Container on Barge Service Launched

Tuesday, January 27, 2004
The Port of Greater Baton Rouge announced a new weekly short-sea shipping service for containers via barge to the Port of New Orleans. This regular service is scheduled weekly to facilitate demand from local industry.

Osprey Line operates the container terminal at the Baton Rouge port’s Inland Rivers Marine Terminal and launched the first weekly shipment Friday, January 9, 2004 to the Napoleon Street Wharf Container Terminal in New Orleans. Osprey Line President Rick Couch said, “With this weekly container-on-barge shipping schedule, local companies who import and export products to and from the Port of New Orleans can take advantage of lower transportation costs. Most products can be moved by container-on-barge. Our service now represents a viable, competitive transportation option for companies shipping containers in the Baton Rouge area.”

Cost savings is at the top of the list of advantages for container-on-barge service. Couch said, “Containers on trucks can only be filled to 80 percent of their capacity because of weight restrictions. But containers loaded onto barges can be filled to capacity, which means fewer containers. Fewer containers means the shipper saves money.” Unique, specialized cargo handling equipment at the terminal also add to the savings.

The container-on-barge shipping method is an efficient, streamlined mode of transportation, stated Couch. “When containers are trucked to a port, trucks make stops at the port gate to complete paperwork. Eighty trucks, 80 stops at the gate, 80 sets of paperwork. Finally, the trucks proceed to the dock for unloading. But container-on-barge shipments travel straight to the dock. One set of paperwork, plus the port’s gate is freed of truck traffic.” Osprey uses computer technology to further streamline the process. “We issue electronic dock receipts, so the receiving port has the paperwork even before the barge arrives. Plus, we use software that allows the client to track their cargo,” he said.

In Europe, container-on-barge transportation is the shipping mode of choice where half of all cargo is moved via inland waterways. In North America, only 10 percent of cargo is moved via rivers. Port of Greater Baton Rouge Director of Business Development Greg Johnson said, “We believe the container-on-barge service will steadily increase in popularity. It’s been proven in Europe. Maritime experts call it ‘the wave of the future.’ We’ve experienced a sharp increase in demand after just four months in service. Weekly service to New Orleans is our response to the demand, and we predict future expansions. We’re excited to be a leader in the industry here in Louisiana,” said Johnson.

Built specifically to handle container-on-barge cargo, the terminal at the Baton Rouge port is the first of its kind on the Mississippi River. The $3.6 million facility is the result of a cooperative effort between the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s Port Priority Program, Louisiana Economic Development and the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. Trucks, trains and barges are loaded and unloaded at the four-acre marshalling area and warehouse; the site can store 150 containers.

Port of Greater Baton Rouge CEO Roger Richard said, “The container-on-barge service has been three years in the making. Three years of construction, development, marketing and logistics have come to fruition. As a result, local business and industry can add this new, efficient service to their list of transportation options. And, container-on-barge service creates jobs for local longshoremen while adding value to the port’s scope of services. It’s a win-win for everyone involved,” Richard concluded.

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