On 21 January 2011 a new 30,000m3 trailing suction hopper dredger and sand carrier took to the water at the IHC Merwede shipyard in Krimpen aan den IJssel In the Netherlands. Built for the Belgian group DEME (Dredging, Environmental and Marine Engineering), the 10,100gt, 40,590dwt vessel was named at a formal ceremony in Zeebrugge on 8 July and commissioned shortly afterwards.

Congo River is a multi-functional ship, very manoeuvrable because of her large width (38m) and short length (168m) and capable of deployment for various purposes. With a fully-loaded draught of 12m, the vessel is ideal for operations in ports, entrances and navigation channels, beach nourishment and all types of land reclamation. She is also suitable for long distance transport of sand and aggregates. Her deep suction can dredge to depths of over 100m.

On 15 July Congo River was working off Clacton-on-Sea when she sucked in a 2,000lb mine which had to be freed so that the Royal Navy could detonate it. The mine broke away in bad weather and the Navy divers had to be brought to shore by the Walton and Frinton lifeboat.