The Delaware River Creeper

“Sea monster wows crowds along the Delaware River”, screamed the headlines of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Sure enough the Loch Ness Monster was taking a sabbatical, we thought. Taking advantage of the declining U.S. dollar, naturally, like so many other foreign visitors.

Nope. It wasn’t Nessie after all. It was none other than the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), affectionately known as “Big John”.

But hold on just a minute. How in the world did an 85,000-ton vessel navigate such a shallow channel? Isn’t this the same Delaware River that needs a $ 300 million dredging job in order to accommodate container ships? Isn’t this the same channel that highly-paid “maritime consultants” have pronounced to be too shallow for the passage of sizeable sea-going vessels?

Did any misled stevedore clients raise their eyebrows when the USS New Jersey (BB-62) arrived at its berth in Camden? Were there any questions from those stevedore clients when the SS United States, the “Big U”, arrived at its berth at Pier 82? And now, with great fanfare, “Big John” has arrived. This should really confuse the good folks who work the docks in Philadelphia.

These aren’t little sailboats we’re talking about here. These are floating cities. These are vessels every bit as long, tall and deep as the largest container ship afloat. More so, in fact. And unlike container ships, they’re not simply “boxships”. These vessels are some of the most complicated and sophisticated machines ever built, and yet they managed to transit the undredged Delaware.

We’ve been told by highly-paid authorities that until taxpayers fund the removal of about 90,000 acres of 4-foot deep silt from the river and arrange to dump that sludge throughout the state of Pennsylvania, such passage is simply not possible.

It’s true that the passage of mega-ships in the Delaware isn’t possible, but not because these ships are too big. It’s because there’s no reason for these ships to make the trip. There are no calls for mega amounts of container cargo so why utilize mega-ships? Moderate amounts of cargo, yes, and mid-size container ships make regular calls to the port delivering what consumers require.

Like that “Dredging = Jobs” slogan that’s posted, everything being said about the proposed dredging project is hogwash. Everything, that is, except the statement offered by the Delaware River Keeper, one of the few knowledgeable people concerned with the issue. We’ve printed it a number of times, so here it is again. She said: “Anytime someone has taken a truly objective look or review of this project, in every instance they come out against it. That’s why I can tell you that those who are supporting this project either don’t know what they are talking about or they are lying.”

But because those folks wouldn’t lie, it’s obvious that they don’t know what they’re talking about.

[Right about now those stevedore clients should be looking for a refund.]