Thursday, December 9, 2010

Video Update: OCC Conducts Diving Observations of Historic USS Becuna

During the October 27 and 28, 2010 OCC survey of the USS Becuna's hull  Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, PA., Mr. Bill Bustard was kind enough to take this video and provide us a copy!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Human Side of OCC

With the Holiday Season upon us, I am very happy to post this guest blog by one of OCC's most dedicated employees.  Below was written by Alyson Witkowski, feel free to contact her at

OCC, bolstered by the support of COWI Denmark, is steadily proving itself to be a foremost authority in coastal and waterfront engineering, while building a strong name for itself in wind energy. 

The driving force behind OCC’s successes, however, is its employees.  These employees, who work everyday in a mutually-beneficial synergy with COWI and our clients, have made a lasting impression on countless people.  They work diligently to provide the best services possible, while continuously learning and innovating in their chosen field.
Aftermath of the fire - interior

Beyond our employees' many contributions to the business world, they should also be recognized for the inter-personal relationships that have been forged, not only with clients, but with co-workers as well.  

One personal example of the bonds that tie us is the loss of my home in January 2010 to a building fire.  In the wake of losing everything right after the holiday season, OCC and its employees sprang into action.  In the first two days of the fire's aftermath, OCC generously donated a large gift card to my family to help provide us with immediate necessities including warm clothing, food, toiletries, etc.  One week later, OCC employees took it upon themselves to collect money and items, and were able to gift us with enough money to afford me the opportunity to buy a new bedroom for my young children, ready for when we were able to find a new home.  During that time and for months afterwards, OCC employees and clients showed their concern, their caring spirit and their grace with countless phone calls, emails, cards and donations that helped my family rebuild the life that we had known before the fire.

Aftermath of the fire - exterior

At this time of the year, during this season, I am reminded not of things lost or hardships overcome, but of spirit.  The spirit of generosity and selflessness at OCC is second to none.  For that, I am eternally thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving… and the warmest holiday wishes this season.

Monday, November 22, 2010

OCC Conducts Diving Observations of Historic USS Becuna

On October 27 and 28, 2010, Ocean and Coastal Consultants, Inc. (OCC) performed a survey of the USS Becuna's hull and adjacent port side timber dolphins at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, PA. The USS Becuna (SS/AGSS-319), a 66 year old BALAO-class submarine, is also a National Historic Landmark.  Launched on January 30, 1944, the USS Becuna currently measures 307.6 feet long by 27.3 feet beam and draws a 17 feet draft with 1,830 tons displaced when surfaced.  The USS Becuna was decommissioned on November 7, 1969 and has since had through-hull blanking plates installed upon all flooding and utility holes located throughout the hull.  The dive planes and rudder have been permanently fixed in position, and the forward and aft torpedo doors have all been permanently shut.

OCC performed an underwater video survey of the submarine dive plane, rudder and hull with representative ultrasonic thicknesses (UT) measurements of the blanking plates.  A survey was also completed of the two adjacent timber pile dolphins.  Inspection diving operations were conducted using a 3-man crew of engineer-divers with surface-supplied air diving equipment and continuous communications and video staged from a large van located on the adjacent relieving platform.

OCC continues to use its expertise in surveys and underwater inspections to prove itself as a valuable resource in the maritime industry.  OCC is looking forward to being a part of many new and exciting underwater projects coming up in 2011!

For more information, please contact Ronnie Munoz, EIT at

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Travel Update - Doug in Guyana!

When you think of business travel, you often think of flying business class, arriving in a glamorous city, sitting in meetings with a glass boardroom table and eating gourmet food.  The reality is flying economy and sitting in airports, arriving in a developing country on your own, trying to figure out where you are and how to get where you're going, struggling with inconsistent Internet and eating food that you know will make you sick!

So why do I do it? Why do I love to travel and experience new places?  First of all, the work is really interesting.  You are often faced with complex problems that your fresh perspective can solve, or maybe it's a new problem for the locals that you have solved before.  For example, Guyana's shoreline has very little sand.  It's mostly mud from the Amazon that flows in waves from east to west.  All of our numerical models and coastal engineering equations are based on sand.  So you really have to dig deep and understand the system from a whole new perspective.

