The underlying assumption for CONCEPT 1 is that the target port will either be degraded in some way so it needs repair and reconstruction, or, it does not have the facilities needed and is therefore in need of augmentation.
This post looks at some of the equipment that might be needed to repair facilities and remove debris.
Like the previous post, it is important to appreciate the difference between civilian maritime salvage, port construction and rehabilitation and what would be both possible and desirable with CONCEPT 1. It is not to repair or augment a port in general terms but only to do so to a level that is desired of the operation, follow on repair and augmentation is the job of civilian agencies, governments and contractors.
This will influence both the ‘how much’ and ‘how’
The two constraining factors of what is feasible are what equipment is in service and if new equipment is obtained, what can be deployed in a reasonable time with the likely means of transport.
To understand requirements it would be useful to understand the types of damage, debris and repair requirements, define repair tasks and equipment/skills needed.
Sunken ships and Barges
This represent the most significant removal challenge because of their sheer size and weight. They could have sunk due to a number of factors but combat is a likely cause.
And the end result
To move them would require heavy lift sheer leg crane barges as shown below
When trying to move these in order to free up berthing space a couple of simple truths apply, big chunks need big cranes and small chunks need smaller cranes but more time spent cutting.
Speed therefore means large barge cranes, but these are not in service and would take a long time to deploy if they were. Cutting equipment is in service and there might even be scope for explosive demolition but even for a relatively small ship the time spent on preparation and cutting operations would be significant. This leads to the conclusion that removing large sunken ships or barges adjacent to berthing space should be out of scope for CONCEPT 1
Containers and other Sunken or Floating Debris
As seen in Haiti, Japan and New Orleans, the aftermath of a natural disaster such as a storm very often results in boats being displaced, containers falling into the water and either floating or sinking and general debris being distributed around the port, turning basins and berths.
The image below shows the port of Talcahuano near Concepcion in Chile after the earthquake and Tsunami in 2010
A similar scene in the aftermath of the 2011 Japanese tsunami
One of the case studies in this series examined containers and containers were strewn around the port yet again
With appropriate mobile plant, removing small boats, containers and other sunken debris should be relatively simple.
no, not just sewage but trees and vegetation that might be obstructing roads, access and storage areas. Floating organic matter may also be present in the water, especially in areas that will need to be trafficked.
General Damage to Berths, Piers, Roads and Slipways
More likely is damage to piers and berths due to corrosion and general neglect, earthquake and storms or artillery and mortar fire. The same will also apply to approach roads, hard standings and container storage areas.
Concrete piles may be cracked or unstable, holes in roads present and fallen or partially fallen buildings and other structures.
Forklift trucks, reach stackers, harbour cranes, generators, compressors and all manner of port equipment may need a varying degree of repair. Included in this section is also the potential restoration of utilities like water and electricity
I suppose they are self explanatory, do the bare minimum to allow the port to be trafficked by ships and cargos shifted outside of the port boundary.
The survey element will have determined the degree of damage, dumping areas, task lists, materials requirement and against a timeline or schedule. Making use of existing equipment may reduce task effort, for example, repairing a forklift truck instead of landing one.
The repair tasks should not be seen as permanent, they need to have a degree of durability sufficient for the expected initial, high intensity, phases of any operation that will use the port. More durable long lasting repairs can be made at a later date. Most of the tasks will be fairly generic and use the standard skills, tools and materials as found in Royal Engineers field and support squadrons but there will be a small number of specialist skills, materials and equipment that will need obtaining and maintaining either direct or through the C Vehicle PFI for example.
The range of repair tasks includes
- Debris clearance
- Road and hard standing repair
- Reinforcing or repairing berths, RORO link spans and slipways including concrete, steel or wood piling
- Port equipment repair
Rubble, vehicles, containers and other materials can be simply pushed out of the way using crawler tractors, remember, speed is everything with CONCEPT 1.
The Deployable Universal Combat Earthmover (DEUCE) or Cat D5N Crawler Tractor are both in service and would be suitable
Where the debris might need more effort is if it is fixed in place such as large blocks of reinforced concrete or structural components, if it needs to be moved some distance (depending where it is) or if it needs reducing in size in situ before clearance.
If the debris is on the surface and simply needs moving a greater distance than is feasible with a crawler tractor the combination of wheeled and tracked loaders and a dump truck is an effective one, moving the debris to a designated dumping area. In UK PFI land this is the Medium Dump Truck, Excavator Tracked Medium and Tractor Wheeled Medium or Iveco Tracker AD380T with Thomson Loadmaster Tipper Body that has a 16 tonne payload, JCB 436 and Volvo EC210C
With these three items of in service equipment simple debris removal from the port area should be completed quickly.
