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Types of Marine Construction Used and Their Purposes

This article explores four types of marine construction and their purposes. They include floating piers, concrete, and fixed foundations. We also explore why these types of structures in Florida marine construction are used. After reading this article, you should be able to determine whether these structures are right for your needs. Here are some examples of each type.

Precast elements

The advantages of using precast elements in marine construction are obvious. They are highly resistant to harsh environments such as hurricanes, storm surges, and flying debris. As a result, FEMA often chooses these elements for community shelters in areas prone to extreme weather. For example, precast has performed exceedingly well during major hurricanes in Florida. However, marine environments can be particularly challenging despite their superior strength and durability. In such cases, precast is a good choice. It is important to note that the compressive strength of seawater concrete varies from standard concrete.


Today, 70% of all marine infrastructure is made from concrete. Unfortunately, conventional concrete features flat planes and high material toxicity, making it an environmentally damaging material. In addition, coastal development has accelerated as the world’s population grows, making the environment of coastal areas increasingly vulnerable. Innovative solutions are available, such as ECOncrete, designed to attract marine life to shorelines. 

Marine concrete is subjected to several corrosive conditions, including chemical attacks from the seawater and continuous impact from waves. This corrosive action can cause spalling of the concrete or damage the conventional reinforcement, resulting in structural failure. 

Floating docks

Floating docks are modular cube pontoons joined together at a dock gangway or a walkway. Depending on the use, the dock is held in place by a chain anchorage system or other appropriate means. Floating docks are typically used to anchor water vessels. Due to their buoyancy, they can move with the waves.

The purpose of floating docks varies from commercial to domestic. The width and depth of the dock are determined by structural, geotechnical, and functional considerations. There are two main types of floating docks, open and closed. Open docks consist of a single or double deck structure supported on pilings. The piles supporting the structure allow water to pass under the structure.

Fixed foundations

In the context of marine construction projects, a well-constructed foundation is vital for a successful project. This foundation should address soil behavior, seabed stability, and gravity structures. In addition, other aspects of a foundation should be considered, including the use of single piles and some different methods for measuring and modeling the stability of the structure. 

In general, a good engineering design will address the specific challenges and circumstances of a project. Consider the location and climate of the area to determine the most appropriate materials and design for a foundation. It will also take into account weatherproofing, roofing, and maintenance schedule. Depending on the project, it may require a higher foundation height and a responsive foundation. As the structure is designed for a specific purpose, a good marine engineering design team can address the concerns related to its environmental conditions.


Wood has been the material of choice for marine construction since man built his first boat. It is flexible and can withstand severe buffeting. Furthermore, it does not corrode or spall. Moreover, repairs made in wood are more efficient than those made in other materials. They can be done in any weather condition with standard carpentry tools. Furthermore, wood is renewable, making it an environmentally-friendly choice. 

CCA, or chromated copper arsenate, is used to treat wood in marine construction. The treatment is based on American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) Standard C18, which only applies to members not exposed to salt water splash or soil use. Consequently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing the proposed label amendment for public comment. CCA is still acceptable for marine construction in brackish and salt water, including pilings and submerged crossbracing.

Nonferrous materials

Choosing nonferrous materials for marine construction requires special considerations due to their environmental conditions. In addition, materials must be durable and perform their intended function under varying conditions, including hydrostatic pressure. Consequently, the selection process becomes complicated. 

Nonferrous metals are more expensive than their ferrous counterparts. However, they are chosen because of their unique properties, such as corrosion resistance, lightweight, non-magnetic, and ornamental qualities. Before their extensive production, nonferrous metals were considered a luxury. Traditional sand casting foundries produce these specific materials. They offer excellent strength and corrosion resistance. It makes them the perfect choice for marine construction and other structures exposed to the elements.