The second reason I love to travel is meeting new people.  People are the same everywhere, with the same dreams and aspirations.  Some people work hard, others are lazy, and government employees have the same complaints whether it's the U.S. or a third world country.  Meeting people and seeing their living conditions renew my appreciation for life in the U.S., if not a little guilty for our excessive consumption and materialism.  I've met people who are very happy with a simpler life and find joy in sharing what they have.

It's surprising to me that we in the U.S. know very little about Guyana.  It is the only English speaking country in South America, and they have the lowest per capita income.  When I ask my taxi driver in the morning how he is, his answer is always "tryin'" It's a beautiful country once you're outside of the capital city Georgetown.  Just a few miles up the Essequibo River life is still wild.  The houses are elevated to keep snakes and jaguars out.  People beat the river water with sticks before swimming to chase the stingrays away.  Keiteur Falls is one of those Amazonian waterfalls that you only see in movies with a 714 foot drop.  And there is a tiny, poisonous, golden yellow frog that only lives at Keiteur in the leaves of a specific giant bromyliade.

So that's why I accept the hardships of business travel, and, every now and then I do get to go to paradise!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Get Your Swim Trunks and Flip-Flops - OCC Goes Tropical

In the Fall of 2008, OCC was asked to perform a site visit and offer preliminary engineering services for a small, privately owned island in the British Virgin Islands called Eustatia Island.  Eustatia, which is Greek for "good place to stay," was voted in 2004 by Islands Magazine as one of the 20 most beautiful islands in the world.  When OCC first visited the island, there was extensive, chronic erosion occurring along the southeast portion of the island, adjacent to the beachfront villas, threatening both the beach as well as infrastructure.  OCC was asked to design a shoreline protection and restoration project to help rebuild the beach and protect existing structures.

Filling sand-filled geotextile bags
Designing a shoreline restoration project on a small island presents a unique set of design challenges compared to a longer, more lineal shoreline.  For example, existing reefs and nearshore features play a large role in sediment transport and changing prevailing wind and wave conditions result in varying littoral drift directions from one season to another.  In addition to the normal conditions, designs must also account for tropical storms and hurricanes common in the Caribbean.

OCC's solution to the beach loss at Eustatia was to build 9 shore perpendicular, sand filled geotextile groins in the area of beach with the highest erosion.  Each groin consisted of 4-foot wide by 15-foot long by 18-inch high geobags, filled with sand, laid end to end and stacked like a pyramid with two bags on the bottom and one on the top.  The groin field was tapered with the lengths ranging from 45 feet to 120 feet, with the longest groins located in the center of the field.  The design also included a shore parallel revetment also consisting of  sand filled geotextile bags.

Construction occurred in early summer 2010 by a local contractor.  Before the last groins were even completed, the design began to work and started accumulating sand where structures were already in place.  Today, after completion of construction, the groins continue to function properly to hold the beach in front of the villas. 

In September 2010, the system endured its first real test when Hurricane Earl passed directly north of the project site.  Despite 12 hours of 100+ mph winds, storm waves pounding the beach and surge levels covering the lower parts of the island in water, the geotextile groins maintained their positions and received no structural damage.  OCC and the client were impressed with the result since the same storm managed to rip palm trees out of the beach, tear the roof off a house on a neighboring island and sink several boats. 

With the success of this project, OCC continues to develop relationships within this region and offer coastal protection solutions to other islands and beaches experiencing similar erosion problems.  However, the solution for one location will never be the same for another since there are so many variables that play a role.  It is OCC's unique experience and expertise with this type of coastal dynamic, as well as shoreline protection methods that allows us to design and implement a successful project.

For more information, contact Ed Gorleski at
Before and after shot at section of beach where erosion was so bad, roots of the palm trees were in danger.  Note the beach in front of the palm tree in the after shot.

Before and after near area of endangered seawall.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

AWEA Offshore Wind Conference & Exhibition ~ October 5 - 7th, Atlantic City, NJ

Ocean and Coastal Consultants (OCC) along with our parent company COWI are participating in the conference and the exhibition these next few days.

Together both OCC and COWI confront the many challenges associated with offshore wind farm projects.  Using our unique expertise, versatility and multi-disciplined staff,we find innovative solutions to bring these projects to successful completion.

Visit us at Booth 500!  Let's discuss how we can work together in the North American Wind Energy Markets.

