Port of New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Lower Mississippi River Corridor Photo 1
  • Lower Mississippi River Corridor Photo 2
  • Lower Mississippi River Corridor Photo 3

Serving all ports on the Mississippi River and the Ports of Fourchon, Houma and Morgan City, Louisiana

Fillette Green Shipping Services, New Orleans, La.
4760 Pontchatrain Drive
Slidell, Louisiana  70458

Phone:  (504) 581-7468
Fax:      (504)  835-1233

Clifton St. Pierre
Mobile:    (504) 884-6600

Southwest Pass to Baton Rouge, La. Including the Port of New Orleans

Mississippi River Overview
The Mississippi River is one of the world’s major river systems in size, habitat diversity and biological productivity. It is the third longest river in North America, flowing 2,350 miles from its source at Lake Itasca through the center of the continental United States to the Gulf of Mexico.

When compared to other world rivers, the Mississippi-Missouri River combination ranks fourth in length (3,710 miles/5,970km) following the Nile (4,160 miles/6,693km), the Amazon (4,000 miles/6,436km), and the Yangtze Rivers (3,964 miles/6,378km). The reported length of a river may increase or decrease as deposition or erosion occurs at its delta, or as meanders are created or cutoff. As a result, different lengths may be reported depending upon the year or measurement method.

Agriculture has been the dominant land use for nearly 200 years in the Mississippi basin, and has altered the hydrologic cycle and energy budget of the region. The agricultural products and the huge agribusiness industry that has developed in the basin produce 92% of the nation's agricultural exports, 78% of the world's exports in feed grains and soybeans, and most of the livestock and hogs produced nationally. Sixty percent of all grain exported from the US is shipped on the Mississippi River through the Port of New Orleans and the Port of South Louisiana. In measure of tonnage, the largest port district in the world is located along the Mississippi River delta in Louisiana. The Port of South Louisiana is one of the largest volume ports in the United States. Representing 500 million tons of shipped goods per year (according to the Port of New Orleans), the Mississippi River barge port system is significant to national trade.

Shipping at the lower end of the Mississippi is focused on petroleum and petroleum products, iron and steel, grain, rubber, paper, wood, coffee, coal, chemicals, and edible oils.

Transiting the Lower Mississippi River (LMR)

Deep draft vessels entering the Mississippi River system traditionally gain access through the natural tributaries. The primary tributary is Southwest Pass which spans some 22 miles from the entrance at the breakwater to Pilot Town. Southwest pass is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Designed to be self-dredging, the project depth for Southwest Pass is 47ft fresh water. Dredging is an essential element in maintaining under keel clearances and channel width.

Located At Head of Passes 0, generally referred to as 0 AHP, Pilottown marks the beginning of the river system. Terminals, anchorages, bridges and other specific locations on the river are always given in AHP terms.


The three major commercial ports of the lower Mississippi River are the Port of New Orleans, The Port of South Louisiana and the Port of Baton Rouge.  There are numerous other port designations along the river each designated by the local parish or municipality.

Plaquemine Port Authority

Considered the “gateway to the largest port system” in the world, the Plaquemine Port authority governs trade on the lower extreme commercial area of the Mississippi River.  Spanning from Pilot Town, mile 0 AHP to Belle Chasse at mile 80.8 AHP, Plaquemine has the closest terminals and port structure to the Gulf of Mexico on the Mississippi River.
The main commercial area of the Plaquemine Port are:  Venice, Boothville, Ostrica, Port Sulphur, Magnolia, Point Celeste, Davant, Alliance, Wills Point, Cedar Grove, Belle Chasse and 12 mile anchorage.

St. Bernard Port Harbor & Terminal District

Located from mile 81.5-91.5 AHP, the harbor district includes Chalmette.

Port of New Orleans

Spanning the range from mile   81.2 to mile 114.9, the Port of New Orleans is the 6th largest port in the United Stated based on volume of cargo handled.  It is the 2nd largest port in the State of Louisiana and boast the longest wharf in the world at 2.10 miles or 3.4 km.

Strategic Advantage
The Port of New Orleans is the center of the Lower Mississippi River port complex in Louisiana. Connected to America's heartland by the great 23.3 thousand kilometer inland waterway of the Mississippi River and its tributaries, the Port of New Orleans is the port of choice for a wide range of cargoes that include rubber, coffee, steel, containers, and manufactured goods. Some 6,000 vessels and 500 million tons of cargo travel up and down the Mississippi River each year, including over half of the country's grain exports. With this extremely high rate of traffic, the Port of New Orleans is seen as the center point of American waterway trade.
The Port of New Orleans is the United States' only deep-water port served by six major railroads, which is more than any other port in the country, that give it cost-effective rail service to the destinations throughout the country. These six railroads are linked by the New Orleans Public Belt, a 25 mile long railroad. The productive private maritime industry in the Port of New Orleans helps it produce year after year and giving it the United States' largest market share for imported steel, plywood, coffee, and natural rubber.

Port of South Louisiana

The Port of South Louisiana is the largest volume shipping port in the Western Hemisphere and the 9th largest shipping port in the world. 

As America's largest tonnage Port district, the Port of South Louisiana is the premier sea gateway for U.S. export and import traffic...

