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Devall and Kerns partner to start new American dredging contractor with lofty goals

From left, Matthew Devall, Robert Wetta and Michael Kerns after signing the contract for construction of the custom 24-inch Marlin class dredge.

Posted on December 6, 2021

By Judith Powers, a DredgeWire exclusive 

How Muddy Water Dredging got started

On May 21 of this year, Matthew B. Devall and Michael J. Kerns signed incorporation papers establishing Muddy Water Dredging LLC in the State of Texas. Headquartered in Orange, Texas, the company intends to do maintenance dredging and ancillary projects in the navigable waters of the United States.

Kerns is president and CEO of the company, and Matt Devall is director. Together they have 40 years’ experience in the dredging and maritime industry.

“We’ve been investigating this for years,” said Devall, when asked what sparked the start of the company. They announced the formation of the company in conjunction with announcing their order for a powerful cutter suction dredge from DSCDredge in October.

The dredge is scheduled for delivery in October 2023. In the meantime Devall and Kerns plan to work at expanding and establishing their physical facility in Orange.

The waterfront property was formerly Muddy Water Marina, located at 2100 Dupont Drive. They chose to continue that name for their dredging company.

Kerns has worked on projects for multiple dredging companies in his 20-year career. Devall’s experience in marine transportation and dredging includes offshore support vessels, international marine operations, inlandvessel, and barge operations, and dredging. He lists management experience in business planning, corporate governance, financial reporting, internal and external reporting, mergers, and acquisitions. He has served in management roles in four companies since 2003, most recently as CFO of Devall Towing & Boat Service of Hackberry LLC from March 2010 to July 2021.

On Oct. 12, the partners visited DSC Dredge in Reserve, Louisiana, where Kerns and DSC President Robert Wetta signed an agreement for the delivery of a dual-pump Marlin Class 24-inch, 9,621hp/6,830kW cutterhead dredge with a duty point of 28,236 gpm slurry volume. The dredge will have an overall length of 371 feet, capable of a 400-foot-wide cut utilizing an 80 degree swing arc. The detachable carriage barge will allow the dredge to quickly convert from a wide cut format to a shorter conventional dredge configuration for work in areas with limited space. Lay-down carriage barge spuds will facilitate transit under low clearance structures.

This custom dredge will be equipped with DSC’s survey-grade DSC VISION package; DSC’s Dredge Rx remote monitoring package; and DSC’s Dredge Quality Management (DQM) system for automated USACE reporting. The dredge will also be fitted with three 12’x12’ offices, a 15’x19’ meeting/break room, restroom facilities, and a 20’x27’ lever room.

Drawing of the 371-foot-long cutter-suction dredge Muddy Water Dredge has ordered from DSC Dredge. It is scheduled for delivery in October 2023.

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