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Deep-draft hopper dredge

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UPDATED: February 2016


ABOUT THE McFARLAND: One of four oceangoing hopper dredges owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part  the Corps’ "minimum fleet" for national security and safe navigation, the McFarland is the only dredge in the world with triple capability for direct pumpout, bottom discharge and sidecasting or boom discharge.

Designed by the Corps' Marine Design Center, it was built in April 1967. Its name honors the late Arthur McFarland, a Corps of Engineers authority on dredging. The McFarland has a twofold mission: 1) Emergency and national defense dredging — as required and on short notice — anywhere in the world. 2) Planned dredging tests in the Delaware River and Bay

DREDGE McFARLAND STATUS: The Hopper Dredge McFARLAND performed 140 days of “active” dredging work along the East and Gulf Coasts moving in excess of 2 million cubic yards of dredged material in FY 2009. The Dredge McFARLAND was fully funded annually through FY 2009 using O&M funding for which the vessel worked. In FY 2010, her first year in Ready Reserve, the McFARLAND completed her scheduled training exercises in the Delaware River and on two separate occasions, the dredge was activated by USACE Headquarters for a total of 96 days of dredging on the Mississippi River’s Southwest Pass. The vessel completed her 70 days of training in FY2011 in the Delaware River. The vessel was not called out of ready reserve in FY2011 but did complete a 6 month major shipyard overhaul scheduled around her training exercise schedule. In FY 2012 the vessel completed her 70 scheduled training days in the Delaware River and was activated for a 30-day assignment for Wilmington District at Morehead City, NC. The dredge completed her 70 training days in the Delaware River in FY 2013 and was activated for a 24-day assignment for Wilmington District at Morehead City, NC. The dredge completed her 70 training days in the Delaware River in FY 2014 and remains available for any activation requests throughout FY 2016.

HOW IT WORKS:  Dredging is accomplished by a dragarm on each side of the ship with a draghead at each end. As the ship navigates the channel with its dredging pumps engaged, the dragheads are lowered to the channel bottom. Like vacuum cleaners, they pull the dredged material into the ship's hoppers.

The McFarland can then discharge the material any of three ways:

1. As a conventional hopper dredge with bottom discharge into deep water.

2. As a sidecaster discharging dredged material aside the channel.

3. As a pipeline dredge pumping material into disposal areas or through a direct ship-to-shore pipeline to confined upland areas.

WHAT IT CAN DO:  The McFarland offers a degree of performance and flexibility unmatched by any other dredge: It can handle a variety of materials including silt, sand, clay, shell and mixtures, thanks to these features:

  • High-powered pumps, large single open-hopper design amidships, and hopper distribution system with retention capability for efficient handling of fine materials
  • It can dredge year-round in any environment, working around the clock while on assignment.
  •  Its average removal rate in a typical year (140 days) is 1.5 to 2 million cubic yards — enough dredged material to fill the area of a football field 900 to 1,200 feet high.

ABOUT THE CREW: The McFarland is operated by a civilian crew of about 45.  Many of the members, including all the deck and engine room officers, hold U.S. Coast Guard licenses.  Certified as an oceangoing vessel, it undergoes regular annual safety inspections by the U.S. Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping.