With the contract awarded for a new drydock and one of its existing drydocks recently refurbished, the Ensley Engineer Yard expects to improve efficiency in its maintenance and repair of federal fleets.
The yard, located at Mile 726 on the Lower Mississippi River in Memphis, Tenn., is one of two shipyards that service federal vessels. It is the only federal shipyard on the inland waterways. Clients regularly include vessels owned by the Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard and Tennessee Valley Authority.
Ensley includes two 400-ton drydocks and a 3,200-ton drydock. Plans call for the 400-ton drydock 1015, built around 1930, to be replaced with a 1,600-ton modern unit that will go into service next year, said Andrea Williams, acting operations chief of the Memphis Engineer District.
More than 300 Corps employees work at the yard, one of the busiest in the nation, with drydock scheduling currently into 2024. The yard has its own full-service metals unit, which has welders, machinists and fitters. It also has a carpentry shop and electricians on staff, along with drydock operators, forklift operators, mechanics and crane operators.
“We are a full-service facility,” Williams said. “You can bring your boat in for just about anything, and we can handle it.”
Work underway at the yard currently includes a major refurbishment of the Dredge Currituck from the Wilmington Engineer District. The hull is being replated, and a new pilothouse fabricated and installed, Williams said.
The mv. Mr. Pat from the Tulsa district is in for shaft and rudder work, including seal replacement, hull sounding, epoxy floor replacement and sandblasting and painting of the vessel. The work is estimated at $600,000.
Additionally, a barge from the New Orleans district is on one of the smaller drydocks for patching the hull, sandblasting and painting.
Ensley is home to the mv. Mississippi, the nation’s largest diesel towboat. It spends most of the year as a working towboat for the Corps’ Mat Loading Unit, which works in conjunction with the Mat Sinking Unit from the Vicksburg Engineer District, but it is also used by the Mississippi River Commission for conducting public hearings and inspections of Corps projects along the Mississippi River. The Dredge Hurley, the Memphis district’s 353-feet-long, self-propelled dustpan dredge, also calls Ensley home during the off-season.
Ensley’s Dry Dock 5801, at 3,200 tons, is the largest drydock north of New Orleans, La. It has been in operation since 1958. The 5801 spent 14 months in 2019 and 2020 at Conrad Shipyard in Morgan City, La., where it underwent a $12 million refurbishment, Williams said. Work consisted of cropping and renewing steel in a great portion of the drydock as well as work on the sea chest.
The planned construction of a new, 1,600-ton drydock will give the yard three different sizes of drydocks.
“That will be able to accommodate the great majority of our customers that come in,” Williams said.
The contract for the new drydock was awarded to Conrad Shipyard on July 23 last year. The projected completion date is February 1, 2023, with arrival at Ensley expected around April 1 next year.
Conrad began fabrication of the drydock on February 17. The total cost is projected to be $9.4 million, including design administration costs. Improved technology will include safety decks in the wing walls and buoyancy chambers on the centerline of the pontoon deck to stabilize the dock and mitigate risk of sinking. State-of-the-art, modern controls will also provide the best available options for monitoring of ballast chambers, pumps and valves, according to information provided by the Corps.
Caption for top photo: The Ensley Engineer Yard in Memphis, Tenn., is a full-service marine maintenance facility operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for federal vessels. The primary mission of Ensley and its staff is to keep personnel and equipment ready to respond at a moment’s notice to emergencies that may arise along the Mississippi River. (Photo by David Ray)