On the Road Again: LTG Semonite at Lock and Dam 12

[Music] Hello I’m Lieutenant General Todd Semonite,
54th chief of engineers, and we’re on the road again. Today we’re actually on the
river, the Mississippi River, with Colonel Steve Sattinger the commander of the Rock
Island District. Steve, we’re out here at Lock and Dam number 12. You have several
locks and dams, but we’re right in the middle of a very very critical
replacement of one of the miter gates. So what I want you to do is explain a
little bit about what do you have in navigation requirements in your district
and maybe, if you could, introduce this concept of some degree of
standardization in the locks and dams COL Sattinger: Yes, sir. So in the Rock Island District
we have 12 locks and dams on the Mississippi River and another 8 locks
and dams on the Illinois River. These miter gates are the critical component
that opens and closes so we can pass navigation through. They’re old, and they
needed to be replaced. Rock Island District has some amazing
structural engineers and folks in the operations division who, about five years
ago, decided we need to replace these 80-year-old pieces of equipment and they
got together and decided there’s a way to do it better than we’ve done in the
past. They standardized the components. They made them easy to replace.
They used bolts instead of welds. They used the same bottom and top sills that
are the same up and down the river to make it easier to design, easier to do
the maintenance on. And we’ve, over the last five years, bought enough miter
gates to do complete changes up and down the river. Today in Bellevue, Iowa, lock
and dam 12, like the general said, we’ve done three out of the four gates so far.
Tomorrow they’ll do the last gate here and this lock and dam will be ready for the
next 40 years to pass traffic safely and efficiently LTG Semonite: So, Steve, when we built this system
I mean a lot of these gates are almost custom designed for all these individual
locks and dams. We just don’t have enough money to be able to have every single
lock have its own individual gate so this idea of standardization now, there’s
still a couple of different designs but you now have more flexibility so you
can stretch your O&M dollars to be able to make this happen. You talk about O&M and
the guy that’s right in the middle of this, I was just with, this is Tom
Heinold. He’s a head of operations. Tom just with your guys an amazing crew you have
in ops and we’re also on what’s called the heavy lift unit here. We’ve got
about 40 guys. They’re all in. Very passionate about their work. Can you
just to kind of describe point out what is the old gate, what’s a new gate and
maybe some of the challenges with doing this replacement. Heinold: Roger, sir. So you see this
old gate behind me obviously has been in the water for eighty-four years. It’s
been rehabilitated along the way a couple of times but it’s just too old
and it’s got fatigued components. The skin plates have section loss. It just
can’t function for us anymore so we’re taking it out of the water and replacing
it with a brand new miter gate. We’ve got a great crew here. Operations has the
in-house support, heavy lift crane assets that don’t exist on the economy.
We’ve got welders, tow boat operators, deckhands, mechanics, machinists, every
discipline you can imagine to make this all come together so that we can
continue the nation’s economy. This is the nation’s bread basket. We feed the
world from right here in the Upper Midwest. This avenue on the river
here is critically important to our economy and these gates
are what make that possible. LTG Semonite: And the other thing is you only have one
lock here, so it’s a single point of failure. If you have one of these old old
gates break you might have barges stacked up for three or four weeks. Is that right? Heinold: That’s right, sir. The instances of unscheduled outages are increasing and
this is a way to get them to decrease. The reliability of the system here will
be reset as a result of the work that’s going on today. And you’re right, we don’t
have a detour if one of these gates fails, a queue builds and the navigation
industry, the corn, the soybeans, the steel with coal, everything else, the aggregates,
everything else that ships on this river that makes our economy tick is at a
complete standstill. LTG Semonite: The other thing is, and this is how
innovative you guys are, behind over here this gray gate, this is an old one that
you actually took back to your yard and you rehab’d and you bring it back.
But now, not only do we have that capability, but we’re actually bringing a
brand-new gate that’s coming in, lot stronger, better designed, and really
allows us to have a lot more resiliency in the system I would just end by saying what an amazing team
we have. I was just up in the crane and just the passion of him, the entire heavy lift
unit, everybody here on lock and dam number 12, to be able to make sure that we
are keeping this economy going. We’re keeping this river moving, even in some
unbelievably historic years of high water. So, Tom, thanks for an amazing job. Very well done. Steve, great job with this district. Just
want to tell all of you in the Corps, be proud of our guys out there with the
muddiest boots in the Corps. These guys work tirelessly every single day and are
out here making sure that they’re really keeping the army strong, keeping
building strong, keeping these river systems going. So from lock and dam number 12, Rock
Island District, Lieutenant General Todd Semonite on the road again

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