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Port of New Orleans

Port NOLA or Port of New Orleans ranks among the busiest in the country. A deep-water draft facility, it currently occupies the sixth position among the US ports on the basis of cargo volume.


New Orleans was founded on the bank of the Mississippi River back in 1718. Ever since, the location of the city has turned it into a strategic trading center. The harbor was operational back in 1795-98 when the Spanish refused passage to US ships and maintained a monopoly over the water channel.

In 1862, Union forces captured the facility and closed it off for supplies to the Confederate Army. This was an important, strategic victory.

Further developments occurred through the years. The Board of Commissioners of the was set up in 1896. New wharves were set up between 1903 and 1940. In 1996, the administration moved to a new building, and the first two-gantry cranes became operational in 1998.

The port has expanded further ever since 2000. In 2004, the Napoleon Container Terminal started functioning. Erato Street Cruise Terminal became operational in 2006. Finally, two new container gantry cranes were added to the inventory in 2011.

Statistics and Tonnage Overview

In 1980 and 1981, Port NOLA ranked as the busiest one in the US on the basis of tonnage. According to official numbers, it handled over 177 million tons of cargo during its busiest year.

Things have slowed down a bit since then. In 2016, the total cargo tonnage (short tons) was 36.496 million short tons according to an official performance report. This is an increase from previous years – 33.57 million short tons in 2015, 31 million short tons in 2014 and 24.32 million short tons in 2013.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Port NOLA ranked seventh in 2014 with a total cargo volume of 84.5 million tons. The percent change since 2004 is a positive one – a gain of 8.2 percent.

The only ports that are busier include the ones in South Louisiana, Houston, New York, Beaumont, Long Beach and Corpus Christi.

As far as cargo types are concerned, a number of prominent commodities pass through the harbor. The most important ones include forest products, steel, coffee, aluminum and copper, chemicals and natural rubber. In fact, the port is the country’s leader pertaining to steel imports. Most of the shipments arrive from countries like Turkey, Japan, Brazil, South Korea and India.


To handle such a massive cargo load, NOLA needs to have the right facilities. Some of the most impressive options available to commercial vessel operators include a cargo area (20 million square feet), a large covered storage area, inner harbor cargo facilities, uptown and downtown river cargo terminals and a cruise terminal.

Additionally, the harbor has cargo handling capabilities for specialized commodities like precious metals and grains. Facilities for break bulk and heavy lift cargo are also at the disposal of vessel operators.

Operational Safety

Regardless of its massive operations, Port NOLA has managed to maintain a good safety rating through the years. In 2015, there were zero injuries pertaining to break bulk and heavy cargo processing.

Still, the numerous complex operations and the use of heavy machinery increase the risk of both injuries and death.

In October 2015, a rail yard accident killed one people and left two others dealing with the aftermath of oxygen deprivation. The workers were trapped inside a tank car belonging to a chemical cleaning company.

A Carnival Cruise ship worker lost his life at the port in October 2013. The man was using a lift to reach the exterior of the ship for maintenance. Eventually, the man got trapped between the lift and a platform holding a lifeboat. He suffered crushing injuries, which contributed to his death.

Even the best of ports that feature the most modern equipment can have fatal accidents occurring as a result of harbor work. Are you a sailor or a crew member who has injuries at this port? Don’t hesitate to fill out our contact form and acquaint us with the situation. We’ll be honored to offer our professional assistance to secure the right compensation.

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