Drydock: Repairing the Massive Ships that Dredge the Columbia River


I started in the shipyard 28 years ago,
working on the Essayons for the shipyard. And then about a year and a half ago came to work for the Corps to take care of the vessel that I’ve been
taking care of for years and hold a strange, personal attraction to
taking care of this vessel [ laughing ] I don’t know why. She’s a great boat though, she really is. And, you know,
the work that it does is brutal. It’s like a giant dump truck. It’s awesome, you know? It does a tremendously important job and it does it well. Both of our local dredges, the Yaquina and Essayons,
maintain the Columbia system. They’re out there digging dirt, dredging 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If we don’t continuously maintain the depth, and if the vessels aren’t in good working order
to do that mission, some of the vessels that need to come upstream
for commerce, et cetera, cannot. These vessels work very, very hard.
We go into the drydock annually. We see the condition of the vessel,
we do repairs and get her back in service. When we say the Essayons, when we say the Yaquina, what we’re talking about is a combination of steel, technology, and then really the most important piece is
the people that serve on board that vessel This is tough work.
It is very, very tough work. The word “masochist” may be used out there. But at the end of the day what it is,
is a sense of belonging from the entire team and knowing that everything they’re doing is
contributing to the broader mission. That, with the passion that they have,
just makes them unstoppable. These two dredges keep the waterways open for
20 billion dollars worth of commerce. You know, you think you’re just fixing a ship and then you run into all the different people that
the mission touches in their various locations and you realize just how far-reaching
these little ships are and the importance of their mission because it’s greater than
you realize on the surface.

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