For more information, please contact Lori Guttman at

Friday, October 1, 2010

OCC Brings Tropical to Charleston, SC

OCC's Doug Gaffney will be presenting a paper with Dr. Kelly Legault at the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association conference in Charleston, SC.  The paper is entitled "Design and Function of Very Low Profile Groins" and will present findings from projects in Florida and the British Virgin Islands.  The conference will take place from October 12-15

Similar to traditional groins, very low profile (VLP) groins are shore perpendicular structures that are intended to modify the beach by locally adjusting sediment transport.  In contrast to traditional groins, VLP groins, designed to follow the natural slope of the beach, easily overtop and bypass sediment due to their low design crest elevation.  As a result, the amount of sand retained within the groin field is modest and the impact to downdrift beaches is greatly reduced.  Further, beach profile variability is diminished relative to non-engineered beaches because VLP groins tend to stabilize the subaerial beach.

This paper will investigate the length of VLP groins with respect to the cross-shore location of the surf zone, presence of offshore sand bars, water depth, and the crest elevation of the groin relative to the tide range and average wave height.  Three case histories will be described, all of which utilized sand-filled geotextile tubes or bags as the primary construction material.  The first installation was at Stump Pass State Park on the west coast of Florida in 2005.  Three VLP groins were designed with short spacing, short length and small geotextile tube circumferences.  These groins were tested by a brush with Hurricane Katrina, and the post storm response was excellent.  The second installation in 2006 was a continuation of the groin field at Stump Pass.  The crest elevation of the VLPs was significantly higher than the first set of tubes, resulting in a modified beach morphology that one would typically associate with traditional groins.  The downdrift beach exhibited a lower elevation than the updrift beach, and the shoreline was recessed.  Factors such as an equilibrating beachfill and high background erosion rate contributed to this observed condition.   The third installation was placed in 2010 in the British Virgin Islands. The VLP groins were constructed of 15 foot long sand bags, rather than geotextile tubes, but otherwise retained many of the design features from the previous installations.  The project performed excellently during Hurricane Earl.

For more information, please contact Doug Gaffney at  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Palmetto Wind Meteorological Station Moves Forward

Earlier this year, OCC assisted Santee Cooper, South Carolina's state-owned utility, with completion of Phase I of their Meteorological (met) Station Implementation Plan for the Palmetto Wind project.  By 2020, Santee Cooper's goal is to generate 40% of their energy from non-greenhouse gas-emitting resources, biomass fuels, conservation and energy efficiency.  As part of this effort, they are studying the viability of offshore wind energy to determine what kind of role it could play.  Phase I of the project included an alternatives analysis and conceptual design for an offshore met station and a highly reliable monitoring program intended to document the offshore wind resource for wind energy development.

OCC has been contracted to proceed with Phase II of the project.  Phase II includes site investigations and engineering of the met station and monitoring program through the preliminary design level as well as preparation of a draft permit application to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and South Carolina's Office of Coastal Resource Management.

Jack-up barge ready for geotechnical exploration
OCC, along with subconsultants AWS Truepower (AWST) and Newkirk Environmental, have identified a candidate site for the met station.  AWST provided input on the location of the proposed met station with regard to its ability to represent future wind development, while Newkirk led the effort to notify regulatory agencies and to secure a permit for geotechnical borings.  In addition to USACE and the state, OCC and Newkirk contacted other stakeholders such as the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, FAA and a number of local environmental organizations in order to inform them about the intents and goals of the met station, to determine any site specific concerns and to address any comments.

In August 2010, OCC arranged to perform an offshore geotechnical investigation through a local South Carolina subcontractor, AE Drilling, LLC.  Prior to this investigation, OCC contracted with Alpine Oceanic Seismic Survey, Inc. to precisely map the sea floor and to determine if there were any obstructions such as coral reefs or shipwrecks which would indicate that the project site would be unsuitable for the met station installation.

The geotechnical investigation included soil sampling and laboratory analysis to determine the soil and rock strength parameters necessary to design a safe and efficient foundation for the met station.  Using the results of the geotechnical investigation as well as other available environmental data, OCC is working with COWI A/S and Ben C. Gerwick to create a design protocol that will summarize the usage criteria and design parameters for the preliminary design of the met station. 

For more information, contact Brent Cooper at