PORTLAND — A $9 million contract for dredging Portland Harbor has been awarded to a Massachusetts company.

“With so many large ships coming in and out of Portland, it’s absolutely critical to have a navigable harbor,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, who announced that the contract was awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers.

“This planned dredging will ensure that our port is navigable for many years to come, even for the largest ships sailing the seas,” said Portland Mayor Michael Brennan.

The dredging, expected to be completed by next March, will be done by Cashman Dredging and Marine Contracting Co. of Quincy, Mass., under a $9.2 million contract. The work is expected to remove about 700,000 cubic yards of material from the harbor channel, which is supposed to be 35 feet deep.

The channel was last dredged in 1999.

Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority share owner of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.