NOAA Installations to Boost Shipping Safety in Louisiana

Physical Oceanographic Real Time Systems were installed this week in Morgan City and Port Fourchon. They will provide real-time water level information and other data to mariners.

Two important ports in southeast Louisiana now have NOAA's Physical Oceanographic Real Time System (PORTS®) installed, the agency announced this week. These are multi-sensor systems that will increase navigation safety and allow for increased efficiency on ships transiting through the Port of Morgan City and Port Fourchon.

NOAA describes PORTS as "an integrated system of oceanographic and meteorological sensors that provide mariners with accurate and reliable real-time information about environmental conditions in seaports." The agency's news release quotes Rich Edwing, NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services director: "Real-time knowledge of the currents, water levels, winds, and density of the water can increase the amount of cargo moved through a port and harbor and enable mariners to safely use available channel depths. Even one additional foot of draft can substantially increase the profit of a shipment."

The PORTS system provides information on water levels, currents, wind speed and direction, air and water temperatures, barometric pressure, and salinity.

According to the release, Morgan City is a newly established foreign trade destination and Port Fourchon is one of the nation's busiest energy ports, servicing 90 percent of the deepwater Gulf of Mexico oil and gas industry and handling more than 20 percent of the nation's energy supply each day. The Port of Morgan City system was the 24th seaport to join the national PORTS network, and the Port Fourchon system was dedicated May 13.

"Because our seaport services so many oil tankers, an accident could have a detrimental impact on the environment in our area. PORTS is critical for protecting not only the goods and services that come in and out of our seaport, but also for protecting the environment from damage caused by an oil spill," said Port Fourchon Executive Director Chett Chiasson.

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