Embracing Innovation as a Means to Providing Best Value in Vessel Berthing

floating platform

This innovative berthing solution for mid-sized bulk carries provided the client with a best value alternative to the original design concept.

Bellingham Marine’s company strategy is fairly simple; provide each client with a solution that provides the best value for their specific project and criteria. In order to find a balance between price and performance, each project must be looked at through its own unique lens. The company relies heavily upon the expertise of its employees, its experience in the industry, and its network of outside professionals to provide each client with a best value option.

Innovation is embraced as a means to achieve “best value” rather than a goal in and of itself. It is this focus on value and ability to provide innovative solutions that allows Bellingham Marine to excel in its niche market and to be comfortable and successful in taking on unique, one-off projects.

In 2013, Bellingham Marine was approached by a major supplier of high quality construction aggregates. The company was looking for an innovative solution for mooring its Panamax bulk carriers at its new import terminal at the Port of Long Beach in California. The existing berth structures at the site were designed for barges and would not work for what the company needed. They needed a solution that would allow them to moor mid-sized bulk carries and support an efficient off-loading operation.

The company had envisioned a berthing system comprised of two stiff leg, dual purpose moorings. The legs would be used to position the carriers as well as provide infrastructure for discharging the vessel’s aggregate material to an upland hopper.

The company wanted a solution that was straight forward, easy to construct, cost effective, and would support a vessel discharge system. A floating option was of particular interest because of the benefits associated with not having to drive pile at the site (no bottom disturbance, no pile driving rig, easier permitting, etc…).

Bellingham Marine was approached to determine if a concrete float option could be utilized to support the massive stiff leg moorings. The Bellingham team provided a value engineered solution capable of handling the extreme load requirements placed on the berthing structure by the cargo vessels as well as the weight of the stiff leg structure.

A decision was made by the company to utilize Bellingham Marine’s concrete floating platform. The innovative concrete buoyancy float design proved to provide far greater value than the steel tanks originally specified in the concept design. Bellingham’s concrete option required less maintenance, had a longer estimated service life and was less expensive – a true best value solution for this client.

The floating concrete platforms, designed by the Bellingham Marine team for the project, are approximately 60 feet in length, weigh over 180,000 pounds and provide over three feet of freeboard. Each platform is constructed from three, match-cast, post tensioned, heavily reinforced modules. The stiff leg structure is mounted to the top of the platform, which serves as a solid foundation for the discharge system and provides a stable berthing area for the vessel.

The success of the project described above was a win for the client, a win for Bellingham Marine and a win for the industry. The innovation of the design offers a glimpse at the possibilities that exist for others looking for best value options for berthing of large commercial vessels.