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Dredging operations are wrapping up and you might be wondering how they did all that work

Posted on February 12, 2024

Orange Beach, Ala. – (OBA) – As they’ve meandered back and forth along the lower Alabama coastline, you’ve looked on in amazement while sitting outdoors at places like CoastAL Orange Beach and The Gulf. You’ve driven through Gulf State Park and seen them offshore hard at work managing environmental concerns related to sedimentation. Since last Fall, they’ve been a sight to behold for patrons of The Pink Pony and The Hangout.

They’re dredging ships, and they play a crucial role in maintaining navigable waterways and supporting infrastructure development in Baldwin County. But while you no doubt know what they’re doing and when they’ll be finished (March 2024), there’s a lot you may not know about these sand-sucking behemoths of the sea.

Protecting our precious Gulf waters.

Modern dredgers incorporate advanced technologies to minimize their environmental impact. This includes efficient sediment separation systems, GPS-guided navigation to optimize dredging paths, and monitoring systems to track the dispersal of dredged material. They also incorporate features to reduce turbidity and sediment dispersion which helps protect marine life.

More nimble than you think.

While they may look big and cumbersome, dredging ships are actually extremely mobile and designed to access various locations to maintain ports, harbors, and channels in different regions.

They’re automatic and adaptable.

Most dredging vessels incorporate automation technologies to make the dredging process more efficient by reducing the need for constant manual control. They’re also adaptable to diverse types of materials and environments—everything from sand and clay, to silt and heavy rocks.

Powerful at any size.

Dredging machines come in various sizes, ranging from small portable units to large vessels. Their horsepower can vary significantly, with some of the largest ones like cutter suction dredgers boasting several thousand horsepower, enabling them to cut through and move large volumes of sediment.

Suction and Pumping

Dredgers use suction pipes connected to powerful pumps that can transport the material over long distances. Capable of moving large volumes of water and sediment, these pumps play a crucial role in achieving efficient dredging.

Hydraulic Dredging

Some dredging machines use hydraulic systems to excavate and transport sediment using pressurized water to loosen and transport the material.

Support Vessels

Dredging projects often involve support vessels such as tugboats, survey boats, and barges that contribute to the overall efficiency and safety of dredging operations.

Soon, they’ll be replaced by sailboats, wave runners, and fishing boats.

Spring and summer are just around the corner and that means we can soon get back to enjoying typical outdoor activities in our local Gulf waters.


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