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Flagships of the MRC

The vessels which have served as the Mississippi always pulled “double duty” serving both as a Corps work vessel and as the MRC’s river inspection vessel and public meeting venue. During the traditional high-water and low-water seasons each spring and summer, the members of the MRC conduct inspection trips and public meetings aboard the Mississippi at various locations along the length of the Mississippi River.

These gatherings enable the public to bring their views and concerns before the MRC in an open forum and give interested parties a greater voice in shaping federal policy.

The Mississippi


The first Mississippi was a paddle-wheel steamer built in St. Louis in 1882. In April of that year—just after a devastating spring flood—the vessel hosted the Mississippi River Commission (MRC) on its first inspection tour. Struck by fire in 1893, the vessel was repaired and remained in service. The vessel hosted President Theodore Roosevelt on a 1907 tour, and President William Howard Taft took passage in 1909. By 1919 the Commission decided to retire the aging steamer and began outfitting another vessel for inspection service. The Corps rebuilt Mississippi for towboat service and renamed the vessel Piomingo.

The Steamer Mississippi II


The Steamer Mississippi II was built in 1899 as the dredge tender Leota. She was noted for her trim lines and great speed– qualities that would serve the MRC well. The MRC acquired the paddle-wheel steamer in 1920 and sent it to New Orleans, where workers razed the hull and installed new boilers. Shortly thereafter the Mississippi II entered service with the MRC. The vessel’s machinery, however, proved unworkable, and in 1926 the MRC ordered a new steamer to be constructed.

The Mississippi III


Built new in 1926, the Mississippi III steamer was commissioned in 1927. The vessel was built from the keel up and included new boilers and machinery. The cabin—crucial space for the MRC’s inspection tours—was salvaged from Mississippi II and installed over the new hull. Rudder and deck modifications improved the vessel’s capacity as a towboat. The Texas-deck steamer had once been the most powerful of those operating on the Mississippi River and helped sustain the colorful traditions and background of the golden age of steamboats on the river.

The M/V Mississippi IV


Mississippi IV was the first diesel-powered vessel to serve the MRC and signaled the end of steam power on the river. Specifically designed and built to meet the needs of the Corps and the MRC, Mississippi IV provided an immense amount of power, towing capacity, and suitable space for public meetings and inspection trips. Nicknamed “Big Shaky” due to strong vibrations felt throughout the vessel, she was built with a steel superstructure and powered by two 8-cylinder Nordberg engines, each capable of developing 1,860 horsepower. Adjustable-pitch propellers greatly improved her maneuverability in treacherous river currents.

The Mississippi V


The  Mississippi V is the current flagship and inspection vessel for the MRC, hosting members of the community during spring high-water meetings and late summer low-water meetings. The Mississippi V also serves as one of the most powerful workboats for the Corps.  Approximately 90 percent of the year she can be found working along the Mississippi River and throughout the Mississippi Valley watershed in service to the Corps, and in support of its mat sinking operations.