In the marine industry, dolphins aren’t just gregarious aquatic mammals. The moniker also refers to man-made structures used for berthing and mooring (or docking and securing) boats, ships and ferries. Conventional dolphins consist of anywhere from three to 50 piles and help provide extra docking space when piers are full.
In general,dolphinshave been considered an application for sheet piling which function as a wall. Sheet piling, produced from hot-rolled or cold-rolled steel, acts as a beam under load. Over time sheet pile shapes have evolved from simple channel sections with fabricated locks to U-shapes with integral, rolled-on interlocks and the current high-strength z-shape designs.
Types of Dolphins
There are three different types of dolphins currently in use, but one––the breasting dolphin––stands apart.
Mooring dolphinsare used to assist in mooring and securing a ship to a pier or other secure structure via rope. They are also sometimes used to provide pedestrian access to the ship through a bridge structure.
Berthing dolphinsreduce the sideways movement of a moored ship. subjected to waves, currents or other wind-related conditions and help to stabilize it while docked.
Breasting dolphins, also known asapproach dolphinsboth protect a boat from hitting the pier or dock; and stabilize it to reduce side-to-side movement while moored.
Breasting Dolphin Benefits
Protect a boat from contact with a pier or dock
Reduce lateral movement
Guide ferries and vessels to approaching terminals and piers
Traditionally, wood has been the material of choice for approach dolphins. For most applications,fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP)has usurped wood as the preferred material. FRP breasting dolphins are resistant to the rot caused by constant exposure to sun and water and cannot be inhabited or damaged by marine life. Given its high strength a single FRP dolphin can be installed in place of wood dolphins that are made of timber bundles, providing significant cost savings during installation.
Steel or other metals are sometimes used for breasting dolphins as well, but metal approach dolphins suffer from corrosion and a shortened service life. FRP is not impacted by corrosion from water, salt or chemicals. In addition, dolphins made from FRP are lighter, cheaper, and easier to install than metal breasting dolphins. This makes FRP the obvious choice for approach dolphins.
Dolphins from Composite Advantage
AtComposite Advantage, we specialize in breasting dolphins crafted fromFiberPILE, which can easily replace clusters of timbers with just one pile––without sacrificing strength or durability. In fact, our FiberPILE dolphins are known for their lower installation cost, better structural performance, and long-lasting lifespan in comparison to traditional mooring dolphins.
To learn more about Composite Advantage’s dolphin options or to speak with a member of our team about which dolphin type would be the best solution for your marine needs,contact us.
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FiberGUARD’s FRP material makes it especially suited to waterfront infrastructure applications that require corrosion resistant, long lasting, high strength, and virtually maintenance free products.