Vicksburg Engineer District Commemorates Beginning Of Mat-Sinking Unit’s Season

The Vicksburg Engineer District held a ship-out ceremony at the Vicksburg Harbor on July 18 to commemorate the deployment of the Mat Sinking Unit for its annual season of revetment.

Vicksburg District Commander Col. Christopher Klein and Mat Sinking Unit Chief Maurice Gilmore provided remarks that focused on safety, teamwork and the importance of the revetment mission.

“Today is all about the crew and the sacrifices they make to carry the mission forward year after year,” Klein said. “Each member plays a critical role in delivering safe, reliable navigation and flood risk management to the nation.”

The MSU places hundreds of thousands of articulated concrete mats, also known as revetment, along the Mississippi River to protect flood control works, prevent riverbank erosion and provide navigable waterways for commercial transportation. The unit’s work spans the Memphis, Vicksburg and New Orleans districts’ jurisdictions and more than 1,700 river miles.

Sign up for Waterway Journal's weekly newsletter.Our weekly newsletter delivers the latest inland marine news straight to your inbox including breaking news, our exclusive columns and much more.

“We call the Mat Sinking Unit the ‘plant’ because of the massiveness of the operation,” Gilmore said. “It takes a team to ensure our galley is stocked, wire reels are delivered and fed on time, cranes are operational, tow vessels are pushing, surveys are confirmed and supervisors are trained to lead. With everyone’s dedication, our mission will be successful.”

Carl Young, MSU winchman and associate minister of the Oasis of Love (Church of God in Christ) in Lake Village, Ark., blessed the fleet and asked for protection and safety for all crew members and vessels that conduct the hazardous work along the Mississippi River.

A mat sinking barge, a mat supply barge, quarter barges, spar barges, gantry cranes, bulldozers and motor vessels are among the equipment used by the unit to help maintain the Mississippi River’s stabilization and navigation. During revetment season, the unit acts as a floating city, providing lodging and dining for more than 300 crew members.