DSC Dredge Digs In

The DSC Dredge lineup (Image: DSC Dredge)

By Joseph Keefe

The world of dredging is defined by the vast
diversity of each assignment that contractors perform on any
given day. Fortunately, DSC's standard lineup of dredge equipment
can be modified and customized to meet just about any job that
needs doing.

It wasn't too long ago that retired U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Jim
Loy told me, "If you've seen one port, well, you've seen one
port." That now-famous declaration was made in reference to port
security in a post-9/11 world, but the quip is as valid now as it
was when he said it during his tenure as Commandant of the U.S.
Coast Guard. Similarly, it can also be said that if you've seen
one dredging operation, well, then you've seen one dredging
operation. Port-to-port, coast-to-coast, on inland rivers, Great
Lakes, for environmental remediation, during storm restoration
operations and everything in between, no two dredging assignments
are exactly alike.

From the Bottom Up

No one knows that metric better than DSC Dredge President/CEO Bob
Wetta, who weighed in with Marine News in January. In
the beginning, it was Thomas J. Wetta, III (father of Bob &
Bill Wetta) who was principal in a now dissolved entity named
Kenner Marine & Machinery (KMM), incorporated in the early
1970s. In the late 1980s, the company went through a liquidation
bankruptcy. Prior to the liquidation, a friend/investor Bob
Dagley of Thomas Wetta opened a company named Dredging Supply
Company. The function of this company was to take over the
business model of KMM through hiring a majority of the workforce
and by obtaining knowledge of dredge manufacturing through the
employees. The verbal agreement was that once the company was up
and running, the Wetta family would purchase the company back. An
entire article could be written on how all that came about, and
how Bob Wetta ended up where he is today.

Dredging Supply would one day end up back under Wetta ownership,
a corporation with the name of Dredging Specialties, Inc.
Dredging Specialties had minor operations/sales under it from
1992 to 1994, but the majority of revenues came from Dredging
Supply Company. Fast forward to 1994, and Dredging Specialties
dropped its name and took over the name Dredging Supply Co., Inc.
Through merger of several related companies together over those
years, DSC Dredge, LLC was officially formed as the holding
company in 2010. Today, DSC Dredge, LLC operates from three major
manufacturing facilities located in Reserve, La.; Poplarville,
Miss.; and Greenbush, Mich.

The DSC Way

Since DSC's inception, the company has delivered more than 500
dredges. Bob Wetta explains further, "Up until about 2005, the
majority was domestic sales primarily in the aggregate industry.
Shortly after 2005, DSC expanded into many export markets, now
totaling over 45 countries. Annual export sales soared as high as
70 percent in the years since 2010. The export markets vary from
environmental dredging to mining with dredges."

Last year alone, DSC had 21 major projects either in production
or delivered. But each is as unique as the hundreds that preceded
them, and the hundreds that are likely to follow. Wetta says
that's no accident. DSC prides itself on providing a 'customized'
service for its customers. "DSC has manufactured the deepest sand
mining dredge in the western hemisphere, with a dredging depth
capability of 200 feet. DSC is just completing an aggregate
dredge that will dredge to 155 feet deep. DSC has built the
newest dustpan dredge. The list goes on and on, and we typically
add two to three builds like this per year," said Wetta.

Those unique one-of-a-kind newbuildings are important, but Wetta
values his repeat business just as much, saying, "DSC prides
itself on repeat sales. We also weigh heavily on our existing
clients as references and to provide success stories to
prospective clients to help us attract new business. One
challenge is that our dredges are designed to last +25 years, so
sometimes it takes a while for the repeat dredge to come back
around. Fortunately, a lot of our clients have also grown their
businesses, so we are afforded the opportunity to sell new
dredges to them for different projects and or applications."

