Maintenance Dredge Completed at Navy's Key West Harbor Project

Thursday, August 16, 2007
From Naval Air Station Key West Public Affairs The final steps in a U.S. Navy dredging project of Key West Harbor were completed Aug. 8 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The original dredge project, completed in 2005, restored the Key West Harbor to a uniform depth of 36 feet, giving U.S. Navy ships and commercial vessels a clear, six-mile, 300-foot wide channel to enter the port. However, the hurricanes that passed near Key West in 2005 caused sand and silt to fill in some of the dredged depth, causing shoaling in the channel. The final touch to the project began in March with a maintenance dredge of the harbor, to regain the designed depth that was lost due to the shoaling.

Sponsored and funded by the U.S. Navy, the project was engineered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, which awarded a $1.1 million contract to the B&B Dredging Company of Portsmouth, Va.

While planning the initial dredge, some planners equated the project's sensitivity to using a backhoe to dig in an aisle of a china shop without removing any of the breakables from shelves on either side of the aisle. Materials accumulated from the maintenance dredge were deposited in deep water approximately 13 miles from the harbor in an approved, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-permitted ocean disposal site.

NAS Key West and the Army Corps of Engineers are developing a plan for long term monitoring and maintenance of the channel to ensure silt and sediment do not accumulate after currents, storms or other maritime events.

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