Dredging in this area has many benefits for Dare County fishermen, both economic and recreational. The significance of the Oregon Inlet is that it is “a critical harbor of refuge.” Roger Bullock, Deputy of Operations, informed us that there is not another inlet in a 60-mile radius. That means that there is 120 miles of coastline with no other way to get into safe haven. The Coast Guard has a high presence in this area because some of the highest search and rescue cases occur here off the coast of North Carolina. Oregon Inlet is the only route for the Coast Guard to take when going on a mission.
Tommy Bourbeau, the Captain of the Merritt, gave a crash course on how the dredge operates, as well as the other benefits it provides. The Merritt is a side-cast dredge. This 104 feet-long vessel works mostly along the South Atlantic Coast. The dredge removes sediment from the ocean floor, and then moves it up through the pipes, to shoot the material out to the side. The Merritt is built to travel into deep and shallow waters.
Check out this video to see The Dredge Merritt and its operations in the Oregon Inlet.