Maritime Company Sails Ship on Mississippi at Record-Setting Depth
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — In late December, Maritime company Host announced it had sailed a vessel on the Mississippi River with a draft of 47.7 feet after river pilots raised the maximum depth of a portion of the river’s ship channel to 48 feet. The previous maximum was 47 feet, but a $250 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging project is making it deeper. The term “draft” means the distance between the waterline and the deepest point of a vessel.
The M/V CSSC Le Havre, operated by Cargill International and carrying cargo from Alliance Coal, left Host’s United Bulk Terminals Davant facility on Dec. 23 destined for Asia. It was loaded with more than 112,000 metric tons. Host served as both the vessel agent and terminal operator for this voyage. Host said 47.7 feet is the deepest draft recorded to date by the Crescent Pilot Association, which handled the ship’s navigation.
“When the Crescent River Pilots, who oversee navigation of vessels in the this stretch of river, announced the increase in depth on Dec. 20, the Host Agency team sprang into action working with the master, shippers, owners, operators and terminal to increase the cargo to be loaded by over 2,000 tons with less than 24 hours’ notice,” said Chris Kitsos, senior operations manager at Host Agency in a press release.
“Host had already invested in equipment and dock improvements to accommodate up to 250,000 ton ships to load up to 50 feet in any river condition, so when the pilots approved deeper navigation we were already ready,” said Brian Taylor, general manager of the Gulf at United Bulk Terminals.
Host, a 99-year-old company, supports continued long-term efforts to reach a 55-feet draft on the Mississippi. It says the deeper channel is the culmination of many years of industry efforts and partnership between river pilots, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, port officials and elected representatives.
“We are proud to be a part of this historic moment on the Mississippi,” said Host’s Chairman CEO Adam Anderson. “We expect to be able to load vessels to 50 feet in 2022. Capesize ships, [too large for the Panama or Suez canals], can load up to 10% more cargo, making U.S. exports more competitive in the global marketplace. The increased depth allows vessels to immediately carry more cargo resulting in lower costs, reduced emissions and increased efficiency for the entire supply chain.”
Host said the river has an economic impact of over $700 billion annually.