveys to consider adjustments to the maximum draft recommendation for their route
New Orleans Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots (NOBRA): The NOBRA raised their maximum draft to 48 feet (freshwater) from Mile 90.5 AHP to Mile 175 AHP on February 12, 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 recommendation on March 5, 2022 to the following:
49 feet from Sea Buoy to Mile 104.7 AHP;
48 feet from Mile 104.7 AHP to 175 AHP;
45 feet Mile 175 AHP to 232.4 AHP; and
40 feet Mile 232.4 AHP to 233.8 AHP.
The controlling maximum freshwater draft for the MRSC up to the Port of New Orleans is 49 feet, the maximum draft decreases to 48 feet from the Port of New Orleans to Mile 175.0 AHP (Smoke Bend) until additional adjustments are made.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER STAGE UPDATES:
The Carrollton Gage (New Orleans) reading at 1700 hours today was 11.33 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 Carrollton Gauge issued today forecasts stages will remain steady the next five days and then slowly rise to 11.9 feet (May 24) and remain steady again before beginning another slow fall to 10.7 feet on June 7 (2022).
The highest crest on the Carrollton Gage in 2022 to date was 13.82 feet at 2100 hours on March 22, 2022.
The Baton Rouge Gage reading at 1700 hours was 30.54 feet with a 24-hour change of – 0.17 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 remain steady the next few days and then slowly rise to 33.5 feet (May 24) before beginning another slow fall to 28.8 feet on June 7 (2022).