By Dr. Tom Fredette
New England District
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Last year one of the bouys used by the Corps New England District to mark dredged material disposal sites was recovered off the coast of Ireland.
In January in my job as manager of New England District’s DAMOS (Disposal Area Monitoring System) Program I received word through Tom Verna at Corps Headquarters that a buoy with my phone number was reported to be in Ireland. I traced a series of e-mail messages and phone calls back to Mr. Jim H. McCord III a Realtor in St. Joseph Missouri.
He explained that he had been on vacation in Ireland in the fall of 1997 in County Donegal when he heard in the local news of a buoy that had been recovered off the coast with a US Army Corps of Engineers designation painted on it. His curiosity took him down to Hugh Boyles Service Center in Carrigart Letterkenny where he met Mr. Boyles saw the buoy and took a few photographs. Upon returning to the States Jim contacted his friend Mr. Fred Slater a reporter for the local St. Joseph News Press who started the first inquiries at the Corps.
When I received the pictures from Mr. McCord it was obvious that the buoy though somewhat barnacle encrusted was in excellent condition and had no signs of physical damage despite the trans-Atlantic crossing. New England’s disposal site buoys are steel hulled six foot diameter disks with a six-foot tower equipped with flashing light and radar reflectors. They weigh about 1500 pounds. The pictures also clearly showed that the buoy had a designation of Hull Number 2. From New England District records we determined that this buoy had been deployed at the Portland Maine disposal site but was lost during a large coastal storm around January 5 1996. Mr. Boyle said that he retrieved the buoy in August 1997 after it was reported being a navigational hazard off of Horn Head. Thus the buoy had traveled more than 2440 miles over the leisurely time of about 500 days a rate of 4.9 miles per day.
After its relaxing visit to the land of the green the buoy returned home via cargo ship arriving in late October. Shipping costs are only about 25 percent of the cost of a new buoy so the return trip was warranted. The buoy will be refurbished by New England District’s disposal site monitoring contractor Science Applications International Corporation where it will be scraped painted and re-outfitted. However this time we’ll make sure the phone number includes an international access code for the next time the buoy gets a yearning to see Europe.