Crofton recently completed the salvage and recovery of sixteen, 185’ long, 250,000 lb. concrete piles in Cape Charles, Virginia. This project put the comprehensive nature of Crofton’s services on display, bringing many resources and decades of experience together to provide solutions above and below the waterline. Through intense collaboration and pre-planning, a project with the perfect storm of risk factors was completed without a hitch.
The means and methods for salvaging the piles was developed through extensive pre-planning. Several meetings between project stakeholders and two investigative dives took place to survey the location of the piles and assess feasibility. As with every job, safety would be the priority. Two significant challenges presented themselves. First, there was very little, if any access for rigging the piles as they were stacked on top of each other. Second, the piles had sustained numerous cracks when they fell overboard, which would make them vulnerable to breaks during salvage.
In selecting the dive crew for this salvage, many hours of experience underwater would be needed, particularly with excavation, along with excellent communication skills. Dive production manager, Roger Belch, shared that “with such high stakes, this was not an environment for learning”. Herman Groombridge, one of the divers on site, shared that “each pile presented a new challenge and had to be assessed individually.” About half of the piles remained whole as they were recovered and placed on the barge. Many required additional tunneling around the base or cutting to release tension so the pile wouldn’t snap once it was out of the water.
Franklin Odom, Inventory Manager, had the opportunity to observe salvage operations from the barge and jumped at the chance. Franklin spent twenty years in the Navy, with plenty of experience on the water, but shared that this was different. “It was so interesting to see the veterans and the younger guys working and problem solving together. All the elements of what we do came together in one place with people collaborating as if they work together every day. Everyone knew their role. I see these guys come and go in the shop all the time. Now I have a little perspective on what their day might have been like.”
Crofton thanks McLean contracting for their partnership and Mark Herman, who was Crofton’s superintendent on site overseeing project operations. We are especially thankful to everyone involved for their tremendous commitment to safety!