Fair Winds and Following Seas

2023 is looking to be a good one for the maritime industry

Strong. Diverse. Historic. These are just a few of the words experts use to describe the future of the maritime industry in South Louisiana.

With massive infrastructure projects underway and the global shipping industry starting to get back to normal, along with reduced congestion across U.S. ports, the region is poised to become an even bigger player on the international shipping stage in 2023.

For starters, many on the water are happy to see some stability, despite geopolitical influences on international trade, the price of fuel and “unfavorable navigational conditions” for mariners.

“The maritime industry as a whole is diverse and serves a large swath of industries—petroleum and chemical industries, coal, the grain trade, and container shipments to name a few,” said Ben Morvant, senior operations manager at Crescent Towing. “So we are well positioned for the ebbs and flows of trade and markets.”

That’s not to say there haven’t been challenges. Last year, a new tranche of the Code of Federal Regulations, more commonly referred to as “Subchapter M,” completed the four-year phase-in period, which means that 100% of the U.S. fleet of vessels is now under the purview of the United States Coast Guard.

Morvant said the new legislation ensures a safety standard across the entire fleet of U.S.-flagged vessels, and with that comes a sense of safety and reliability. But getting everybody on board required all hands-on deck.

“Every single person that works in the maritime industry played a part in their respective organization’s success in achieving Sub M Compliance, which was a major challenge and accomplishment,” Morvant said.

There have been big achievements on land, too. Port NOLA officials have reported that breakbulk — cargo that is moved in separate pieces, not in containers, like steel coils for example — is up 29% over last year. And just last month, the port hit two major milestones.

First, four gantry cranes, including two new ones, worked a vessel simultaneously. Second, the port welcomed a new container vessel, the MSC Shay: At 1,114 feet long, it is the longest container vessel to ever call Port NOLA home.

There’s also the long-awaited return of cruise operations. This past November, the port announced that numbers of cruisers had returned to pre-pandemic counts, and the expectation is currently for 2023 to see 1.4 million passengers traveling out of New Orleans, surpassing the current record of 1.2 million set in 2019.

Carnival is celebrating its 50th anniversary year with an average 110% occupancy on sailings out of New Orleans. Royal Caribbean returned seasonally in November, and Disney is doubling its cruises from Port NOLA in 2023 with 14 sailings.

River cruises resumed successfully from the Port in March 2021 and are now at record levels, with nine river cruise vessels departing from New Orleans.

Finally, there is the ongoing development of the $1.8 billion Louisiana International Terminal in St. Bernard Parish, which officials say will create more than 17,000 jobs, $1 billion in state tax revenue and an overall of $98 billion in economic output.

“We’re on track to begin construction in 2025,” said Port NOLA Press Secretary Kimberly Curth, “with the first berth opening in 2028.”


Perspectives Maritime Benmorvant

Ben Morvant
Senior Operations Manager
Crescent Towing

There are so many good maritime job opportunities for young men and women in our region. The work that the maritime industry performs is very meaningful, and I hope that young women and men understand the impact they could have if they choose to work in this industry. Start in an entry-level position and work your way up: In a few years you’ll be making a good, honest living that will enable you to do whatever you want in life.


Perspectives Maritime Kimberleycurth

Kimberly Curth
Press Secretary

Two historic, decades-long infrastructure projects have paved the way for the future of maritime in Louisiana and the development of the Louisiana International Terminal, the $14.5 billion federal Hurricane Risk Reduction System, which proved successful during Hurricane Ida, and the recent completion of Phase 1 of the deepening of the Mississippi River Ship Channel to 50 feet. With flood protection and deep draft, we will be able to welcome bigger ships, more cargo and resilient facilities for decades to come.