Port shows its stuff with giant cargo

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 19, 2001

Port workers were dwarfed by the monstrous metal ducts moving from dock to barge this week.

Fabricated by DynaSteel Corporation only a half mile away, the ducts have been in the works for months and now are beginning the journey to a power plant in the East.

&uot;These are not the largest pieces we’ve ever moved,&uot; said Pat Murphy, Natchez-Adams Port director. &uot;But for this project, these are the largest.&uot;

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With assistance from the port’s 125-foot pedestal crane, the river barge – the second to be prepared for shipping in this project – began to take on the shiny cargo one very large piece at a time. &uot;These items are so large that if they build it as one unit, we couldn’t move them,&uot; he said.

&uot;We have on schedule about another nine or 10 barges to load in this project,&uot; he said. &uot;And we’re hoping to get into a pattern of doing one barge a week until DynaSteel’s next project.&uot;

That is good news for the port, Murphy said. &uot;They’re expecting to load between 25 and 30 barges for the next project, which will be similar to this one. We will be working into 2002.&uot;

The DynaSteel projects also are good news for the area in general, he said. &uot;They have increased their employment tremendously because of these projects.&uot;

The port is demonstrating its capabilities in the modern era of transportation. &uot;We have the roads, the docks and the cranes. We’re able to do this for our customers because we have the right ingredients.&uot;

Murphy, who has been director of the port for 25 years, said one of the big changes he has seen is in the type of barge most commonly used at the Natchez port.

&uot;Years ago we were loading many more of the lash barges. Today, with a slowdown in the paper industry, we’re seeing a change to river barges.&uot;

The lash barges are flat, and they suited the more general cargo that was leaving the Natchez port, he said. &uot;Now we’re seeing a change to a heavy-lift and bulk commodity. We’re increasing our heavy lifts with DynaSteel.&uot;

Murphy expects the number of river barges will continue to increase.

Ten years ago, port workers loaded about 20 river barges. &uot;We expect to load 150 of that type barge this coming fiscal year,&uot; he said.