Dredge Dubuque responds to critical dredging mission along Red River

The cutter suction dredger (CSD) Dubuque departed the Vicksburg Harbor last week for a critical dredging mission along the Red River in response to low water conditions.


Drought conditions throughout the Mississippi River Valley have caused a low water event on the lower Mississippi River and its tributaries. More specifically, troublesome areas were reported near Lindy C. Boggs Lock and Dam 1.

Located on the Red River at mile 43.8 about 11 miles north of Marksville, Louisiana, it is the first lock and dam on the Red River and part of the J. Bennett Johnston (JBJ) Waterway system.

USACE photo

The Dubuque was deployed to maintain the 9-ft navigation channel by dredging areas of increased sediment that recently emerged due to shoaling.

Dubuque operator Charlie Hansford said: “The towing industry is almost completely halted, so we’re here cutting high spots so the loaded barges can continue to pass through.”

Main impacts to navigation industry consists of restrictions to load sizes and vessel drafts, delays due to temporary channel closures during dredging operations or groundings, and loss of access at some ports.

The Dubuque, also known as the “Ugly Betty” by its crew, is a cutterhead type of dredge.

USACE photo

It is equipped with a rotating cutting tool that loosens and extracts sediment from the navigation channel which is then sucked into a 12” diameter pipe and discharged to a deeper area of the channel deemed appropriate by a survey crew.

Its crew consists of an operator, a diesel engineer, deckhands, and a crane operator and is accompanied by two large boat tenders, the Evie Kate and the Clinton.