Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commanding General and 55th U.S. Army Chief of Engineers, signed a Chief's Report for Baltimore Harbor Anchorages and Channels Modification of Seagirt Loop Channel during a ceremony at USACE Headquarters in Washington, D.C., June 22, 2023. The report recommends that Congress fund about $64 million for the deepening and widening of Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration’s West Seagirt Branch Channel.
The plan recommends the channel be deepened to 50 feet, with an average width of 760 feet with additional widening at bends for vessels to safely navigate. Recommend improvements to the Baltimore Harbor Anchorages and Channels project would result in improved navigation efficiencies at the Port of Baltimore to help meet demand for future capacity at the Port facilities, including efficient handling of increased container volume at Seagirt Marine Terminal and faster and safer movement of vessels transiting the channels.
“These recommended improvements align with the administration's priorities to make our nation's ports safer and more efficient and reliable. Together with the State of Maryland we can take key steps forward in maintaining critical navigation, improving our supply chain and creating jobs throughout the region," said Spellmon.
In 2020, USACE, in partnership with MPA, launched the Seagirt Loop Channel Deepening Feasibility Study, which examined navigation efficiencies and transportation cost savings that could be gained by improving the Seagirt Loop Channel to better accommodate the ultra large container vessels, or “post-Panamax vessels”, calling at SMT. These vessels carry twice the cargo and require deeper water depths than the ships that were used to design the current access channels to the SMT.
Currently, ships calling on the Seagirt Marine Terminal must back out of the terminal using the Dundalk-Seagirt Access Channels. This maneuver causes delays for incoming ship traffic and creates unnecessary risk for groundings and collisions with other vessels.
If accepted, Congress could include proposed improvements in the next Water Resources Development Act. A separate appropriations legislation would have to also be passed to fund the construction of the recommended project.
The signed report can be found on the Baltimore District website at https://www.nab.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Seagirt-Loop-Channel.
Baltimore District delivers vital engineering solutions in collaboration with its partners to serve and strengthen the Nation, energize the economy, and reduce disaster risks. Headquartered near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the district provides design, engineering, construction, environmental and real estate expertise to a variety of important projects and customers. This support spans across five states, the District of Columbia, overseas, and across the Susquehanna, Potomac, and Chesapeake Bay watersheds. These civil and military missions and diverse engineering services support communities and warfighters while addressing the ever-growing list of emerging national security requirements and ultimately protecting the Nation.