U.S. COAST GUARD
A Coast Guard 25-foot response boat and crew from Marine Safety Unit Baton Rouge, La., accompany the assist vessel John
H. Macmillan as the Coast Guard and industry partners view the testing of barges being pushed by the UTV Crimson Gem
May 24. Restrictions were put in place at certain points on the Mississippi River due to high water from record flooding.
“The commodities that are being affected [by the
flooding] are grain and coal and petroleum products. It
just really does mean things wind up costing more in
stores because it’s costing more to get where they are
going,” said Sean Duffy Sr., maritime advocate for the
Mississippi River Maritime Association, a nonprofit
trade association of shipping agents.
Duffy said draft restrictions, especially for vessels
traveling from Baton Rouge, La., on down, have become
a big problem for shippers using the river.
“A 2-foot draft restriction can cause over $2 million
in additional costs per vessel, depending on the cargo,”
Draft restrictions occur when navigation of a waterway is hampered by a buildup of silt, debris, hazards or
other blockages. According to the American Association
of Port Authorities, a navigation channel that has
become too shallow to accommodate particular cargo-laden vessels means the vessels either have to lighten
their loads, or pick up and drop off cargo at another port.
Two-thirds of the nation’s grain exports are trans-
ported to world markets through the Mississippi River
and four of the 10 oil refineries along the river depend
on unimpeded navigation to receive petroleum ship-
ments. Those who export coal and import raw materi-
als, such as steel, rubber, copper, aluminum and lum-
ber for manufacturing, also depend on the waterway,
according to a Big River Coalition June 7 press release.