The Port of New Orleans set a new record with 20,500 container movements in 2023. (Photo courtesy of Port NOLA)
Ports & Terminals

Port NOLA Sets Container-On-Barge Record

The Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) recorded 20,500 container movements by barge during 2023, setting a new record since the service between the ports of Greater Baton Rouge and New Orleans started in 2016. The container-on-barge service, operated by Ingram Marine Group following that company’s acquisition of Seacor Holdings’ inland river transportation business, SCF, is the largest of its kind in the United States, offering connections to the nation’s heartland via the Mississippi River.

Every container moved between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and farther upriver to Memphis, Tenn., and St. Louis, means one less truck on the road, reducing both congestion and emissions. In total, the service moves about 30,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per year.

“We are poised to expand this service even further in the coming years,” Port NOLA President and CEO Brandy Christian said. “This is one more example of Port NOLA working alongside our partners to provide innovative solutions for global supply chain disruptions while simultaneously honoring a commitment to sustainability.”

Since 2016, the port estimates the container-on-barge service has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by more than 11,400 tons compared to road transportation, with an estimated emissions reduction of more than 1,400 tons of CO2 in 2023 alone.The weekly service moves containers loaded with resins from Baton Rouge to New Orleans and repositions empty containers throughout the system.

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“We are proud to partner with the Port of New Orleans and Ingram Marine Group to continue to offer innovative and sustainable maritime solutions,” said Jay Hardman, executive director of the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. “These record-breaking numbers for our container-on-barge service are a direct result of our collective effort to create a stronger and more resilient supply chain.”

Ingram Marine Group President and CEO John Roberts echoed that commitment.

“We are proud to be a part of the thriving maritime economy of the Port of New Orleans, which includes a growing container-on-barge system,” Roberts said. “Our recent creation of Ingram Infrastructure Group, fueled in part by our acquisition of SCF, has greatly increased our presence in the container-on-barge market, as well as our material-handling capabilities and ability to provide end-to-end supply chain solutions for our customers. As such, we are positioned to build on the incredible success of 2023 in partnership with the Port of New Orleans and Ports America, as well as carriers and shippers, and look forward to continuing our container-on-barge services with them.”

Currently, container-laden barges are loaded and unloaded at Port NOLA’s Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal, located just upriver from the Crescent City Connection bridge over the Mississippi River. The port’s planned container terminal in Violet, La., below the bridge, will also have the capability of providing container-on-barge services. According to the port, the much-anticipated Louisiana International Terminal will offer dedicated berthing space designed for container-on-barge operations. The new terminal, currently in the design and permitting phase, will offer shore power, allowing vessels to power down diesel engines and cut emissions while in port by up to 98 percent.

The $1.8 billion Louisiana International Terminal project is set to receive close to $300 million in federal grant funding. More than $226 million will come through the federal government’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program, while close to $74 million will come through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s MEGA grant program. Ports America and MSC’s Terminal Investment Limited have also committed $800 million for the project, and the port itself has committed $500 million.

Construction is expected to begin in 2025, with the first berth coming online in 2028.

Caption for photo: The Port of New Orleans set a new record with 20,500 container movements in 2023. (Photo courtesy of Port NOLA)