Lack of Bids Forces Summer Dredging in Wilmington Harbor

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington District issued a one-time only summer dredging permit, and work is underway in the Inner Ocean Bar portion of the Wilmington Harbor off North Carolina. Due to a combination of lack of bids from dredging contractors and extreme shoaling in the shipping channels between Caswell Beach and Bald Head Island, the Wilmington District approved work that began in late May and should be completed before August 28. An initial attempt to award a contract occurred in November 2017, but no bids were received. The Corps reissued the contract solicitation in the spring and received just two bids. The final contract award was for $11.4 million. Traditionally, dredging occurs in the winter to avoid turtle nesting season.

About 30 crew members from Weeks Marine are aboard the 30-inch cutter suction dredge C.R. McCaskill. About 1.14 million cubic yards of sand will be dredged from Smith Island Channel, Baldhead Shoal Channel Reach 1, and Baldhead Shoal Channel Reach 2. Sand will be pumped via a 3-foot diameter pipeline that runs between the toe of the dunes and the mean high water line on Caswell Beach and part of Oak Island. As of the first week of July the Smith Island sandbar had been cleared so crews were moving to Bald Head Shoal. The pipeline is being relocated from the shore of Caswell Beach to float just offshore of Oak Island.

Caswell Beach will be about 100 feet wide after placement with the remaining beach areas varying between 100 and 130 feet wide. Work includes pre- and post-construction beach surveys.

This area of Wilmington Harbor is dredged every two to three years to keep the channel open for ship traffic. Sand is placed in accordance with the Sand Management Plan.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington is overseeing the work and has developed an interactive map that shows the progress of the dredging and details about nearby public access areas. To view the splash page, visit