Protecting and revitalizing the condition of America’s oldest commissioned naval vessel
Pier 1 and the surrounding area at the Charlestown Naval Shipyard is the berth and home for the US Navy’s oldest commissioned warship—the USS Constitution. It’s also part of the National Park Service’s USS Constitution Museum. Since the ship is a commissioned vessel, her care and that of the berth falls to the US Navy.
In anticipation of the Constitution going into dry dock for extensive repairs, the Navy brought in our team to design structural repairs for the berth, including Pier 1, the finger pier, and the mooring dolphins. Pier 1 is a gravity bulkhead that was constructed in 1900 and consists of stone-filled timber cribs, as well as a sheet pile bulkhead with concrete fill between the sheeting and the original structure which was added in the 1940s.
Estimated construction costs, coupled with excavating in archaeologically sensitive areas, meant further investigation was required. Should the berth continue to utilize the 100-year-old, stone-filled timber crib as part of the structural support system? We developed a test pit program to expose, observe, and test the original timber cribs that were 15 feet (4.5 metres) below grade and below mean low water.
The test conclusion? The stone-filled timber cribs and the existing concrete fill could be relied upon as part of the rehabilitated structure. This design approach resulted in a significant cost savings for the project.
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