For this edition of Dredging data, DPC has analysed the average age of dredger vessels in service by place of build. The workhorses of shipping bring it to a combined average age of 26 years per vessel overall
In January 2020, what is claimed to be the oldest working cutter suction dredger (CSD), the Panama Canal Authority’s 77-year-old Mindi sank off Balboa. The fact that Mindi was on its way to a new owner to carry on working illustrates that age is just a number in the dredging world.
Looking at the rest of the CSD fleet, however, the average age is 15 years, making these vessels, together with the water injection dredgers, the youngest among the dredger fleet.
So, while some dredgers stay in service for a long time, the industry also knows when to abandon ship. Due to high maintenance costs and its many anchors that don’t find a place in busy shipping lanes, the mechanical bucket ladder type is being phased out, with some of the remaining vessels outliving their countries of build.
This type leads the age table with 42 years on average, followed by trailing suction hopper dredgers with 41, and grab hopper dredgers with 37 years.