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News Release
FOR RELEASE - September 30, 2005
Contact: Aaron Ellis,

American Association of Port Authorities
Phone: (202) 792-4033

AAPA Seminar to Focus on Shallow-Draft Ports

New Orleans Port President Gary LaGrange to Detail Katrina Impacts

ALEXANDRIA, Va.  (Sept. 30, 2005) — In the aftermath of two hurricanes that wreaked havoc on communities, ports and waterways along the Gulf Coast earlier this month, the American Association of Port Authorities’ (AAPA) inaugural Shallow-Draft Ports seminar, slated for the Sheraton Station Square Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Oct. 5-6, will take on the added emphasis of helping the maritime industry rise to the challenge of recovering and rebuilding their facilities.

Addressing the dilemma of hurricane recovery will be American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) Chairman and Port of New Orleans President/CEO Gary LaGrange, who has become a household name as national and international media have shined the spotlight on his efforts to help Louisiana’s most well-known seaport get back on its feet after the hurricanes hit.

Following LaGrange’s luncheon presentation, a panel of maritime operations and policy experts will further examine the storms’ impacts on ports.  Moderated by Port of Palacios (Texas) Port Director Tony Ridon, the panel will feature U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Policy and Planning Chief Tom Waters, who leads the Corps’ Mississippi Valley Integration Team.

Speakers from Canada, Central and South America and Europe will round out the other panels, leading discussions on topics of interest to shallow-draft ports worldwide.  Featured among them is the president of the European Federation of Inland Ports, Charles Huygens, executive director of the Port of Brussels, Belgium.

AAPA President/CEO Kurt Nagle says the goal of the two-day program is to improve the maritime industry’s understanding of inland waterways and ports, and point out ways they can work together to respond to challenges, lower operating costs and improve cargo- and passenger-handling efficiency.

“The seminar’s theme, ‘Connecting the Ports for Success,’ aptly describes the program’s goal of raising awareness of the benefits to be gained by linking deep- and shallow-draft ports and carriers, and seeking new ways to partner and grow,” said Nagle.  “As much as America depends on its coastal and Great Lakes seaports to handle international cargo, our system of inland waterways and ports provides a critical connection to ensure that goods can move domestically in the most economical way possible with the least impacts to the environment.”

Shallow-draft waterways and ports primarily accommodate towboats, barges, pleasure craft and touring vessels, while deep-draft seaports generally handle ocean-going ships and barges. Together, they form an integrated maritime system, which in the U.S. provides nearly 5 million jobs and generates an estimated $1.5 trillion annually for an all-encompassing range of goods and services.

Worth Hager, president of the National Waterways Conference, said AAPA’s joint conference is a great way to help shallow-draft ports the world over examine the need for strategic relationships and future partnerships with their deep-water counterparts.  “AAPA’s seminar will showcase the tremendous economic contributions that shallow-draft ports and harbors make to a nation’s economy,” she said. “Here in the U.S., about 68 percent of the cargoes handled by deep-water ports originate or terminate in the shallow-draft ports and harbors.  This demonstrates the value of the shallow-draft ports to the U.S. freight system and it points up the need for increased investment by the federal government to assure these benefits continue.” 

According to R. Barry Palmer, president and CEO of Waterways Council Inc. (WCI), America’s inland and coastal waterways system moves more than $312 billion in domestic cargo and ships more than 1 billion tons of grain, coal, steel, petroleum products and aggregate materials a year.  “The barge and towing industry alone adds $5 billion annually to the U.S. economy, carrying 15 percent of the nation’s commerce for just 2 percent of the freight bill,” he said.

Similarly, Tom Allegretti, president and CEO of the American Waterways Operators (AWO)—the national trade association for the U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry—said AWO member companies move more than 800 million tons of cargo annually.  He said these companies provide a safe, economical and environmentally-friendly means of transporting petroleum and coal products to satisfy America’s energy needs, while giving farmers and miners an effective way to stay competitive with foreign producers in the global market.

AAPA’s Shallow-Draft Ports program will follow and complement the SmartRivers 21 Conference and Symposium on Inland Navigation, to be held Oct. 3-5 in the same location.  The Shallow-Draft Ports seminar will begin the evening of Oct. 4 with a welcome reception in the Sheraton Station Square Hotel.

For more information on the seminar, go to or contact AAPA’s Director of Navigation Policy and Legislation, Dave Sanford, at 703-684-5700 or at

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