A ribbon cutting ceremony held on February 20th marked the completion of a new $49.6 million steel and concrete pier project at the U.S. Navy base in Bahrain. The pier, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Middle East District, will enhance the Navy's operational readiness in the region.
Previously, the Navy had been using barges for much of the work on ships that can now be done while docked at the pier. Additionally, larger ships needed to use the commercial port in Bahrain for things that required an extended docking such as a resupply operation. That meant increased security and logistics requirements, greater transit time and an increase in maritime traffic congestion in an already extremely busy port.
"Since the barges had basically become unusable over time, it was extremely important to our Navy partners that we deliver this project as quickly as possible," said Army Capt. Grant Wanamaker, a project manager with the District in Bahrain.
Wanamaker said the Corps of Engineers was able to expedite things using a process called a critical path design. A critical path design is a process in which construction is able to start prior to completion of the entire project design.
"I've really got to give credit to (Naval Facilities Atlantic) regarding design review, with their expertise on ships they really took the lead role and enabled us to get where we needed to be for construction," he said. "In this case, since we were building a pier, there were certain tasks that needed to be accomplished such as inspecting and placing the pylons. We were able to begin that process while working on the designs for other parts of the project such as guard towers and decking. Additionally we were able to utilize the Corps of Engineers Far East District to inspect the pylons which were coming from Korea. Doing this prior to arrival was another way we were able ensure we could meet the Navy's timeframe."
The time frame wasn't the only challenge the District's team faced on the project. They also had to put concrete trucks onto barges to get the concrete where it needed to be. Beyond the engineering challenge this presented, they also had to work around heavy maritime traffic in the area.
"This was a pretty straight forward pier as that type of build goes but it's not something USACE does very often and not something we've executed here before. I'm extremely proud of the work our team has done," said Wanamaker.
Ultimately, the project was completed six months ahead of the original Building Occupancy Date (BOD) schedule and will significantly improve 5th Fleet capabilities.
The commanding officer of Naval Support Activity Bahrain, Navy Capt. Greg Smith, said the pier would greatly improve shore operations for the U.S. Navy and their partners in the region.
"With this pier, we are better able to do our mission to support U.S. and coalition maritime operations throughout the USCENTCOM AOR. We can provide more efficient and effective shore services to the U.S. 5th Fleet and the 31 coalition partners ... we will all work together to enhance stability and ensure the free flow of commerce throughout the region," said Smith.