This ship fights "stowaways". Waterways rank among our most important transportation routes. They not only allow ships to travel on their surface but carry along plenty of “stowaways” such as sand and sludge.
A huge hopper-dredger in action
For navigable rivers, harbors and channels, these stowaways can pose a problem in places where they settle as sediment. That’s why waterways and shipping authorities regularly use so-called hopper dredgers to remove sand and sludge. A suction head loosens the sediment at the bottom which is then aspirated via a large pipe on board of the dredger, similar to the way a vacuum cleaner works. The solid particles such as sand and sludge are deposited in the dredger’s cargo bay and either returned to the water at a different place or flushed ashore. In the Hamburg harbor, Europe’s third-largest one, alone, a million cubic meters (35 million cubic feet) of sludge and sand accumulate – per month! This is no different in other international seaports such as Rotterdam or Antwerp. The Hamburg Port Authority therefore uses up to three hopper dredgers simultaneously in order to provide the required depth for large container vessels or cruise ships such as the Queen Mary 2.
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