Army Corps Suspends Oregon Inlet Dredging (USA)
A recent Corps of Engineers survey of the historically turbulent Oregon Inlet indicates a controlling depth of two-foot at the navigation span of the bridge, which is too shallow for the dredges used by the Corps of Engineers.
The Corps of Engineers sidecast dredge MERRITT was scheduled to begin dredging operations in the inlet today. Due to the worsening shoaling conditions, the MERRITT will remain on standby at Wanchese until another survey is conducted on Monday.
“Government dredge vessels are unable to navigate the channel at this depth,” said Bob Sattin, operations division chief, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Wilmington District. “Under current deteriorating shoal conditions and a critically shallow depth level, an ocean pipeline dredge is the only option for clearing the channel.”
The Corps of Engineers does not own any ocean pipeline dredges, and currently inadequate funding is available to contract for the services of this type of dredge.
“We fully understand this situation severely affects the regional fishing fleet, and impacts people’s livelihoods,” said Col. Steven Baker, Wilmington District Commander. “We continue to plan for every foreseeable eventuality, and remain prepared to make prudent use of any resources that may become available.”
In response to the emergency situation at Oregon Inlet, Corps leaders will meet with Coast Guard officials on Monday to determine the best solution to the deteriorating conditions at the inlet.
The Wilmington District established a permanent survey office in Wanchese in October of 2004, and stepped up the frequency of hydrographic surveys in Oregon Inlet and its associated channels to aid mariners. Surveys are conducted weekly, if weather and conditions permit, and survey information is published on the district’s navigation web page the following business day. Mariners can consult the web page to view waypoints through the deepest available water.
Press Release, December 14, 2012; Image: usace