If the rubble contains reinforced concrete or is large and heavy it will need processing to reduce its size before loading or being pushed out of the way. The usual way to do this is with hydraulic attachments for the wheeled or tracked excavators although pneumatic hand tools can be used as a last resort. Basic hydraulic demolition hammer attachments are in service but the more specialised demolition equipment will have to be obtained, such as hydraulic multi processors or demolition crushers from Rotar, BAV or NPK for example, an example of which is shown in the video below
Concrete, stone and cement rubble can be used as infill material for the temporary repair of roadways and berth structures so it becomes a valuable by product of the clearance task. An useful item would be a crusher bucket as shown in the video below.
If there is rubble in the port area it can be quickly and directly processed at the job location for small gap filling and general construction work, it cuts out separate processing, stockpiling and transport, especially useful for small quantities.
If larger quantities are needed then the excavator mounted devices will not have the capacity so a dedicated unit might be more appropriate. Concrete recycling equipment can vary in size from mini units designed for domestic applications that fit through a doorway right up to large semi permanent units with high throughput. A typical medium sized unit is the RM 70GO! From Rubblemaster that can process up to 120 tonnes per hour with variable output sizes. The video below shows its larger brother equipped with a reinforcing bar separator, these can be fitted to the smaller unit also
Floating containers can be pushed out of the way using one of the embarked Army workboats, landing craft or RHIB’s. To stop them becoming a hazard they can either be bought ashore or holed to allow water to enter. Although automatic weapons might be more fun, it is probably safer to use hand tools to puncture the container to encourage flooding. If they are close to berth areas, craning or winching up onto dry land might also be a feasible means of removal.
The AC35 has a 35 tonne lifting capacity and 33m boom length and the AC55, 51 tonnes and 40m respectively although the boom length and lift capacity very across the range, maximum boom radius on the AC55 for example reduces the lift weight to 0.5 tonnes.
The cranes would also be used for lifting vehicles, plant and stores off mexeflotes, landing craft and low loaders used to deploy CONCEPT 1 into port.
Debris underwater could be mechanically cleared or by divers using a selection of hydraulic hand tools such as underwater chainsaws (yes, such a thing does exist!), hammers and cutting discs from manufacturers like EGA and Stanley Hydraulic, Royal Engineers divers have access to a full range of these type of tools. Also in service is the underwater oxy thermic cutting system from Broco.
The safe demolition and removal of obstacles may also be facilitated by explosive cutting charges. Most of the in service equipment is supplied by Chemring Energetics and Mondial Defence including Hayrick Charge Demolition No 14 and SABREX linear cutting charge for example;
CONCEPT 1 tries to maximise on what is already in service, additional items of small equipment like excavator crusher buckets and pulverisers would enhance already in service equipment but additional items of equipment would provide a large leap forward over what is already available. The concrete recycler being a good example. Other items such as link spans and dredging equipment will be proposed in later posts but a couple of items of equipment would find use across a number of areas but will be introduced here.
These are long reach excavators and modular pontoons or amphibious excavators.
Long reach excavators are often used for intertidal and port construction and maintenance activities where there extended reach can avoid having to use floating platforms. They can also be used for high reach requirements, usually equipped with hydraulic hammers or pulverisers and dredging either from a berth or floating/spudded platform like a pontoon.
There is nothing especially technically demanding about long reach excavators and a small number of the existing Volvo E210C’s could be converted, or preferably, new ones obtained.
Although we have the Mexeflote modular pontoon in service it is not suitable for use as a work platform because it cannot be spudded into position, any excavator would always act against the path of least resistance and not the material being excavated.
Amphibious excavators are standard excavators equipped with large track covered pontoons and additional protection against water ingress. They can make use of all standard excavator attachments and long reach modifications so it would be possible to have an amphibious long reach excavator equipped with spud legs based on the in service Volvo EC120. Amphibious excavators are generally used for working in shallow water, marsh and intertidal locations so in general, the spud legs are quite short. This makes them less useful for port debris removal so for dredging, inshore construction and debris removal a spud leg barge or pontoon makes more sense.
The larger barges and jack up platforms might offer greater capacity but they are difficult to deploy, CONCEPT 1 has to be deployable with in service equipment which in practice means A400/C17 rarely, and more often, a Bay Class LSD(A). This imposes a size limit if using the well dock or a 30 tonne weight limit if using deck stowage and side unloading.
