Belle Pass range lights

In years past, when approaching Port Fourchon, the Belle Pass range lights were easily visible and followed into the jetties. In more recent times, the backscatter of light around the Bollinger slip, C-Port 1 and the Northern Expansion slips makes it tough to see the rear range light. Not to mention that for many months the rear range light appears to not be inline with the front range light. Does anyone share my feeling that at some time in the future, the Belle Pass range should utilize the type of light system employed by the ACP in Panama? This system would be better suited for the busy and vital pass into Port Fourchon.

Of course I will hopefully never have to transit Belle Pass again, but I want you to know that you are not alone in your sentiments. It was so bad that I just stopped trying to use them at all and just concentrated on the radar. It has been brought to the attention of the port authority by myself and other captains I know. You can make a complaint with the port commission if you like. Also, consider complaining to whatever oil company rep you may be working for in Fourchon. They can push this up their chain as well. I would be willing to bet that a lot of guys don’t even know that there are range lights coming in.

I only use the first one, line it up with were I know the far one is supposed to be at and then use the radar to guide me in, love having to tune in one radar while running to pickup the rocks. :rolleyes:

I know there’s a second range light in front of C-Port 1, but dam if I’ve ever seen it.

I think I may have accidently seen the elusive rear range light. But, it might have been my imagination. I never use the range light in Fourchon. I use the radar 100% of the time.

Range Lights? They might as well not be there! And how about the buoys that get blown off station and stay that way forever! For being the busiest port in America (ship movements ) the USCG does not seem that worried about safety. Catch you outbounders on the one.

Capt. Lee (and others),
I understand your reluctance to not want to ever enter Belle Pass again, unless it may be in your private yacht after retiring, and then just to kindle old memories. For those of us relegated to transiting this little stretch for the near future, I will continue to persue remedy to the poor navigation light scheme employed in Belle Pass. The shear volume of traffic dictates the best the Coast Guard and Port Commission have to offer. I too am forced to use the radar as a primary source of reference at times, and that’s fine for me and many other astute and experienced navigators who follow the golden rule… don’t get fixated on the radar or plotter, look out the windows! That is where the range lights come into importance. My concern is rather for the hundreds of not so astute guys at the wheel that are forced to keep their attention on a radar screen and not paying attention to what lies ahead. During periods of reduced visibility the range lights and their effectiveness are diminished, but as you guys know, for much of the year the visibility is pretty good in these parts and the range lights would be helpful. As Capt. Lee suggested, I have posted my concerns to the USCG online, and to the upper management of the company I work for. Let’s see what happens, not only concerning the range light issue, but the entire buoyage system around the Belle Pass entrance.

I think the lights are the same as always, but the port is grown up so bright the upper is less visible in the clutter.

The opposite extreme is Freeport, TX, where the lower range will blind you coming into the intersection…

I think we should call for a range on the Freshwater Bayou approach. The markers are hopelessly always missing or destroyed.

Fourchon is easy though without the range. I’ve only heard of a handful of misses in many years…


This afternoon (Jan. 29) the USCG telephoned in response to the internet report I submitted recently regarding the Belle Pass rear range light. The Chief Boatswain Mate who operates the vessel and directs the crew that maintains the ATN in this part of the GOM told me he and his fellows had just repaired the rear range. Corrections to alignment, focus and candela power were done. The Chief is also working on a plan submittal to incorporate newer technology for this particular range light scheme. We had a long talk and I was impressed with this man’s professionalism and experience, and desire to do the best job he can with the resources at hand. The significance and importance in the amount of vessel traffic through Belle Pass is not lost on the Coast Guard, and the Chief said this waterway will get additonal attention in the very short term, as well as long term when it comes to ATN. He also urges anyone with suggestions or concerns with aids to navigation to call the Dulac, LA office, at 985-563-4473. This is a direct line to the folks who do the work on all these aids in this part of the Gulf.

[B][I]thanks for the info(number) neptunes I like this forum with all this info.[/I][/B]

This is not a resent issue. Those range lights never lined you up on the center of the canal for 1, If they do it is only for about 3 feet. The lights are a problem behind the inshore range marker but to me the bigger issue is all the vessels that leave there running lights on when there not running! ( lazy Idiots)

Neptune’s Car - I’ve recently had the pleasure of utilizing the now realigned, and power adjusted range lights.

Nice job. The ranges haven’t been that good in at least a decade, maybe more.

My kudos to the BMC and his crew at the ANTeam in Dulac, and to you for following this up to resolution.

Now if we can just get them to do something with the buoy system…:rolleyes: