I attended a great meeting yesterday at the Port of New Orleans hosted by the FBA Admiralty Law Committee. Here are some bullets and takeaways, which are certainly of interest to anyone in the maritime industry along the lower Mississippi River. I am especially grateful that the following people were able to speak with us:
- Patricia Krebs, Chair of the Admiralty Law Committee of the New Orleans Chapter of the Federal Bar Association
- Robert “Rusty” Barkerding, Jr., Chairman of the Port of New Orleans Board of Commissioners
- Ronald Wendel, Vice President- Finance & Administration (CAO/CFO) of the Port of New Orleans
- Aaron C. Smith, President & CEO of OMSA (Offshore Marine Service Association)
It’s wonderful to have people at such a high level take time out of their day to share the latest and greatest of what’s going on locally in our industry.
- Port of N.O. Updates given by Rusty Barkerding and Ronald Wendel
- The Port is looking to establish a container terminal in St. Bernard Parish along 675 acres of undeveloped land located right on the east bank of the Mississippi River. This would be a monumental $1 billion investment, and presents a huge advantage for New Orleans to attract larger vessels because, as it stands, the Port’s gantry cranes are located upriver of the Crescent City Connection bridge, which has an air draft restriction. You can read more about this exciting development here.
- The Port’s acquisition of the New Orleans Public Belt has strengthened our Port, as New Orleans is the only deepwater port with access to six class I railroads.
- The Port set a new record, topping 1.1 million cruise passengers in 2017. With Norwegian Cruise Line’s announcement of a new 4,000-passenger vessel to homeport in New Orleans in 2018, those numbers should easily be exceeded. It’s great to see so many folks taking advantage of cruises out of New Orleans, which definitely provides them with a two-in-one vacation.
- Barkerding emphasized that the new President & CEO of the Port of New Orleans, Brandy Christian, has revitalized the structure of the port administration, and the “place is now buzzing.” Since today is International Women’s Day, I felt like I really needed to share this point…way to go, Brandy!
- President of OMSA (Offshore Marine Services Association), Aaron C. Smith, gave an Interesting Speech
- OMSA is the national trade organization based in Louisiana for offshore service and supply vessel operators.
- Their industry is struggling now with many boats laid-up, but they believe the industry is cyclical, and they are continuing to build boats.
- Mr. Smith discussed the Jones Act and its importance to their industry. In November 2017, OMSA and the Shipbuilders Council of America filed suit against Customs and Border Protection (the principal agency charged with enforcing U.S. cabotage laws) on behalf of a captain who has not been able to find work. Radtke, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Customs & Border Protection, et al., No. 1:17-cv-02412, pending in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. It will be interesting to follow where this case ends up, as there is significant disagreement among various industry interests concerning interpretation and scope of the Jones Act.
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