The Dredge McFarland, a 300-foot-long hopper dredge owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will be open for tours May 19 at Penn’s Landing from noon to 6 p.m.
The free tours are part of Delaware River Day, an annual event dedicated to safe boating and waterway preservation. Sponsored by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, River Day will also feature demonstrations by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, a blessing of the fleet, free sailing and a "tugfest," a competition among tug boats that ply the river. Delaware River Day takes place during National Safe Boating Week, May 19-25.
The event will unfold at the Penn's Landing Marina located directly behind the Independence Seaport Museum on Columbus Blvd. at Walnut Street. Everything at the event, including musical entertainment, face painting for the kids, the demonstrations and vessel tour, will be free.
The McFarland is one of four, ocean-going, hopper dredges owned by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. It operates basically like a giant vacuum cleaner, sucking up deposits from the bottom of a waterway where they have settled and constitute an obstacle to navigation. Based in Philadelphia, the McFarland is the only dredge in the world that offers three ways to dispose of the sediment it collects. The McFarland can immediately pump the sediment to the side, away from the channel, using its large boom to "sidecast" the material. The dredge can dump sediment in deep water simply by opening the bottom of its hopper. Or, by far the most common procedure, the dredge can carry the material it has sucked into its hopper to the vicinity of a special deposit facility, then pump it via pipes into that facility. Visitors to the McFarland on Delaware River Day will get to see the equipment and talk to the crew that carry out these operations. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Survey Vessel Cherneski will also be at the event, docked in the marina. The Cherneski is a 65-foot mono-hull survey vessel that has been performing multi-beam hydrographic surveys of the federal navigation channels in the Philadelphia District since 1988. Operator and crew will be on hand to answer questions about the hydrographic survey mission and the vessel operation
Also present for River Day will be Coastie, the Coast Guard Auxiliary's National Ambassador for Boating and Water Safety. Coastie is an animated robotic cartoon character in appearance, and is very mobile. He has navigation and searchlights, a rotating beacon, a siren, an air horn, and eyes and eyelids that move meaningfully.
The Tug Fest will take place off the South Quay at the Penn's Landing Marina from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and will include the McAllister Tug, the Moran Tug, the K-Sea Tug and the Tug Jupiter (2009 winner for "best decorated") and Tug Wilmington, which took home the trophy for "toughest tug" last year.
The Independence Seaport Museum at Penn’s Landing will offer $5 discounted admission all day as part of Delaware River Day.
The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation is a nonprofit corporation created in January 2009 to design, develop and manage the central Delaware River waterfront in Philadelphia. For more information and event details, please call the DRWC at (215) 922-2FUN or visit www.delawareriverevents.com. The McFarland is part of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Philadelphia District, which is organized around the Delaware River and its watershed and encompasses parts of five states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York and Maryland.