Additional Information

Mission Overview

Debris Unit:
Baltimore Harbor’s Debris Unit patrols and collects debris within the Patapsco River and its tributaries in an area covering 24 square miles.

The Washington DC Debris Unit operates in the Anacostia and Potomac River patrolling and collecting debris covering 27 miles around the Nation’s Capital.

Collection efforts intensify after storms, high tide events and during high river flows.  Operations concentrate on the open waters of the main Federal channels and in the vicinity of major terminal facilities.  The Army Corps of Engineers, Debris Unit provides benefits to navigation by reducing damages, financial losses and safety hazards to both commercial and recreational vessels and helps keep the waterways aesthetically pleasing to business owners, residents and visitors.

Hydrographic Surveying:
The hydrographic survey section actively supports the Baltimore District’s Navigation Branch, Operations Division by encompassing the design, construction and maintenance of over 100 Federal navigation projects on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.  Besides the many dredged portions that comprise the main 50-foot Chesapeake Bay Baltimore Harbor channel, many of the navigation projects are relatively remote, shallow-water projects that support a local commerce and fishing industry.  Many of these projects are located along the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay and up through the tidal Potomac River.

The Hydrographic Survey section primary responsibility is to conduct the hydrographic and topographic survey work necessary to support these active navigation projects.  They conduct periodic project condition surveys (PCS) on all active projects to evaluate their current condition and to determine if any dredging may be required.  If maintenance dredging is necessary, then they must also conduct a pre-contract survey, an immediately before dredge (IBD) survey, and an immediate after dredge (AD) survey.  Because the dredge-related surveys are used to accurately determine the extent of dredge work necessary and also as the basis for final dredge contractor payment, they must meet strict accuracy standards and they need to be fully process in near real time.

In addition to the navigation-related projects, the Survey staff also provides general survey and mapping support on a cost-reimbursable basis on other projects throughout the District.  Because they represent the only in-house survey capability in the District, the staff also provides a good deal of general survey and mapping support when time and resources are available. Some of these projects include tidal studies, general topographic surveys, pre-construction and as-built site surveys, and dam deformation surveys at many of our flood control sites in the interior sections of New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The District’s survey and mapping products (including data, CADD drawings and control information) can be found here.


Our Vessels

The REYNOLDS is a steel debris vessel named after John Reynolds, a former Chief of Operations for the Baltimore District, Corps of Engineers. She was built in 1992 in Pensacola FL.  The Reynolds patrols the waters of the Baltimore Harbor and Patapsco River for drift and debris that could be hazardous to navigation. 

Two smaller debris vessels, known as BD-5 and BD-6, patrol the waters around Washington, D.C., for for drift and debris that could be hazardous to navigation.

Debris Removal vessels are equipped with a hydraulic front end loader with a mesh basket. These loaders have been designed so that they can pick debris directly out of the water and are controlled by the vessel operator. In support of the Clean Energy Initiative, our vessels run on B-99 bio-diesel.

The CATLETT, a 61-foot survey vessel christened into the fleet in 2017 and named after former hydrographic surveyor Harold Catlett, works in support of our deep draft survey mission in a 50 foot main shipping channel.  The hydrographic survey section relies on two 21-foot aluminum, outboard-powered, trailerable survey launches.  They spend a majority of each week rotating to many of the District’s remote navigation projects.