Proceedings Summer 2016
Commodities and their handling requirements shape the
way the Mississippi River functions. For example, bulk
commodities, such as grain and coal, barge down from the
heartland, bringing these cargoes to freight ships for export.
To accomplish this, the river must provide barge fleeting
areas, deep draft anchorages, and loading facilities or trans-
fer buoys while still managing to accommodate navigating
Further, the spot commodity market routinely moves petro-
chemical products between Mobile, Alabama; and Houston,
Texas. Barge traffic must utilize locks to enter and exit the
river as the barges move through the Intracoastal Waterway.
The lower Mississippi River houses five port complexes: the
Port of Baton Rouge, Port of South Louisiana, Port of New
Orleans, Port of St. Bernard, and Port of Plaquemines. Four
of these ports have consistently been in the top 10 for ton-
nage, making the Mississippi River one of the busiest ports
in the Western Hemisphere.
Even with these already-high volumes, these five ports
actively seek to expand their capabilities and continue
to expand commerce within the region. With increased
imports and new potential facilities to manage products
such as liquefied natural gas exports, coupled with the fact
that the Mississippi River can no longer expand, it is vital to
ensure that the river is developed with the principles of an
efficient and effective marine transportation system (MTS).
Building a Port
Managing an expanding port
and keeping it healthy.
by C dr Br I an k he Y
Chief of Prevention
U.S. Coast Guard Sector New Orleans