As Ships Get Bigger, Businesses at Port of Tampa in Favor of Deepening Port

Port Tampa Bay cranes

Posted on September 15, 2021

Leaders representing businesses at Port Tampa Bay have expressed their support for a new study that will look into deepening Tampa Harbor.

Port Tampa Bay and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will embark on a three-year-long study into possible improvements, just over two years after the deepening of the Big Bend Channel.

Any projects resulting from the study would be on a large scale involving major funding, spokesperson David Ruderman said.

The port completed the Big Bend Channel project in April 2019. That cost $63 million and deepened several parts of the channel from 34 feet to 43 feet. The last regular maintenance dredging finished in March 2021.

Businesses surrounding the port support further deepening, said Bill Kuzmick, president of Port of Tampa Maritime Industries Association. In five or 10 years, he wouldn’t be surprised to see 60-foot vessels, far exceeding the 43-foot-deep main portion of the Tampa Harbor.

“Ships are getting bigger; there’s no doubt about it,” Kuzmick said. “Deeper water means that we can move bigger vessels around. Bigger vessels mean more cargo. More cargo means more jobs. It all kind of goes hand in hand. So yeah, we’re absolutely in favor of deepening the channels. [But] we’re also realistic about what’s deep enough.”

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