Governed by a board of seven Commissioners, the Port of South Louisiana, which stretches 54 miles along the Mississippi River, is the largest tonnage port district in the western hemisphere. The facilities within St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, and St. James parishes (counties) handled over 278 million short tons of cargo in 2012, brought to its terminals via vessels and barges.
Over 4,000 oceangoing vessels and 55,000 barges call at the Port of South Louisiana each year, making it the top ranked in the country for export tonnage and total tonnage.
With exports of over 61 million short tons of cargo in 2012 (go to News & Information/Statistics page for more statistics details) -more than any other port in North America- Port of South Louisiana cargo throughput accounts for 15% and 57% of total U.S. and Louisiana exports, respectively.
The Port of South Louisiana has five first-rate port-owned facilities, ranging from grain elevators to general cargo facilities. It serves as landlord of these, which are leased to operating companies such as Occidental Chemical and Archer Daniels Midland. The exception is the Globalplex Intermodal Terminal, purchased by the Port in 1992 that is being redeveloped into a world-class complex to accommodate a variety of dry bulk and breakbulk cargo.

Port of Baton Rouge

Located at the upper end of the deep draft commercial corridor of the lower Mississippi River, the Port of Baton Rouge is located between mile markers 165.8 -253.0 AHP.

A Strategic Location

The Port of Greater Baton Rouge is strategically located on the Mississippi River and is an integral part of the Louisiana maritime industry and overall economy. Handling a diverse range of cargo and accommodating special requests is a trademark of the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, and we have proof: the Port of Greater Baton Rouge ranks among the U.S. top ports in total tonnage. Present us with a challenge or a unique situation, and we'll always respond with, "We Can Handle That!"

The Port of Greater Baton Rouge Location Facts:

• Located in Port Allen, LA, the Port of Greater Baton Rouge is situated at the convergence of the Mississippi River and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and is linked to other major  ports between north Florida and south Texas and through the Mississippi River inland waterway system.

• The port provides easy accessibility to world markets and the Panama Canal.

• The port is the head of deep water navigation on the Mississippi River; a 45-foot shipping channel to the mouth of the Mississippi River is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

• The jurisdiction of the Port of Greater Baton Rouge falls within river mile 168.5 AHP to the south (Sunshine Bridge) and 253 AHP to the north (ExxonMobil Refinery), a total of 85 miles, on both the east and west banks of the Mississippi River.

• The port's jurisdiction includes the parishes of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberville and West Baton Rouge.

• The port is adjacent to the Port Allen Lock, which is the northernmost point on the Mississippi River where barges can access the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

• The Port of Greater Baton Rouge provides excellent accessibility to all types of intermodal transportation. The port is located adjacent to U.S. Interstate 10, and is in close proximity to U.S. Interstate 12, 49, 55, and 59; U.S. Highway 61, 65, and 90 and LA Highway 1.

• The port’s excellent public infrastructure and connectivity provide direct access to ship, barge, truck and rail. Our strategic location provides ready access to the nation’s heartland via nearly 15,000 miles of inland water transportation as well as to the Gulf of Mexico and ocean trade lanes to and from Latin America and the rest of the world.































Water Levels

The Mississippi River is not subject to tidal variances however does have seasonal rise and fall depending on rainfall and snow melt in the watershed of the central United States.  The river is encased in a levee system from above Baton Rouge to  the head of passes.  The levees are designed to accommodate a 21 ft  (6.40 m) rise.  There are two flood protection spillways, the Morganza north of Baton Rouge and Bonne Carre north of New Orleans.  These flood gates are opened under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to regulate the level of water in the river system by diverting water into the Atchafalaya Basin and Lake Pontchartrain.

River stages are measured at set gauges located along the river system.  A key gauge for maritime traffic is the Carrolton Gauge at New Orleans.  Various policies are in place for management of maritime traffic in high water including traffic lights at New Orleans, daylight restriction on mooring/unmooring at mid-stream locations. 

Shoaling and Silting

The landmass that constitutes the watershed of the Mississippi includes significant agricultural areas.  As such the river generally has a substantial amount of silt mixed in the water.  The rise and fall of the river, speed and other factors determine the movement of silt.  Whereas the bottom of the river is generally considered to be soft, there are hard clay ridges that cross the river and create natural dams.  These crossings are highly susceptible to shoaling in the seasonal rise and fall of the river.  The Corps of Engineers maintains a fleet of dredges that maintain the project depth of 47 ft from mile 0 AHP to mile 180 and 45 ft from mile 181 to 232.5.

Vessel Navigation

There are three (3) state licensed pilot associations responsible for the safe navigation of foreign flag vessels on the river.  Additionally there is one federally licensed pilot group responsible for navigation of U.S. flag, coastwise eligible vessels.  The Federal Pilots cover the entire river system within their organization.  The State pilots have geographical jurisdictions where they are responsible for transit.

• Associated Branch Pilots (Bar Pilots) navigate the tributaries of the river including Southwest Pass, South Pass and the lesser channels for shallow draft vessels.  Bar Pilot are not licensed to navigate on the Mississippi River itself.
• Crescent River Port Pilots Association are licensed to navigate the waters of the river from Pilot Town, mile 0 AHP to mile 110 AHP, above New Orleans.
• New Orleans Baton Rouge Pilots Association are licensed to navigate from mile 110 AHP and northbound to the commercial limits of the Port of Baton Rouge.

Note:  There are areas of accepted overlapping jurisdiction that are associated with safety and launch facilities necessary to the pilot’s operations.

Full Service Port

The commercial corridor of the lower Mississippi River encompasses nearly 235 nautical miles of waterways.  There are terminals to handle virtually any commodity moved by waterborne commerce.  There are numerous bunker suppliers, repair facilities, chandlers and surveyors to facilitate ship requirements.

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