Kennebec River between Bath, Phippsburg to be dredged

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BATH — Emergency maintenance dredging of the Kennebec River will take place soon to allow safe passage of U.S. Navy destroyers built at Bath Iron Works, according to Maine’s Congressional delegation.

The project, urged by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, and U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, and Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, is needed in the lower part of the river between Phippsburg and Bath.

It “would restore the channel to its authorized dimensions and provide safe operating depths for the USS Peralta to depart to sea in April,” according to a press release. “In addition, the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) and the Navy are working on a plan to perform regular maintenance dredging of the Kennebec River to ensure unfettered passage of BIW-built ships going forward.”

River soundings showed some areas of the river as shallow as 18 feet, much below the 27-foot authorized channel depth, according to the press release. Those conditions blocked the USS Peralta from leaving BIW for a machinery sea trial last September.

The last dredging of the lower Kennebec took place in 2011.