Nearly one hundred dignitaries, elected officials, representatives of area industry joined the Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in dedicating the new turning basin at the Port of Mobile.  The Upper Bay Turning Basin is located in the lower harbor and will serve the Mobile Container Terminal, Pinto Island Terminal and McDuffie terminal.  “This new turning basin was vital to serving the larger vessels now servicing containerized, bulk and general cargo shippers,” said Jimmy Lyons, director and chief executive officer for the Port Authority.
The Port of Mobile’s smaller turning basin is located at the north end of Mobile harbor and is engineered to handle vessels up to 850 feet in length.  The new Upper Bay Turning Basin located at the south end of the harbor is larger and shaves precious hours off a call to Port facilities located on the lower harbor.   At 1,175 feet by 715 feet, the basin overlaps two new Mobile Channel extensions providing the needed space to turn vessels larger than 900 feet in overall length.
The group boarded the LADY ANDERSON tour boat to ride from the Mobile Convention Center to the new Upper Bay Turning Basin, passing assets such as BIG AL, the port’s new barge-mounted heavy lift crane, the new Pinto Island Steel Terminal and the Mobile Container Terminal.
While the LADY ANDERSON turned in the new basin, U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Congressman Jo Bonner (AL-1st), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District Commander, Col. Steven J. Roemhildt (USACE), U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port, Capt. Donald Rose, ASPA Board Chairman, Tim Parker, and Jimmy Lyons threw biodegradable flower wreaths into the water.
Lyons thanked the many Port customers and partners, including the Port Authority’s board, the Alabama congressional delegation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the contractor, Great Lakes Dredge & Dock for all the work they put into making the new basin a reality. “Dedication and teamwork made this vitally needed infrastructure a reality,” noted Lyons. “The Port of Mobile’s growth and new investments in state of the art facilities could not be possible without their support.”
“Usually when you are at a ribbon cutting or dedication you have a building or structure behind you,” joked USACE’s Steve Roemhildt. “Here, I look out and all I see is water, but you have to look under the surface, and what I see there are relationships.” Roemhildt continued by also commending the many agencies and people who work together to make the Port of Mobile a thriving part of the U.S. economy.
Senator Jeff Sessions stated at the dedication, “This basin will save time and fuel, which should be good news for our environmental advocates, our shippers and our nation. Federal investments in seaport infrastructure will make our U.S. manufacturers more competitive.”
Congressman Jo Bonner also spoke at the event about the importance of trade and infrastructure to economic growth.  “Our country depends on seaport infrastructure to keep us strong in the global marketplace.  Partnerships between Congress, the seaports, the Corps, our U.S. Coast Guard and NOAA ensures our country’s competitive position and boosts U.S. exports.”
ASPA partnered with the federal government to construct the new turning basin. Construction began in September of 2010, and cost approximately $33 million dollars when completed on August 6th of this year.  “The day the new turning basin was completed, CMA CGM had a container vessel approaching the sea buoy,” said Lyons.  “The next morning, CMA CGM’s WHITE SHARK, turned in the basin just off of Mobile Container Terminal’s dock, saving three hours of transit time into the port.”