In July several containers fell or were knocked from a ship unloading in Berth 59 at the Port of Elizabeth New Jersey. The terminal operator retained Donjon Marine to locate and remove them using the crane barge Columbia New York.
On July 13 Bill Benson of Hydrographic Surveys was doing a final sweep of the area using a single beam echo sounder and discovered what looked like a pillar rising 15 feet from the bottom in the middle of the channel. He made a target mark on the object’s location in his Hypack software and contacted Donjon who in turn contacted the diving company Randive to locate and mark the object.
Kurt Erlendson owner of Randive arrived with two other divers and began searching in a grid pattern beginning with the location coordinates Benson provided.
Headquartered in Perth Amboy New Jersey Randive specializes in underwater ship repair.
It took about 45 minutes searching in the 58-foot-deep water to find the object which was a motor and bed for a huge drilling lathe standing on end. It had fallen out of the container during salvage operations leaving a large rip in the side of the container.
The divers marked the object with a surface buoy and the Coast Guard partially re-opened the channel which had been shut down when Benson located the object.
Donjon brought in the crane barge Michigan equipped with a 4600 Manitowoc crane on a 50- by 150-foot barge. Four divers from Randive installed slings around the 23-ton piece of equipment and the crane easily raised it and placed it on the dock.
Benson said that in 20 years of surveying on the U.S. East Coast he has found about 20 large obstructions that could be navigation hazards illustrating that pre- and post-dredge surveys don’t detect only siltation. Mostly the obstructions are large boulders that are displaced during dredging operations he said.
Benson literally spends his life doing hydrographic surveys. His 34-foot survey boat Michele Jeanne is equipped with a single-channel Innerspace Technology model 456 dual frequency echo sounder Trimble AG-GPS 132 receiver TSS DMS-10 heave compensator and Hypack Max software on a Dell 450 precision workstation.
Rising at 4 a.m. he drives to the boat in Elizabeth New Jersey. The company’s 24-foot Monark is stored in the company’s parking lot and can towed to jobs in other locations.
The Monark is equipped with a Innerspace model 448 sounder Starlink DNAV-212 differential GPS receiver TSS DMS-10 heave compensator and Hypack Max on a Panasonic workstation. It is not unusual for Benson to work a seven-day week and perform three surveys in one day.
Though most of his work is within the Port of New York and New Jersey he has worked from Boston to South Carolina. He has an ongoing contract with Donjon Marine for pre- and post-dredge surveys and makes a point of being flexible in his schedule to be where surveys are needed.
After a survey is complete he emails the data to his office where his partner Jim Steffen processes the data and office manager Michele Dickey prints the charts drawings and maps – as many as 10 drawings for each berth – and ships them overnight to the customer.
In 2007 Hydrographic Surveys has done jobs from Charleston South Carolina to Boston Massachusetts and in St. Croix and St. Lucia islands in the Caribbean.
The list of Benson’s regular surveys in the New York and New Jersey area reads like an atlas of the area:
Connecticut: Long Island Sound – Southport Branford Bridgeport New Haven Harbor New London Harbor South Norwalk Stamford and Greenwich;
New York Long Island Sound North Side – Port Chester Rye Beach Mamaroneck City Island and Throgs Neck;
East River – College Point Flushing Bay Westchester Creek Hunts Point Port Morris (Stony Point) Wolcott Ave. Roosevelt Island Newtown Creek Gowanus Bay Bronx River and Harlem River;
Long Island Sound South Side – Willits Point Glen Cove Hempstead Harbor Oyster Bay Eatons Neck Point Port Jefferson Northville and Hempstead Bay;
New York & New Jersey: New York Harbor – Coney Island Bay Ridge St. George- Staten Island Gowanus Bay Governors Island and The Battery;
New York Lower Bay – East Rockaway Ambrose Far Rockaway and Jamaica Bay; Hudson River: Jersey City Hoboken Weehawken Edgewater Tarrytown Haverstraw Newburgh Poughkeepsie Catskill Hudson Albany and Troy; The Kills and Newark Bay Raritan River Arthur Kill Kill Van Kull Newark Bay Passaic River Hackensack River and the Hudson River;
New Jersey Outer Coast – Long Branch Shark River Manasquan River Barnegat Bay Manahawkin Brigantine Channel Absecon Creek Absecon Channel Atlantic City Wildwood Inshore and Cape May;
New Jersey: Sandy Hook Bay – Atlantic Highlands Sandy Hook and Shrewsbury River;
New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Delaware River – Marcus Hook Darby Creek Billingsport NJ Paulsboro Mantua Schuylkill River Philadelphia Bridesburg and the Christina River.
Editor’s note: Bill Benson is a camera buff and photographs interesting sights and wildlife when he is on the job creating a unique pictorial history of the area from the water. He often sends photos to us which appear in IDR as fillers and illustrations to articles. Photos in this article are by Bill Benson.