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Bucket Dredges

The term “bucket dredge” can have different meanings. In Europe, a common type of bucket dredge is the bucket ladder (Figure 1), which excavates the bottom by a chain of buckets that moves around a large pivoting ladder, all in the vertical plane. Material brought to the surface by the buckets is dumped on a chute and falls into hopper barges brought alongside. This type of dredge is virtually unused in the United States except for limited mining applications. Other types of bucket dredges are the dipper dredge, the backhoe, and the dragline, all of which operate like their land-based counterparts (power shovel in the case of the dipper dredge, and all of which usually depend on barges to transport material away from the excavation site.

In the United States, bucket dredge most often means a waterborne version of the terrestrial grab bucket or clamshell crane (Figure 2). Such a dredge can be a specially designed piece of marine equipment. In estuaries, bucket dredges can be used in a variety of situations. They are most often employed for slip, pier, and berthing area maintenance dredging, where the ability to excavate close to structures and to handle debris are important. Bucket dredges are classified by bucket volume, which can range from fractions of a cubic yard to 10, 20, or more. The largest U.S. bucket dredge listed in the 20th annual

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