Dredgers Make Way for USNS Comfort in New York

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

March 27, 2020

USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) takes on fuel and supplies at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. in preparation to deploy to New York in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts and will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals. (U.S. Navy photo by Jim Kohler)

USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) takes on fuel and supplies at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. in preparation to deploy to New York in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts and will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals. (U.S. Navy photo by Jim Kohler)

Dredgers are expediting operations in New York to make way for the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort, which will dock in the epicenter of America's COVID-19 outbreak to assist hospitals that become overrun by the pandemic.

Dredging contractor Donjon Marine Co., Inc. was contacted last week and asked to begin dredging Manhattan Cruise Terminal’s Berth 4 in anticipation of the arrival of the ship, which under the order of President Trump will serve as a relief hospital facility for non-coronavirus patients needing hospital care. The ship's 1,000-plus beds will help free up space for infected patients in NYC’s land-based hospitals.

Donjon sprang into action, hurrying a dump scow out of drydock 10 days earlier than scheduled, and moving its dredge the Delaware Bay and two other scows from ongoing projects into position. The company is moving crewmembers and supplies in and out of Manhattan on shuttle boats from Jersey City, N.J.

“That wasn’t all we had to do,” said Donjon Marine’s Thomas Witte, Executive Vice President and Director of Dredging. “We needed expedited permits and authorizations from the federal government, state of New York, and the city in order to place dredge material in certain locations. We were able to receive them – in less than 12 hours from being requested to issuance.”

Witte said he has never seen approval of permits move that fast, stating “9/11 was close". He credits the quick action on permits to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Thomas Creamer, Chief of Operations, and Jodi McDonald, Deputy Chief of Operations, Readiness, and Regulatory Functions Division.

“When America says jump, we don’t ask why. We ask how high. That is what the U.S. dredging industry does – day in and day out. Donjon Marine is another shining example of the U.S. dredging industry,” said William P. Doyle, Chief Executive Officer of the Dredging Contractors of America.

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