Busy Port: Coast Guard Eyes Offshore Anchorages At Fourchon

FORT FOURCHON, LA (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard may put in two offshore anchorage points around Port Fourchon to cut down on port traffic.

         The Courier’s Aaren Gordon reports the Coast Guard announced the possible project in a public notice published in the Federal Register. A public comment period ends June 5.

         The port's vessel volume has increased 30 percent since 2009, leading to a need to improve traffic flow in the port's waterways, according to the Coast Guard.

         Offshore supply vessels "are often moored three or four abreast, requiring constant shifting and repositioning of vessels, crew members, and dock workers, greatly increasing the risks of collisions, groundings or harm to personnel," the Coast Guard said in the notice.

         Chett Chiasson, executive director of Port Fourchon, said discussion about offshore anchorage has been going on for years.

         "It started with several discussions with tenants and users of Port Fourchon, then escalated" to discussions with Coast Guard and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, he said.

         "It took numerous meetings and lots of collaboration between industry, the Port Commission, federal and state agencies to get to where we are today," Chiasson said.

         The anchorages are intended for offshore supply vessels and other vessels providing or using service with the port and the outer continental shelf.

         "We expect continued growth within the port in the coming years. Additionally, vessels to service the deep-water oil and gas industry continue to grow larger in size. For these reasons, the Coast Guard is considering the request to establish new offshore anchorages," the Coast Guard said.

         The proposed South Timbalier Anchorage West and South Timbalier Anchorage East would be between 36 and 60 feet deep.

         Tenants usually dock their vessels at a berth; along the port's main waterways of Belle Pass, Bayou Lafourche or Flotation Canal; or leave the port until a berth becomes available.

         The location wouldn't significantly affect customary shipping lanes, said the Coast Guard.

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