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Industrial Fabric Covered Buildings




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Seward Ship Dry Dock Fabric Building


The completed fabric building structure gives Seward Ship Dry Dock the optimum space to service ships from around the world.



Seward, Alaska



Ship Dry Dock Cover


Fabric Building Size:

110' W X 220' L  

Harsh Conditions  No Match for Fabric Covered Dry Dock

The massive ship dry dock facility is comprised of a 110' by 120' fabric building mounted on a 55' by 220' steel foundation.

Since Seward Ship Dry Dock incorporation in 1990, covering the shipyard so that harsh weather wouldn't affect day-to-day operations had been a top priority. Finding a suitable building was not easy. Because of tough zoning requirements including exposure D, earthquake zone 4, and extreme winds in Seward, Alaska, the search would span the world for several years. Discovery of a unique module steel wall system and a fabric building would come together as the solution being sought.

"Before we found these types of fabric buildings, three years ago, we couldn't find buildings that were big enough, that met UBC (Unified Building  Code) and NFC (National Fire Code) requirements yet were still cost-effective," says Whitman. "We service ships from all over the world that are 5,000 tons and 350 feet  long,  so  having  adequate room is important.  These types of buildings are pre-engineered fabric buildings that offer clear-span widths up to 160 feet, to any length, which accommodate a multitude of industrial applications.

Because of the unusual installation required for this project, the installer worked with several companies to plan each stage of the fabric buildings installation on top of the massive 55 foot high steel wall. "It was an effort from everyone.  If it wasn't for the creativity and ingenuity of the people involved, this Seward Ship project would never have gotten off the ground."

The ship dry dock fabric buildings steel trusses were constructed in five separate sections on the ground then lifted by crane onto the  foundation.  Once the  fabric buildings truss sections were in place, a specialized winch was used to position the fabric buildings panels and join the sections together to complete the buildings cover. The installation of this fabric building was complete in just 14 days

Since the buildings construction, it has become a local landmark. "The city is very pleased with the final look. It was a group and community effort to complete this project," says Whitman.

Kick out braces were added along the sides of the fabric building for additional strength to meet the area's tough zoning requirements.


The fabric buildings sections were installed on the ground, then lifted by crane and mounted on top of the steel wall.


Ship Dry Dock Fabric Building Highlights


Custom Building Features:


• Twenty-four 15' long by 3/8" thick reinforced steel kick out braces were added along the sides  of  the fabric building for additional  strength  to meet  the area's  tough zoning requirements.


• In order to achieve the 110' building height needed to service a ship, custom 12' wall extensions were added to the fabric building.


• The 55' x 220' steel foundation is submarine enclosure modules that were going to be used in the process to attach stealth plating to the sides of  submarines; when the process didn't work, they were the perfect alternative solution for high permanent walls needed for the dry dock project instead of steel walls or driving H-beam piles into the ground.


• The heaviest section of the fabric building lifted onto the foundation was 17,000 lbs, so spreader bars and straps were certified to meet 51,000 lb. strength tests .


• A  crane  was  used  to lift the steel trusses into place to complete the building installation. The building has gone through the full weather test. During one wind storm, the needle on a wind speed gauge actually broke off and it goes up to 86 mph. The winds must have exceeded 100 mph."   Don Whitman General Manager, Seward Ship Dry Dock Seward, Alaska. 


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