Following Bipartisan Push from Senators Collins, King and Representatives Pingree, Poliquin, Kennebec River Emergency Dredging Expected to Move Forward
Washington, D.C. — Following a bipartisan push from U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today that it plans to perform emergency maintenance dredging in the lower Kennebec River between Phippsburg and Bath, Maine. The Maine Delegation sent a letter last November calling on the Corps to dredge the river in response to concerns that the channel was below the authorized navigation channel depth, impacting the passage of Navy destroyers built by Bath Iron Works.
“Ensuring that Navy destroyers can safely navigate the Kennebec River between Bath and the Atlantic Ocean is absolutely critical to the operations at BIW as well as to our national defense,” said Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Poliquin in a joint statement. “We are pleased that the Army Corps of Engineers is moving expeditiously to perform this dredging, which will allow ships built by BIW’s skilled workforce to travel the river safely and reliably.”
“Maine’s rivers, ports, and harbors support the state’s economy and are the lifeblood of many communities,” the Maine delegation continued. “We will continue to ask the Army Corps to address other important maintenance needs along Maine’s coast and waterways.”
In November 2016, Senators Collins and King and Reps. Pingree and Poliquin sent a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, urging the Corps to undertake the emergency dredging as soon as possible. In their letter, the Maine Delegation noted that river soundings had revealed areas as shallow as 18 feet, which was significantly below the authorized channel depth of 27 feet. The shallow conditions prevented the USS Peralta from departing BIW for a September machinery sea trial.
Today, the Army Corps of Engineers New England District issued a 15-day public notice of proposed emergency dredging of the Kennebec River between BIW and the open water. The emergency dredging would restore the channel to its authorized dimensions and provide safe operating depths for the USS Peralta to depart to sea in April. In addition, the Army Corps and the Navy are working on a plan to perform regular maintenance dredging of the Kennebec River to ensure unfettered passage of BIW-built ships going forward.
Dredging of the lower Kennebec River was last performed in 2011.