Weeks Marine Inc. (WMI), an ENR top 100 construction contractor with extensive dredging and coastal restoration experience in the Gulf of Mexico will christen a new $41 million ocean-going hydraulic cutter suction dredge, the CR McCaskill, on July 16, 2012 at the company’s Houma Marine Yard.
The vessel is named for the Dredging Division’s top technical and equipment executive, Charles R. (Charlie) McCaskill. It is the third finished product of WMI’s four-year, five-dredge $200 million-plus capital investment initiative formally announced in May 2011. Approximately two years from now, a new large class, 8,500 cubic yard hopper dredge, the Magdalen under construction at BAE Systems in Mobile, AL, will become WMI’s third hopper dredge. It will be WMI’s largest, fastest, most fuel efficient, most powerful pumping, and most highly automated hopper dredge, and will double WMI’s current hopper dredge capacity.
These two new dredges will be the most advanced U.S. vessels in their respective categories. They are designed specifically for conditions found offshore of the U.S. coast.
“The two new dredges alone, built in U.S. shipyards, represent new investment exceeding $135 million,” said Richard S. Weeks, WMI President. “The McCaskill and the Magdalen will result in the creation of 125 permanent new, well-paying jobs. I am exceedingly proud of our team as we put together these two projects, vessels which will provide a strong platform for our future growth. July 16, however, is the day to celebrate the McCaskill , to hear from our elected officials, and to thank all of our friends and suppliers for coming together to produce this magnificent vessel.”
“As I said at the formal announcement, I remain optimistic about the future of the U.S. marketplace. Both the growth of international trade and the U.S. seaport industry, and the wide acceptance of beach nourishment as the coastal and shore protection option of choice, demand new energy-efficient tools to be brought into the marketplace,” continued Mr. Weeks.
“The new dredges will add substantial capacity to the domestic dredging fleet, and coupled with WMI’s dredging expertise, strong field management, and formidable support network, will significantly enhance our competitiveness in the marketplace,” said Executive Vice President Eric Ellefsen. “Weeks Marine prides itself in being a leader in the dredging industry. The expansion of our dredging fleet demonstrates our commitment to better serving our customers, particularly the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the U.S. Navy.”
“While we have a long track record serving the Country’s dredging marketplace, we need to refine and sharpen any competitive advantage we have,” said Dredging Division Vice President J. Stephen Chatry. “Our competitors have also added substantial capability. That is why we are dedicated to building and operating the most technologically advanced, fuel efficient, and environmentally sensitive equipment in the marketplace.”
“The U.S. dredging industry is strong and competitive, but there is always room for improvement as engine technology and automation advance,” said the dredge’s namesake Charlie McCaskill. “I am especially proud of my department and of all our partners in this complex undertaking. We designed and built a world-class vessel.”
Shipbuilding Tribune Staff, July 13, 2012; Image: Weeks Marine