Crucial Step for NY & NJ Harbor Study

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study aimed at improving navigation and generating transportation-cost savings for deep-draft ships using New York and New Jersey Harbor terminals reached a key milestone Thursday.

Image source: USACE

Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, chief of engineers and USACE commanding general, signed a Chief’s Report, recommending the New York and New Jersey Harbor Anchorages Study’s findings for authorization by Congress.

Norfolk District led the comprehensive study, but it was a joint Corps effort that included New York and Mobile districts.

“This is a tremendous achievement for USACE as we worked collaboratively with multiple districts,” said Col. Patrick Kinsman, Norfolk District commander. “More importantly, this collective team worked tirelessly to develop a solution for our partners at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. We’re looking to improve efficiencies and reduce risk to port operations by providing anchorage space for larger vessels that currently do not have it.” 

Larger vessels calling on the port now exceed maximum anchorage dimensions – 47 feet below mean lower low water and a length of 1,100 feet, according to the report. Those ships can’t use the anchorage at all and typically go straight to dock – unless there are weather issues.

The new anchorage would allow these larger vessels to anchor without going back to the ocean, officials said. As future ships increase in size, they will have a reliable anchorage once it’s built.

The New York and New Jersey Harbor Anchorages Study’s recommendations include: deepening Gravesend Anchorage to a required depth of 50 feet MLLW, widening it to 3,000 feet with associated approach-area modifications and a maximum designed swing area up to 3,600 feet, and dredging about 950,000 cubic yards of material.

The project’s estimated cost is $25.3 million, with USACE covering 65% and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, its nonfederal sponsor, picking up 35%.

The Chief’s Report will undergo further review by the assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works and Office of Management and Budget before formal submittal to Congress.

The report’s signing also permits start of the preconstruction, engineering and design phase, which shifts to New York District responsibility. That covers project design and typically lasts up to three years.