Joint Base Langley-Eustis’ (JBLE) Third Port, the US Army’s pier complex sitting where Skiffe’s Creek meets the James River in south-eastern Virginia, recently completed a multi-month dredging project.
The dredging, a 24/7 operation, was part of a regularly scheduled maintenance, which occurs every five years.
Jay Dehart, a harbourmaster with JBLE US Air Force tenant unit 733rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, said the creek starts filling back in within five years. Where the river turns faster, water goes around the corner on the inside, slower water on the outside, causing huge amounts of sediment in the channel.
The cyclical nature of the water’s current necessitates the dredging as filled-in waterways can impede ship movement in and around the piers.
At the piers are cargo ramps, which allow for a ship’s bow ramp to be lowered for the embarkation or discharge of cargo. Some of these ramps were no longer accessible due to the sand and silt accumulation as the regular five-year mark approached.
The dredge plant pushes the collected material through several kilometres of pipeline to a spoil site maintained as part of the dredging cycle.
The US Army Corps of Engineers tests samples of the material pumped out of the river for viability in other projects. Some of the material may used to build beaches or to shore up areas of natural erosion.
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