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The existing Federal project for Calcasieu River and Pass provides for minor improvement above Lake Charles and for a ship channel 30 feet deep and 250 feet wide through Clooney Island loop and via Calcasieu River from the described terminal to the Gulf, for reconstruction and extension of the jetties at the Gulf and for a Gulf approach channel 32 feet deep and 400 feet wide. The project is complete except through the Clooney Island loop and for extension of the jetties.
West of Calcasieu River for 22 miles to Sabine River is located the Lake Charles deep water channel 30 feet deep and 125 feet wide which was constructed by local interests and is now maintained as a Federal project.
During the years 1936 to 1940, inclusive, commerce on Calcasieu River and Pass averaged 4,400,000 tons annually and on the Lake Charles deep water channel about 7,000,000 tons.
A major part of the commerce consists of petroleum and its products. The present channel depth limits the cargoes of petroleum products tankers to about 11,000 tons, whereas new tankers of the type constructed during the war have maximum loaded drafts of about 32 feet and dead-load capacities up to 19,000 tons.
The city of Lake Charles, population 21,300 in 1940, is the principal commercial and industrial center of the local area.
The Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors recommends that the existing project for Calcasieu River and Pass, La., be modified to provide for a channel depth of 35 feet from the wharves of the Lake Charles Harbor and terminal district, including Clooney Island loop, to the jetty channel, for a uniformly increasing depth of 35 to 37 feet in the jetty channel and for a depth of 37 feet in the approach channel in the Gulf of Mexico.
Mr. PETERSON of Georgia. How long is that section?
Colonel FERINGA. I think it is about 40 miles, Mr. Chairman, depending on how far one figures the project channel to extend in the Gulf.
Mr. LARCADE. It is 33 miles.
Deepening of the Calcasieu River and Pass project channel as proposed is needed to permit the deeper-draft tankers now available to be used to full advantage in shipment of the large existing and prospective tonnages of petroleum and its products originating at the port of Lake Charles. In the opinion of the Board the annual savings in transportation costs attributable to the deepening will be several times as great as the annual cost of the proposed work. Model studies indicate that the channel deepening now proposed will not adversely affect existing salinity conditions.
When the Board had this report we at the same time considered the report for the Mermentau, which makes provision for a positive block against salinity intrusion so that that country would not be adversely affected by salt water from the Gulf.
The improvement is recommended, provided that responsible local agencies give assurances satisfactory to the Secretary of War that they will furnish free of cost to the United States all lands, easements, rights-of-way and spoil-disposal areas necessary for the new work and
for the subsequent maintenance when and as required, hold and save the United States free from damages due to construction and maintenance of the work, and modify terminal facilities as necessary for full utilization of the improvement.
The cost to the United States for new work is $2,000,000. The annual maintenance cost is $85,000; interest and amortization $80,000, making total annual carrying charges of $165,000.
The deepening of the channel will permit the use of deeper-draft tankers for oil shipments with resulting savings in transportation costs. With present channel limitations, tanker cargoes are restricted to about 11,000 tons, whereas tankers of the 15,000 to 19,000-ton class may utilize a 35-foot channel with obvious saving in shipping costs. Oil companies indicated that resulting savings would range between 6 and 712 cents per barrel for shipments between Gulf and North Atlantic ports with greater savings for overseas traffic.
For postwar oil shipments from the port averaging 6,000,000 tons annually, it is estimated that savings resulting from use of tankers with 17,000 rather than 11,000 tons capacity will amount to about $2,700,000 annually, of which at least a third may be credited to deepening the project channel of Calcasieu River and Pass.
This indicates a favorable ratio of estimated annual costs to benefits of about 1 to 5.5.
Mr. PETERSON of Georgia. That is a fine showing.
In brief, Mr. Chairman, it is a case similar to the Sabine-Neches which was before this committee last Thursday, except that it is less costly, due to the lesser dredging involved. There is a large oil production and refining center at this location; and in order to make possible the great savings which are in sight due to the deeper-draft ships, this deepening should be authorized.
Mr. Knappen brought out in his testimony that the cost of operation of deep draft tankers will be as low as 0.8 mill per ton per mile.
The Governor of Louisiana is favorable to this project. No reply has yet been received from the Bureau of the Budget. The matter was submitted to that Bureau on March 22.
STATEMENT OF HON. HENRY D. LARCADE, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE
IN THE CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF LOUISIANA Mr. LARCADE. Mr. Chairman, this project is in my district. We find that the channel is not sufficiently deep to accommodate the new modern barges and ships of deep draft; and in view of the fact that there is about $200,000,000 worth of transportation at the Port of Lake Charles and, as a matter of fact, that it is an inland port 33 miles from the Gulf, this project is most essential and most necessary.
