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DCA Applauds Corps Plan to Retire Dredge McFarland

The Dredging Contractors of America (DCA) announced on November 14 that they strongly endorse and applaud the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ recommendation to Congress that the Corps hopper dredge McFarland be retired from service. The Corps made its recommendation in a just-released report to Congress on the nation’s hopper dredging fleet. The Office of Management and Budget approved that report earlier this month.

DCA Executive Director Jim Rausch said the Corps is heading in the right direction with its McFarland recommendation. “Retiring the McFarland is the next logical step in moving forward with the Corps’ greatly successful ‘Use Industry First’ policy,” said Rausch. “With the McFarland’s retirement, the nation will benefit from a more cost-effective hopper dredging fleet, continued private investment, and an increasingly vibrant and competitive marketplace.”

The “Use Industry First” policy was adopted after Congress passed P.L. 95-269 in 1978 which directed the Secretary of the Army to contract dredging if he determined that private industry has the capability to do such work at reasonable prices and in a timely manner. Over the last 25 years, industry has responded to this policy with a hopper dredging fleet that is responsive, safe, efficient, cost-effective, reliable, and innovative.

Just as the Corps has recommended retiring the McFarland, the private sector is getting ready to launch the largest hopper dredge in the United States—the Glenn Edwards—which is being built in Alabama and will enter service in early 2006.

This new vessel will be the third state-of-the-art hopper dredge that industry has built over the last several years in response to the “Use Industry First” policy. In the last seven years alone, industry has invested more than $165 million in new hopper dredging capacity.

“‘Use Industry First’ has worked,” said Rausch. “It has produced the greatest capacity to serve the nation’s navigation mission at the lowest cost to taxpayers. It is now time to take the next step and retire the McFarland.”

The DCA also endorses the Corps recommendation in its report to keep its hopper dredge Wheeler in ready reserve status. “The Wheeler is working just as Congress has intended,” said Rausch, “as insurance in case of an emergency, while the industry continues to work with the Government to provide cost-effective capacity to serve America’s dredging needs.”

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