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St. Louis District Completes Spill Barge Thomas N. George and Innovative Flexible Pipeline

Crew members from the Corps’ Dredge Potter and St. Louis Service Base talk with the St. Louis District commander, Col. Anthony Mitchell, after the christening of the Thomas N. George.

Crew members from the Corps’ Dredge Potter and St. Louis Service Base talk with the St. Louis District commander, Col. Anthony Mitchell, after the christening of the Thomas N. George.

The Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District christened a new spill barge, the Thomas N. George. The vessel honors its late namesake, the captain of the Corps Dredge Potter, for his vision and years of work to develop an innovative practice for dredging on the Mississippi River.

In a ceremony on July 15, family and peers of Thomas George gathered at the St. Louis Service Base to christen the new vessel and remember George, who passed away April 5, 2013.


Randy Jowers, captain of the Dredge Potter, Col. Mitchell, commander of St. Louis District, and Rev. Kempton Baldridge of the Seamen’s Church Institute (far right), join the family of Thomas George (his widow Dana and daughter Emma, and two of his brothers) aboard the spill barge Thomas N. George.

The spill barge Thomas N. George culminates George’s vision to use a flexible pipeline with the Corps’ dustpan dredges, which work to keep the Mississippi River open for barge traffic.

Previously, operations used a steel pontoon pipeline, which only allows side-cast placement of the dredged material, left or right of the dredging area, St. Louis District Dredge Manager Lance Engle said. Sediment deposited with the rigid pipeline along the main channel border can be placed in a linear fashion only, as a long, narrow disposal bar, which is also limited in size, elevation and location.

“The flexible pipeline, along with the spill barge, will improve options for placing dredge material to better suit the environment and river industry stakeholders,” Engle said.

With a 91-foot reach and a diffuser plate at the terminus, the spill barge and the Dredge Potter’s flexible floating pipeline allow fixed-point placement of the dredged sediment, which greatly improves placement options.

“It will allow us to beneficially use material dredged by a dustpan dredge to create large islands or shallow areas, which will increase the habitat for many species, including several that are rare in the Mississippi River and facing the threat of extinction,” Engle said.

He said the district is committed to doing its work on the river in a way that “balances the needs of the environment with the need to operate the Mississippi River for navigation and commerce,” a common request from natural resource agencies like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Department of Conservation.


The spill barge Thomas N. George was christened on July 15 by the Corps of Engineers St. Louis District. Culminating many years of work by its namesake, the vessel will work use its innovative flexible pipeline with the district’s dustpan dredges to more efficiently perform maintenance dreading on the Mississippi River.

“The spill barge is a giant step forward in our ability to do just that and is a credit to Thomas George’s vision and persistence,” Engle said.

The Thomas N. George completes the flexible pipe assembly at the end of the floating pipeline, where it can stay in position and direct the flow of dredge sediment.

The spill barge was designed and constructed by a team at the Corps of Engineers Marine Design Center, the St. Louis District Service Base team and their contracting assets.

George conceived the earliest design for the specialized spill barge. The project was approved in 2009, beginning with the flexible pipeline. George’s first concept was put on hold after some disadvantages were discovered. George drafted a revised concept, which became the final product. It used an existing barge for a reduced cost and allowed for a better towing arrangement.

The Thomas N. George spill barge will join the St. Louis District dustpan dredge Potter fleet, performing maintenance dredging in the region.

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