DSC doesn't just sell equipment. Training is always provided with
a dredge sale, and at the same time, field services for
additional training, new operator training and for maintenance
training. DSC offers classroom-style training at a minimum of
twice per year. That classroom-style technical training is
offered to anyone in the dredging industry; whether you own a DSC
dredge or not.

Repeat Business: Standard Quality

One repeat customer underscores the value of a satisfied customer
that also had new challenges. The winter of 2016 was an unusually
harsh one for the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor in Santa Cruz,
Calif. The DSC-built dredge Seabright that had served the harbor
for 30 years labored to keep up, and frequent breakdowns only
compounded the problem. Fortunately for the harbor members and
visitors, a new dredge from DSC Dredge, LLC - the Twin Lakes -
was scheduled for delivery in June.

The Seabright was at the end of its useful life. Enter the Twin
Lakes, commissioned from DSC in April 2015, a custom-built, 16" x
16" dredge with a hull-mounted pump. It features a PLC operating
system with color touch-screen controls, Global Positioning
System (GPS), electro-proportional hydraulic circuits,
high-capacity service water system and an inline direct
marine-style transmission for dredge pump gear ratio reduction. A
planetary winch provides the swing operation. A magnetic flow
meter shows the operator the velocity of the material being
moved, providing information on the dredge's efficiency. With two
engines - a Caterpillar C32 dredge pump marine diesel engine and
a Caterpillar C18 marine diesel-powered electric generator - the
dredge complies with EPA and California CARB environmental
standards.

Meanwhile, the Seabright is now for sale. That's an impressive
run for the DSC dredge; one which is probably not yet over.

Custom Deliveries a Specialty

DSC has always produced 'spec' units out of its Greenbush, MI,
facility. Wetta adds, "We have also recently added some 'spec'
builds in our business model out of our other two facilities. The
spec build dredges range from 8" through 18" discharge sizes."
That said; the real strength of DSC has always resided in the
ability to give the customer what they want, where they want it
and delivering that product on time. For example, the DSC
Barracuda Class is really two dredges in one.

The Barracuda dredge features a swinging-ladder design and is
easily transportable, making it ideal for navigational,
recreational or restorative projects, such as waterway
maintenance and lake revitalization. Offering the option of two
front-swing winches, the Barracuda Class is a two-in-one dredge
that easily converts from a swing ladder dredge to a conventional
dredge without sacrificing portability. Available in either
diesel or electric power, discharge sizes range from 10 to 18
inches (250 mm to 450 mm).

Separately, and in another twist to the ever-expanding DSC
portfolio, the North Carolina Department of Transportation
recently took delivery of a new, fully customized cutter suction
dredge, which it christened the Dredge Manteo. The 154-foot
state-of-the-art pipeline dredge, designed and built by DSC
Dredge will work to keep North Carolina's state-maintained
intercoastal ferry channels clear. Because the state of North
Carolina anticipated that its ferry routes will see more and more
use, it was imperative that the DOT had a more modern dredge
capable of dredging more material more quickly than its
predecessor.

The Manteo fit the bill nicely. Built to house two eight-person
crews, with a full galley, four bunk rooms and two full
bathrooms, the dredge also features a 78-foot deckhouse that
contains the machinery area, crew quarters and galley. Far more
efficient than its predecessor, the 16" x 14" Manteo is capable
of dredging a channel to a depth of 30 feet. Spud carriages,
which the original dredge did not have, easily move the vessel as
it works. From the outset, DSC's designers made several
recommendations to improve performance that NCDOT agreed upon.
These included increased horsepower of the engine and the
diameter of the impeller. This allows it to effectively move more
material over a 1.5-mile distance to the discharge point. And,
the dredge includes a myriad of other high-tech features,
including a GPD dredging system.

