By Chuck Walker
MOBILE, Ala. – Teams throughout the Mobile District mobilized and sent vessels and crews to the Demopolis Lock and Dam in Demopolis, Alabama, Feb. 3, 2024, to repair the lock.
The vessels included the Black Warrior-Tombigbee Project Office’s Marine Vessel Lawson, with its crane barge, the Choctawhatchee; M/V Tenn-Tom, with its new Liebherr crane; and M/V General Irwin, with a Manitowoc crane. Cranes and crews were also sent to assist in beginning to rebuild the Demopolis Lock.
The cranes, especially the long-reaching Liebherr crane, were needed to assist in putting stop logs in the lock to protect the lock from headwater flooding.
This was a crucial first step in repairing the Demopolis Lock and getting it back up and operational.
“It takes a lot of teamwork and coordination to accomplish such a massive undertaking of repairing an unexpected failure of a section of the lock’s concrete miter sill,” said Anthony Perkins, Black Warrior-Tombigbee Project Manager. “Teams across the District have been working to develop repair plans and specifications for the actual repair of the failed concrete and to mobilize the entire District fleet of floating plants to assist in resetting the upper stoplogs to reduce headwater flooding into the lock chamber and also mobilizing equipment for the O&M contractor.”
Michael Turnipseed, Lock Supervisor at Demopolis Lock, said how the vessels were placed and situated in the lock chamber was crucial for successfully getting the stoplogs into place. He compared it to playing a game of “real life” Tetris.
“The configuration of all the barges was crucial because only the Liebherr had the reach to lift the stop lock picking beam from inside the chamber,” Turnipseed said. “The Liebherr was used to remove the stoplogs and stack them on a work barge, allowing the fleet access to the upper pool.”
Turnipseed said that the cranes will remain at the Demopolis Lock throughout the repair process and that the cranes will allow the repair process to run more smoothly and quickly.
“These cranes assist us in heavy lifting and will assist throughout the lock closure,” Turnipseed said. “Due to the lock’s setup, with both land and river walls, these floating cranes will allow us to transfer equipment and supplies from the land wall to the river wall. If conditions allow us to dewater the lock, these cranes will further assist by setting the lower stoplogs and placing supplies inside the lock chamber.”
Among the different projects in the District to lend more than a helping hand with the Demopolis Lock was the Tenn-Tom Project Management Office in Columbus, Mississippi.
Justin Murphree, Tenn-Tom Project Manager, said all of the Mobile District project managers have an interest in each other’s success.
“Every project in the Mobile District has capabilities, but we are all willing to work together to help each other out,” Murphree said “When situations arise, we all have a vested interest in providing solutions for each other. We work as one team, ready to assist at a moment’s notice.”
Murphree said he was glad his project office could assist with the help of its much-needed long-reach Liebherr crane.
“The Ten-Tom recently procured a new crane barge and crane, which has reach and capacity capabilities that some other projects do not possess,” Murphree said. “Given the immediate needs at Demopolis Lock, we were able use our new floating plant to provide a stable environment in which the repairs can be completed. A long-reach crane was needed to retrieve the picking beam and re-stack the upper stoplogs to protect the lock chamber from headwater flooding.”
Perkins said the mobilization of the District fleet and setting of the picking beam and stoplogs went off without a hitch and will allow the repair process to stay on schedule, with concrete work starting in March.
“The process of getting the fleet of floating plants in the lock went well and was coordinated with the floating plant captains, operations and project offices prior to the fleet arrival and once on site,” Perkins said. “The initial schedule developed by the team has been going through an external review. Even though it is somewhat fluid, it looks like the first concrete work will start around the first week of March.”