The Waterways Journal
4 November 2013
In response to Jeff Kindl’s letter to the editor,
“Container-On-Barge,” October 14:
“There have been numerous plans on paper of moving containers by
barge…” Mr. Kindl is right about that. The Mod 1 Hull is one of
those barge concepts, learning from those other trials, that
could be turned into a reality. The brown/blue water design makes
it eminently feasible to transport containers on the Mississippi
River and many other inland waterways. It can take on containers
in nine feet of shallow water and run, loading containers all the
way on the Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean to Kingston, Jamaica without
swamping—thus the design description “brown/blue water” hull.
Contrary to the other container short runs Mr. Kindl mentions, the
longer the container revenue miles, the more economical the Mod 1
And, the Mod 1 Hull wouldn’t cost anywhere near the $300 million
plus $90 million per year it will take for continuously dredging
the Mississippi. In fact, the Mod 1 Hull could pick up and drop
off containers from the ultra large Panamax ships at Kingston and
deposit containers right at the New Orleans port and then, without
transshipment, as Mr. Kindl referenced for other barges, move
additional containers to Joliet, Ill. (Chicago).
Mr. Kindl’s letter stated “It is not the Port of New Orleans’ job
to develop upriver container-on-barge water commerce any more than
it should be developing upriver fertilizer, steel and salt barging
services.” The private business sector might ask then why is it
the business of the Port of New Orleans to dredge the Mississippi
River when foreign-flag vessels are the major benefactors and, if
dredging is so valuable to everyone, why aren’t container
vessel owners lining up to help finance it?
I believe New Orleans certainly does have a responsibility to
develop upriver container-on-barge waterborne commerce, if only to
grow its own port traffic and add value to the waterways. New
Orleans, contrary to Mr. Kindl’s description, serves a huge U.S.
market encompassing ports all the way up to Chicago, many of which
are already serviced by New Orleans Public Belt Rail. And,
it cannot proceed as though it were not part of the network.
A more recent study, a simulation, is underway and needs more
support. The Port of New Orleans has been free to add their data
and to support that study. This third-party study might enhance
their vision of a brown/blue water barge service replacing the
Port of New Orleans’ wasteful /unnecessary and expensive dredging.