Video: Blessing of the Fleet Ceremony

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District’s Mat Sinking Unit (MSU) left the Vicksburg Harbor for its annual revetment season on July 9, 2014.

The District hosted a Blessing of the Fleet ceremony on July 9, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. at the Vicksburg City Water Front as the MSU departed. The blessing was performed by Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Mark Mitera.

A tradition that dates back to medieval times, the Blessing of the Fleet originally started in early European fishing communities. A blessing bestowed by a local priest was meant to ask for an abundant and safe season.

The MSU is the only one of its kind in the world and performs one of the most important jobs in the Corps’ river stabilization program. This unique, one-of-a-kind crew places articulated concrete mats along the river banks of the Mississippi River to control erosion. This season, the MSU will place 200,000 squares of concrete mat, enough to cover 80 miles of four lane highway.

Its fleet consists of towboats and quarter boats, including the motor vessels BENYAURD, WILLIAM JAMES, and HARRISON, and other floating plant. The MSU is known as a floating city that houses and feeds its employees and has the capabilities to provide all of the electricity and potable water needed.

Press Release, July 11, 2014

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