Maintaining the side casting dredge Merritt

The dredge Merritt is finally back in the water at the North Carolina State Shipyard after routine maintenance.

For the past month, the crew has been busy replacing and updating steering systems, painting, replacing gear, cleaning fuel tanks, and repairing corrosion. This period of repairs has been very successful and beneficial to the vessel.

The Merritt is a side casting dredge that works mainly off the coast of North Carolina and occasionally makes its way down to South Carolina. The side casting dredge allows for faster movement of sand, opposed to other types of dredges. It is a useful tool during dredging emergencies and keeping shallow channels navigable.

The Merritt helps improve waters for recreation, commercial fishing, ferry systems, marine fisheries, and emergency assets like the Coast Guard. This improves commerce by supporting the surrounding communities by supporting tourism, recreation, and local businesses.

Two crews

There are two crews attached to the Merritt that rotate shifts, which allows the vessel to consistently dredge. Unlike most other dredges, this ship has living quarters for the crew.

During the monthlong repairs, the crew stayed at the shipyard with the vessel assisting the yard hands. Their presence was crucial in improving efficiency.

The last time the Merritt was out of the water was two and a half years ago. They performed big haul out repairs and renovations. Since the vessel is constantly working, normal wear and tear is inevitable.

The maintenance done during this past month has improved the efficiency of the ship. The vessel received new drag gear, a new coat of paint, new decking, and an installation of two new “dog houses”.

Dog houses are the entryways down into the pump rooms. Work was also done on the multipurpose crane, which holds up the large pipe that shoots the dredge material away from the channel.

The welding and repairs completed have eliminated steering problems and increased performance.

The Merritt is expected to be back to work after this Friday, November 6, 2020.

Story by Emily Winget, USACE

Photo: Emily Winget, USACE

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