News Stories

Wilmington District's Dredge MERRIT Goes Back to Oregon Inlet

Published April 23, 2014

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Wilmington District, will begin emergency dredging operations at Oregon Inlet tomorrow, Thursday, April 24, to remove the shoaling that has been obstructing the federal channel passage for commercial fishing vessels.

  The side cast dredge MERRITT will, once again, try to open the channel at the navigation span of the Bonner Bridge.  Recent surveys showed the federal channel with a depth of four feet, a gain of two feet in depth since the District’s last attempt to dredge the channel.    While the MERRITT typically operates in depths of at least five feet District navigation experts are hopeful it will succeed.

   If the MERRITT successfully dredges the channel to a controlling depth of 6 feet, the District will use the dredge CURRITUCK to continue dredging of the channel, and will place the dredged material near the scour hole at the Bonner Bridge footings to the south of the inlet’s navigation span.  The CURRITUCK is currently scheduled to dredge Onancock Inlet beginning May 1.  The MERRITT also is committed to dredging Carolina Beach Inlet beginning May 1.

      "We recognize this is a vital gateway for vessels traveling in and out of the Oregon Inlet and will continue to do everything possible to re-open the channel,” said Wilmington District Chief of Operations Bob Sattin.

   The Wilmington District estimates the cost of keeping the federal channel dredged to the depth needed for commercial vessels is from $4 – 5 million annually.  The Corps was allocated $1.3 million in FY14 for the entire project of Manteo (Shallowbag Bay), not just Oregon Inlet.  The President’s FY15 budget proposal for the entire project is $800,000 which allows, basically, only hydrographic surveying.  The availability of dredges, along with funding, is the key to keeping the Oregon Inlet passable.