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New NOAA System Improves Safety and Efficiency of Ships in Lake Charles

May 07, 2009

Mariners can now get free real-time information on water and weather conditions for the Port of Lake Charles, La., from a new NOAA ocean observing system at the port.

The NOAA Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS®) at Lake Charles provides observations of tides, currents, water and air temperature, barometric pressure, winds and bridge clearance. Collected from a variety of sensors in and around the port, the data is available free on the Internet: and by phone: 888-817-7692 (toll-free) or 301-713-9639.

"NOAA is committed to providing quality tools and services like PORTS® which ensures safe and efficient navigation," said John H. Dunnigan, NOAA assistant administrator for the National Ocean Service. "With PORTS® the Port of Lake Charles will be better equipped to safely and efficiently move commodities through its waterways, facilitating economic growth."

Administered by the NOAA Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, PORTS® can significantly reduce the risk of vessel groundings and increase the amount of cargo moved through the port by enabling mariners to safely utilize every inch of dredged channel depth. The system also allows large ships to time their arrivals and departures more efficiently.

"The PORTS® system is a valuable support tool that not only improves the safety and efficiency of our maritime customers from Cameron to Westlake," said R. Adam McBride, director of the Port of Lake Charles, the state agency responsible for the management of the Calcasieu Ship Channel. "PORTS® also aids in coastal resource management with real-time environmental data. Our partnership with NOAA makes the Calcasieu and the Port of Lake Charles a better port, and we are proud to be part of this dynamic program."

Governed by the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District, the Port of Lake Charles covers 203 square miles in Calcasieu Parish and accommodates 58 million tons of cargo annually at its public facilities. The principal goods moving through the port's terminals are bagged rice, flour and other food products, forest products, aluminum, petroleum coke and other petroleum products.

"The Lake Charles Pilots have been looking forward to the arrival of a complete PORTS® system for the Calcasieu Ship Channel," said Mike Miller, president of Lake Charles Pilots. "Having real-time tidal, current and meteorological data at our fingertips will benefit all the channel users."

The Lake Charles system brings the number of PORTS® in operation around the nation to 19. Estimates of economic benefits directly attributed to the system range from $7 million per year for Tampa Bay to $16 million per year for Houston-Galveston.

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