I appear before your honorable committee as the Representative of the Seventh Congressional District of Louisiana, where the Lake Charles Calcasieu River project is located in my district, to urge and request your favorable consideration and approval of this muchneeded and emergent project.
During the early period of the war the necessity for this project became imperative, and under appropriate resolution of the Congress the United States engineers took the preliminary steps to present the
project to this committee, and hearings were held in the city of Lake Charles where interested parties presented substantiating statements and evidence for the authorization of the project.
As I realized the importance and necessity for this project I personally attended this hearing, and I think the economic justification for this project was proven to the satisfaction of the United States: engineers beyond any question of a doubt. I was impressed to see: personal representatives of all of the port authorities from Louisiana and Texas appear in favor of the project, and they all urged immediate approval of the same.
Early in 1945 while on an inspection trip with General Robins of the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, I prevailed upon General Robins to visit Lake Charles in order to obtain first-hand information, and it may be that General Robins collaborated with his successors in their recommendation of this important project. The need for the improvement of the Lake Charles deep-water channel, ship channel, and Calcasieu River and Pass was so great that, in July 1945, I was able to prevail upon the chairman of the Rivers and Harbors Committee, Judge Mansfield, to authorize a subcommittee of the Rivers and Harbors Committee, under the leadership of Hon. Hugh Peterson, vice chairman, and Gen. John J. Kingman, Assistant Chief of Engineers, to make a personal investigation of this project, and Mr.. Chairman, with your permission, I would like to include in this testimony a short statement of the visit of this subcommittee of the Rivers and Harbors Committee when the committee visited Lake Charles, La., on July 8, 1945. The statement follows [reading]
The subcommittee of the Rivers and Harbors Committee arrived at Lake Charles, La., by plane about 3 p. m. on July 8, 1945, and was met at the airport by the mayor, president of the police jury, president and committee from the chamber of commerce, the president and director of the port of Lake Charles, former Gov. Sam Jones, representing the Governor of Louisiana, officials and engineers of the Department of Public Works of the State of Louisiana, the president and members of the board of directors of the Mermentau Basin Association, representatives of the Lake Charles American Press, and other citizens.
Senator John H. Overton, of Louisiana, also arrived from his home town to greet the committee upon their arrival in Lake Charles.
In the absence of Hon. Hugh Peterson, the chairman of the subcommittee, Hon. Frank W. Boykin, of Alabama, being the ranking member present, Mr. Boykin took charge of the committee, and presided at the hearings, which were held aboard a fine dock board harbor boat where refreshments and lunch was served on board.
The harbor boat was boarded at one of the docks in the city of Lake Charles, and an inspection trip was taken down the channel of the Calcasieu River where the port installations and facilities were inspected by the committee.
Attention was called to the fact that on the banks of the Calcasieu River was located two high-octane gasoline refineries, a caustic soda, soda ash, synthetic salt cake plant, an ammonia, nitric acid, butadiene plant, a laytex of synthetic rubber plant, fertilizer plant, and other industries which contributed to the winning of the war, also that five major oil companies had plants on the river and all of the industries named used the channel of the Calcasieu River.
Maj. Gen. John H. Kingman, representing the Chief of Engineer's office who was on the trip made an explanation of the proposed project for the deepening of the channel of the Calcasieu River, and also commented upon the fact that due consideration was being given to the matter of preventing salt water intrusion in the river which resulted in great damage to the growers of rice who used the river water to irrigate their rice crops.
Hon. Sam H. Richard, president of the Lake Charles Harbor and terminal district appeared before the committee and made a statement giving statistical data and information in regard to the port of Lake Charles.
Hon. Alva W. Frith, director of the port made a statement to the committee on the importance of the deepening of the channel of the Calcasieu River.
Hon. W. H. Pyburn, director of the Department of Public Works of the State of Louisiana made a statement on the proposed Mermentau Basin project which was now being studied by the district engineer's office in cooperation with the department of public works (engineering department) and stated that Gen. Max Tyler, district engineer was constructing a working model of the project as Vicksburg, Miss.
Hon. Elmer Shutts, parish and city engineer, and member of the Louisiana Highway Commission made a statement in regard to the improvements and projects sought with respect to the port of Lake Charles, the Calcasieu Rivet, the Mermentau River, and bridges over the Intracoastal Canal, the Lake Charles ship channel and the Calcasieu and Mermentau Rivers.
Hon. Rupert F. Cisco, secretary of the Lake Charles Chamber of Commerce made a statement on behalf of the Lake Charles Association of Commerce.
Hon. John H. Overton made a statement to the committee telling of his interest in the projects under consideration by the Rivers and Harbors Committee for the Calcasieu River and other projects in southwest Louisiana.
