Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers visited the Port of Savannah on May 28 for an update on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP).
The harbor deepening which is in the construction phase will deepen the shipping channel from 42 to 47 feet at mean low water. This will allow today’s larger more efficient vessels to transit the channel with heavier loads and greater scheduling flexibility.
“This project demonstrates how the demand for commerce and the need for environmental stewardship can be accommodated in a single purpose” Bostick said. “The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project reinforces our commitment to a sustainable 21st century infrastructure that will strengthen the nation’s economy and bolster global competitiveness create jobs reduce risk to people and communities and help restore and sustain the environment. I’m happy to have the opportunity to meet personally with our partners to discuss this project. We are committed to working closely with GPA to complete SHEP.”
Three major phases of the project are well under way. Archaeologists began diving on January 29 to recover the remains of the Confederate ironclad CSS Georgia. The historic Civil War ironclad rests 40 feet below the river’s surface on the edge of the navigation channel. Scuttled by her crew in 1864 to prevent Union capture the vessel has been at the bottom of the river since. The harbor deepening plan calls for data recovery removal and conservation of this cultural resource.
On March 4 the contract to deepen the entrance channel was awarded to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock. The work for this contract represents about half of the channel deepening increasing the depth of the channel in the Atlantic Ocean to 49 feet below mean sea level and extending it an additional seven miles.
Bids for a Dissolved Oxygen System contract are under evaluation. The contract award is expected within the next few months. This system will ensure the river maintains necessary dissolved oxygen levels during hot dry months when levels typically drop.
“The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project has seen major progress in the past few months with the contract issued to deepen the 18-mile outer harbor to 49 feet crews raising the CSS Georgia and installation set to start for oxygen injection systems” GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz said. “The Corps of Engineers has been a steadfast partner in the 15-year process leading up to construction and we look forward to working with the Corps and our Washington delegation to bring this pivotal project to completion.”