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A container is offloaded from a SEACOR AMH barge by Ports America at the Port of New Orleans Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal. The ports of Baton Rouge and New Orleans received a federal grant to purchase equipment to make container barge service between the two ports more efficient.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY THE PORT OF NEW ORLEANS

The ports of New Orleans and Greater Baton Rouge have received a $1.75 million federal grant to acquire specialized container loading equipment to increase efficiencies for a container-on-barge shuttle service operated by SEACOR AMH between the two ports.

The shuttle service, which began earlier this year with five barges per week, is a regularly scheduled container-on-barge service for exports moving from the Baton Rouge area to the Port of New Orleans, where the containers are loaded onto container vessels.

“The container-on-barge service and the application for the MARAD (U.S. Maritime Administration) grant have been joint projects for Baton Rouge and New Orleans, with both ports working together for more than a year,” said Jay Hardman, executive director of the Port of Greater Baton Rouge.

The new service fulfills a market need by repositioning empty containers from Memphis to Baton Rouge for an increasing volume of resin exports from the Baton Rouge area. It also provides exporters with more efficient transportation options by water to re-position empty equipment that would otherwise move by truck or rail.

According to figures from a U.S. Department of Transportation study, there is a savings to Louisiana of $118 per round-trip per 40-foot container between New Orleans and Baton Rouge if moved by barge rather than over the road.

“We are thrilled to have received this grant and to be working with the Port of Greater Baton Rouge and SEACOR AMH to offer container-on-barge service to our customers,” said Gary LaGrange, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans. “In addition to the economic and operational benefits, the service has a positive environmental impact as well.”

SEACOR AMH, operator and developer of the shuttle service, and Ports America, the terminal operator at the Port of New Orleans and Port of Greater Baton Rouge, were also strategic partners in obtaining the grant, the port officials said.