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American Shipper

New Mobile turning basin opens

New Mobile turning basin opens

   The Port of Mobile's new turning basin, which will make it easier for large ships to call marine terminals in the lower part of the harbor, has been put into use.

   On Aug. 7, the containership CMA CGM White Shark used the turning basin when calling the Mobile Container Terminal.

   The five-year, $32 million project will “cut transit times for ships literally in half, from six to three hours,” because vessels will not have to steam up river to turnaround, said Brian Clark, director of Mobile Container Terminal. “It will allow our carriers to call with larger vessels to the Port of Mobile.'

   The new 1,175-foot-by-715-foot basin is located in the lower harbor between Pinto Island and Little Sand Island, and will make it easier for ships to call the container terminal, McDuffie coal terminal and the new Pinto Steel Terminal, which handles steel for the recently opened ThyssenKrupp steel mill upstream from Mobile.

   Because the turning basin is adjacent to the main shipping channel in Mobile, ships longer than 715 feet are able to use it — for example the CMA CGM White Shark is more than 964 feet long.

CMA CGM White Shark was the first vessel to use the newly constructed Mobile Harbor Turning Basin on Aug. 7.



   Wynne Fuller, operations chief for the Mobile District of the Army Corps of Engineers said the turning basin would “certainly help the port and the region expand tonnage and provide an added incentive for businesses within the Southeast region.'

   Actual work began on the turning basin in September 2009 to accommodate larger vessels now being utilized by the container, bulk and general cargo ocean carriers.

   'The Port of Mobile has strategically positioned itself to receive those larger vessels,' stated Jimmy Lyons, director and chief executive officer for the port authority.

   The port had projected the turning basin could handle as many as 600 ships annually, a figure that could be reached immediately by 2012 if the economy rebounds, a port spokesman said. ' Chris Dupin

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