News

2020 June 3 12:01

Savannah harbor deepening sets precedent with four dredges working simultaneously

The deepening of the Savannah harbor has set a new precedent with four dredges working simultaneously, the Army Corps of Engineers announced.

The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) includes two dredges keeping the channel at its current authorized depth of 42 feet followed by two dredges taking the channel to its new depth of 47 feet. The dredges work without disrupting the flow of commercial traffic to or from the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal and other facilities along the river.

The entire deepening project is approximately 62 percent complete. The inner harbor constitutes the final portion. The outer harbor, a roughly 20-mile channel extending into the Atlantic Ocean, has already been deepened to 49 feet at low tide.

The two smaller maintenance dredges remove built up shoaling and sediment, then move on followed by the larger deepening dredges. All vessels must move aside whenever commercial vessels enter their area. In addition, workers must move pipelines leading from the dredges to the dredge material disposal areas. After commercial traffic passes, everything must return to continue the routine. All dredges work 24 hours a day, every day.

The federal government and the state of Georgia share the cost of the deepening. Georgia’s Department of Transportation and the Georgia Ports Authority serve as the state sponsors for the project.
 
Because the project will have such a large positive effect on the nation’s economy, SHEP has received significant federal support. In the federal budget for Fiscal Year 2020, $130.3 million is devoted to SHEP, while another $28.6 million in maintenance and operations funding is going toward Savannah River maintenance dredging.