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Eastern Partners with Royal IHC to Build USACE Hopper Dredge

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

April 3, 2024

(Photo: Eastern Shipbuilding Group)

(Photo: Eastern Shipbuilding Group)

U.S. shipbuilder Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc (ESG) on Wednesday announced it is teaming up with Dutch shipbuilding group Royal IHC to design and construct a highly automated hopper dredge for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

The diesel-electric vessel, contracted for the Department of Defense, will be constructed at ESG's Allanton and Port St. Joe facilities in Florida for scheduled delivery in 2027.

The new 6,000-cubic-yard-capacity medium-class hopper dredge (MCHD) will be based at the Corps’ Philadelphia District, replacing the 57-year-old McFarland, one of four oceangoing hopper dredges owned and operated by the USAC.

Homeported at the USACE Fort Mifflin dock facility on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, the new dredge will generally be kept dockside on shore power in a standby mode as a "Ready Reserve" dredge to perform urgent or emergency dredging when needed, according to the Corps. It will also complete 70 days of dredging in the Delaware River on an annual basis.

ESG and Royal IHC said they will work together to incorporate groundbreaking design, engineering, dredging equipment and automation systems. 

"The hopper dredge is designed to meet and exceed the mission-based operational requirements of USACE and features one of the most advanced configurations ever developed by Royal IHC," said Leo van Ingen, Area Sales Director at Royal IHC.

Royal IHC said its bulbous bow design is the basis for a relatively high maximum hopper capacity of 6,000 yd3, given the maximum vessel dimension requirements. Combined with optimum dredging efficiency, this results in significant fuel savings. The hopper can be fully loaded with medium fine sand in less than 45 minutes, and the available dredge pump power, together with the latest high efficiency dredge pumps, almost halves the desired discharge time, the company added

"Another special feature of this hopper dredge is the high level of automation on board," Leo van Ingen said. "For example, the Integrated Forward-Looking Sonar System, Dynamic Positioning and Dynamic Tracking in close concert with Dredging Assist capabilities. This concept can advise and assist the dredge master on the best dredging techniques and improve overall efficiency by integrating various dredging automation systems. In addition, with the ECO Package, the USACE’s new hopper dredge can load up to 15% more energy efficiently, reducing fuel consumption and environmental impact."

The newbuild will feature Royal IHC's Dredging Assist system, which initiates the lowering and lifting of the suction pipes, unloading the soil through the bottom doors, the activation of the required dredge pumps and jet pumps, taking account of the desired valve configuration, auxiliary equipment and automatic controllers. All of these tasks can be executed fully autonomously in a human-in-the-loop responsibility (approval of the dredge master).

The Cutterspecial pump was selected from Royal IHC’s latest range of dredge pumps to maximize the operational efficiency of this hopper. The proven dredge pump has a very robust design and is specifically developed for passage of large obstacles and is therefor ideal for use on hopper dredges with this requirement. Both pumps are also equipped with Royal IHC’s Curve impellers, a patented design, offering high efficiency and durability.

The environmental impact of the new hopper dredge is reduced by the patented Plumigator overflow, which reduces the release of air under and around the vessel caused by the overflow discharge plume. In addition, Royal IHC’s selected drag heads are also designed for both efficiency and interchangeability. All main equipment is designed with maximum efficiency to ensure continuous operation even under extreme conditions.

The hopper dredge is equipped with a diesel-electric propulsion system that meets EPA Tier 4 and IMO Tier 3 standards. The setup, consisting of three main generators, allows for maximum flexibility, optimal fuel consumption and operational safety in case of engine failure.

"Our partnership with Royal IHC exemplifies our longstanding commitment to working with the best in the industry to deliver superior vessels to our customers," said Joey D’Isernia, CEO of Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. "Our extensive experience in building highly mission capable TSHDs in the U.S. positions us well to construct this exceptional vessel for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."

Length: 320’
Beam: 72’
Hull Depth: 28’
Draft (hopper empty): 11’3”
Draft (hopper full): 25’6”
Maximum Hopper Capacity: 6000 yd3
Maximum dredge depth with suction tube at 45 degrees: 65’

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