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Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Celebrates Launch of ATB Hopper Dredge

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock (GLDD) celebrated the launch of a hopper dredge on September 30 at Eastern Shipbuilding Group’s Allanton, Florida, shipyard near Panama City.

The 433-feet-long, 92-feet-wide Ellis Island—the barge component of the Articulated Tug & Barge (ATB) suction hopper dredge, which Eastern is building for Great Lakes—slid seamlessly into the shipyard’s slip just after midday, sending waves crashing ashore.

The launch came almost two years to the day after the September 2014 steel cutting ceremony that officially launched the project and close to five years since GLDD began design work on the dredge. The tug component of the ATB hop-per dredge, named the mv. Douglas B. Mackie, is under construction nearby at Eastern’s Nelson Shipyard. Together, the Ellis Island and Douglas B. Mackie will stretch close to 500 feet from the barge’s bow to the tug’s stern.

Leaders from both companies highlighted the significance of the massive, groundbreaking $140 million project, not just for GLDD’s fleet and Eastern’s construction portfolio, but for the future of dredging in the U.S.

The dredge Ellis Island, together with its tug the Douglas B. Mackie, will play an important role in performing coastal protection work on the East Coast and restoration of the eroded land mass on the Gulf Coast.

“The vessel’s ability to cost-effectively deepen and maintain navigable waterways will bolster the United States’ competitive position in world trade, as many of the nation’s ports move forward with deepening plans to accommodate the larger vessels which now sail through the expanded Panama Canal,” Simonelli said. “Ultimately, we are convinced that the Ellis Island will bring new capabilities to the U.S. dredging market, literally dredging the way for future economic prosperity for businesses, their supply chains and the coun-try’s economy as a whole.”

The vessel will serve GLDD’s needs along shorelines and shipping channels for the next 30 to 40 years. The efficiency of the dredge is due, not just to the large size of the barge, but to the innovative design of the ATB hopper dredge. By locating much of the propulsion system, machinery and fuel on the tug, Great Lakes has maximized the barge’s haul capacity. The Ellis Island has a capacity of 15,000 cubic yards. The barge features two 36-inch diameter drag arms capable of extracting sand up to 122 feet below the surface. Two 36-inch discharge diameter Georgia Iron Works dredge pumps, powered by two 5,000 HP Caterpillar EMD engines, are located in pump rooms in the hull. The Ellis Island also features Schottel STT2 Electric bow thrusters at 800 horsepower each and a Caterpillar C32-T3 910kW harbor service generator.

The tug will feature twin Mak 12M32C-T3 main engines and twin shaft generators. Caterpillar supplied both the C32-T3 auxiliary generator and the C18-T3 emergency generator aboard the Douglas B. Mackie.

“This hopper dredge, the Ellis Island, will be the largest hopper dredge operating in the United States,” said Brian D’Isernia, founder and CEO of Eastern Shipbuilding Group. “We at Eastern Shipbuilding would like to thank our friends at Great Lakes Dredge & Dock for the confidence they placed in us to build such a significant vessel.”

The forthcoming Ellis Island and mv. Douglas B. Mackie tandem, besides being the largest suction hopper dredge in the U.S. fleet and the first ATB hopper dredge in the world, is also the first hopper dredge project for Eastern. GLDD President David Simonelli said, given Eastern’s impressive portfolio of vessels, Great Lakes had total confidence in the shipbuilder from the start.

“We commend the Eastern team for rising to the challenge of building their first hopper dredge,” Simonelli said, noting the Ellis Island is the first hopper dredge built in the U.S. since 2005. 

The ATB hopper dredge will be Eastern’s first completed hopper dredge project, but it’s not the only one underway for the shipbuilder. Eastern is also currently building a traditional hopper dredge for Weeks Marine Inc.

For GLDD, the Ellis Island and mv. Douglas B. Mackie are hopefully just the first in a series of new vessels for the company, Simonelli said.

“We have plans to renew our dredging fleet,” he said. “This is our first new build since the Liberty Island in 2001.”

The launch of the mv. Douglas B. Mackie is scheduled for later this year, with delivery of the vessels anticipated during the second quarter of 2017. 

See Photos: GLDD ATB Hopper Dredge Launch

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