Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Panama City, Fla., held the keel laying for the 356'x79'6"x27'3" R.B. Weeks on Sept. 11. The R.B. Weeks is a new trailing suction hopper dredge for Weeks Marine Inc. (WMI), Covington, La. The  contract to build the dredge was awarded five months ago.

Steel cutting began on Aug. 19 at Eastern’s Allanton shipyard. It will be the shipyard’s second trailing suction hopper dredge project for Weeks Marine. The Magdalen was delivered back in December 2017.

Designed by Royal IHC, the new dredge will have a hopper capacity of 8,550 cu. yds. Main propulsion will come from twin GE 16V250 MDC Tier 4 diesel engines connected to Wärtsilä CPP in nozzles through Siemens marine gears. For additional maneuverability, the new dredge will feature an AC 730-kW VFD fixed pitch tunnel unit bowthruster. Ship’s service power will come from two 3,400-kW main shaft generators, a GE 6L250 MDC 1,423-kW auxillary generator, and a Caterpillar C18 powered 430-kW emergency generator.

The R.B. Weeks, which will have accommodations for 26, is scheduled for delivery in early 2023. It will be Lloyd’s Register classed, Maltese Cross A1 Hopper Dredge, Maltese Cross LMC, UMS and USCG certified.

The new project reflects Eastern’s commitment to building complex dredge vessels for the U.S. Jones Act maritime industry and secures its long history of being a successful diversified U.S. shipbuilder supporting new and repeat customers, shipyard officials said.

The R.B. Weeks is named for Richard B. Weeks, a co-founder of Weeks Marine and husband of Magdalen Weeks, the namesake of the previous sister vessel.


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.