New Vessel Traffic Control Tower Completed

MORGAN CITY, La. – A new $1.1 million Vessel Traffic Control Tower was recently completed at Mile Marker 99 of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway adjacent to Jesse Fontenot Memorial Boat Landing in Berwick, Louisiana. The purpose of the tower is to provide additional camera vantage points looking westward along the Intracoastal Waterway, southward along the Lower Atchafalaya River and northward toward Berwick Bay. In addition, the tower will be equipped with a TERMA radar and Automatic Identification System (AIS) transceiver to update and improve the overall Ports and Waterways Safety System in order to provide increased situational awareness for the U. S. Coast Guard vessel traffic controllers at Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) Berwick Bay.

Captain Terry Gilbreath, the Commanding Officer of U. S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit (MSU) Morgan City, cooperated closely with the St. Mary’s Parish Government and the St. Mary’s Parish School Board to arrive at an agreement for a 20-year, no-cost lease for the parcel of land upon which the new vessel traffic tower is located. In addition, permissions were obtained from the Office of the Mayor of the town of Berwick, Louisiana and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers for consent to cross the levee to access the parcel of land.

Over the entire 16-month project MSU Morgan City worked diligently with contractors from General Dynamics and Pyramid Tower, who were contracted through the Coast Guard’s Maintenance & Logistics Command. The contractors collaborated with project engineers from the Coast Guard Command and Control Engineering Center and program managers from the Coast Guard’s Office of Navigation to fund, design and construct the new tower.

VTS Berwick Bay is as extremely important safety asset in the Morgan City area. By arranging vessel traffic in a safe and organized fashion, VTS Berwick Bay not only protects structures such as the triple-bridge complex spanning Berwick Bay, it also reduces vessel-to-vessel accidents that result in personnel casualties, property loss and/or environmental damage that may require waterway closures potentially costing millions of dollars of lost revenues.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for March 14, 2007 at 10:00 a.m. at the tower’s site.

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