Big new dredger for Elbe region

Tom Todd
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The German waterways and shipping authority – the WSV – has ordered its biggest dredger to date to complement outsourced dredging operations and make services more flexible.

The 132m long and 23.4m wide newbuilding, initially unnamed in an announcement by the Bonn-based WSV, has been ordered by the government agency’s engineering and technical division – the FMN - in Rendsburg. It is responsible for the planning, design and management of orders for special ships as well as plant and equipment technology at WSV facilities in the region. For delivery late 2018 by Hamburg shipyard Pella Sietas, the new dredger will cost about €95 million and be funded by a Berlin “Investment in the Future” programme. It will operate mainly in tidal waters of the River Elbe.

The WSV said increases in ship sizes and deepjer draughts had led to a higher demand on dredging maintenance services. An efficiency audit had led to the decision to introduce a new hopper suction dredger owned by the WSV itself but available to work alongside external firms handling running dredger contracts.

The WSV added that having its own high-performance dredger would also give it a degree of flexibility and the ability to work on a range of volume demands.

The new dredger will operate 24/7 with WSV personnel. It will have a dredging depth of 10 to 25m and a diesel-electric propulsion system of 14,000kW providing a speed of 13 knots. With a construction water line put at 6.9m, it will load 7,500 m3.

That’s over 1,000 tons more than the WSV’s hopper suction dredger Nordsee - the only one of its kind currently serving with the agency, WSV spokeswoman Claudia Thoma told Maritime Journal.

Nordsee went into service nearly 40 years ago in May1978 and has a loading volume of 6.100 m³. Its first operations were on the Elbe where its predecessor was the coal-fired bucket dredger Juelsand, built in1909. These days Nordsee serves mainly on the Jade River. Just who will deliver the new ship’s propulsion system was not initially reported. Thoma told Maritime Journal no concrete details were currently available but added these would become apparent during the planning stage.

Nordsee appears to have similar dimensions to those cited for the new ship. Built by the now defunct Orenstein & Koppel in Lübeck and of 12,723dwt with two 1m side suction pipes, it is 131.75m long and 23m wide. Reports said it is powered by two eight-cylinder, four stroke MaK Diesels Type 8m552AK of total 7,060kw, developing 11 knots.

The WSV dredges some 40 million m3 a year on behalf of the German Government to maintain federal German waterway access to the Ems, Jade, Weser and Elbe rivers and to the Baltic region.

Elbe dredging and the main reason for it.