Brownwater News October 2020

Work begins on deepening Lower Mississippi channel
Weeks Marine has started work to provide a draft of 50 feet from Port of Greater Baton Rouge in Louisiana to the Gulf of Mexico — more than 250 miles along the Mississippi River.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded the first contract for the channel deepening to Weeks and a second cutterhead dredge contract to Manson Construction in early September. Three dredges — two cutterheads and one hopper dredge — are needed for the first phase of the project, which encompasses the Port of New Orleans, St. Bernard Port, the Harbor and Terminal District, Plaquemines Port and the majority of the Port of South Louisiana.

“The kickoff of this historic project is exciting for the entire maritime community,” said Brandy Christian, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans. “It is the culmination of decades of hard work by all stakeholders involved, from the Big River Coalition to Congress, (along with) critical support of the state and the U.S. Army Corps. The deepening project will harness the economic power of the river and the most competitive global gateway in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Material dredged from the first 30 miles of the project near the mouth of the Mississippi River will restore an estimated 1,462 acres of critical marsh habitat.

“This project represents an incredible partnership between the federal government, Congress, industry and the state of Louisiana,” said Col. Stephen Murphy, commander of the Army Corps’ New Orleans District. “By deepening the Mississippi River ship channel even by just 5 feet (to 50 feet), the national economy will see benefits to the tune of approximately $127 million annually. With a benefit-to-cost ratio of 7.2 to 1, the project will pay for itself in two years. This is a really great deal for Louisiana and America.”


Subchapter M training goes virtual
The U.S. Coast Guard’s Towing Vessel National Center of Expertise (TVNCOE) has begun offering its Subchapter M training virtually.

Ten narrated online modules address current policy and can be accessed any time by marine inspectors, industry compliance officers and operators, third-party organization (TPO) representatives or anyone else.

The sessions are 15 to 20 minutes apiece, and TVNCOE also offers discussions and additional training via live virtual sessions. The training subjects can be explored at


LaGrange Lock and Dam reopens after repairs
The 90-year-old LaGrange Lock and Dam on the Illinois River reopened in mid-October after three months of extensive rehabilitation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Commercial and recreational navigation along the 268-mile river had been interrupted since July with the closure of the Peoria, LaGrange, Starved Rock, Marseilles and Dresden Island locks, all of which were scheduled to reopen by Oct. 29.

Repairs have included replacing miter gates, miter gate machinery and anchorages; installing new bubbler systems, gate sills and bulkhead recesses; and restoring and replacing concrete.

Mike Walsh, the Army Corps’ chief of locks on the Illinois Waterway system, said he hoped the work would give the locks a few more years of service.

“When those locks were built in the ’30s, they had a life expectancy of about 50 years,” he said. “Obviously, we are past that date … This major rehabilitation hopefully kicks the can 20 or 30 years down the road at least and provides a little bit more longevity for the system.”

The estimated cost of the rehabilitation work was $117 million. Two more lock closures along the Illinois River are expected in 2023.


Lake Carriers’ Association details ‘State of the Lakes’
The Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA) has released its annual “State of the Lakes” on its new website ( The report recaps the past shipping season in addition to issues and concerns for the U.S.-flag Great Lakes fleet.

“Great strides have been made over the past year with the Soo Locks and icebreaking. The funding for the locks is moving in the right direction, and the introduction of the historic Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act addresses the need for better icebreaking performance,” said Jim Weakley, president of the LCA, noting that 2020 marks the group’s 140th year.

Ongoing challenges include addressing the need for fairer cross-border trade regulation of ballast water by Transport Canada, and COVID-19 pandemic limits for the shipping industry, he said.


AAPA appoints Long Beach’s Cordero as board chairman
Mario Cordero, executive director of California’s Port of Long Beach, has been installed as chairman of the board of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).

Cordero was elected for the two-year role in March, and the AAPA made it official during its virtual 2020 Annual Convention in September. He took over after Gary Nelson, executive director of Washington state’s Port of Grays Harbor, finished his one-year term.

The board of directors recently voted to extend terms to two years, reduce its 45 members to 11, and eliminate its 12-member Executive Committee. AAPA members also agreed to restrict to two the number of board positions available to any of the association’s seven board-represented geographic regions and special representation areas, and require that only port CEOs or their equivalent be able to serve on the board.

“By restructuring and modernizing AAPA’s board of directors, I believe it will vastly improve the association’s ability with regard to policymaking and other governance issues, enabling us to be more nimble, efficient and effective as a hemispheric membership association,” said Christopher Connor, AAPA’s president and CEO.


U.S. council names AWO official Rising Star of Safety
For his efforts to advance mariner safety, the director of safety and environmental stewardship for the American Waterways Operators (AWO) has been named a 2020 Rising Star of Safety by the National Safety Council.

Brian Bailey is one of 32 men and women from five countries chosen for the honor, which celebrates health, safety, security, environment and quality professionals under age 40 who are having an impact on their field. In recent years, Bailey has focused on improving safety in the domestic marine transportation industry, bringing safety experts together with key industry figures to share best practices.

“Brian brings passion and creativity to his work,” said Jennifer Carpenter, president and CEO of the AWO. “His dedication to protecting the health and safety of the hardworking men and women of the tugboat, towboat and barge industry makes a real difference to our industry and to the families of our mariners.”

Marino Hwang of McAllister Towing, award nominator and chairman of the AWO’s Coastal Safety Committee, called Bailey’s commitment to safety “unparalleled.” Bailey said the recognition was “a tremendous honor.”


Port toolkit gains module on marine highway projects
The Port Planning and Investment Toolkit has expanded to include a marine highway projects module aimed at helping the development of future port projects and improving efficiency and competitiveness.

The toolkit — jointly launched by the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) and the Maritime Administration (MarAd) — now has five modules that give U.S. ports best-practice examples when planning, evaluating, funding and/or financing freight transportation, facility and other port-related improvement projects.

To help address the many infrastructure needs and funding concerns facing American ports, AAPA and MarAd “jointly brought together a host of marine highway project experts to assist in developing this newest addition to the toolkit resource,” said Christopher Connor, AAPA’s president and CEO. “Our strong belief is it will help U.S. ports in developing ‘investment grade’ project plans and obtain capital for their marine highway projects.”

The new toolkit module provides an overview of America’s Marine Highway Program and educates readers on how marine highway services can become designated projects by the U.S. Transportation Department. It explains how to plan a new marine highway service, determine its feasibility and identify possible funding mechanisms.

The module will be updated periodically as new regulations and policies affecting marine highway planning, feasibility and investment requirements related to the applicable laws discussed in the document are developed.

The module can be accessed by clicking here to download the Port Planning and Investment Toolkit.

By Professional Mariner Staff