World’s first all-composite floating dock makes debut

Australia-based Riverside Marine and Wagners Composite Fibre Technologies Manufacturing have collaborated to develop a floating pontoon structure that is said to be the first and largest all-composite ferry pontoon to be commissioned.


Riverside Marine (Brisbane, Australia) reports a successful collaboration with Wagners Composite Fibre Technologies Mfg. (Toowoomba, Australia) to develop a pontoon (floating dock) structure that will service ferry traffic at Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia. Said to be the first all-composite ferry pontoon ever commissioned, the structure is 114m/374 ft long with a deck area of 573m2 (6,168 ft2). The dock structure was designed to support the local tourism industry by accommodating as many as five high-speed catamaran-style ferries even under conditions that include high winds and heavy seas.

Dr. Gareth Williams, research and development engineer for Riverside Marine, says, “Ongoing maintenance of metallic structures in the marine environment poses continual concerns for the lifetime of an asset, so our aim was to develop an innovative, zero-maintenance solution using composite materials.”

A proprietary Wagners CFT pultruded glass fiber composite, typically used for boardwalks and bridges, was identified as the best solution to meet the requirements of the structure. Wagners also used its new Earth Friendly Concrete (EFC) product to ballast the lightweight composite structure and improve its dynamic response characteristics. The use of composite materials reportedly has doubled the expected design life when compared to metallic or concrete construction, offering a huge benefit in total lifecycle cost of the structure. The pontoon’s environmental sustainability also was a high design priority, and the use of composites represented a low-carbon solution, adds Williams.