NORFOLK, Va. – The Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will officially welcome a new vessel to its fleet Thursday.
The survey vessel Ewell, a 61 foot catamaran outfitted with the latest multibeam SONAR technology and a crane capable of lifting 4,500 pounds, will serve as a dual-purpose vessel for the district, performing both as a survey vessel and marine debris removal vessel.
”The Ewell has a unique capability in that it is outfitted equally well for both our hydrographic survey and marine debris removal mission,” said Scott Titus, Norfolk District port engineer. “The sonar suite is arranged to allow both survey data collection and initial processing while on the job site, increasing productivity.”
The Ewell features a raised pilothouse allowing the operator to spot marine debris at a distance.
With a top end speed of more than 34 knots, the 1,970 horsepower twin-engine, jet-propelled Ewell is the fastest vessel in the district’s fleet. This speed translates into a more rapid response when called upon by port partners to remove hazards to navigation or investigate potential shoaling in the federal navigation channels.
“While both marine debris collection and hydrographic survey take place at much lower speeds, the fact that the Ewell can transit at over 30 knots allows much more time on station for both debris collection and survey operations.” Titus said. “The Ewell recently conducted survey operations in the vicinity of the Richmond Deepwater Terminal; formerly, the transit time to Richmond was almost a full day, but the Ewell was on station, ready to survey by lunchtime.”
Titus says the vessel’s speed allows the survey crews more time to collect data, which enhances the overall efficiency of the section, in many cases the Ewell can shave two days off many survey projects.
The Ewell is named for Donald Ewell, a former district boat captain who guided the district vessel Chesapeake, later named the Adams, from the 1960’s until his retirement in 1985.
Ewell captained the Adams at a time when Automated Hydrographic Surveying was just being implemented, it is a form of surveying widely used today.
He served in the U.S. Coast Guard for four years prior to his employment at the Norfolk District.
The commissioning ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. May 31 at Fort Norfolk, with dignitaries from the port community as well as Mr. Ewell’s family in attendance.