Dredging is the process of removing sediment from the bottom of the river within the navigation channel and placing it somewhere outside the channel. The Dredge Potter is a dustpan dredge. The dustpan head is submerged toward the river bottom and water jets stir up the sand gravel on the bottom of the river. This material is then vacuumed up and flows through 800 feet of pipe to be discharged somewhere outside the channel.
Named after Brig. Gen. Charles Lewis Potter, an engineer for the Memphis District from 1900 to 1903, and then President of the Mississippi River Commission from 1920-1928, the Dredge Potter was built in 1932 by Dravo contracting Co. in Pittsburg, PA at a cost of $520,000.
The "Potter" was originally assigned to the Memphis District and was transferred to St. Louis in 1979. In 2001, it was converted from steam to diesel for $20M by Halter Gult Repair in New Orleans, LA.
No major updates to Potter's deckhouse had been done since its original all-riveted steel construction in 1932. This project consisted of removing the original deckhouse fromt the upper deck above, including the pilothouse and installing new deckhouse sections and a new fully-outfitted pilothouse. The dredge pump was replaced, the existing air controls from the hauling and dredging ladder hoisting winches were replaced with electrical controls. The Potter arrived in Hauma, La., on January 1st to be "refitted" and returned to St. Louis District on August 17th.
The Dredge Potter has a total of 50 employees, all separated into three waches: A, B, and C watches. Everyone works 12 hour shifts and there are two crew member in at all times, 24 hours a day. There is one First Mate and three Second Mates. Hour Deckhands are on watch at all times. There are 6 galley (kitchen) employees, 3 tender boat operators, and 11 engine room personnel. There are 3 Dredge Engine operators, 2 on 24/7 and one for the night shift watch. The normal shift is from 6AM to 6PM and from 6PM to 6AM