The Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Army (Civil Works) Vance Stewart and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations Maj. Gen. William (Butch) Graham visited the Memphis District last week.
While visiting, they had the opportunity to welcome home and congratulate the Revetment Team after completing one of the district's longest seasons in history.
Memphis District’s Revetment operations—Clearing and Snagging and Bank Grading Units, and Mat Casting— are primarily the preparation for placement of articulated concrete mattress (ACM) by the Vicksburg District’s Mat Sinking Unit from the water's edge, out to design limits in conjunction with stone paving, from water's edge to the top bank. This process is completed to stabilize the riverbank and maintain proper navigation channel alignment.
"Protecting the Mississippi Riverbanks keeps the channel in place, which maintains the necessary depth and alignment that allows the thousands of tows to travel up and down the river year-round," Memphis District Commander Col. Zachary Miller said at the Revetment Season kickoff ceremony last year. "Without this work, the river would shift, resulting in new, shallow cutoffs that could not be safely traveled."
"The season began on July 5, 2020, at Little Cypress, which was a Memphis District job site," Channel Improvement Project Coordinator Andrew Smothers said. "The season then officially ended March 4, 2021, in Deadman's Bend, which is a Vicksburg District job site. Unusually low water on the Mississippi River allowed us to perform revetment work approximately six weeks longer than any other typical year," Smothers added.
Even with all the challenges faced throughout the season, revetment workers still managed to surpass the goals set by adding three sites to the end of the season, working a total of 25 sites. The crew was fortunate enough to get to the last two sites before high water forced the teams to leave the area.
"Challenges included COVID-19, as well as aging equipment and an exceptionally long season, which was hard for the workers on the ground," Smothers explained. "But as with all challenges, the Corps overcame them by performing on-site testing, restricting trips from the vessel, and changing tour-of-duty for fewer trips home. They also developed quarantine areas on the ship and hired outside contractors for overall COVID management."
In handling the aging equipment issue, the team overcame this by working late shifts and making emergency repairs on site.
"All four cranes on the mat barge were and still in need of repair, and several breakdowns of those cranes caused delays in work," Smothers added. "Revetment employees overcame these challenges by exceeding the overall predicted production rate for the season."
Smothers said the crew also endured two hurricanes where they had to "flee" and stand down until the storms had passed. Even with all the complications and hurdles encountered, the Memphis District still managed to grade more than 1 million cubic yards of material. The Vicksburg District’s 200-person Mat Sinking Unit also sunk a total of 265,788 squares on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Additionally, the 12-person Clearing and Snagging Unit cleared 53,584 linear feet of the riverbank, the 25-person Bank Grading Unit graded 952,00 cubic yards of the riverbank, and the Motor Vessel Mississippi towed squares up and down the river for a total of 13,000 miles.
Congratulations to the entire Revetment Team for all their hard work and dedication throughout the entire season. Your perseverance does not go unnoticed, and this district and the Nation are grateful for all that you do.