Thursday, August 27, 2015

Seabees build one-of-a-kind causeway

Seabees build one-of-a-kind causeway: A team of active duty and reserve Seabees from the East and West coasts have teamed up to build an expeditionary pier that has sat in storage for four years — and it’s likely that the Navy-Marine Corps team will need this one-of-a-kind pier in future operations.

With a reach of 3,000 feet, a width of 72 feet, the $60-million Elevated Causeway System (commonly called the ELCAS) is designed to provide over-the-horizon logistics to places where port facilities are damaged or don’t exist. While various floating piers are more common, they also become unusable in high seas. ELCAS sits a safe 7 feet above high tide.

“You pretty much have to drag [the floating systems] off the beach and place them in some sort of safe haven,” said Lt. John Orr, the man in charge of this ELCAS build. “This system just smiles and says, ‘Keep coming.’ So it is a perfect Seabee system.”

Indeed, hurricanes have increasingly hampered humanitarian aid, and combat can cripple port operations. As China builds air strips and outposts on reefs and islands in the South China Sea, many Pacific allies look to respond by building fortifications on desolate islands. Despite this potential demand, the ELCAS modular pier remains the only one in the world, and only 80 sailors are qualified to build it (a number that will double by the end of September). The system can be used to rapidly deliver vehicles and cargo ashore in an amphibious operation, for example.