OCEAN CITY — The Army Corps of Engineers hopper dredge Currituck has completed a routine dredging project around the Inlet in half the time anticipated after working around the clock for five days.
A couple of times a year, the Army Corps of Engineers-Baltimore District sends the Currituck, or its sister ship Murden, to conduct routine dredging in and around the Inlet. The dredging is done as part of the Army Corps of Engineers’ regular operation and maintenance efforts associated with the Inlet to ensure safe navigation for both commercial and recreational boaters who frequent the channel.
The Currituck arrived in the Ocean City area on May 8 and worked in a 24-hour cycle for five straight days, wrapping up the project on May 13. According to Army Corps of Engineers officials, working around the clock for five days allowed the project to be completed in about half the time anticipated.
The Currituck spent five days specifically dredging known trouble spots in the Inlet. 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 impassable and unnavigable for larger vessels on even the highest of tides.
The Currituck spent the balance of its time in Ocean City on the continued Assateague bypass project, which removes material in and around the navigation channel with an emphasis on the ebb and flood shoals that traditionally trap sand moving southward toward Assateague. Dredged material is placed south of the inlet, just offshore of Assateague Island where it counteracts erosion.
The Currituck and its sister ship Murden arrive in Ocean City a couple of times each year to perform routine dredging projects and occasionally emergency repairs after storms.
The Army Corps of Engineers continues to assess long-term solutions to address the chronic shoaling in the Inlet in partnership with the state and Worcester County. That study is ongoing and the tentative plan going forward is still to make a formal recommendation as soon as this fall, complete the environmental assessment and design by spring 2021 and be ready to start construction in late 2021.