The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for the water ports in the Wilmington District. The water ports are over 300 miles along the North Carolina coast which extends from Norfolk, Virginia to Little River, South Carolina. These project include Wilmington Harbor, Morehead City Harbor, Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway as well as shallow draft projects. “Wilmington Harbor and Morehead City Harbor are the largest of these navigation projects.” http://www.saw.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation.aspx. Morehead City Harbor has available berths and storage areas for cargo which has the ability to handle break-bulk and bulk cargo and is the second largest importer for natural rubber in the country.
On the thirty miles of Federally Authorized Navigation Channels there were 600 vessels carrying over 6,500,000 tons that compromised the Wilmington Harbor and Morehead City Harbor. Reasons for such projects are to provide safe, reliable, efficient, and environmentally safe transportation systems for commerce, national security and recreation needs. These programs provides a network of navigable channels, ports, harbors, and infrastructures that helps maintain economic competitiveness and national security. All these coastal navigational channels and harbors are maintained by the Corps as well as publicly and privately owned vessels, terminals, shipyards, and repair facilities.
One reason we need dredging in NC is because North Carolina has a variety of inlets that are critical to coastal commerce and coastal highways such as Commercial traffic at NC Ports/ Commercial fisherman/Charter fisherman/Recreation & tourisms. Dredging and maintenance is the only way to keep these inlets open to support NC’s economy.
The authorized depths for these inlets are 15 feet or less in shallow draft inlets in NC, but the deep draft inlets that need greater depths than 15 feet are located in Wilmington and Morehead City and dredging is necessary due to rapid shoaling in historical areas. Other areas that need dredging but are not Federally Authorized are Ferry Channels which are maintained by NC DOT. The DENR “passed through” money from DOT to Corps which connected the channels from federal inlets to ferry channels covered under the Shallow Draft MOA.
There is so much shoaling on the North Carolina shores and the Hatteras and Oregon Inlets are one of the main focuses on the east coast. In order to dredge the inlets so it would be cost efficient and sediment is properly relocated, the Giant Dutch Hopper needs to be used. The Oregon Inlet can be cleaned out within weeks with the Congo River Dutch that has a 40,000 cubic meter capacity vessel. The spoils from the dredge can be a supplement to the South Nags Head beach restoration project as the new sediment are moved in by prevailing tides southward and inshore. Many have laughed at the Dredge Merritt and considered it a waste of time and a waste of hard earned federal tax money. Many have also suggested the Federal Government is the problem, when the US Army of Corps use federal tax money to pay for something that will take longer, do less work, and cost too much money when in reality, they could have used the Giant Dutch Hopper Dredge from the beginning and finish the dredge faster and more efficient. “The Congo River Hopper Dredge would be so effective that no granite rip rap north jetty would be needed. Saving hundreds of millions of dollars. And Congo River type massive dredging project would not have to be repeated for years, perhaps decades.” http://cruisersnet.net/an-argument-for-dredging-north-carolinas-oregon-inlet/ .
Congressman Walter Jones and elected representatives should petition the central government to only use the US built Hopper Dredges because many believe that the US Corps of Engineers have been using tiny, inefficient dredging equipment that cost more and does a less sufficient job.
In 1829, the Federal government assumed responsibilities of navigational improvement that had recently been performed by the State of North Carolina. The channels depths and widths were increased so larger ships could deliver cargo to the ports without having to carry lighter loads or wait for high tides. When large vessels had to wait for high tide, this incurred operating cost for these delays.
The improvement plan was a combined project with the Water Resources Development Act of 1996 and the Fiscal Year 1998 Appropriations Act which was referred to as the Wilmington Harbor 96 Act project and this project provided an authorized navigation depth of the entire channel from Wilmington to the ocean. The depth of the entrance extended from Baldhead Shoal Channel to Battery Island Channel. “The authorized channel widths would remain at 500 feet from the ocean upstream through Battery Island Channel and the 400 feet upstream to the Hilton Railroad Bridge, except that specific portions of the project would undergo widening.” http://www.saw.usace.army.mil/Portals/59/docs/navigation/Dredging/Projects/Appendix%20H%20EA%20SMP%20(2000)%20June%202014.pdf. This plan would deepen the ocean bar channel along its current alignment and extend present length to 9.3 miles from the inlet. When the channel was deepened and widened, large vessels could transport cargo easily and more economically.
Dredging is not only needed in the Carolina Beach waterway, but it is needed throughout every coastline that has an economic impact on our country as well as other countries. Dredging offers safe navigation within the waterways at every port for recreational and commercial vessels. There is a need for deeper channels for vessels which transport cargo to and from ports with fuel, oil, and other necessary products for commercial use within different countries. “This is an important asset for the Egyptian economy, aimed at generating new shipping activity and attracting new industrial activities.” http://www.dredgingtoday.com/2015/08/03/deme-at-new-suez-opening-ceremony/.
With the widening and deepening of the Suez Canal which has been the fourth time since WWII, has optimized a major artery of the Egyptian economy. The DEME was awarded a contract value of $540 million in October 2014 whereas an additional 250 – meter-wide, 24 – meter – deep, and 29.5 – kilometer – long fairway through the Great Bitter Lake and widened to 140 meters. Dredging is needed at every port which has an economic impact on all countries. As dredging is needed for every port around the United States, dredging is also needed in other countries around the world.