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Corps’ chief signs report to move Port of Long Beach deep-draft navigation project forward

Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commanding general and 55th chief of engineers, center, signed a chief’s report Oct. 14 recommending the Port of Long Beach Deep Draft Navigation Plan to Congress at the Corps’ headquarters in Washington, D.C. The plan could be included in the next Water Resources Development Act. A separate bill to appropriate funding to the plan would also have to be passed by Congress for the plan to move forward to construction.

Posted on October 18, 2021

LOS ANGELES – Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District and the Port of Long Beach are one step closer to improving navigation efficiencies and safety for existing and prospective commerce within the port with the signing of a chief’s report for the project.

The Port of Long Beach Deep-Draft Navigation Feasibility Report – which aims to improve and modify existing channels in the port by deepening them to accommodate larger cargo ships – was signed Oct. 14 by Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, the Corps’ commanding general and 55th U.S. Army chief of engineers, at the Corps’ headquarters in Washington, D.C.

With Spellmon’s signature, the report is now elevated to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and to Congress for consideration of project authorization.

The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are responsible for 40 percent of the nation’s cargo throughput. The Port of Long Beach is the nation’s second-busiest port and moves more than $200 billion in goods each year.

“The deepening and widening of these channels is of vital importance to the nation’s economy,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “Keep in mind, we are the nation’s second-busiest port by container volume. Increasing the efficiency and speed that cargo is handled here has benefits to the whole supply chain reaching far beyond Southern California.”

The Corps’ recommended plan consists of the following navigation improvements at the port (all depths are Mean Lower Low Water):

  • Deepening the approach channel from -76 feet to -80 feet;
  • Bend easing within portions of the main channel to -76 feet;
  • Constructing an approach channel to Pier J South from -50 feet to -55 feet;
  • Constructing a turning basin outside of Pier J South from -50 feet to -55 feet; and,
  • Deepening the West Basin from -50 feet to -55 feet.

Additional improvements by port authorities include deepening Pier J Basin, berths J266-J270, within the Pier J South Slip to -55 feet; and structural improvements to the Pier J breakwaters to accommodate dredging of the Pier J Basin and approach channel.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Port of Long Beach to increase transportation efficiencies for container and liquid bulk vessels, for both the current and future fleet, and improve conditions for vessel operations and safety,” said Col. Julie Balten, commander of the Corps’ Los Angeles District.

Estimated total cost of the project is more than $145 million, with a nearly 50/50 cost share between the federal government and the port.

Dredged material from the project will be placed at a nearshore placement site and disposed of at two Environmental Protection Agency-designated, ocean-dredged material disposal sites – LA-2 and LA-3. Further opportunities for the beneficial reuse of dredged material from the project will be evaluated during the Preconstruction Engineering and Design phase.

In cooperation with the port’s “Green Port Policy,” the plan also includes constructing a new electric dredge substation and the use of an electronic clamshell dredge to perform dredging at the Pier J Basin, as well as the West Basin, main channel and the Pier J turning basin.

“This study was long in the making, and we thank the Army Corps of Engineers and all of the stakeholders who participated,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Steven Neal. “These projects would help move cargo faster and save transportation costs. We look forward to working with our federal partners to make them a reality.”

More information about the project can be found at:


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