Nov 15 2019 0

Dredging Pioneer William G. Gahagan: Fair Winds and Following Seas

William G. Gahagan, P.E. passed away on November 14, 2019.  Bill was one month shy of his 90th birthday.  He was born in 1929, in Brooklyn, NY.  Bill is a graduate of Yale University and the graduate engineering program at Stanford University.    He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the time between graduating from Yale and entering Stanford.

Bill Gahagan was a dedicated lifelong pioneer and leader in the dredging industry.  An engineer by schooling and trade, Bill’s family started Gahagan Overseas Construction Company (later the Gahagan Dredging Corporation), becoming a leading international dredging contractor from its origin in 1898.  Gahagan Dredging developed and pioneered the use of spider barges and hydraulic unloaders.

Bill later headed-up Gahagan Dredging where the company was responsible for the dredging of the Apollo Launch Site in Florida, and Newark (NJ), Kennedy (NY), and Logan (Boston) Airports. Gahagan Dredging was known for its innovations in developing equipment and dredging techniques for difficult projects. After a sea change in the industry, Bill became a consultant to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock in 1972.

While working at Gahagan Dredging, Bill met J. Franklin “Frank” Bryant, a veteran of the dredging industry. Frank later started Bryant Engineering and was contacted by Bill in 1974 for a project at Jupiter Island, Florida – a project notable as the first use of a hydraulic cutterhead dredge working in the ocean to renourish a beach. This led to the formation of Gahagan & Bryant Associates, Inc. (GBA) in 1975. It also established a lifelong bond between the two men and a shared belief that to properly design a dredging program, the designing engineers must have “hands-on” field experience in performance of dredging contract work.

Following that philosophy, GBA grew into the largest firm in the United States specializing in dredging and marine-related projects. Clients soon learned that GBA reports were concise, clear and well-focused. A GBA report states, “this is the issue, this is the solution,” and the solutions work. GBA employees are always encouraged to learn the industry and hone their capabilities in the field, collaborating with owner and contractor.

GBA’s success was driven by Bill Gahagan’s ability to provide sound, practical solutions to complicated projects. Once GBA was anchored as an established firm, Bill shifted his focus to mentoring future leaders in the industry. His dedication to the growth and development of engineers is unparalleled; his honorable and selfless contribution to the dredging industry is anchored in history. Within GBA and throughout the dredging industry, many C-level executives, engineers, surveyors, and consultants have positively benefited from Bill Gahagan’s unselfish sharing of knowledge – an inspiration to the best of the best.

William G. Gahagan’s lifetime work may imitated, but it won’t be duplicated.  Well done Bill.  We toll the ship’s bell 89-times for Bill Gahagan to mark the end of his final watch — now rest in peace.  God Bless.

Bill Gahagan married Katharine duPont (Kitten) on November 27, 1953.    They spent the last 32 years in Wilmington, DE and celebrated 66 years of marriage in November.  Bill is survived by his wife, Kitten, sister, Gerli, his 4 sons, their wives and 12 grand children.

A memorial service will be held at Christ Church Christiana Hundred (505 East Buck Road, Wilmington, DE) on Saturday, November 23, at 11 am. A reception will follow the service at The Wilmington Country Club (4825 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE).

### Dredging Contractors of America


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