The dredging industry is a high tech, innovative maritime profession, comprised of a well-educated workforce of scientists, engineers and trained crews. It includes large, medium and small dredging companies, supported by shipbuilders and other equipment and technology suppliers.
Local, regional, national or international
Dredging contractors may be local, regional, national or international companies. They may be privately owned corporations, family-owned enterprises or government-owned organisations or a combination of these.
Smaller, more straightforward projects are often carried out by local and regional contractors with very specific types of equipment suited to their regions.
Large projects, such as land reclamation, canal and port development, and offshore energy projects, usually involve the major international contractors, from Europe and Asia, which have large and varied vessels and state-of-the-art equipment, which give them better capacity to tackle these challenges. Almost all large maritime infrastructure contracts, which are most often proposed by government and port authorities, require competitive bidding through strictly regulated tenders.
Innovations in dredging vessels and other equipment are a prerequisite for an industry that is highly specialised. Attention to environment is part of every project and pre-, adaptive and post-monitoring have become industry standards.
The dredging industry is also guided by national and international safety regulations. Safety standards in the major international companies are constantly scrutinised to ensure a reduction in incidents and accidents.
Very large jobs, sometimes called “mega-projects”, may demand that major contractors join forces in consortia or joint ventures in order to supply adequate dredging vessels and auxiliary equipment. Since dredging equipment involves expensive capital investment, specially trained operators and logistical support, as well as experienced project managers, are crucial.
Private vs public companies
Government-owned and -operated dredging fleets still exist in many maritime nations, although the support of the private dredging industry is often enlisted as well. More and more for major dredging works, dredging companies are operating as the main contractors and are responsible for hiring subcontractors to carry out specific parts of the total construction. Today’s dredging industry is an indispensable component of all major maritime infrastructure projects.