OCEAN CITY — The dredge vessel Currituck arrived in the resort area this week to begin a five-day dredging operation of silting hotspots in the Inlet.
“I applaud the Army Corps of Engineers for taking the steps necessary to get dredging of the Ocean City Inlet underway,” Congressman Andy Harris said. “The fishing and maritime industry is critical to our local economy and community. This dredging is a high priority, and I am glad the corps is getting the job done.”
The Inlet and other channels in and around the commercial harbor naturally fill in and are in constant need of maintenance dredging, but the problem has become more acute in recent years to the point the Inlet is often unnavigable for larger vessels on even the highest of tides.
A couple of times a year, the Army Corps of Engineers sends the Curritiuck, or its sister ship the Murden to conduct routine maintenance dredging of the Inlet, removing sand and material from the channel and depositing it on the sand-starved north end of Assateague. However, Army Corps of Engineers Corporate Communications Officer Chris Gardner said the project that got underway this week is a little different in that it will focus mainly on the areas of the Inlet channel that have been filling in since the corps’ last operation.
“This dredging is navigation-specific maintenance dredging, so all of the work will be in the channel itself,” he said. “The crew will be focusing on the common shoaling hotspots for the most part.”
The timing could be better in the midst of the White Marlin Open and its hundreds of participating boats heading in and out of the Inlet each day. However, Gardner said the Currituck and Murden are in high demand for similar projects up and down the coast, making it difficult to find windows in their schedules for Ocean City. He said the impact on the tournament should be minimal.
“Regarding the White Marlin Open, we realize this is a heavy traffic time for the Inlet, but this work is extremely important and this is when the Currituck was able to fit Ocean City into its packed schedule.” He said. “There should be enough room for mariners to transit and for the Currituck to carry out its work, but we, of course, encourage boaters to take caution to avoid the dredge while it is working.”