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Alabama – Introduction to Ports

Alabama is home to one of the largest ports on the Gulf of Mexico. The Port of Mobile is a deep-water harbor and the only one in the state that is on the gulf. It is the 9th largest port in the United States when ranked by tonnage. Many small and very small ports are located inland. These ports are a necessary part of the state’s commerce. These smaller ports are connected to major waterways that allow access to the gulf coast as well as to other areas by highway, rail, and air.

Ports in Alabama

There are many ports located here including:

  • Bevill-Hook
  • Bridgeport
  • Bucks (Barry Electric)
  • Crossroads of America (Boligee)
  • Claiborne
  • Columbia
  • Cordova
  • Decatur
  • Demopolis
  • Epes
  • Eufaula
  • Florence
  • Guntersville
  • Mobile
  • Montgomery
  • Phoenix City
  • Pickens County
  • Selma
  • Tuscaloosa

Small ports are typically located on rivers that are not exceptionally deep. They allow for barge and tow traffic only. The rivers provide convenient and affordable transportation for many good and products. Some products most commonly transported include coal, coal coke, steel, iron, lumber and wood products, soybeans, chemicals and agricultural products.

Waterways in Alabama

There are a number of waterways that allow harbor access. Main rivers here include the Alabama, Black Warrior, Tennessee, Conecuh, and Tallapoosa, among others. These rivers lead all directions out of the state as well as towards the Gulf Coast for easy export and import by barge across the state.

Of all the rivers in Alabama, the most important for trade is likely the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The waterway was constructed over a period of many years to connect the Tennessee and Tombigbee rivers. Completed during the 1980s, it finally provided a more direct passage to the coast. The waterway was engineered and constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and includes a system of locks and dams to provide a safe route for barges and other vessels traveling inland.

The Tenn-Tom, as it is known, helped improve commercial water travel and made inland port usage much more viable, particularly for large industrial companies. It has helped improve the economy for many of the small inland Alabama port towns. The waterway provides a more direct route to the Port of Mobile, allowing companies to more easily ship large and heavy cargo through the Gulf of Mexico and worldwide.

Port of Mobile

The port is a hub for barge transportation to and from inland Alabama.  In operation since 1928, it is fully equipped with both public and private terminals that handle containers, bulk, roll-on and roll-off and heavy lift cargoes. Run by the Alabama State Port Authority, McDuffie Terminal handles coal and is one of the largest such U.S. terminals. The port has undergone expansions and improvements over the last 15 years including a new steel terminal, rail ferry, warehouse facilities and container terminal. It contributes an estimated $8 billion to Alabama’s economy.

While harbors contribute immensely to the state’s economy, they can also be the source of accidents and injuries. Accidents in shipyards, docks, barges and other vessels can be serious and may result in severe injuries or fatalities. If you were seriously injured due to an accident at an Alabama port, you might be covered under the Jones Act. Contact our offices today by filling out the online form to learn more about your legal options.

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