In order to keep commercial shipping vessels navigating safely and efficiently to and from the Port of Wilmington, the Army Corps’ Wilmington District conducts daily surveys of the federal channel and periodically dredges it to remove debris.
The Cape Fear River carries tons of sediment that gradually settles along the way of its 202-mile path to the Atlantic Ocean.
When its flows reach Wilmington, some of that material ends up in the federal channel that stretches from just north of the Isabelle Holmes Bridge to the Atlantic Ocean.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers annually dredges the Anchorage Basin to ensure safe passage for cargo along the federal navigation channel,” said Project Manager Timothy Jones. “The stretch of Anchorage Basin is about six and three-quarters of a mile long and it will take another month to complete the dredging.”
Jones also said that the work includes maintenance dredging of the upper Wilmington Harbor federal navigation channel reaches including the Anchorage Basin, Between Channel, and the North Carolina State Ports Authority (NCSPA) berth areas and Turning Basin Extension.
Shoaled material is removed and disposed of at the District’s Eagle Island Confined Disposal Facility (CDF) cell three upland diked disposal area.
“The work requires a hydraulic cutter suction dredge such as the Cherokee,” Jones said. “The dredging depths are 42 feet plus two feet of allowable over depth for the Anchorage Basin and for Between Channel. Dredging depths are 39 feet plus one foot of allowable over depth for the NCSPA berth areas one and two and 43 feet plus one foot of allowable over depth for the NCSPA berth areas and Turning Basin Extension. The estimated quantity of material to be dredged is 1.4 million cubic yards.”
Jones concluded that the environmental window for dredging the NCSPA berth areas is Oct. 1, 2018 through Jan. 31, 2019, and the environmental window for dredging the Wilmington Harbor federal navigation channel reaches is Aug. 1, 2018 through Jan. 31, 2019.