6 July 2012


Vicksburg, Miss……The Corps of Engineers' (Corps) Mat Sinking Unit (MSU), a vital part of the Vicksburg District's workforce, is scheduled to depart Vicksburg on July 9 to begin laying articulated concrete mattress (ACM) squares that will protect submerged river banks in more than 30 locations.

Traditionally, the MSU departs Vicksburg heading northward toward Cairo, Illinois, and works back down the river banks on each job location until work is completed. The scope of work encompasses four Corps' districts, seven states, and multiple watersheds, and utilizes the latest technology in river engineering and operations. This year the mission will occur as far north as Cairo, Illinois, river mile 958, and as far south as Tropical Bend, Louisiana, river mile 30, on the Lower Mississippi River. This will require the MSU to travel over 928 miles during the season to complete its mission. The ACM will form a protective overcoat to shield the riverbank from erosion and sloughing to maintain the channel alignment and stability.

Normally, the work is performed during the low-water months that begin the latter part of July and end in November, depending on the amount of squares to be placed. The 2012 season will employee 300 personnel and continue until February 2013 unless conditions become unfavorable. This is a larger than normal program that will include critical repairs to sites damaged as a result of the historic 2011 flood, which also limited the amount of work that could be performed. This season's plans are to place 384,088 concrete squares total, which is equivalent to 576,132 tons of concrete and 17 miles of concrete that is four feet wide.

The MSU performs one of the most important missions in the Corps' river stabilization program. This mission in conjunction with dredging is vital to the Corps larger effort to restore the third largest watershed in the world following the historic flood of 2011. The Mississippi Valley Division received approximately $1 billion dollars under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of fiscal year 2012 to repair and restore the Mississippi River and Tributaries system. These repairs are critical to efficiently and effectively restore safety, security, and productivity to Mississippi River valley citizens.

The District's River Operations Branch of the Operations Division is responsible for channel improvement, dredging, and navigation activities on the Lower Mississippi, Red and Ouachita/Black Rivers. A short video of the MSU at work can be viewed by visiting the Vicksburg District website ( and clicking the YouTube link on the left of the page.