Southeast
The dredge Chatry works to deepen the Savannah River. Inner harbor deepening at the Port of Savannah is slated for completion in late 2021. The inner harbor deepening is the final portion of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. (Georgia Ports Authority)

GA - Savannah harbor deepening sets precedent; four dredges working simultaneously

The deepening of the Savannah harbor has set a new precedent with four dredges working simultaneously, the Army Corps of Engineers announced.

The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) includes two dredges keeping the channel at its current authorized depth of 42 feet followed by two dredges taking the channel to its new depth of 47 feet. The dredges work without disrupting the flow of commercial traffic to or from the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal and other facilities along the river.

The entire deepening project is approximately 62 percent complete. The inner harbor constitutes the final portion. The outer harbor, a roughly 20-mile channel extending into the Atlantic Ocean, has already been deepened to 49 feet at low tide.

“The Savannah District continues to manage the intensely complicated task of coordinating dredge actions and placement of dredged material to ensure safety, compliance with contract requirements and timeliness to reach our goal of completing this major deepening in January 2022,” Col. Daniel H. Hibner, commander of the Corps’ Savannah District said. “This effort ensures the harbor will improve the ability of Savannah to meet the demands of today and tomorrow.”

With finely tuned coordination, each dredge and its associated support vessels must be at the right place at the right time. The two smaller maintenance dredges remove built up shoaling and sediment, then move on followed by the larger deepening dredges. All vessels must move aside whenever commercial vessels enter their area. In addition, workers must move pipelines leading from the dredges to the dredge material disposal areas. After commercial traffic passes, everything must return to continue the routine. All dredges work 24 hours a day, every day.

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