Henri Merceron Company of Challans Cedex France christened their new dredge Baltimore on the island of Noirmoutier on March 3.
The dredge was purchased to complete a new marina Port Morin at the commune of L’Epine on the island which is on the Atlantic Ocean’s Bay of Biscay in the départment of Vendée. The new marina will accommodate 850 recreational and fishing boats on 1.6 kilometers of wharf. Inauguration of the marina was on May 27.
Merceron dredged 60000 cubic meters with a smaller dredge and purchased the new vessel to complete the job by the April 30 deadline.
Facilitated by Jean Luc Ponchaux of Hymeta Ellicott LLC’s French agent Merceron representatives visited Ellicott in Baltimore Maryland in November 2005 to view the dredges under construction and to discuss a positioning system. They ordered the model 670 Dragon with a 12-inch pump and digging depth of 10 meters (33 feet). After viewing the capabilities of DredgePack they ordered a software package from Hypack’s French agent.
The dredge was shipped from the Port of Baltimore on December 19 and Ellicott field engineer Rick Fadely assisted in assembly and training of the crew. Le Baltimore began working the first week of January and completed the remaining 120000 cubic meters of excavation before the end of the environmental window on April 30.
On a rainy Friday in March Chantal Bellante daughter of Henri Merceron christened the Baltimore with a bottle of Champagne after the local priest Father Emmanuel Rabaud blessed the dredge. Paul Quinn Ellicott director of sales attended the christening and reported that the red white and blue dredge was a bright splash of color in the gray surroundings.
It was a compliment to U.S. technology that Merceron named the dredge after the city where it was built said Quinn.
Representing the Merceron – Bellante family and the Merceron staff at the ceremony were Henri Merceron president; Huguette Merceron general manager Philippe Bellante general manager; Chantal Bellante director and dredge godmother; Michel Gueret maritime works manager; and Jacques Pichon plant and equipment manager and Charlotte Bennehard operations manager.
Also attending were Mr. Palvadeau mayor of the commune of L’Epine; Mr. Montassier first deputy mayor in charge of the Port Morin project; Mr. Bonnifait president of the Community of Noirmoutier Island Communes; Mr. Corbrejean Maitre de Port (director of the Port de Morin); Mr. Moreau president of the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI); the local priest and reporters from three local newspapers Jean Luc Ponchaux of Hymeta and Paul Quinn of Ellicott.
A banquet was held in the nearby resort community following the christening.
The Port Morin project is a joint effort with funding from the European Union the French government the department of Vendée the Communities of the Isle of Noirmoutier and the commune of L’Epine.
Henri Merceron T.P. (Travaux Publics or Public Works) was founded by Henri Merceron and employs 90 people. It is a high profile company in the West of France and engages in public works projects earthworks maritime works engineering and rock quarrying.
The island of Noirmouton is off the coast of Vendée on the Bay of Biscay. It is 12 miles long and 22 square miles in area and protects the Bay of Bourgneuf at the mouth of the Loire River. It is a popular tourist destination adjacent to bays that are friendly to sailing regattas and diving. The island provides bicycling beaches shopping resort hotels and restaurants. It is known for its production of potatoes and gray sea salt. At low tide a 24-mile-long sandbank is revealed with a road that accesses the mainland. Cars can drive this road in the low tide window before it is engulfed by up to nine foot tides.
In 1971 a half-mile-long bridge was built from the mainland.