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Thompson Engineering

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2013 Engineering Excellence

Austal Cove Reclamation,
Bulkhead & Yard Facilities

Austal USA  |  Mobile, Alabama

Before expanding Austal’s shipbuilding capabilities with a new assembly facility, Thompson Engineering was contracted to create stable and workable land areas next to and beneath the proposed facility with an initiative known as the Austal Cove Reclamation. This previously undeveloped site was an open water cove, with extremely soft river sediments. Thompson designed and built a new bulkhead and reclaimed the area for heavily-loaded, shipyard surface operations. The design and construction was complicated by the location of historic Bankhead Tunnel, completed in 1940, which runs through and under the middle of the entire shipyard facility at this site. Thompson’s marine and geotechnical design expertise was required in many facets including the use of specialized ground improvement technology for the underlying weak sediments; below-water bracing systems for the marine retaining walls adjacent to the tunnel; long span pre-stressed concrete girders; and high-capacity bridge spans supported on a combined pipe/sheet pile wall system designed to withstand heavy shipyard operations, while assuring that no additional loading will be applied to the tunnel. This technically-challenging project has been integral in adding increased operational capability to this Mobile company, helping further catapult Austal into a leading position in the shipbuilding industry, creating new jobs for Gulf Coast region and advanced ships for the U.S. military.