The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to replace one of these 400-ton dry docks at the Ensley Engineer Yard in Memphis, Tenn., with a new, 1,600-to 2,000-ton dry dock. Construction is expected to be complete by February 2022. (Photo courtesy of the Memphis Engineer District)

Corps Begins Design Work For New Drydock

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun plans for a new drydock to inspect and repair Corps and Coast Guard vessels.

Bristol Harbor Group Inc. of Bristol, R.I., has received the design contract for a new, 1,600- to 2,000-ton drydock to replace the aging, 400-ton drydock 1015 at the Ensley Engineer Yard in Memphis, Tenn., said Tim Marshall, infrastructure and safety program manager for the operations division of the Memphis Engineer District. The drydock is one of three at the site.

“They’re all over 50 years old,” Marshall said. “This will give us updated, modern controls as well as a newer docking system to increase our efficiency.”

The Memphis yard has the Corps’ only drydock facilities along the inland waterway system. Currently the Corps has one 3,200-ton drydock and two 400-ton drydocks. Replacing one of the smaller ones will give the Corps a medium-sized drydock that will be a better use of resources, Marshall said.

“With drydocks of three different sizes, we’ll be able to use the right size dock with the right size vessel in order to be more efficient with our operations,” he said.

A drydock built with the latest industry standards, including updated, modern controls, should also provide a safer environment for both customers and employees, Marshall said.

Early plans call for the Corps to build a 200- by-80-foot drydock with 65 feet between the wing walls. Representatives of the Corps, Bristol Harbor Group and  the  Corps Marine Design Center met the first week of March to discuss the ongoing design process, and team members continue to hold bi-weekly conferences. The final design, bid solicitation and awarding of the construction contract are all anticipated by the end of the fiscal year, September 30, with estimated completion and delivery in February 2022.

The new drydock is not for private sector work, but will allow the Corps to maintain federally-owned vessels, including meeting the increased requirement for hull inspection of inland vessels included in Subchapter M regulations, Marshall said.

“We use current drydocks approximately 310 days a year, so getting this new one is incredibly important to the future maintenance of not only our vessels here in the Memphis District but also to those belonging to sister districts,” Marshall said.