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Weeks Marine Building New Hopper and Cutter Dredges

Weeks Marine, Inc. Inc. (WMI) is building two new dredges – an 8,500 cubic yard hopper dredge Weeks 475; and an ocean-class, 30-inch hydraulic cutter suction dredge Weeks 314.
The announcement was made on May 23, coinciding with the annual National Dredging Meeting in Washington, D.C.

The new dredges represent an investment of more than $125 million, and the creation of 125 permanent well-paying jobs, according to Richard S. Weeks, WMI president.

Hopper Dredge Weeks 475
The Weeks 475’s engineering package was developed jointly by WMI and IHC Merwede, and the keel will be laid in October of this year, with delivery scheduled two years later.

The shipyard that will build the dredge has not been announced.

The Weeks 475, will become WMI’s third hopper dredge, and will be the company’s fastest, most fuel efficient, most powerful pumping, and most highly automated hopper dredge. The dredge will double WMI’s hopper dredge capacity.
The dredge will be certified to operate anywhere in the world, and the design is well suited for land reclamation in the United States. Installed horsepower is 13,000. Other specifications are length: 356 feet, breadth: 80 feet and depth: 27 feet.

The V-shaped hopper optimizes pumping ashore. One row of conical dumping valves on the cetnerline allows bottom dump while providing positive sealing.

Lloyds Register and DR-68 classification agents facilitate the construction of a stronger vessel, operating at reduced freeboard, so the vessel can carry more material.

The 475 has double the capacity of the RN Weeks and B.E. Lindholm, and doubles the company’s total hopper capacity.

Weeks 315 Under Construction
Construction of the Weeks 315 is underway at Corn Island Shipyard on the Ohio River in Indiana. The new dredge is the product of WMI’s in-house engineering effort. The keel has been laid, all major components are on order, and completion is scheduled for an end-of-year delivery.

The dredge will have 17,400 installed horsepower.

Dimensions are: length: 230 feet, breadth: 62 feet, depth: 17 feet, and discharge diameter: 30 inches.

Dual dredge pump systems will be coupled to two-speed gearboxes, allowing pumping of higher densities over a wide range of pipeline lengths.

The Weeks 315 will operate from traditional spuds, a Christmas tree, or connected to one of three walking spud idler barges.

Tier II Engines

Both vessels will be equipped with EPA Tier II engines, and will feature the latest in world class dredging technology, including state-of-the-art AC drives to power the pumps, winches, cutter, jetting and other systems, all of which will be controlled by fully-integrated and advanced automation systems.

The dredges are designed for conditions found offshore of the U.S. coast, and are part of WMI’s three-year, $200 million-plus capital investment program in five vessels.

“The two new dredges alone, built in U.S. shipyards, represent new investment exceeding $125 million, and will result in the creation of 125 permanent new well-paying jobs,” said Richard S. Weeks, WMI President. “I am very optimistic about the future of the U.S. marketplace. Both the growth of international trade and the U.S. seaport industry, and the wide acceptance of beach nourishment and coastal restoration as the shore protection option of choice call for new energy-efficient tools to be brought into the marketplace. I am exceedingly proud of our team as we put together these two projects – vessels which will provide a strong platform for our future growth,” he said.

Expanding the U.S. Dredging Fleet

“The new dredges will add substantial capacity to the domestic dredging fleet, and coupled with WMI’s dredging expertise, strong field management, and formidable support network, will significantly enhance our competitiveness in the marketplace,” said Eric Ellefsen, senior vice president of the Weeks Dredging Division. “Weeks Marine prides itself in being a leader in the dredging industry. The expansion of our dredging fleet demonstrates our commitment to better serving our customers, particularly the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Navy.”

“While the U.S. dredging industry is strong, and our competitors have added substantial capabilities over the last decade, these two investments will contribute even further to the overall capabilities and productivity of the U.S. dredging industry,” continued Ellefsen. “We are dedicated to building and operating the most technologically advanced, fuel efficient, and environmentally sensitive equipment in the market place.”

Weeks Marine, Inc. (WMI) is a diversified marine contractor involved in construction, bulk stevedoring, heavy lift, salvage, towing, and dredging. With historic roots in the New York metropolitan region, WMI was a regional dredging contractor until 1993 when the company purchased American Dredging Company, Camden, New Jersey, then America’s third largest dredging company.

With the American Dredging purchase, WMI acquired the R.N. Weeks, entering the hopper dredging market for the first time. In early 1998, WMI purchased Gulf Coast Trailing Company from T.L James & Co., acquiring a second hopper dredge, the B.E. Lindholm. Later that year, WMI purchased most of T.L. James’s remaining marine assets—at the time the second largest U.S. dredging company. Over the years, the company has operated a varied fleet of pipeline dredges to service Corps requirements on the East and Gulf coasts.
WMI also continues to operate clamshell bucket dredges for both the Corps and private terminal clients, and is ranked 86th on ENR’s 2011 top 400 contactors list.

The two major additions substantially grow WMI’s U.S.-flag capability and continues the company’s pro-U.S. investment strategy, further improving the company’s capability in certain dredging sub-markets.

In recent years, WMI has added two highly automated, ocean-going boosters, four 7,800 cubic yard hopper barges for long distance hauling, various dump scows, and deck barges and numerous other support vessels. It is re-powering two workhorse dredges: the 4,000-cubic-yard hopper dredge B.E. Lindholm, and the cutter suction dredge Capt. Frank, and plans are in place to re-power the E.W. Ellefsen, also with EPA Tier II engines.

Dredge pump and booster capacity is important, as beneficial uses of dredged material, further and further from the dredge cut, has become the “new norm” in a world where environmental sensitivity and restoration is a sought after societal objective.

Private Sector Hopper Dredging

The private sector hopper dredging industry got its start in the late 1970s.

The dredges are manned by USCG-licensed seafarers and are used, most critically, to maintain the ocean entrance channels to the nation’s seaports and naval facilities. More and more frequently, hopper dredges are the tool of choice for beach restoration as quality sand borrow areas are being found further from the placement area.

As entrance channel hopper dredging was transformed from government-owned, steam powered vessels, to modern private sector diesel electric vessels in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Corps eventually settled on operating four government hoppers. Two of these are now operated in ready reserve status, as part of the Corps’ commitment to “using industry first.” This policy is implemented through an emergency response protocol called “raise the flag,” a procedure developed by the Industry-Corps Hopper Dredge Management Group (ICHDMG).

“Using industry first” produces the highest demand possible for new equipment and private sector investment. It is one reason why WMI is eager to build a new 8,500 cubic yard hopper dredge, the largest single investment in the company’s history, said Weeks.

The private hopper dredge fleet was largely built from 1977 to 1987. Prior to 1999, WMI’s dredge R.N Weeks, was the nation’s newest hopper dredge, having been christened in 1987. Since 1999, the dredging industry has built three new large hopper dredges. The Weeks 475 will be the 14th U.S.-flag hopper dredge.

Weeks Marine’s Dredging Division is in Covington, Louisiana; company headquarters are in Cranford, New Jersey.

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