Grapevine: Virginia port may dig into Charleston’s ‘deepest harbor’ claim | Business

The ink had barely dried on a dredging contract that would give Charleston Harbor the deepest shipping channel on the East Coast when the Army Corps of Engineers last week gave the initial go-ahead to a potentially bigger deal farther north.

The federal agency released a draft feasibility study that recommends digging the Port of Virginia‘s main shipping channels to at least 55 feet deep. The $322 million project doesn’t approach the $529 million price tag for the Port of Charleston‘s dredging, but it would let the Old Dominion‘s maritime facility lay claim to deepest harbor bragging rights.

The news comes less than two weeks after the Army Corps signed a $213 million contract — its largest to date — with Great Lakes Dredge and Dock to take Charleston’s inner harbor to 52 feet in most places. Charleston Harbor’s entrance channel will be dredged to 54 feet. Work will begin early next year on the project expected to take between 40 and 76 months.

Even if the Virginia project clears all of the regulatory hurdles, it still needs congressional authorization and federal funding — something that can take years to complete. So the State Ports Authority won’t have to change its marketing materials any time soon.

The dredging projects are being driven by bigger container ships traveling to the East Coast through the expanded Panama Canal. Those ships, some able to carry as many as 14,000 cargo boxes, need deeper water to call on maritime terminals without tide restrictions.

Round the world

Some of the heartiest of cruise passengers will be making a stopover in Charleston next year, just in time for the summer swelter.

Their marathon maritime journey – spanning 106 days and 40 ports of call – starts June 5 in Sydney, Australia, on the Princess Seas, which is operated by Princess Cruises.

The 2018 World Cruise includes stops in Asia, the Mideast, continental Europe, London, Ireland, Iceland, Greenland and Canada on its way to the U.S. East Coast.

The 1,950-passenger, 900-crew ship is scheduled to arrive at the State Ports Authority’s Union Pier Terminal on Aug. 17, after sailing from New York, for about a 14-hour visit.

From the Holy City, the Princess Seas will head to Florida and other points south en route to the Panama Canal, as it makes its way back to its starting point Down Under.

According to the line’s…

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