24-7 dredging project to deepen Shem Creek

24-7 dredging project to deepen Shem Creek
5 mile long pipeline in Shem Creek
5 mile long pipeline in Shem Creek
The Richmond dredge
The Richmond dredge
5 mile long pipeline in Shem Creek
5 mile long pipeline in Shem Creek
Engine room on dredge
Engine room on dredge

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - The Army Corps of Engineers has teamed up with the town of Mount Pleasant to deepen the 90 foot wide channel of Shem Creek.

"The goal of this project is to dredge Shem Creek to its project depth of 12 feet," said David Warren, project manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The crew on-board the Richmond has been at it for nearly a week.

"We try to do Shem Creek every 10 years," said Warren.

The Army Corps of Engineers is calling this project the Lower Harbor Supplemental.

Warren said, "It includes Shem Creek and the Anchorage Basin."

The project comes with a pretty large price tag.

"4.75 million dollars," said Warren.

The Richmond is a cutter suction dredge. The cutter head breaks apart dirt underwater, then the mixture of water and dirt is pumped through the engine room.

From there, it goes into a pipeline that is mostly underwater and is dumped out 5 miles away onto Morris Island.

The dredge itself doesn't move very fast all.

"A very slow process," said Frank Russell Jr., a construction quality insurance representative with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

To move along the creek, the crew uses anchors, boats and what they call a spud carriage.

Russell said, "It's actually a pivot point. It actually holds the dredge in place as it swings back and forth."

For two weeks at a time 20 crew members work around the clock on the dredge. It's a 24 hour operation where they work, sleep and eat.

"I get up at 5 o'clock in the morning and my day ends at 5 o'clock in the evening," said chef Brian Middlemiss.

Middlemiss says he makes three meals a day.

"The men work hard out there and when they come in, they look forward to eating hearty meals," said Middlemiss.

When the crew isn't working or eating, they're sleeping.

"Two men to a room," said Middlemiss.

Middlemiss says they make the best out of a small space.

Middlemiss said, "TV, air conditioner, VCR, just like being at home."

The crew has made the Richmond their home so shrimpers and other boaters can get through Shem Creek to make living.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, they have been in contact with fishermen and businesses about moving their boats.

They say the project isn't stopping any of those businesses from doing their jobs.

If the weather cooperates, the project should be done within the next 10 to 15 days.

Once the project in Shem Creek is finished, the Army Corps of Engineers will begin dredging the commercial Anchorage Basin near Fort Sumter.