The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a second $213 million contract to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. to carry out the remaining dredging of Charleston Harbor’s entrance channel to 54 feet, allowing it to handle larger containerships.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a second $213 million contract to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. to carry out the remaining dredging of Charleston Harbor’s entrance channel to 54 feet, which will allow the South Carolina port to handle the largest containerships currently calling the U.S. East Coast, the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) said Monday.
The contract will cover the removal of about 7.95 million cubic yards of material from the entrance channel. Combined with the first $47.2 million dredge contract awarded to Great Lakes on Sept. 7, the SCPA will achieve the authorized depth of 54 feet throughout the 20-mile Charleston Harbor Entrance Channel.
The dredged material will be placed at an offshore disposal site to create nine artificial reefs across 265 acres, and a berm around the site which will form more than 400 acres of additional hard bottom, SCPA said.
“The award of the second contract for the entrance channel keeps us in line with our schedule, which will be the most time-consuming phase of the project,” Lt. Col. Jeffrey Palazzini, the Army Corps’ district commander, said in a statement. “The Charleston District team has been working diligently on ensuring we keep the project schedule on track so that the entire project remains on time and on budget.”
Great Lakes is expected to use a combination of hopper, cutterhead and mechanical dredges for the work.
This is the final contract that will be required to complete the deepening of the entrance channel and is part of the overall $529 million project cost. Depending on full-funding, dredge availability, weather and other factors, the construction of the entire project will take 40-76 months, the Army Corps said.
“We look forward to seeing dredges in our harbor within the next few months and ultimately the completion of this effort that will make Charleston the deepest harbor on the East Coast at 52 feet,” said SCPA President and CEO Jim Newsome. “The investment in harbor deepening, as well as the Leatherman Terminal for additional container capacity and multiple other projects to improve our existing and Inland infrastructure, will pay dividends to South Carolina’s economy for many years to come.”
Newsome said the progress of the Charleston deepening project would not have been possible without the strong cooperation between the Army Corps and elected officials at the federal, state and local levels. The South Carolina General Assembly in 2012 set aside $300 million to initiate the dredging work needed for the Port of Charleston. “We will continue to work diligently to secure the remaining federal share of the project,” he said.
“Great Lakes looks forward to successfully working both Charleston 1 and 2 in the coming years,” said Lasse Petterson, the company’s CEO.
The company, which is the largest dredging operation in the United States, recently completed the PortMiami deepening project in 2015 and is currently working on the Savannah harbor deepening.
“Our history with these types of projects, our current diverse fleet and the addition of the Ellis Island, position us well to compete on the expected additional upcoming port deepening bids at Boston and Jacksonville,” Petterson added.
Correction: A previous version of this article indicated that the port would be able to handle the world’s largest containerships following the completion of the dredging project.