With their increased size, ships need improved navigation channels to enter and leave ports efficiently, quickly, and safely. Few rivers or harbors are naturally deep. Underwater excavation is called dredging. After the initial excavation needed to establish a channel, dredging must be done periodically to keep it clear and safe for navigation. This is called maintenance dredging. Once sediments are dredged from the waterway, they are called dredged material.
Without dredging, many harbors and ports would be impassable to passenger liners and cargo ships. Periodic maintenance dredging as well as occasional enlarging and deepening of navigation channels is essential to accommodate commercial and recreational vessels. Consumer product prices stay low when ships can transport their goods directly into the port.
Construction of new navigation channels involves removal of materials previously undisturbed. Maintenance dredging operations involve the repetitive removal of naturally recurring deposited bottom sediment such as sand, silt, and clays in an existing navigation channel.
More than 400 ports and 25,000 miles of navigation channels are dredged throughout the United States to keep traffic operating efficiently.The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, conducts dredging operations at various locations on the district's waterways for maintenance and other purposes throughout the year.
Before heading out on your next trip on one of the district's waterways check the latest dredging schedule in the related links menu on this page so that you can plan around these operations.