Vessel’s namesake, Sanderford, ‘a people person’|[3/16/06]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 16, 2006

A replacement boat in a critical dredging tandem has officially been named in honor of a man who was devoted to duty, friends and co-workers said.

The Sanderford, a new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredge-tender tow named after the late Vicksburg District dredge master W.A. Sanderford, was commissioned in a ceremony Wednesday morning at the Vicksburg harbor.

The Sanderford replaced the Wailes, the tender of a team that had worked together on the Mississippi River since 1935.

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The tender supports the dredge Jadwin, one of three dredges of its kind and five overall that work the Mississippi River, Vicksburg District chief of river operations Jerry Stewart said. Dredges scour the river bottom to keep channels deep enough for navigation and also work along banklines where revetments are placed.

W.A. Sanderford worked on the Jadwin team for 21 years, the last 11 as its master.

Among the speakers at Wednesday’s ceremony was the District’s river-operations chief when Sanderford ran the Jadwin, Louis Logue.

Logue described Sanderford as &#8220a people person” who was &#8220easy to make friends with.”

&#8220The worst thing that could happen to W.A. was, when you go out, to break down,” Logue said. &#8220That just was not acceptable.”

Sanderford’s widow, Loretta, and son Thomas, both of Redwood, were among about 40 family members and 150 people at the ceremony. They helped break a bottle of champagne – protected by a cloth bag – on the new vessel.

Thomas Sanderford, who himself is a retired District employee, said the family found out about a year and a half ago that a proposal to name the new boat after his late father had been made.

&#8220It’s a super, super honor,” Sanderford said of the Corps’ naming decision. &#8220Words can’t describe it.”

Sanderford said it was especially fitting that the new boat would be run by some of the men his father worked with.

W.A. Sanderford’s co-workers on the Jadwin team were like a second family to him and he always acknowledged them when accepting awards, Thomas Sanderford said.

&#8220I accept it on behalf of my men,” Thomas Sanderford said his father would say when accepting awards.

The new boat has 770 horsepower, about twice as much as the Wailes, Stewart said. It is slightly wider but the same length as the Wailes, Stewart said.

Among a dredge-tender’s duties are to help dredges set their anchors and maneuver the pipe through which dredged material is discharged.

The Wailes can work in shallower waters than the Sanderford and it will be transferred to the Corps’ Tulsa District to be used near locks and dams on the Arkansas River, Stewart said.

The Sanderford cost about $2.9 million. With it, the Vicksburg District has seven boats, Stewart said. Four, including the Sanderford, are based in Vicksburg and three travel with the Mat Sinking Unit, which lays concrete mats to control riverbank-erosion.

The Jadwin was built in 1933 and dredges using a suction head to vacuum and displace sand and silt that has accumulated on the river floor. Other dredges are used for different kinds of soils, such as clays, Stewart added.

&#8220If the Jadwin and the Sanderford didn’t perform the missions that they perform then the Mississippi River would not be a navigable channel,” Stewart said.

One of the boats that supports the MSU, the Lipscomb, is scheduled to be replaced in 2007.

The last commissioning ceremony for a new Vicksburg District boat was held in 1994, public-information officer Michael Logue said.

The Corps planned to replace the Wailes in the 1980s, but when the boat that was to replace it arrived it was found unsuitable for the tandem’s operations in the water-depth in which it was to operate, Stewart said. That boat was given a more-suitable mission, with the Corps’ Memphis District, he added.

The Jadwin was refitted and its engines were converted in 1985 for less than $10 million, Corps information says. The replacement cost for a similar boat could run nearly $40 million, it adds.

Stewart said the Jadwin dredged 6.2 million cubic yards of material last year.