DARE COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — Dare County officials and watermen are celebrating the recent arrival of a dredging ship that will be used by the county, Miss Katie.

The vessel arrived in its new homeport of Wanchese on Friday, August 19.

The Dare County Board of Commissioners first approved the contract for construction of the shallow-draft hopper dredge back in May 2019 and North Carolina legislators allocated $15 million from the Shallow Draft Navigation Channel Dredging and Aquatic Weed Fund to help buy it.

“The completion of Miss Katie and her long-awaited arrival here on the Outer Banks is a historic moment and will be a game-changer for watermen in Dare County,” said Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard. “Commercial and recreational fishing are not just enormous economic drivers in our community; they’ve also been a way of life for thousands of folks here in Dare County for generations. It’s absolutely critical that we have the resources in place to properly dredge our channels and inlets that these watermen depend on as their highway to get to work every day—and thanks to the county’s partnership with EJE Dredging and the arrival of Miss Katie, we’ll be much better equipped to do just that.”

The 156-foot dredge had been under construction at Conrad Shipyard in Louisiana since March 2021. It will be owned and operated through public-private partner EJE Dredging Service, which is based in Greenville, North Carolina.

“With the arrival of the Miss Katie, we look forward to providing an open and navigable channel for the waterways in the region,” said Jordan Hennessy, vice president of EJE Dredging Service. “The Miss Katie has been specifically developed and designed to ensure she will be able to safely navigate the channels and inlets of North Carolina. The split-hull configuration will allow spoil discharge in shallow waters, thus preventing the vessel from grounding on her own hopper load.”

Miss Katie will start dredging operations after a Coast Guard inspection.