Today on August 12, 2019 at its repair facility in Houma, Louisiana, dredging and marine construction contractor Weeks Marine celebrated its 100thanniversary with the christening of its newest asset – the highly automated and multifunctional ocean-going U.S.-flag hydraulic cutter suction dredge J.S. Chatry. The team that created the CR McCaskill and the Magdalen has now constructed the next generation in cutter suction dredges for the U.S. Jones Act fleet.
The day began as family and friends joined colleagues and special guests in touring the J.S. Chatry, marveling at her physical design and learning about her operational capabilities. Named after J. Stephen Chatry, Senior Vice President and Manager of Weeks Marine’s Dredging Division, the 30-inch cutter suction dredge has five fuel-efficient GE Tier IV diesel engines that have a total installed power of 22,264 hp minimizing the amount of diesel needed to pump long distances, a 3,000 hp electric motor capable of producing 600,000 foot-pound of torque for the 8.5 ft. cutterhead, and 337,000 gallons in fuel tank capacity and quarters for fifty-two crew members, which allow the J.S. Chatry to work in remote locations for long durations without refueling. An advanced walking spud carriage system is another technological enhancement, one that that will permit forward movement and repositioning with little downtime.
“With the U.S. dredging industry amidst a $1.5 billion capital investment campaign, the J.S. Chatry is a welcomed asset to the fleet, and it’s a prime example of how industry is aggressively building to meet the current and future dredging needs of the Nation,” says Michael Gerhardt, Vice President at the Dredging Contractors of America.
A formal program followed the tours with introductory remarks by Weeks Marine President Eric Ellefsen, who spoke about Stephen Chatry’s contributions to the company over the twenty-one years since the acquisition of TL James. “His steady leadership has been the key to the Weeks Dredging Division’s growth over the last two decades,” said Ellefsen.
State Senator Norbert (Norby) Chabert welcomed the J.S. Chatry to the Louisiana dredging market, stating “its advanced production capabilities will be cost-effective for taxpayers and the nation,” while Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Chairman Chip Kline welcomed the J.S. Chatry and other future industry investments to meet the growing environmental restoration needs of the state, pleased to hear that its first project will be in the Mississippi River at the Hopper Dredge Disposal Area.
Richard Balzano, Deputy Maritime Administrator at the U.S. Maritime Administration, pointed to the hundreds of direct and indirect Jones Act jobs and thousands of Jones Act labor hours that were responsible for building the J.S. Chatry, stressing…
“the U.S.-flag maritime industry is thriving today, due in part to the creativity, leadership, and entrepreneurial spirit of companies like Weeks Marine and all its partners.”
As Weeks Marine has forged ahead for four generations, it has always promoted and sustained family values at its core. Humbled by the day’s honor, Stephen Chatry attributed his successful path to these principles upheld and practiced by the Weeks Family and expressly thanked Richard N. (Dick) Weeks for making him feel part of the team early in his career.
“Weeks Marine embodies family in every sense of the word,” said Stephen. He continued, “I wish I could paint so many of my colleagues’ names on this dredge. Everything we do here is a team effort.”
CEO Richard S. (Rich) Weeks took the stage, giving a tip-of-the-hat to his father Dick for being the mainstay of Weeks Marine during its first hundred years and for laying a sound foundation for the next hundred. He thanked Weeks’ many partners and suppliers that helped make the J.S. Chatry a reality. They include C&C Marine, IHC, Mobile Pulley, Cummins Mid-South, Meyers Marine, AVID Controls, PDI, MINO Naval Architects, and many others. Rich closed by thanking Stephen for his twenty-one years of service to Weeks Marine and for helping the company achieve sustainable growth.
Everyone then moved outside and watched Stephen’s daughter Amanda Chatry graciously brake a bottle of champagne over the red 8.5 ft. cutterhead.