Standard Solutions for Specific Situations

Customization is the key for the DSC, but DSC's diversified
standard portfolio of dredging solutions can fit just about any
need that you might have. For example, the Marlin Class
underwater pump mining dredge is designed to meet the needs of
deep mining and aggregate deposits by providing a more efficient
tool for material excavation. Every Marlin Class dredge is
specifically designed to handle a particular deposit-from sand
and gravel to industrial minerals-to ensure maximum efficiency.
Beyond this, DSC Marlin Class dredges are available in either a
diesel- or electric-powered model to meet the customer's specific
needs.

Still another DSC Dredge class, the Shark, features modular
design for portability. Also offered in diesel or electric power,
the DSC Shark Class cutter suction dredge features a conventional
dredge-operating configuration with a modular design for ease of
transportation. The reliability of the Shark Class cutter suction
dredge design typically results in a higher percentage of
operational time, and it often exceeds the typical lifespan of
other dredges within the same class.

The DSC Badger Class is ideal for smaller dredging jobs where
more compact equipment is required due to work area limitations.
With a working width of just under 10 feet and an overall length
of 54 feet, including the ladder, the Badger can be maneuvered
into harder-to-reach waterways, yet still dig to a depth of 20
feet at a 60-degree down angle on the ladder. The lateral cut
achieved at maximum depth is approximately 50 feet. The Badger
can be transported on a single truckload. Meeting Tier 3 diesel
emissions requirements, a Caterpillar C7 ACERT engine provides
250 horsepower at 2,200 rpm, supported by a 150-gallon fuel tank.
Sourced from Metso Minerals, the Thomas Simplicity Dredge Pump is
rated for 160 feet Total Dynamic Head (TDH) at 2,500 gallons per
minute. The five Rotzler winches are rated at 4,500-pound line
pull capacity and are used for swinging the ladder, lifting the
spuds and lifting the ladder.

DSC's portable Moray Class dredge is ideal for the current
dredging industry trend of pumping low flow rates with
higher-percent solids. Well suited for applications where flow
rates need to be minimized, such as for pumping into geotubes or
retention areas that do not accommodate large water volumes, the
Moray is also well suited for shallow waterway maintenance, lake
revitalization, aquaculture, environmental clean-up, erosion
control and irrigation projects. This dredge was designed to be
both highly productive and transportable. With discharge sizes of
either 8 inches (203 mm) or 12 inches (305 mm), this model meets
most single-truck hauling requirements.

Last but certainly not least, the Wolverine Class dredge is a
compact dredge ideal for sand and gravel producers and
construction contractors. Functional with just one operator, the
Wolverine can dig up to 25 feet below the surface and allows for
maximum particle clearance of 6 inches. This tough yet portable
design measures 68 feet long and is offered in a 10-inch
discharge configuration. The Wolverine also offers single-truck
portability.

Bottom Line

Domestic or foreign - DSC is always thinking. "We believe we have
been successful because we are known for our high quality and
high utilization time for our equipment," Wetta told Marine
News
, adding quickly, "We also believe we have been
successful because we offer our clients aftermarket services and
components from DSC or they can go directly to the open market to
buy parts, because we don't privatize other OEM equipment labels.
We don't manufacture every component on the dredge so we let our
clients know they have options to maintain their equipment and we
won't handcuff them into coming back to DSC."

In the end, the only pricing issues DSC faces is the Euro to
Dollar exchange rate. Wetta counters that by insisting, "We are
not so focused on being the lowest price because we regard
quality and a safe product as our primary focus, and that's not
always the cheapest option."

Looking Ahead

The dredging business will only be as successful as what the
supply chain - bolstered by public-private partnerships - will
support. Wetta advises, "We can only hope that major
infrastructure projects will be funded to accommodate
post-Panamax ships in our US port systems. I believe we are
moving in the right direction and I think 2017 will be a critical
point to see what the future holds. While the larger dredging
contractors will reap many of the benefits for the deep-water
port expansions, DSC is in the position to provide equipment for
the inland waterways, as well as dredges for coastal restoration
projects."

(As published in the February 2017 edition of
Marine News
)

Mar 2, 2017

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