Modular pontoons are the obvious answer.
Much like the Mexeflote, modern modular pontoons use conveniently dimensioned floats that are connected together to form a larger pontoon and accessories such as spud legs allow a number of combinations to be created.
Combifloat are at the upper end of the size scale but the others can make use of much smaller pontoons. The animation below shows a Baars Confloat equipped with a walking spud leg system being assembled
The Damen Modular Barge system is showcased in the video and presentation below
They all tend to use half or full height ISO 20 foot or 40 foot container dimensions for easy transport and handling and variations on a similar theme for interconnections. Much like Mexeflotes or INLS barges they can be used as causeways and ferries but unlike Mexeflote and INLS they can be used for marine engineering tasks like debris removal. Jenkins Marine do market spud leg attachments for Mexeflote but the requirements tend to dictate a newer system.
As with the Mexeflotes, propulsion could be provided by Thrustmaster OD150N units, maintaining commonality across the two platforms
The in service Volvo or new excavators would simply drive or be lifted onto the pontoon and it pushed into place or under their own power if the hydraulic thrust units fitted.
Meercat Workboats also make an interesting range of road transportable, modular workboats that might be a useful adjunct to a modular pontoon work platform.
Together, this equipment provides the RLC and RE team a valuable set of capabilities for port clearance, debris removal, localised dredging, construction and remediation work.
Similar systems can also be utilised for other CONCEPT 1 requirements and the basic technology will be making an appearance in CONCEPT 2
Road and Hard Standing Repair; in order to operate fork lift trucks, reach stackers and container handlers the road and storage areas must be ‘relatively’ flat. Holes, dimples and damage caused by artillery, bombs and rockets will need temporary filling or matting.
In general, CONCEPT 1 will try and steer away from solutions involving concrete, cements and grouts because of cure times but in some circumstances it will be quicker and easier to use one of the many concrete and tarmac repair products widely available.
Alternatively, if granular materials such as hard-core, gravel and sand are available holes can simply be cut back, prepared, filled and compacted using the in service rollers and vibratory compacters such as the snappily titled compact Roller Motorised Smooth Drum SPT Tandem Vib DSL Wacker RD27-100 or Compactor Plate Pedal Remote Control DSL Wacker DPU7060SC
It would be unlikely that large quantities of gravel or sand would be deployed with CONCEPT 1 so beyond an initial small quantity, it would have to be obtained and/or produced locally. This aggregate type material could be recycled from rubble removal activities, if indeed, rubble removal is part of the activity set.
The in service Class 30 or 70 Trackway may also be used but alternative products such as fibreglass and composite road mats may be more applicable as the underlying surface is still load bearing and are now widely available, very easy to use, lightweight and have a low scrap value meaning they are less likely to be stolen
Aggregate and infill materials would be transported by the Iveco Medium Dump Trucks described above although if available, smaller Terex TA3, or Dumper Ultra Light, might also be used for smaller loads.
Excavator mounted hydraulic compacter plates could be used if the roller and vibratory compacters were not available. It is a swings and roundabouts decision, less to deploy but when the excavator is compacting it is not excavating.
The ubiquitous JCB 4CX or tractor Wheeled Light would no doubt find a role in general repair work.
Equipment Repair; It may be quicker to repair harbour machinery than land it from expeditionary shipping and some equipment such as large container cranes would not be practical to deploy at all, repair is the only option. A degree of general and specialised knowledge backed up with sufficient spare parts will be required but it is not feasible to expect CONCEPT 1 to have facilities to repair every single type of harbour and port machinery, with sufficient spares and manuals on hand.
The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, together with specialist elements from the Royal Logistic Corps and Royal Engineers will deliver the equipment repair task. It might also be assumed that locally employed civilians would play a key role and the ability to pay the local personnel should be incorporated into the overall capability.
The deployed equipment will also need maintenance and first line repair tasks and naturally, this will also be carried out by the engineering team. No great amount of new systems will be needed because the Deployable Engineer Workshop, Deployable Machine Shop and Fitter Section in a Box are already in service.
The 44 Deployable Machine Shops in service can be used alone or with other infrastructure and includes a range of powered and hand tool including a lathe, milling/drilling machine and grinder amongst many others
The much larger Deployable Engineer Workshop (DEW), supplied by G3 Systems, supports Royal Engineer artisan trades such as carpenters, fabricators, welders, fitter machinist’s, builders, structural finishers, electricians , utilities engineers and petroleum engineers. Each trade has a bay linked to the large central Main Working Area (MWA).
