A crowd gathering at the launch of the Magdalen an 8550 cubic yard hopper dredge set move to New Jersey to work along the coastline
Helen McLaughlin niece of dredge Magdalen namesake Magdalen Weeks shatters a bottle of champaign against the hull of the vessel with the help of Eastern Shipbuilding Founder and CEO Brian D’Isernia.
From left to right Steve Chatry senior vice president of Weeks’ dredging division; Ted Weeks brother of Weeks Marine Chairman Richard N. Weeks; Helen McLaughlin niece of Magdalen Weeks; Weeks Chairman and Founder Richard N. Weeks; Deacon Earl Mirus of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Panama City Florida; and Brian D’Isernis CEO of Eastern Shipbuilding Group
Weeks Marine Inc. and Eastern Shipbuilding Group Inc. celebrated the launch of the hopper dredge Magdalen March 31 at Eastern’s Allanton shipyard near Panama City Florida. With a capacity of 8550 cubic yards the Magdalen—Weeks’ third hopper dredge—will more than double the company’s total hopper dredging capabilities. Final outfitting and sea trials will take place at Eastern’s Nelson Street Shipyard. Eastern expects to deliver the dredge Magdalen before the end of the year.
The sprawling dredge Magdalen measures 356 feet long by 79 feet 6 inches wide and boasts some 13842 total installed horsepower. The dredge named for Weeks Chairman Richard N. Weeks’ mother represents $110 million of the company’s multi-year dredging division’s $200 million investment initiative. The Magdalen is the largest single capital investment in Weeks’ near 100-year history. The dredge features efficient clean-burning engines and state-of-the-art frequency drives to power the vessel’s pumps jetting and other systems. The Magdalen has twin GE 16V250 main engines producing 5685hp each a GE 6L250 auxiliary engine producing 2009hp. Two 3400kW shaft generators and a 1500 kW auxiliary generator make up the ship’s primary power generation plant. In addition the vessel is also equipped with a Caterpillar C18 emergency/harbor generator that produces 425 kW. The vessel has a booster pump powered by two 1600 kW electric motors and a dredge pump powered by a 1600 kW electric motor. Two 445 kW jet pumps round out the dredging plant. The Magdalen is outfitted with a 730 kW fixed pitch tunnel thruster unit.
Once completed the dredge Magdalen’s first dredging work will be to renourish the beaches along the New Jersey shore.
“Today marks a very important milestone for Weeks” Weeks President Richard S. Weeks said in a statement. “With the demand for land reclamation and beach nourishment growing we believe that better tools are needed to retain our competitive edge. I am exceedingly proud of our team that helped deliver the Magdalen to the water and look forward to her christening in the months ahead. She is a very important part of our continued growth as a fully integrated marine construction company.”
The dredge Magdalen was engineered and developed jointly by WMI and Royal IHC an engineering and dredging company based in The Netherlands. Eastern Shipbuilding took over the project just two years ago after the Magdalen had floundered at another shipyard.
“We at Eastern wish to thank Weeks for the trust they placed in us to build their vessel” said Eastern Founder and CEO Brian R. D’Isernia. “Incidentally there are two 300-foot dredges as we speak working off Panama City Beach renourishing the beaches. Those are Weeks dredges so when the Magdalen takes her ‘first bath’ in a few minutes she’ll be in good company.”
Steve Chatry senior vice president and dredging division manager for Weeks echoed that sense of thanks and partnership.
“It’s been a long road to get to where we are today” Chatry said adding that the Magdalen got off to ‘a little bit less than a stellar start.’ “Fortunately we found our way here to Eastern and were greeted by an exceptionally competent capable and talented group of shipbuilders. We’re so thankful for that.”
Weeks signed a contract with the original shipyard in August 2011. The mid-body of the ship along with a wealth of other components were moved to Eastern in the spring of 2015. Eastern took it from there re-cutting steel for the bow stern and coaming deck sections of the vessel and constructing the dredge’s superstructures. Steve Berthold vice president for sales and marketing at Eastern said the shipyard has built a reputation for finishing projects that have floundered at other yards.
“We have a history of picking up the football when it gets fumbled in this industry” Berthold said. “This isn’t new to us. There’s at least a dozen others over the course of 30 years.”
After a brief prayer of blessing over the vessel Helen McLaughlin niece of the vessel’s namesake shattered a bottle of champaign over the vessel’s skeg. McLaughlin then shared a thought on her aunt.
“To me she was just ‘Aunt Maddy’” McLaughlin said. “She was just a wonderful woman who was good to everyone. She was very enthusiastic and I know how thrilled she would’ve been by this event.”
Since the late 1970s and early 1980s when the Corps of Engineers made the switch from using government-owned dredges to private dredges the industry has built four large-class hopper dredges. The Magdalen will bring the U.S. hopper dredge fleet to 15 marking a significant increase in capacity for maintaining the nation’s channels and beaches.
“The Magdalen will make a considerable contribution to overall industry capability” Chatry said. “At Weeks we are dedicated to building and operating the most technologically advanced fuel efficient and environmentally sensitive equipment in the marketplace.”