Eastern Shipbuilding Group building dredge for Army Corps of Engineers

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Eastern Shipbuilding Group will be partnering with Dutch shipbuilder Royal IHC for their next contract. They’ll be building a hopper dredge for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

They’ve already started working on designs for the highly automated medium-class vessel.

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“This particular vessel can hold about 6,000 cubic yards of material which is a lot. Your average dump truck that’s driving down the road carries about 20 yards of materials, so do the math,” Eastern Shipbuilding Group CEO Joey D’Isernia said. 

The corps will use the dredge to keep navigable waterways clear and safe for cargo ships.

“So much of our economy centers around the ability to bring in commerce through waterways and to export out of those same waterways,” D’Isernia said. “They’re responsible to make sure that it’s kept in such a manner to where all of the big ships, the tugs, the barges can push cargo in and out of those waterways and keep our economy growing and thriving.”

D’Isernia said the corps has specific design requirements for the dredge. 

“It has to do a multitude of things well. It may not do one of those multitude of things extremely well, but it has to do them all well, so what you end up with is an asset that’s a lot more technologically advanced,” D’Isernia said.

These features will help the corps quickly and efficiently perform their mission. 

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“It has to respond to various types of conditions from the ability to pump out material within a certain time frame, ability to load material within a very short period of time, a lot of redundancy requirements in case something fails. They have backup system requirements for the ability to operate in very demanding conditions,” D’Isernia said.

Actual construction on the dredge is expected to start in early 2026. The Army Corps of Engineers should take delivery of the vessel by the end of 2027. The hopper dredge will cost about $250 million.

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