All the bays are housed in 20 specially adapted DROPS compatible 20ft ISO containers, trailer mounted generators (FEPS)
The full £1.2m DEW comprises;
- ME Fabricator and Blacksmith – two containers
- ME Carpenter and Joiner – two containers
- ME Fitter Equipment and Welder – one shared container
- ME Fitter Utility and & Petroleum Fitter ACR (Air Conditioning & Refrigeration) – one shared container
- ME Electrician and ME Fitter H&P (Heating & Plumbing) – one shared container
- Planning Staff & Draughtsman – one shared container
- ME Building and Structural Draughtsman – one shared container
- Main Work Area Storage Container – doubles as a Stores Container when Main Work Area Shelter is deployed
- Forward Deployment and Utility Container (FDUC) – provides a forward deployable capability independent of the main hybrid. System acts as a general Utility Container when not on deployment
- RACU Container – housing the environmental conditioning equipment for the Main Work Area shelter
Marshal Land Systems have recently supplied a number of Fitter Section in a Box (FSIB) which is a deployable vehicle maintenance bay complete with inflatable shelter to allow maintenance of protected vehicles under cover. FISB comes in a single container with two inflatable shelters and its own generator to enable a small fitter section to work during the night and use compressed air tools.
Given that DEW is modular it would seem to make sense to integrate DEW and FSIB so that vehicle maintenance and first line repairs can be carried out in the same location, sharing power and cooling for example, as the engineer artisan trades although perhaps we might dispense with the structural finishing trades!
It would also be an improvement if different shelters were used for FSIB to accommodate larger vehicles and heavy plant. Replacing the required 7 FEPS generators with a single containerised 450kva generator would also be an improvement worth pursuing.
Berth Repair and Reinforcement; Repairing berths and mooring areas presents a particularly difficult challenge because they need to be heavy duty in order to accommodate large ships like the Flensberger Point class strategic RORO vessels. At 27,000 tonnes flimsy mooring and berth structures are not going to work. If the berthing area is suspended on cylindrical timber, steel or concrete piles these piles may be damaged or in a state of decay.
Pile replacement is a time consuming activity so short term stabilisation and repair is most appropriate for CONCEPT 1.
General repair work on pile supported berths is usually carried out by hand with divers and hydraulic tools as these images from Haiti and the US Army and Navy show
Conventional pile repair normally involves manual cleaning by divers, encasing in a flexible pile jacket and pumping marine epoxy grout into the annular gap but a number of alternative solutions are available as shown in the video below
In general, whenever cement and concrete is involved, times will far extend but if there is no other option to stabilise a damaged berth area, repairs might be unavoidable. If the berth area sits atop a piled structure the piles caps and piles may be damaged and the stabilisation process generally involves removal of debris, hole drilling for new reinforcing bar, installing steel reinforcing bar, building the formwork and pouring cement. Berth repair and pile capping is unfortunately a laborious and time consuming activity so in the context of the CONCEPT 1 requirement it should be carried out as a last resort and only a limited basis.
Grout bags are an alternative short term solution for temporary shoring and support.
Using interlocking sheet piles and back filling might be a suitable temporary solution, especially attractive if there is a lot of back fill material available but it would not be applicable if the berth is supported on cylindrical piles.
Interlocking steel sheet piles can be quickly driven using vibratory hydraulic excavator attachments, again, making use of already in service equipment. It is often used for revetments and cofferdam construction, flood protection and foundations. The video below shows how small areas can be constructed relatively quickly using sheet piling techniques, especially with a dedicated rig rather than an excavator attachment.
Sheet pile capping is usually completed after initial installation but given the time available and long robustness required the pile interlocking and cosmetic benefits of capping can be dispensed with. To stress the point again, any works need only last the duration of the operation so whilst a traditional sheet piled retaining wall would probably have tie rods, scour protection and extensive finishing, the task at hand here is to create a ramp pad for a RORO ship.
For med mooring the larger RORO ships this could be more than suitable depending on soil and underwater conditions.
Also in this task could be building a landing craft type slipway for large vessels that are frequently used in marginal ports. A good example is in Port au Prince in Haiti and on St Helena, two examples that have appeared recently on Think Defence
These simple structures could use sheet piling, road ramps, geotextiles, Hesco/Defencell and lots of packed aggregate
If the shipping is available to take advantage of them they can be very effective
In UK service the largest would be the LCU Mk10 but in a joint environment, the US has a number of intra theatre support vessels that would be able to use such a ramp and in the civilian market there are many more, as the St Helena and Haiti information shows.
Sources and Further Reading
Other Posts in the Series