Austal’s location on the Mobile River and its proximity to the Bankhead Tunnel have demanded Thompson’s marine engineering experience on several projects. Since our initial work for Austal on the engineering design and construction of the company’s shipbuilding and launch facilities, Thompson Engineering has partnered with Austal on several projects including the Northern Shipyard Expansion Project, Cove Reclamation Project and Assembly Bay #5.
Northern Shipyard Expansion
Before designing a 106,000 square foot manufacturing building, Thompson conducted various tests of the site area’s unique conditions. Those tests included vibration and stress analysis of the Bankhead Tunnel, which runs under the construction site, and consideration of the unique subsurface soils of the Mobile River. Thompson’s building design includes more than 200 piles positioned under the building, which allows the building to house two, 40 metric ton overhead cranes used for positioning ship components. The building, which serves as a totally enclosed shipyard, is where Austal manufactures lightweight, aluminum ships for the U.S. Navy.
Assembly Bay #5
Thompson was selected to provide design and construction services on Austal’s newest Assembly Bay facility, which was completed in July 2012. The ship manufacturing building is designed at more than 58,000 sq. ft. in plan dimension, with a clear interior height of 102-feet and clear interior width of 125-feet. Assembly Bay 5 includes 30,000 sq. ft. steel mezzanines (two levels – lower and upper); multiple engineering, administrative and conferencing rooms; EMA stations; and assembly logistics facilities. In addition to the massive amount of advanced technology aluminum hull fabrication and specialized welding and mechanical support equipment, twelve offices are on the ground floor level and five on the mezzanine upper level. The building was designed for three 40 metric ton (MT) capacity, top running double girder cranes, each having multiple 20MT hoists. The exterior of the building includes full width rolling doors on the east and west sides that are 106’ wide by 102’ in clear height each. The project was designed to meet the latest International Building Code (IBC) requirements.
Before beginning construction on Austal’s Assembly Bay #5, Thompson Engineering was challenged to create stable and workable land areas next to and beneath the facility with an initiative known as the Austal Cove Reclamation project. This previously undeveloped site was an open water cove partially filled with extremely soft river sediments. Thompson designed and built a new bulkhead and filled the area to an elevation of above 10 feet-MSL (Mean Sea Level). This was a sensitive build; the Bankhead Tunnel, completed in 1940, runs through and under the middle of the entire shipyard facility at this site. Thompson’s marine design expertise was required in many facets: