The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) completed channel maintenance dredging efforts on the Crossings Above New Orleans for Fiscal Year 2022 on November 21, 2022. The Hopper Dredge Disposal Area (HDDA) project dredge contract to remove 4 million cubic yards (mcy) of material from the HDDA has been completed. Weeks Marine now expects to remove the submerged HDDA dredge pipeline from underneath the Mississippi River Ship Channel (MRSC) in a full channel closure tentatively scheduled for January 17, 2023. This closure is being coordinated to allow Weeks to remove a second submerged dredge pipeline at approximately Mile 65 AHP during the same 12-hour closure. The U.S. Coast Guard will soon issue a Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) to address the full channel closure and transit restrictions to allow Weeks to safely remove both submerged dredge pipelines.
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 Above Head of Passes (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 maximum draft north of the Huey P. Long remains 49 feet to Mile 175 AHP, the channel above Mile 175 AHP is expected to be mechanically deepened in Phases 3-5 (estimated) by 2025.
CUTTERHEAD DREDGE WORKING IN THE HOPPER DREDGE DISPOSAL AREA:
CAPTAIN FRANK: The industry cutterhead dredge CAPTAIN FRANK (Weeks Marine) completed dredging in the Hopper Dredge Disposal Area (HDDA) on December 28, 2022. Weeks expects to remove the submerged dredge pipeline in a complete channel closure on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, from 0600 hours to 1800 hours with a scheduled backup closure date of January 19, 2023. The coordinated closure is expected to cease all vessel traffic at Mile 65 AHP (Alliance) and at Mile 2 AHP from 0600 hours to 1800 hours (same time slot) on January 17, 2023, to allow Weeks to remove dredge pipeline at the HDDA and at Wills Point.
MAXIMUM DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS PER PILOT ASSOCIATION:
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 increased their maximum draft recommendation to 50 feet (freshwater) on March 16, 2022.
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 (NOBRA): The NOBRA raised their maximum draft to 49 feet (freshwater) from Mile 88 AHP to Mile 175 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:
- 50 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 106 AHP (Huey P. Long) to the Southwest Pass Sea Buoy is now set at 50 feet (freshwater). The maximum draft decreases to 49 feet from the Port of New Orleans to Mile 175 AHP (Smoke Bend) until additional adjustments are made.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER STAGE UPDATES:
The Carrollton Gage (New Orleans) reading at 1200 hours today was 4.33 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.28 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 continue to rise to 7.3 feet on January 19 and will then begin a low fall to 5.1 feet on February 6 (2023).
The Baton Rouge Gage reading at 1300 hours was 15.44 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.22 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 a slow rise to 22.5 feet on January 18 and then begin a slow fall to 15.2 feet (2023).