Giant dredge sustained some damage in crash with cruise ship - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Giant dredge sustained some damage in crash with cruise ship

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The giant dredge Wheeler operates near Venice, La. in this March 20, 2012 file photo (John Snell) The giant dredge Wheeler operates near Venice, La. in this March 20, 2012 file photo (John Snell)

New Orleans, La. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says its giant dredge -- critical to navigation on the Mississippi River -- sustained some "structural damage" when a cruise ship plowed into it last week in Mobile, Alabama.

The Dredge Wheeler was in the path of the Carnival Triumph after the cruise ship broke free of its moorings during high winds on April 3.

Corps spokeswoman Rachel Rodi said in an e-mail to FOX 8 that preliminary assessments show "most of the damages were sustained around the housing area and none reported in the hull area."

The damage appears to be limited to cracked frames, plating and handrails, etc., according to Rodi.  She says a dive team is "set to do a full perimeter inspection dive on the 16th to confirm that there are no damages to the hull."

The Wheeler, one of the world's largest hopper dredges, is due to resume dredging in the lower Mississippi River next month.  However, the Corps will have to perform structural repairs in order for the Wheeler to be deemed seaworthy by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Rodi said the goal is "to try and get as much of the new repairs done in that time frame as well."  She said the repairs could delay the dredge by a couple of weeks.  

"We don't have an exact time frame," Rodi said.

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