Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and 54th U.S. Army Chief of Engineers, has signed the Unalaska (Dutch Harbor) Channels Chief’s Report in Washington, D.C.
The signing progresses the proposed project to Congress for authorization.
Located in the Aleutian Islands and about 800 miles southwest from Anchorage, a bar shallower than the surrounding bathymetry limits vessel traffic that can safely access the port facilities and areas of refuge in Dutch Harbor.
The final feasibility study recommends deepening the existing bar to -58 feet providing one-way access for ships with a draft up to 44 feet. Currently, the bar accommodates vessels with a draft of 38 feet. Initial estimates of deepening the channel would involve dredging approximately 182,000 cubic yards of sediment at an estimated cost of $30.5 million.
“Through the iterations of our process, we were able to determine that this plan meets the needs of the community while incorporating the Corps’ required deep draft safety guidelines,” said Bruce Sexauer, chief of the Civil Works Branch. “It is always a great day when we can move a project closer to fruition that benefits Alaskans and our nation.”
Dutch Harbor is the only deep draft port along the 1,200-mile Aleutian Island chain. It is ice free throughout the year. The port provides vital services to vessels operating in the North Pacific and the Bering Sea, said USACE.
For more than 30 years, Unalaska’s economy has been based on commercial fishing, seafood processing, fleet services, and marine transportation. It has the most western container terminal in the U.S.