Dredge Company Deflects Blame For Boat Strikes

OCEAN CITY — After at least two more boats fell victim to the allegedly unmarked dredge pipes submerged in the navigation channels in and around the resort area for much of the summer and early fall, the marine company that owns the pipes late last week denied any culpability.

Two weeks ago, in two separate occasions, a commercial trawler and the sportfishing charter boat No Quarter allegedly struck a section of dredge pipe partially submerged across the main channel in the Inlet, causing serious damage to both vessels. The latest two incidents brought the total number of vessels allegedly striking submerged, unmarked dredge pipes in navigational channels in and around the resort area to at least 10, including a half a dozen or so when the dredge company, Goodloe Marine, out of Florida, had set up their operation much farther south near Assateague in September.

The federal Army Corps of Engineers contracted Goodloe Marine to dredge the navigation channels in and around the resort to maintain them at the appropriate depth. As a side benefit, the dredged material has been pumped onto existing historic islands in and around the coastal bays. In addition, some of the dredged material was earmarked for the beaches on Assateague and Ocean City, which was ultimately the cause of the latest round of boat strikes near the Inlet last week.

The project has been going on for about a year and there had been no reported problems until about a month ago. In September, at least six vessels reported striking the unmarked, submerged dredge pipe in the area of Assateague, including one incident just north of the Verrazano Bridge when a small recreational vessel struck the pipe, ripping a hole in its hull and forcing the operator to beach the boat at Castaway’s campground.

Many close to the situation, including a handful of the victims, have stressed Goodloe Marine has been negligent in marking the partially submerged dredge pipes in the navigation channels. However, Goodloe has and continues to deny any culpability for the incidents, suggesting they have been diligent in marking their pipes and equipment.

“Goodloe Marine’s pipe has always been marked according to U.S. Coast Guard regulations,” said company owner and operator Bettie Goodloe late last week. “Goodloe Marine has no evidence that our pipeline has been struck by any vessel.”

Instead, Goodloe suggested the damaged vessels could have struck other submerged objects, including navigation markers, although many of the victims have claimed they clearly struck the dredge pipes.

“We are aware that the Coast Guard within the last month has gone out and cut out five navigational markers which were below the waterline in the channel in the bay,” she said. “It is our understanding that the Coast Guard hired a local contractor to go out and remove these obstructions, which we think is what the vessels have been striking in the bay.”