By Joseph Bonfiglio, Honolulu District Public Affairs
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hopper dredge Essayons just finished vital maintenance dredging of the federal navigation channels in Honolulu, Barbers Point, Kahului, Hilo, and Nawiliwili commercial harbors. The last time the federal navigation channels in these harbors were dredged was in 1999.
Hawaii is a maritime state over 2,400 miles from the mainland and far more dependent on its harbors than most of the United States. The Hawaii state DOT claims that over 80 percent of all consumer goods – food, clothing, autos, building supplies, machinery, paper, and allied products, medical supplies, and agricultural materials – are imported into the state. Of that 80 percent, approximately 98 percent enters Hawaii though commercial harbors on the major islands.
To ensure that these vital goods continue to arrive in Hawaii, the Essayons dredged approximately 300,000 cubic yards from the harbors and safely disposed of it at EPA-designated ocean disposal sites. Special care was taken to protect marine life such as sea turtles.
Home ported at the Corps’ Portland (Oregon) District, the Corps designed Essayons was built by the Bath Iron Works of Maine in 1982.
Operated by a merchant marine crew, the Essayons was delivered to the Portland District in 1983. The Essayons helps maintain entrance bars, rivers, and harbors on the coasts of California, Oregon, Hawaii, Alaska and, in emergencies, the Mississippi River. Because of its size and dredging depth, the Essayons is particularly well-suited for dredging the larger coastal entrances.
Designed to operate anywhere in the world, the Essayons is automated for operation with a semiautomatic drag-arm handling system.
The Essayons’ crew consists of 46 civil service mariners. The crew is divided into two operating tours each of 23 men and women. Each tour normally alternates an 8-day-on/6-day-off schedule of 10 hours a day, with both crews working the day shift on crew change days.
The Honolulu District is responsible for the operation and maintenance of general navigation features in harbors constructed by the Corps in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Navigation was the Corps’ earliest Civil Works mission, dating to Federal laws in 1824 authorizing and funding the Corps to improve safety on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and several ports.
The Corps provides safe, reliable, efficient, and environmentally sustainable waterborne transportation systems (channels, harbors, and waterways) for movement of commerce, national security needs, and recreation.