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Mat Sinking Unit docks after long, extended season

MISSISSIPPI RIVER — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District’s (Corps) Mat Sinking Unit (MSU), has completed an extended mat-sinking season.

This revetment season included a larger than normal program with critical repairs being made to sites damaged as a result of the 2011 historic flood.

During this longer, eight-month, revetment season, the MSU placed 442,786 squares covering approximately 1,018 acres. If these three feet by two feet, three-inch-thick concrete blocks were stacked, they would extend almost 21 miles high.

Mat sinking is not an 8-to-5 job. Employees live and dine on the quarter boats that tie off to the bank near the work area. These men and women work in shifts and perform one of the most important jobs in the Corps of Engineers river stabilization program.

The MSU is the only one of its kind in the world and consists of the Motor Vessel Benyaurd with the quarter boats, the Motor Vessel William James with the mat sinking plant and the Motor Vessel Harrison which all work together to distribute articulated concrete mat squares on the banks of waterways.

These concrete mats assist with the prevention of erosion and protect submerged riverbanks. The scope of work encompasses three Corps’ districts, seven states, and multiple watersheds, and utilizes proven technology in river engineering and operations.

“This was almost like a deployment overseas,” stated Joel Brown, acting chief of the revetment section. “All of the team members are ready to see their friends and families.”

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