Mississippi River ports restarting operations
Both the Port of New Orleans and the Port of South Louisiana took important steps Monday toward reestablishing commercial shipping operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The Port of New Orleans handled its first commercial shipments since Katrina Monday when three breakbulk steel barges were sent off to Mobile. A CP Ships containership was expected to arrive at the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal late today and it will be worked Wednesday.
Up the Mississippi at the Port of South Louisiana, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard cleared the river and port for vessels with drafts up to 47 feet — the pre-Katrina maximum.
Last week, river traffic was gradually increased from shallow-draft vessels like towboats and barges to vessels with drafts up to 39 feet. But two unidentified underwater obstructions at the bar channel at the mouth of Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River had to be cleared before the river was open to maximum-draft traffic.
That means Panamax and larger vessels can call at South Louisiana. Bob Metz, president of the American Soybean Association, said vessels holding 55,000 tons of soybeans can now use the port.
'The competitiveness of U.S. soybean exports depends heavily on the economic efficiency of the Mississippi River and Panamax ships,' Metz said.
At New Orleans, port president and chief executive officer Gary LaGrange said the port is 'making important milestones everyday as we ramp up operations in the Port of New Orleans ' We know that it's going to be about six months to get back to our normal cargo operations, but it's encouraging to see the progress that we have made in just two weeks.'