One of the top priorities for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after a hurricane or other major storm event is to get survey vessels on the water as quickly as possible after danger has passed. If a federal channel is impassable it means a loss of revenue because commercial ships can’t deliver goods and products on time.
The Wilmington District responded to the survey mission on the Cape Fear River after Hurricane Florence on Sept. 16 to ensure that no obstructions or shoals prevented ships from reaching the Port of Wilmington from the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to hydrographic surveys of the federal channel, the District was asked to coordinate the removal of bottom obstructions from the Wilmington Harbor Federal Project that were identified by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) vessels. The District reached out to the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) to perform salvage operations with a contract under its purview that can be used through coordination by other agencies. Bullock said collaboration for the NAVSEA contract was performed by the Wilmington District’s Operations Branch, Programs Management and the Office of Counsel to help speed up the process
“The NAVSEA contractor, New Jersey-based Donjon Marine, added great support to the Wilmington District by side-scanning areas at the Port of Wilmington to verify NOAA’s targets,” said Wilmington District Chief of Navigation Roger Bullock. “They subsequently deployed divers and a salvage vessel to remove a submerged boat from the Wilmington Harbor Federal Project.”
Bullock said that Donjon Marine removed other obstructions such as large boulders and a pipeline dredge pontoon from the bottom of the Cape Fear River. He said that it’s imperative for opening the port to coordinate immediately to remove such obstacles in support of the U.S. Coast Guard.
“U.S. Army Corps of Engineers survey vessels are the first ones on the water,” he explained. “The Port of Wilmington depends on us to ensure safe passage for vessels that arrive in Wilmington from around the world loaded with goods and materials. The sooner we conduct post-hurricane surveys and identify any potential obstructions to be removed, the faster the port can resume its operations.”