Even though the world, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is laser-focused on responding to the COVID-19 virus, Memphis District’s Ensley Engineer Yard continues to execute all of its other very important missions, including navigation and flood risk management.
Navigation is one of our oldest missions. We’re mandated by Congress to keep the Mississippi River open for commercial navigation by maintaining a 9-foot-deep and 300-foot-wide channel, and we do that by dredging on an annual basis.
So, as one might imagine, our dustpan dredge, the Hurley, gets used quite a bit keeping the Mississippi open, so our talented team at Ensley Engineer Yard have their work cut out for them keeping her running year after year.
This brings us to the project Machinist Brandon Almeida is working on – it’s something the Dredge Hurley uses called “propeller rope guards.” He’s also making the mount needed to make the rope guards on – talk about complex work.
“I’m going to try my best to explain what they are and how I’m making them – sorry if it sounds confusing… because it is,” Almeida started. “First, I’m making a mount because it will allow me to hold the rope guard to where I can do all the machining I need to do in one set up since the geometry of the piece is odd and not conducive to being clamped on.”
Almeida said he also uses the mount as a centering piece, which lets him to keep each part of the rope guards consistent with one another.
“Moving on to the rope guards – they are the parts that fit over the boat propeller shaft that protects the propeller bearing from getting hit or sucking up debris,” Almeida said. “The geometry of making the guard is such that if the bolt pattern isn’t centered right it won’t bolt together or onto the ship if done incorrectly, so everything must be precise.”
Almeida and the Metal Shop are preparing six rope guards for the Dredge Hurley, which Almeida believes should take about three weeks to complete.
“Rope guards are important because they keep any ropes or lines from getting tangled up in the wheels or other intricate places,” Dredge Hurley Master Adrian Pirani added. “We appreciate everything the Metal Shop and everyone at the Ensley Engineer Yard does; they play a major role in repairs and upgrades and keep the Hurley far ahead of the curve. If you dream it or break it, they can make it or fix it. Without them, the Hurley wouldn’t run and the Memphis District probably wouldn’t be able to execute one of its oldest missions.”