Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cruising the Mississippi River

I love boats and ships!  I also like riding on them while checking out the sights.  I’m always seeking out ferry boat crossings in the U.S.A and Canada.  We have been whale watching off of Hawaii and New Brunswick.  We’ve done some coastal fishing in Australia and off the coasts of Maine and northern California.  We’ve gone dolphin watching and cruised Milford Sound in New Zealand.  One of the prettiest rides we’ve experienced was the ferry boat ride from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island on up to Prince Rupert British Columbia…

But I digress… If you don't care for ship photos, this posting may put you to sleep!

This is the "S.S. Natchez".  She is a sternwheel steamboat based in New Orleans.  She was built in 1975 she’s docked at the Toulouse Street Wharf on the levee by the French Quarter.  Day trips include harbor and dinner cruises along the Mississippi River.  Passenger capacity for harbor cruises on the Natchez is 1,000…but fortunately for us, it was a Monday in December and there was plenty of space to sit and wander around…

The lady on top of the Natchez in this photo is giving everyone a pre-cruise concert on the ship’s steam calliope before we began our day trip.

This attractive building is the former Jax Brewery.  It is situated right across the levee from the S.S. Natchez.   This unique New Orleans landmark was the brewing and bottling house of Jax Beer from 1891 until the mid-1970s.  Today this converted brewery is a shopping and casual dining destination. 

This is the bulk carrier "Elizabeth River" on her way upriver to Baton Rouge Louisiana.  She was built in 2005, is 623 feet long, (over 2 football field’s), and she’s registered in Hong Kong.

Using total tonnage as the measurement, in 2012 New Orleans was the 4th busiest port in the USA.  Baton Rouge was 9th and the Port of South Louisiana was 1st.  Other major Louisiana ports are Plaquemines at 10th and Lake Charles at 13th.  With 5 of the 20 busiest ports, Louisiana’s closest rival is Texas with 3 in the top 20.

These 2 ships, the "USS Cape Knox" and "USS Cape Kennedy", are part of the U.S. Navy’s Ready Reserve Force.  They were added to the fleet in 1996.  These roll-on/roll-off vessels can accommodate wheeled vehicles and cargo on 3 decks with 155,000 square feet of deck space.  Both vessels are 695 feet long, can reach speeds of 18.5 knots and have a range of 21,000 miles.

It may say something about our shipbuilding industry in the fact that both of these ships were originally German cargo vessels.  The Knox was built in 1978 and the Kennedy was built in 1979.  Both vessels have ongoing 10 man crews and they could sail with 4 or 5 days’ notice.  To learn more about the U.S. Navy’s Ready Reserve Force, go to

This is the UBC “Baton Rouge”.   Strange and interconnected world that it is, this bulk carrier was built in Japan, its named after a US State Capital and it is registered/’flagged’ in Limassol Cyprus.  The last time I checked on this ship, it and its crew of 30 was in the port of Esquivel Jamaica.

Since this is a major port and the Mississippi has constant ship traffic it should be no surprise that there is plenty of industry along the river.  This is one of the big oil refineries that line the river…  Louisiana ports handled 504,100,000 tons of cargo in 2012!

The "Chipolbrok Galaxy" was built in China in 2010 and it’s registered in Hong Kong.  This 655 foot long general cargo vessel is part of Chipolbrok America Inc.’s fleet.  Don’t let the name throw you off.  Chipolbrok stands for Chinese-Polish Joint Stock Shipping Company and the company’s headquarters is in China with a branch office in Poland. 

In addition to the industrial plants along the river, there are also a couple of historic sites.  This is the Jackson Barracks.  It’s the headquarters of the Louisiana National Guard and it’s located in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. 

The base was established in 1834 and was known as New Orleans Barracks prior to July 7, 1866 when it was renamed in honor of Andrew Jackson.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.  This facility was turned over to the state after WWI but the Federal government temporarily took control of it again during WWII for use as a port of embarkation for our troops going overseas.

This is the "Nikolaos A" alongside a wharf on the river processing its cargo… I couldn’t find any information on this ship but the name on the stern indicates that this cargo vessel is registered in Majuro, the capital of the nation of the Marshall Islands.  The Marshall Islands consists of a widely scattered group of Pacific Islands totaling about 70 square miles of land with a population of about 70,000.

Louisiana is the second largest producer of sugar cane in the USA, coming in close behind Florida.  Therefore, it should be no surprise that this giant Domino Sugar processing plant has its operation along the river.  From here they can ship product anywhere in the world…

“Moscow University” is a tanker that belongs to Modern Commercial Fleet, a Russian shipping company specializing in petroleum and liquid natural gas shipping.  The company is 100% owned by the Russian government and it’s based in Saint Petersburg on the Baltic Sea.  The ship was built in Japan and it was launched in 1999.  

