12 July, 2012

Neoteric hovercraft excels in Pelican Island coastal restoration project

One of the most notable features of a hovercraft is that it can access areas other vehicles can’t reach … and the Neoteric hovercraft’s reverse thrust amplifies this capability. That’s the reason a Neoteric craft was selected for use in a major environmental restoration project in the Barrier Islands off the coast of Louisiana.

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. (GLDD), the largest provider of dredging services in the U.S., is using a 4-passenger Neoteric Hovertrek for survey work in the restoration of beach, dune and marsh on Pelican Island, a key barrier island. The project will create more than 580 acres and nearly 3 miles of new dunes and marshland. Pelican Island is crucial for protecting Louisiana citizens and property against storm surges and the area is also one of America’s richest fisheries.

GLDD Site Engineer Michael Patria learns to pilot the hovercraft near Joshua's Marina in Buras, Louisiana while Neoteric President Chris Fitzgerald provides constant instruction from the rear seat through wireless headsets.
The importance of this project cannot be overstated: it will help combat one of the highest rates of wetlands loss in the world. As Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond states, If one block of New York City disappeared every hour, the nation would be outraged. Well, Louisiana loses a football field of wetlands every hour, which is crippling to the state and the nation. It affects our seafood supply, gas and oil reserves, and storm protection. Reversing this trend is a critical national priority.”

In its very first survey mission, GLDD’s new Hovertrek proved its worth in this critical project. Just days after undergoing pilot training, Site Engineer Michael Patria reported to Neoteric, “Today we used the hovercraft to do a survey that we conduct every Sunday. This process usually takes the better part of a day because we must take measurements at points scattered throughout the entire island. No single machine we possess can get to some of the locations and transporting machinery back and forth takes several hours in itself. With the assistance of the hovercraft, we were able to fully complete this survey in just under an hour and we predict, with practice, we will be able to do it even faster!”

Employees from Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. receive their Class 3 Standard hovercraft pilot certification from instructors Chris Fitzgerald and Steve Stafford. From left: instructor Steve Stafford, operator Jesus Espinoza, instructor Chris Fitzgerald, and Site Engineer Michael Patria.