CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (January 2013) - Building strong in support of the nation requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District to rely on the talents of highly-skilled employees to execute its mission of keeping America’s waterways open for navigation and commerce.
When engineers must measure the depth of Texas’ shipping channels to determine when waterways need to be dredged, the USACE Galveston District calls on Corpus Christi Resident Office Boat Operator Thomas Dyckman to pilot the vessel Launch Vannoy in support of hydrographic surveying – a job he does not take lightly.
"While I’m conducting hydrographic surveying, I monitor vessel traffic, communications equipment, the main engine and the generator gauges on the boat," said Dyckman. "My typical daily routine includes planning my mission, conducting safety and maintenance checks and then piloting the boat to the work site"
Dyckman, who is currently working on the Corpus Christi Ship Channel dredging project - the sixth busiest port in the United States, explained his involvement in the project and discussed the critical need for the shipping channel to remain navigable so that commerce can continue to flow.
"I’m very glad knowing that I’m involved in operations that keep our shipping channels open to commercial traffic," said Dyckman. "I have the satisfaction of knowing that what I do is important."
In addition to piloting the vessel for surveying work, Dyckman is on standby to check the clearance of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel and for emergency or hurricane situations.
"My primary role as a boat operator is the safety of the crew and passengers, the protection of property and completing the mission," said Dyckman. "In addition to operating the Launch Vannoy, I’m also responsible for maintenance and repairs on the vessel."
As a prior member of a sea service, it thrills Dyckman to still be working on the water.
"I like being on or near the water at all times," said Dyckman. "When I served in the Coast Guard I operated boats and I’m happy I can continue to do that with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."
Over his seven years of service to the Corps, Dyckman has many memorable moments. However, one series of events stands out in particular.
"While the Launch Vannoy was being built in Arkansas I was able to observe the construction of the boat," said Dyckman. "I even had some input on the design and the inside layout. As you can imagine, being present at the christening of the Launch Vannoy was a special day for me."
Dyckman earned a 100-ton U.S. Merchant Mariner’s Credential and despite his years of experience piloting vessels, he continues to learn more about his profession daily.
"I’m always trying to keep up and expand my knowledge of my field," said Dyckman. "Additionally, I also try to learn about the jobs of my co-workers."
When Dyckman’s not working on the water he enjoys boating, fishing, jet-ski racing and playing softball.