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Norfolk District navigation support team preps, updates inlet for dredging

Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Published Feb. 24, 2020
Updated: Feb. 24, 2020
One man steers a boat while the other uses a torch to deconstruct wooden pilings in Rudee Inlet

The Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers navigation support team replaces pilings and a floating dock preceding dredging operations at Rudee Inlet, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Feb. 12, 2020. The Rudee Inlet channel is a man-made passage to the Atlantic ocean for fishing, boating and Navy training operations. (U.S. Army photo by Andria Allmond)

A man in a hardhat uses a torch to deconstruct wooden pilings in Rudee Inlet

The Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers navigation support team replaces pilings and a floating dock preceding dredging operations at Rudee Inlet, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Feb. 12, 2020. The Rudee Inlet channel is a man-made passage to the Atlantic ocean for fishing, boating and Navy training operations. (U.S. Army photo by Andria Allmond)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers navigation team arrived at Croatan Point here early February to replace pilings and a floating dock in preparation for the next iteration of dredging.

Located at the south end of the Oceanfront, the Rudee Inlet is a hub for fishing charters, jet skiing, parasailing and serves as a thoroughfare for military watercraft to the Atlantic Ocean.

Over time, sedimentation gradually fills the channel and shallows the inlet. Dredging is performed to remove the sedimentation and increase the navigational aptitude of the waterway.

“There’s not a lot of room and the Corps dredges can’t [fit] under the bridge,” said Rick Bruton, Norfolk District boat captain.

About five times per year, Army Corps vessels perform dredging operations in Rudee Inlet but boats that dredge the federal channel are too large to fit under the Rudee Inlet Bridge, so they moor at the edge of the inlet.  

"We're replacing the dilapidated pile clusters and floating dock as part of the Rudee Inlet Federal Navigation Project in partnership with our local sponsor, the city of Virginia Beach,” said Chris Tolson, Norfolk District project manager.

The 20-year old wooden posts used to secure the boats are nearing the end of their service life and are being upgraded from 7-piling clusters to nearly double the girth. These more robust structures will serve to secure heavier vessels.

Tolson said that recently dredge captains have voiced concerns regarding the failure of the structures, so the crews are tasked in replacing and upgrading them.

The Army Corps’ hopper dredge, Currituck, is scheduled to arrive in March.