Building a Floating Pier to Provide Aid to Gaza

CEE/MES Professor Qin Jim Chen says the construction of a floating pier to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza will present many engineering challenges, but none are insurmountable.

This article originally appeared on Northeastern Global News. It was published by Cyrus Moulton. Main photo: The U.S. Army built a floating pier and causeway of Bowen, Australia in 2023, and plans to build another one to deliver aid to Gaza. (Photo by Sgt. Ashunteia’ Smith/U.S. Army via Getty Images)

How the U.S. Army will build a floating pier to deliver humanitarian aid to war-torn Gaza

It sounds like a tall order: build a floating pier off war-torn Gaza that will allow the delivery of 2 million daily meals to residents. And do it in two months.

Qin Jim Chen, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and marine and environmental sciences at Northeastern University, says the plan is possible and now is a good time to do it.

“From an engineering point of view it’s doable. It can be implemented,” Chen says. “Of course there are challenges — but this is probably a good plan in terms of time.”

President Joe Biden announced in his State of the Union speech that the U.S. Army would build a temporary pier off Gaza from which to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians trapped in the five-month Israel-Hamas war.

Jim Chen, professor of marine and environmental sciences, says a floating pier like the one proposed for Gaza is “doable.” Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

The Army subsequently detailed that the pier would float, allowing ships to deliver aid that would then be loaded onto Navy support vessels and offloaded onto a 1,800-foot-long, two-lane causeway connecting to land. Trucks could then access the causeway to pick up and haul the aid.

Chen says that the mission presents several engineering challenges, but none that are insurmountable.

First, the structure must be capable of withstanding the waves and tides of the eastern Mediterranean — both flexible enough to adjust to the water dynamics and strong enough to hold trucks unloading aid.

“Wave action can get them loose,” Chen says. “But you also don’t want a rigid platform.”

Chen says pontoons — or platforms kept afloat by massive buoyant tubes and held in place by an anchor system on the seafloor — are the answer.

Read full story at Northeastern Global News

Related Departments:Civil & Environmental Engineering