Installation of breakwater begins in Esquimalt Harbour

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Navy News / February 15, 2017

By Peter Mallett

In an effort to provide wave protection for smaller Royal Canadian Navy vessels, a floating breakwater is being installed on the Colwood (western) side of the harbour at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, B.C.

The setup of the 400-foot long, 30-foot wide breakwater, overseen by the Port Operations and Emergency Services Branch (POESB), began January 4, 2017. The breakwater will be deployed to the east of D Jetty and provide a buffer for navy and auxiliary fleet vessels from large, wind-driven waves and swells that are common on the harbour’s west side.

The Colwood side of the harbour will also provide a temporary home for the fleet’s smaller vessels to make room for the $781million A/B Jetty Recapitalization Project, which is expected to enter the construction phase this spring. The massive construction project will replace the two 70-year-old jetties, and include dredging to remove contaminated seabed sediments throughout

Esquimalt Harbour.

POESB Manager Doug Kimmett says the installation of the breakwater was the best solution to make the west side of the harbour a suitable interim port.

“Taking note of the various options and time constraints involving the Recapitalization Project, we felt something that was portable, built off site and deployed by base personnel would be the fastest method to build some sheltered berths,” he explains.

The foam-filled concrete structure, which includes multiple ballast tanks, was designed by marine construction company Blue Water Systems Ltd., of Delta, B.C., and was delivered to Esquimalt via tugboat in early December 2016.

Personnel from POESB, Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) and a team of riggers from Fleet Maintenance Facility have been attaching the four pieces of the breakwater together prior to its deployment, with the assistance of the auxiliary fleet’s steam-powered crane barge YD250.

Still to complete are attaching the breakwater’s moorings, which consist of 26 concrete anchors and chains that will be lowered by YD250 to the seabed floor.

In order to properly space the new temporary breakwater anchors on the seabed floor, an exact measurement is required.

To do this POESB has brought in the Hydrographic Services Office for their expertise and use of their Pathfinder ProXRT GPS.

Their standard ground surveying equipment will be attached to the main boom of YD250 in order to guide the cement blocks within one metre of the assigned spacing, anywhere from 20 to 80 feet. Master Corporal Nicolette Ducharme and Sergeant Todd Blanchette of the Digital Response Section of the Hydrographic Services Office will use the Pathfinder ProXRT GPS receiver to determine the right coordinates and then relay the information to the crane operator, who will lower the blocks into place.

“With calm weather and secure anchoring, our aim is to place the blocks within a metre of the position point given to us by the design team,” says Sgt Blanchette. “Using an external GPS antenna on the crane allows for fine adjustments to be made more easily as placement occurs, instead of having to try and make adjustments by manoeuvering the barge itself using GPS.”

The blocks will then be attached to a system of 26 chains that connect to the breakwater.

Prior to its installation, the Queen’s Harbour Master reviewed any possible navigation impacts the structure might have on harbour traffic, while an environmental impact assessment of the construction and deployment was also reviewed and approved.

The breakwater will rest approximately 14 feet below the waterline and just 18 inches above the surface, and is expected to be fully operational in February.

Article courtesy of Lookout Newspaper