On Thursday, Governor Albert Bryan Jr., the leadership of the West Indian Company Limited, and the Virgin Islands Port Authority met to discuss plans for moving forward with the harbor dredging projects in Charlotte Amalie and Gallows Bay.
Bryan touted the importance of moving forward with the dredging projects, which have been awaiting federal action to keep pace with the cruise industry and its move toward larger vessels. In addition, the governor said he is considering several financial options to expedite the dredging process in Gallows Bay on St. Croix and the St. Thomas Harbor.
“This is a vital and strategic step for the Territory’s economic development and to help our small businesses remain prepared to offer the best experience possible for cruise passengers when they visit the industry’s top destination,” Governor Bryan said. “While we still would need approval from the Army Corps of Engineers for the structural portion of the dredging projects, we could significantly speed things up by making the funding available now rather than wait on the federal funding process.”
For the largest cruise ships to access the WICO dock on St. Thomas, it is critical to deepen the turning basin and mouth of the harbor. Currently, the WICO dock can accommodate only one Oasis-class cruise ship, which holds about 6,000 people.
According to information brought up during the meeting, the dredging of St. Thomas Harbor will increase the economy of scale for the territory to handle more of the larger ships simultaneously, boosting capacity by about 200% to allow up to three Oasis-class ships to dock simultaneously.
The Gallows Bay dredging project is also crucial to the Bryan-Roach Administration’s plans to increase the number of cruise calls to St. Croix and allow small ships to dock in Christiansted and larger vessels at the Anne Abramson Marine Facility in Frederiksted.