The Army Corps of Engineers Marine Design Center (MDC) will soon release a sources sought notice for the construction of a 188'x74'x10' deck barge for its Mat Sinking Unit (MSU) located on the Mississippi River. The mat boat is to be built to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) Rules for Service on Rivers and Intracoastal Waterways.

The sources sought notice is only for the construction of the barge, shown in Figure B, and not for the final product which incorporates a government furnished robotics package shown in Figure A. The sources sought notice will be released on the website.

In 2015, Bristol Harbor Group Inc. (BHGI) was tasked by the Corps to design, size, and specify details for the new mat boat, mat assembly process and mat placement process. BHGI first visited the MSU to gain a better understanding of its current operations. The MSU's purpose is to lay a protective overcoat of concrete mats to shield the riverbank from erosion and sloughing. The Corps' goal is to minimize the environmental impact and improve the safety of its personnel who operate the MSU by incorporating automated technology.

Bristol Harbor Group rendering

In 2017, BHGI was subcontracted by SIA Solutions LLC (SIA) to execute the detailed design of the Mat Boat. BHGI has been coordinating with the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) at Carnegie Mellon University, who is responsible for the design and engineering of the robotic system on the mat boat, to ensure that the structure for the mat deck can incorporate the robotics they are designing and the weights are updated accordingly.

BHGI is a full-service naval architecture, marine engineering and consulting firm located in Bristol, R.I.

SIA is a professional services engineering and consulting firm specializing in program and project specific solutions in environmental consulting, engineering, radiological services, infrastructure asset management, public-private partnerships (P3/P4), energy, and water resources.

The NREC is an operating unit within Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, the world’s largest robotics research and development organization. NREC works closely with government and industry clients to develop and mature robotics technologies from concept to commercialization.


Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.