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China is Building a Dredger with one of the Worlds most Powerful Cutters

Tian Jing

Posted on March 20, 2023

China is building the world’s first dredger with a 10,000kW cutter, according to the chief engineer behind the project. The dredger is being built by the Tianjin Waterway Bureau, which also owns the most powerful dredger fleet in the world, South China Morning Post reported. (DredgeWire would like to point out that DEME’s Spartacus is the most powerful with 12,000 kw cutter head.)

Dredgers are vessels that can blast through rock on the bed of a sea or a river and then suck it up to pump them through a pipe at a distance. The cutter is the critical component of the setup since its power determines the ability of the dredger to blast through the surface bed.

China has invested heavily in the dredging industry over the past two decades and has built more than 200 vessels so far to become the world’s largest dredger manufacturer.

The world’s most powerful dredger

When ready, the dredger with the 10,000kW cutter will be 50 percent more powerful than the Tian Jing, which has earned its reputation for helping China build artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Both, the upcoming dredger and Tian Jing, are owned and operated by the Tianjin Waterway Bureau company, which not only has the most powerful dredger fleet in the world but is also a subsidiary of the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).

The Tian Jing or Celestial Whale was designed by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University with help from the German firm Vosta LMG. Commissioned in 2010, the dredger can excavate 4,500 cubic meters (159,000) cubic feet of sand per hour and its pump can send the sand up to 3.7 miles ( six km) away.

Representative image of artificial islands created

The vessel is unique since it can work without requiring supporting transport ships to move landfill material away from the site. Instead, it can do the job of dredging one spot and refilling another on its own.

Between 2013 and 2014, the vessel spent 193 days moving between five reefs in the South China Sea where it broke underwater coral reefs, and then stacked them up to make submerged atolls in the region. The Chinese military built airports, radar arrays, and missile positions in these newly developed regions.

China then built the Tian Kun, which has an upgraded capacity of dredging 6,000 cubic meters an hour and sending material 9.3 miles (15 km) away. As China looks to strengthen its position in the dredging industry, it is now looking at self-sufficiency in the core technology development and an even bigger dredger will be a testament to its capabilities in the near future.


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