Marking and Dredging Navigation Channels in Virginia

the US Coast Guard maintains the location of buoys that mark designated shipping channels
the US Coast Guard maintains the location of buoys that mark designated shipping channels
Source: Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, Coast Guard, Navy remove aground buoy from Chic's Beach, Va.

The US Coast Guard marks shipping channels that offer safe access to wharves and docks. When sediments clog a channel, the Coast Guard will remove the navigation markers.

Marinas and shore-based operations get upset when channel markers are replaced with buoys warning that the channel depth is no longer consistent with navigation charts, because the warnings can reduce business substantially.

A separate Federal agency, the US Army Corps of Engineers, is responsible for dredging many of the navigation channels to keep them clear of obstructions. The military has its own ships than can dredge channels, but in many cases the Corps awards contracts to private sector companies to do the work.

dredging contractors removed over 20,000 cubic yards of material from Tylers Beach, a small harbor in Isle of Wight County, in 2015
dredging contractors removed over 20,000 cubic yards of material from Tylers Beach, a small harbor in Isle of Wight County, in 2015
Source: US Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District Image Gallery

Ships docking at the Third Port facility at Fort Eustis must travel up Skiffe's Creek. River currents was sediments into the shipping channel, but the US Army Corps of Engineers maintains the depth of that channel by dredging. The material removed from the bottom of Skiffes Creek and the James River is known as "dredhe spoils."

Skiffes Creek Federal Navigation Channel at Fort Eustis
Skiffes Creek Federal Navigation Channel at Fort Eustis
Source: US Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District Image Gallery

If dumped into the James River of the Chesapeake Bay, those sediments would wash downstream and clog another shipping channel. The Corps could haul the sediments from Skiffes Creek to the Atlantic Ocean and dump them in a designated disposal area on the Outer Continental Shelf, but transportation costs are too high.

The solution was to create a disposal facility on land. The Skiffes Creek spoils are deposited into the Fort Eustis Dredge Material Management Area, where the sediments will not wash back into the channel.

Fort Eustis Dredge Material Management Area handles material dug up from the Skiffes Creek Federal Navigation Channel
Fort Eustis Dredge Material Management Area handles material dug up from the Skiffes Creek Federal Navigation Channel
Source: US Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District Image Gallery

Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area and Craney Island Marine Terminal (CIMT)

Ports in Virginia

Hampton Roads Shipping Channels and Port Competition

in 2013, the Corps widened the beach in the resort area of Virginia Beach
in 2013, the Corps widened the beach in the resort area of Virginia Beach
Source: US Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District Image Gallery

cutter-head dredge Wilko was used to maintenance dredge the Lynnhaven Inlet channel after Superstorm Sandy in 2012
cutter-head dredge "Wilko" was used to maintenance dredge the Lynnhaven Inlet channel after Superstorm Sandy in 2012
Source: US Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District Image Gallery

US Army Corps of Engineers dredge Currituck, removing sediments from the Rudee Inlet channel
US Army Corps of Engineers dredge "Currituck," removing sediments from the Rudee Inlet channel
Source: US Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District Image Gallery

US Army Corps of Engineers dredge Currituck in the Rudee Inlet channel
US Army Corps of Engineers dredge "Currituck," in the Rudee Inlet channel
Source: US Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District Image Gallery

water is separated from mud/silt/sand brought up from the bottom, so the dredge ships can store the sediments and transport them for disposal

water is separated from mud/silt/sand brought up from the bottom, so the dredge ships can store the sediments and transport them for disposal
water is separated from mud/silt/sand brought up from the bottom, so the dredge ships can store the sediments and transport them for disposal
Source: US Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District Image Gallery

spoils are transported by hopper dredges to a Virginia Beach pump-out landing station near 26th Street, then piped onshore
spoils are transported by hopper dredges to a Virginia Beach pump-out landing station near 26th Street, then piped onshore
Source: US Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District Image Gallery

the beach at Sandbridge has been replenished
the beach at Sandbridge has been replenished
Source: US Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District Image Gallery

the Corps of Engineers determined that only 3% of the material dredged at Dancing Point-Swann Point migrates back into the channel
the Corps of Engineers determined that only 3% of the material dredged at Dancing Point-Swann Point migrates back into the channel
Source: US Army Corps of Engineers, James River Partnership - 2017 presentation (slide 49)

Links


From Feet to Space: Transportation in Virginia
Virginia Places