Halifax Shipyard Modernization Receives Engineering Award of Excellence

On October 25, 2017, Irving Shipbuilding and their lead project design engineer and construction consultant, Hatch, were awarded a 2017 Canadian Consulting Engineering Award of Excellence for the Halifax Shipyard Modernization. 

Partnering with Hatch as their lead design engineer and construction consultant, Irving Shipbuilding Inc. (ISI) invested more than $350 million to build North America’s most modern shipyard, located centrally on the Halifax harbour front.

The new massive assembly building with an integrated blast/paint shop, final assembly and launch pier will continue to provide economic benefit to Nova Scotia for decades to come, as workers construct the next fleet of Canada’s navy vessels.

"The project’s aggressive 36-month schedule and multi-disciplinary engineering approach was remarkable. And the project complexity caused by the presence of hazardous materials, contaminated soil and unexploded ordnance on the site added to the challenges.”  – Awards Jury

Innovations in design

Hatch was able to efficiently combine commercial and industrial design elements into a single building to maximize usage of the site.

The Assembly and Ultra Halls house 15 overhead cranes (up to 200t capacity), 4 semi-gantry cranes; and 10 jib cranes. By industry standards, the overhead cranes are very long spans. The number of cranes in simultaneous operation required careful attention to detail to avoid conflicts with other cranes, installed equipment, and the structure itself.

Existing soils had low bearing capacities incapable of supporting extremely large loading from the superstructure and shipbuilding activities. An innovative approach to ground improvement was taken in the form of dynamic compaction—the transmission of high energy impacts to loose and soft granular soils in order to significantly improve the soil’s characteristics at depth.

Halifax Shipyard under construction in 2014.

Compressed schedule

One of the primary complexities was the aggressive schedule, set by contractual mandates with the Federal Government, which required the project to move from preliminary design to the commencement of shipbuilding in 36 months.

Another major challenge was maintaining operations during construction. The previous fabrication facilities were removed in stages to allow for successful completion of a final coastguard vessel.

The demanding schedule required a vast multi-disciplinary design team to be established, compiled from multiple offices across the country. Using the latest communications technology, Hatch completed the design seamlessly on time without sacrificing quality.

Benefits of BIM

The facility was collaboratively designed, reviewed, analyzed and shared with contractors, engineers, subconsultants and the client using BIM technology.

Combining designs for structural steel, concrete, marine, HVAC, piping, electrical, plumbing, architectural, water, sewer, industrial gasses, and overhead cranes into a single design and construction phasing plan presented real challenges. These challenges were exacerbated by the physical constraints imposed by the site. The employment of BIM was critical in preventing service clashes.

A look inside Halifax Shipyard, the most modern shipyard in North America.

Environmental efficiency

The lighting, air exchange, fuel and building management systems in the new Assembly and Ultra Halls were switched to natural gas (cleaner burning fuel with a lower carbon footprint) and were designed to be more energy efficient than the existing facility.

A comprehensive Fume Exhaust System was installed to purify the air in the facility through the installation of push/pull air exchange units throughout the building. By purifying the existing air, it limits the need to introduce outside air, saving energy and heating costs.

The facility features 100% LED lighting. The lighting control system is automated to turn lights on and off depending on the time of day.

When installing these upgraded systems, Hatch introduced a complex Building Management System that allows Irving Shipbuilding to centralize, monitor and regulate the building temperature and lighting while also allowing them to monitor all of the operational equipment in use.

The project was completed within scope and budget and the team was able to accommodate late design changes during construction.

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