The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District’s medium hopper dredger McFarland, based out of Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia, returned home on March 14 after completing an emergency dredging mission in the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River, 90 miles south of New Orleans.
The McFarland, one of four USACE owned and operated deep-draft dredging vessels, arrived in the Gulf in early February.
Throughout the duration of the mission, the Mississippi River was closed to larger vessel traffic due to heavy fog. Dredges were only able to operate when fog subsided during the course of each day, according to USACE.
The McFarland worked in the Southwest Pass from February 4 through March 7. The river is surveyed daily to determine the areas with the greatest shoaling and need for dredging, said USACE.
Since 2010, the McFarland has operated in a “Ready Reserve” status, meaning the vessel is limited to 70 days per year of training operations in the Delaware River unless called upon to deploy elsewhere. In Ready Reserve, the McFarland can be activated for emergency operations if private industry is unable to respond to a dredging project, said USACE.