The West Coast maritime construction industry never rests.
West Coast maritime construction companies have been busy over the last year with projects from Hawaii to Antarctica, as well as from coast to coast.
By no means a comprehensive summary, herein is a peek at a few of the notable West Coast-based maritime construction companies and their recent jobs.
Whether the work is dredging for a Navy facility pier or replacing the oldest radar tower in the U.S., workers in the industry rarely shy from a high-seas challenge. While many call the work extraordinary, marine construction professionals call it an average day.
American Marine Group
Hawaii-based American Marine Group (AMG) began in 1975 as a commercial diving business called American Divers, a small shop adjacent to the Honolulu Harbor. Today, AMG focuses on specialty marine construction projects, marine salvage, commercial diving, marine transportation services, ocean and inland towing, work vessel support, crew boat operations and vessel inspection and repair services.
Although the AMG offices are in the Pacific region, the company performs work routinely in North Slope Alaska as well as on the Gulf and East Coasts and Central America, among other international outposts. The company operates offices in Honolulu, Anchorage and Los Angeles.
AMG recently completed a major repair to the Maalaea Small Boat Harbor, South Mole Finger Pier located on Maui. The job consisted of demolition, site preparation, precast concrete pile installation and fabrication and installation of 13 aluminum-framed finger piers. The piers required coral transplantation preparation.
“The project was a challenge due to supply chain issues and uncharacteristically large swells during the project,” Construction Manager Steve Welling said, adding that it was completed on time and under budget with no rework.
“The project is a great example of the excellent history of AMC working with the Hawaii State DLNR DOBOR (Department of Land and Natural Resources and Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation)’.”
Curtin Maritime was founded in 1997 by tugboat operator Capt. Martin Curtin, who sought to design and build a working fleet operated by skilled crews and supported by a high-performing onshore team. The company now has a large fleet of tugboats, barges, dump scows, cranes, crew boats and more. Curtin Maritime’s facility is in the Port of Long Beach on Pier T, but they tackle projects around the world.
Notably, last spring, Curtin partnered with Pacific Pile & Marine to transport supplies and equipment to Antarctica in support of construction of a new pier at Palmer Station. The 4,300-horsepower Curtin tugboat Karen C, with her 132,000 pounds of bollard pull and a double drum Markey tow winch, was the workhorse of the endeavor.
Their work helps make peaceful scientific discovery on the world’s most remote and hostile continent possible.
Other projects included a contract with Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Mid-Atlantic at the Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia. Curtin deepened Pier 11 South basin with their clamshell dredge DB Ironbound that was towed to the site from Long Beach by the company’s tugboat Taurus through the Panama Canal.
The Pier 11 south dredge area consisted of approximately 135,000 cubic yards of new work to deepen the waterway from 51 feet to 55 feet. Roughly half of the removed material was categorized as POL (Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants) contaminated.
Curtin Maritime was also contracted to remove the 130-foot-tall Jacobsen Pilot’s Tower in Long Beach for Global Tower Service, Inc. The repurposed oil derrick was built in 1908, and in 1949 the Port of Long Beach gave the derrick to Capt. Jacob Jacobsen to use as a radar tower. At the time, radar was new technology, and the tower was the first private shore-side radar in the U.S. The historic tower was replaced in part to meet modern earthquake standards.
Power Engineering Construction
Founded in 1986, Power Engineering Construction (PEC) is a heavy civil and marine engineering construction company based out of Northern California. The union employer provides cross-trained crews with expertise including shoring, underpinning, pile-driving, heavy rigging and aerial work.
PEC and Swinerton collaborated to build a new floating fireboat station upon a 96-foot by 173-foot steel float at Treasure Island. The station’s design was penned by Shah Kawasaki Architects and Liftech Consultants, Inc.
After construction, it was towed across San Francisco Bay and then anchored near historic Fire Station No. 35 along the Embarcadero. A goal for PEC is that the resilient design proves suited to potential changes in sea level.
PEC is also playing a role in the transformation of a boatyard into a new waterfront park in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco. The new India Basin Waterfront Park will feature gardens, walkways and wildlife habitats.
PEC is building two pile-supported concrete piers, a floating dock, seawalls and shoreline protection work as a subcontractor to Swinerton, the general contractor. Additionally, early this year, PEC crews have begun to drive production piles at a Gilbane’s U.S. Coast Guard San Pedro wharf project.
Norris Comer is a Seattle-based writer and author. His debut memoir, Salmon in the Seine: Alaskan Memories of Life, Death, & Everything In-Between is now available wherever books are sold. You can find him on Substack, Instagram and at norriscomer.com. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.