Contributed by American Piledriving Equipment’s Jimmy Deemer:

U.S. Wick Drain Inc., a Leland, N.C.-based company, has just completed the largest marine barge installation wick drain project that has ever been done in the world. This project is part of the first phase of construction for a new port facility at Craney Island in Norfolk, Va. U.S. Wick Drain, under direction of president Mark Palmatier, installed more than 12 million linear feet of wick drains in six months using American Piledriving Equipment Inc.’s wick drain installation machines. That’s six months with two rigs, 24 hours a day, six days a week – a lot of wick drains. The longest wick drains were 150 feet in length.

A drainage layer of sand was dumped in the proposed wick drain area with hopper barges. The wicks will be placed and more sand dumped on top of them. In order to place the wick drains in the correct locations on the water, two barges had to be converted to have a grid all the way through the decks of the barges using steel pipe from the top deck all the way through the bottom. Each barge had a wick drain machine/rig on the deck. The barges would be surveyed into position and secured, and then each machine would go down the deck, installing a wick drain in each provided hole.

Once these wick drains are installed and pre-loaded, the engineers predict they will have about 21 feet of settlement. These wicked areas will support a series of dikes for the new Craney Island port. If wick drains were not used, the dikes constantly would be settling, and would have to be maintained at great cost.