USACE to dredge Baltimore’s Seagirt Loop Channel

Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commanding General, 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.

Photo courtesy of USACE

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.