Unalaska dredging project moving forward

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is about to move forward with the Unalaska Channels dredging project, also known as the Dutch Harbor scheme.

The proposed project calls for dredging at the entrance to Iliuliuk Bay that prevents deeper draft vessels from safely passing and accessing the Port of Dutch Harbor.

Last Wednesday, during one of the regular meetings, the Army Corps representative Jathan Garrett updated the community on the project.

As reported, the planning and design stage of the project is now 65% complete. USACE expects this work to be 95% finished in few weeks.

Initially estimated to cost around $30 million, USACE will have to do another calculation based on today’s costs. Approximately two-thirds of the cost will be paid by the federal government, and the rest by the City of Unalaska.

According to Garrett, the federal funds for this project could become available as soon as the end of this year.

The City of Unalaska is located in the Aleutian Islands, some 800 air miles from Anchorage. Dutch Harbor is a port facility on Amaknak Island within the city. Dutch Harbor is the only deep draft, year-round ice-free port along the 1,200-mile Aleutian Island chain.

Currently, a bar shallower than the surrounding bathymetry located at the entrance to Iliuliuk Bay limits access to Dutch Harbor. Based on the most recent bathymetry, the depth at the bar is -42 feet Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW). This depth prevents deeper draft vessels from safely passing over the bar.

Photo: USACE