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J.E. McAmis Completing Oregon Coast Maintenance Dredging

The Heidi Renee working in the Skipanon Waterway on October 12, along with the bottom dump scow Sand Island.

The Heidi Renee working in the Skipanon Waterway on October 12, along with the bottom dump scow Sand Island.

J.E. McAmis Company is wrapping up a sea-son of four maintenance dredging projects on the Oregon Coast and Columbia River.

Using the DB Heidi Renee equipped with a 14.5-cubic-yard Cable Arm Navigation bucket and an eight-cubic-yard Anvil bucket, the dredge crew has completed three projects, with the fourth and largest project, on the Skipanon Waterway, scheduled for completion on November 7. 

The Marine Superintendent is Aaron Anderson; Project Manager and QC Manager is Darrell Jamieson.

The contract for W9127N-16-C-0029, Oregon Coast Clamshell Maintenance Dredging 2016, was awarded to McAmis on June 22 for $2,603,000. McAmis was the low bidder of four companies bidding on the project, which is a small business setaside. The government estimate was $4,502,075.28.  


The first project was to remove 30,000 cubic yards of shoaling at Port Orford, a working fishing port 250 miles south of the Columbia River. It is the oldest town on the Oregon Coast and the most westerly community in the lower 48 states. There are about 30 fishing boats working from the port, which are stored on land, lifted in and out of the water by two hydraulic cranes, where they are stored on the three-acre dock area. The entrance channel along a small breakwater, and the area next to the dock fill with sand regularly, and must be dredged semi-annually or annually. This is the third consecutive year this project has been awarded.

McAmis began dredging at Port Orford on July 11, using the Anvil bucket and the 1,700-cubic-yard bottom dump scows Sand Island and Swan Island, which delivered the 95 percent sand material, to the 404 nearshore placement site, 1,200 feet from the dredging area.

Crew members stay in the town or bring their campers to one of the nearby state parks, Project Manager Darrell Jamieson said. On the Oregon Coast in the summer, dredging is like being on vacation, with time spent working, he said. The 12-hour shifts run between noon and midnight, giving a good amount of daylight for the crew to conduct personal business during their time off.

The dredge crew consists of eight people with a quality control officer and full-time safety officer. A sub-contracted tug, a covered aluminum crewboat, and a sub-contracted survey boat complete the fleet.


Finishing up Port Orford on July 22, the equipment moved to Charleston at the Coos Bay entrance channel – an eight-hour tow of about 50 miles. The crew began work on July 23 to remove 20,000 cubic yards of shoaling from the entrance channel, which serves commercial and recreational fishing boats. The town of Coos Bay is eight miles from the bay entrance. 

The placement area for this project was at the Dredged Material Federal Ocean Disposal Site F five miles offshore. The Charleston segment was completed on August 4. It was last dredged in 2014.


Baker Bay is three miles upriver from the Columbia River Bar, and was a two-day tow of about 200 miles from Charleston. The fleet arrived on August 7, performed equipment maintenance for several days, and began dredging on August 10.  This is the third consecutive year this contract has been awarded.

Baker Bay is a shallow, 15-square-mile body of water accessed by a three-mile-long entrance channel bounded by a breakwater and the low-lying Sand Island. It is the access channel for large commercial fishing trawlers and the Cape Disappointment Coast Guard Station, which provides rescue and safety services for the Columbia River Bar. At the top of the bay is the town and marina of Port Ilwaco, Washington.

McAmis removed 120,000 cubic yards of sand and mud from the entrance channel and in-bay channel using the Anvil and Cable Arm buckets, from August 10 to September 11. The material was placed in two sites in the Columbia River. Forty percent was placed in site W/1.8/IW on the Washington side 2.4 miles from the dredge area. This area could be used only during flood or slack tides. The remaining 60 percent of the material was placed on the Oregon side in site O/3.2/1W 1.1 miles from the dredging site, only during ebb tides.

The numbers in the placement site designations refer to Columbia River miles.


Beginning on September 12, the fleet moved to the Skipanon Waterway, 10 miles above the Columbia River Bar, and four miles below Astoria, Oregon. It is a tidal waterway extending south 2.7 miles from deep water in the Columbia River. The contract is to dredge the 300-foot-wide, two-mile-long channel to Warrenton, Oregon to 17 feet. The entire length and width of the channel was filled in to the RM1 station, Jamieson said. The mate-rial consists almost entirely of mud, and the crew is using the Cable Arm bucket. Skipanon was last dredged in 2014.

The material is being placed in two Columbia River sites – 65 percent on the Washington side in W/10.5/IW, less than a mile from the dredging site, during flood and ebb tides, and the remaining 35 percent on the Oregon side in site O/9.5/IW, 1.2 miles from the dredging site, placed only during ebb tides.

The Skipanon Channel serves the city of Warrenton, Oregon, which owns a 300-foot public wharf. A small-boat basin has facilities for numerous fishing and recreation craft. This segment is scheduled for completion on November 7.

When the project is complete, J.E. McAmis will mobilize this dredging fleet to Marina del Rey to perform an estimated 400,000 cubic yards of dredging work for the Los Angeles District Corps of Engineers.  

While mobilizing to Los Angeles, other J.E. McAmis crews will be mobilizing to Central Florida where the company is contracted to move more than 10,000,000 cubic yards and demolish the S-65 C lock and spillway structures as a part of the Kissimmee River Restoration Project for the Corps Jacksonville District. 

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