One interesting fact is that this ship was captured by Somali pirates on 5 May 2010 and it was rescued the following day by a Russian Navy warship.  I noted that “Moscow University” is registered in Monrovia Liberia…  

This is the Chalmette Battlefield as seen from the Mississippi River.  As per Johnny Horton’s hit song from 1959, it may be better known as the site of the “Battle of New Orleans”.  This was the last great battle between the USA and Great Britain in the War of 1812.   The deciding battle took place on January 8, 1815 despite the fact that a treaty ending the war was signed in late 1814.  In those days communications were a bit slow…

The overwhelming American victory at the Battle of New Orleans soon became a symbol of a new idea: American democracy triumphing over the old European ideas of aristocracy and entitlement.  General Andrew Jackson's hastily assembled army had won the day against a battle-hardened and numerically superior British force.  Americans took great pride in the victory and for many decades we celebrated January 8th as a national holiday. 

To learn more about this National Historical Park and Preserve, just go to  To learn about the battle, go to 

I took too many photos of ships…so I’ll minimize what I say about the rest of them in this posting.

This is the general cargo ship “San Pedro”, owned by the Austral Asia Lines based in Singapore.  She is registered in Liberia…to save money…and when I wrote this she was in port at Cape Town South Africa.

This is a view of the vehicle ferry docks and some of the ferries based in Belle Chase…on the west side of the Mississippi River.  There is only one other ferry crossing below this point before you reach the mouth of the river.  That crossing is at Pointe a la Hache Louisiana…  During rush hour, these ferries shuttle back and forth across the river as fast as they can load the cars and trucks using the service.  The fare for cars and trucks is $1.00! 

This bulk carrier is the TTM “Dragon”.  She’s registered in Panama and as I wrote this posting, she was moored in Kobe Japan.

The Natchez is driven by a true steam engine powered paddlewheel.   The paddlewheel itself is made of white oak and steel, is 25 feet across by 25 feet wide and it weighs over 26 tons.  The ship is mostly made of steel; she’s 265 feet long and 46 feet wide with a draft of six feet.

Note: The S.S. Natchez is one of only 6 true steam-powered paddlewheel vessels operating on the U.S.A.’s inland waterways.

The engine room for the Natchez is open for viewing by the ship’s passengers.  Her steam engines and the steering system were originally built in 1925 for the steamboat Clairton.  The ship’s copper bell, which was made from a base of 250 melted silver dollars, was taken from the S.S. J.D. Ayres.  The bell on top of the bridge came from the Avalon…now known as the Belle of Louisville.  It was also used on the Delta Queen.

To learn more about cruises on the S.S. Natchez, you can go to

The ocean going ships going up and down the Mississippi are more impressive but there is a lot of barge traffic as well.  The pushboat “Sonny Ivey” works the entire Mississippi/Ohio/Illinois river transportation system.

Part of the reason that New Orleans, and other ports in Louisiana and Texas, rank so highly as ports Re: tonnage handled is that there is such huge amounts of barge traffic on our major rivers.  Measured in TEU’s, (twenty foot equivalents), another accepted measurement used to determine the busiest ports, the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach is #1, New York City/New Jersey is #2 and Savannah is #3.

This is the general cargo ship “Colombia”, part of the NAVESCO’s fleet which is based in Colombia (South America).

This very long bulk freighter is the "Santa Adriana".  She was built in 2013 and she’s 738 feet long!  When I checked, this ship was moored in Cilegon City, close to Jakarta Indonesia.

This is the Josco Huizhou, a bulk cargo carrier based in Hong Kong.  At last check she was underway in the South China Sea.

These two lovely ladies just relaxed and enjoyed the sights and the sunshine as we cruised up and down the Mississippi River on the S.S. Natchez.  While Laurie and Dawn Marie listened to the ‘tour guide’ and later on, to the on-board jazz band, I ran around taking photos of just about everything!

This is a late afternoon view from the S.S. Natchez of the St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square in New Orleans’ French Quarter…

This is the US Highway 90 Bridge across the Mississippi River.  It reaches from close to downtown New Orleans over to the Gretna Louisiana side of the river.  This bridge is referred to as The Crescent City Connection but it was formerly called the Greater New Orleans Bridge. 

One last ship…for now!  This is the tanker “M/T Stolt Span”.  She’s registered in Liberia but she’s part of a very large fleet of tanker vessels based in Buenos Aires Argentina.  The international nature of the shipping business is a bit mind boggling!

This is the Captain with the megaphone directing the crew as they bring the S.S. Natchez into the wharf and tie her up.  It was indeed a terrific day for a scenic cruise on the Mississippi River!

Back on dry land!  Laurie couldn’t resist this ‘act’ or ‘gimmick’ by this street performer and his little “dog”.  This gentleman held his pose for a long time…just like a statue!  He only broke ‘cover’ once…when he told Laurie through clenched teeth that he wanted us to take another photo because he wasn’t ready for the first one.

That’s about it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. What a great way to spend a day and I enjoyed the ship shots.

  2. Dear Dave, What a beautiful day!! Dawn and Laurie look so happy. The views must be wonderful with all the history to go along. I would be busy with the pictures too.
    Blessings, Catherine

  3. I'll echo Larry's words - what a great way to spend a lazy afternoon. We live in Vicksburg and saw our share of river traffic and I always found it fascinating. Many people don't know the importance of the Mississippi and how much traffic there is on it. The calliope brought back fond memories of hearing them from the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen as they "rolled down the river" in the early evening.