Coast Guard opens Lower Mississippi to all vessel traffic after hurricane

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(NEW ORLEANS) — The Coast Guard captain of the port for New Orleans, Capt. Will Watson, on Friday opened the Lower Mississippi River to all vessel traffic in New Orleans and key ports throughout southeast Louisiana following Hurricane Ida.

After the successful removal of several power lines obstructing the waterway due to a downed transmission tower near mile marker 106.5 and a survey of the ship channel in key areas of concern, the waterway has been deemed open for all marine traffic.

“Working alongside key federal, state, parish, city and maritime industry leaders, we’ve made significant progress reconstituting ports and waterways throughout southeast Louisiana,” said Watson. “The marine transportation system in this region connects our heartland’s harvest with global markets and provides vital energy supply to our nation. We continue to support the state of Louisiana as we collectively recover from the impacts of Hurricane Ida.”

The Coast Guard continues to work with its partners to reconstitute ports and waterways throughout southeast Louisiana to pre-storm capacity in Port Fourchon, Bayou Lafourche, Houma Navigation Canal, and key points along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

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A Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter crew conducts an overflight of the Mississippi River for potential pollution threats and environmental impacts from Hurricane Ida on Sept. 3 in Luling, La. U.S. Coast Guard photo

Vessel movement and cargo operations are authorized within the Port of New Orleans with the following restrictions:

• Vessels operating on the Lower Mississippi River from mile marker 108 to 167.5 need to maintain the slowest safe speed in the vicinity of ongoing vessel salvage operations, and tow sizes shall be limited to 36 barges southbound and 42 barges northbound respectively, with six wide being the maximum allowed.
• Vessels operating in this zone are recommended to sail as close to the centerline of the channel as possible.
• Vessel operators are reminded there may be sunken or partially sunken obstructions near the right or left descending banks and should use caution when transiting these areas.
• The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, from mile marker 18 to 20 west of Harvey Locks, remains closed due to shoaling.
• Deep-draft vessels operating on the Lower Mississippi River are restricted to daylight transit only.
• Mariners are advised to exercise caution while transiting the Lower Mississippi River from mile marker 56 to 58 due to a large field of partially sunken barges along the right descending bank.

Although waterways are open to traffic, shoaling, storm debris, and other hazards may still exist. Mariners must be mindful of their vessel wake, as flooding conditions may exist in many communities near waterways. Aids to navigation may also be damaged or missing. Mariners transiting the area should use caution, and report any aids to navigation damage, obstructions, or other waterways issues to Sector New Orleans Command Center at (504) 365-2209.

– U.S. Coast Guard

By Professional Mariner Staff