Hon. Henry D. Larcade, Jr., Representative of the Seventh District appeared before the committee and stated that Lake Charles was the largest city in the district and that he would request consideration of the projects listed.
The location of the port of Lake Charles, on the Calcasieu River, which is tideless—33 miles from the Gulf of Mexico—at the city of Lake Charles, one of the most important railway terminals in the South, where all the important highways converge as the entrance to the great Southwest, and with its excellent harbor facilities, makes it one of the nearest ports inland to the Gulf of Mexico; its terminal facilities, warehouses, and other advantages have brought from the seven seas to the Southwest and from the Southwest to the seven seas ocean-going vessels carrying the trade of the world, and the trade of the nation to and from the port of Lake Charles. Short rail distances save time and money. One-fourth of the Nation is a short distance from the port of Lake Charles.
The shipping world has accepted the great savings offered by the port of Lake Charles, not only in money, but in time. A ship can proceed up to port by night, unload in the morning and leave the same day. It is estimated that the two-way trip, including loading and unloading, can be accomplished within 16 to 18 hours.
Such articles as rice, lumber, oil, cotton, salt, naval stores, packinghouse products, flour, copper, and many other products of southwest Louisiana and the United States, were handled in normal times through the port of Lake Charles for domestic and foreign points. Fertilizer and fertilizer materials, oil field supplies, twine, insecticides, canned goods, and other commodities were distributed through the port of Lake Charles for the Southwest, and during normal times the port of Lake Charles exports more rice to Puerto Rico and Cuba than any other port in the United States due to its strategic location in the center of the rice industry of Louisiana; rate differential and other advantages show a clear and concise advantage of the port of Lake Charles, with especial relation to the distinct freight rate advantage, facilities, equipment, storage, docks, freight handling, transportation, short inland hauls, produces a flexibility and ease of accumulating ship cargoes on short notice. The existing channel was opened to ocean traffic in 1926 and was made possible by a series of bond issues, which provided funds for the dredging of the channel, terminal facilities and warehouses, and represents an investment and expenditure from that source alone of $6,600,000.
Besides being located in the center of the rice industry of Louisiana which produces more rice than any other State in the Union, Lake Charles is also in the center of the oil industry and, due to this fact, together with the fact that this area was rich in many other natural resources, when the war came upon us and our Government needed high octane gasoline, rubber, and other matériel to prosecute the war, Lake Charles, having a magnificent port, was selected as the site of over $225,000,000 of war industries, foremost of which are the Cities Service Refining Corp. (high-octane gasoline refinery), Continental Oil Co. (high-octane gasoline refinery), Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. (Laytex plant, synthetic rubber), Defense Plant Corporation (ammonia, nitric acid, butadiene), Mathieson Alkali Works (caustic soda, soda ash, synthetic salt cake), and there was produced in Lake Charles more high-octane gasoline than any other portion of the country, as well as other important and necessary products for the prosecution of the war.
As the war progressed there were developed larger tankers which could carry much more high-octaine gasoline than the tankers in use at the time that these plants were established but, due to the depth of the channel, these new large carrying capacity tankers could not avail themselves of the maximum amount of their tonnage, and with the advent of these larger ships, the Lake Charles channel was unable to accommodate this traffic, and as these larger ships will be used in the future, it is imperative that this channel at this important point be deepened in accordance with the recommendations of the United States Engineers.
Mr. Chairman, I will not go into a discussion of the project any further as we have present Mr. Dewitt Pyburn, department of public works, representatives of the State of Louisiana, the director of the port of Lake Charles, and others who desire to appear.
(Mr. Larcade filed with the committee the following statement of the port of Lake Charles with respect to the project for the depening of the channel of the Calcasieu River, as follows:)
PORT OF LAKE CHARLES,
Lake Charles, La., July 7, 1945. CALCASIEU RIVER AND PASS SHIP CHANNEL Present project is 250-foot bottom width, with a depth of 30 feet and is 36 miles long. Jetties incomplete to 15-foot contour only. Cargo handled first 6 months 1945 : Dry cargo
137, 393 Petroleum products--
904, 571 Total (5,869,519 barrels).
1,041, 964 Number of ships handled first 6 months 1945 : Dry cargo
24 Oil tankers-
106 (45 percent of ships had drafts in excess of 28 feet; deepest draft was 30 feet 03 inches.)
DESIRED CHANNEL IMPROVEMENTS A 250-foot bottom width, 36 feet deep, 36 miles long; jetties to be completed to 25-foot contour, or 30-foot contour if deemed necessary by engineers.
REASONS FOR DESIRED IMPROVEMENTS War emergency requires oil movement to Pacific by high-speed T-2 type tankers, drawing 32 feet 10 inches; capacity, 141,000 barrels.