Posted on November 8, 2023
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District’s Dredge Jadwin marks 90 years of service to the nation on Oct. 30, and she will not be taking a day off to celebrate.
The Jadwin and her 51 crewmembers have faced increasing low water challenges due to drought conditions in recent years. This year, the crew works on a 24-hour schedule to ensure barge traffic can pass without running aground.
Launched in 1933, the historic vessel maintains a consistent channel depth on the Mississippi River. She is one of three remaining dustpan type dredges in the nation, aptly named for the suction head that churns up and vacuums sediment buildup from the river floor. The dredge then shoots the sediment mixture through a 470-feet pipeline and deposits it in an area with fast-moving water.
Although the vessel focuses primarily on the Mississippi River, she has also worked on the Baptiste-Collette Outlet, Arkansas River and the lower Missouri, Ohio and Red rivers. Likewise, her special missions span various decades. Most notably, the Dredge Jadwin retrieved civilians and livestock during the 1937 Missouri Flood and served as the Venice, Louisiana substation during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Gustav in 2008.
The Jadwin is a product of the steam-powered vessel era, and she was originally built with rivets. She received diesel electric engines in 1985. At that time her dredging depth was 60 feet, a 20-feet increase from her initial capabilities. Today, the Jadwin can dredge up to 62 feet and is equipped with modern technology such as GPS, radar and electronic navigational charting software.
Lt. Gen. Edgar Jadwin, from whom the vessel takes its name, was USACE’s Chief Engineer during the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927. He studied flooding in the Mississippi Valley in hopes of avoiding future disastrous occurrences, and used his research to develop the river’s first comprehensive flood risk management plan. Dubbed the “Jadwin Plan”, the proposal included strengthening existing levees, laying concrete mat to stabilize caving banks, improving the channel through dredging and construction work. Jadwin also called for a controlled spillway and three floodways.
The USACE Vicksburg District is engineering solutions to the nation’s toughest challenges. The Vicksburg District encompasses a 68,000-square-mile area across portions of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana, that holds nine major river basins and incorporates approximately 460 miles of mainline Mississippi River levees. The Vicksburg District is engaged in hundreds of projects and employs approximately 1,100 personnel.