A pontoon runs along the ships when they are docked
to provide a sheltered walkway on board.
The gangplank that joins the dock with the passenger
terminal is also covered.
Close-up of the gangplank and pontoon.
The covered walkway from the parking lot to the ship's
terminal provides a grand entrance for passengers.
Covered walkway in the parking lot. The pontoon and
walkway were many different heights, requiring a
nimble pattern maker
The cover was designed with numerous curves. Each
angle had to be accounted for.
Inside the walkway, cruise ship visitors are safely
enclosed in a translucent tunnel leading to their
cruise adventure.
Princess Cruise Lines Gangway Canopy,
Whittier, AK
Steve Parfomchuk is General Manager of SIS Northwest, a
major construction company owned by Snelson Companies,
Inc. They build marine industrial and structural steel
fabrication projects throughout Washington and Alaska.
Whittier Enterprises contacted SIS Northwest when they
decided to build a major docking area to accommodate
Princess Cruise Lines tour ships, scheduled to begin arriving
in Whittier, Alaska, in June of 2004. Passengers would travel
from here to parks and other tourist destinations all over
Parfomchuk pulled together a team able to work with design
issues, engineering and structural steel construction and
began planning the docking area -- and a gangplank almost
600 lineal feet long that passengers could use to walk
among the ship and parking lot and the reception terminal.
Though cruise ships visit Whittier only in summer, this is
Alaska and weather can be unpredictable. The gangplank
would have to be covered.
A schedule was created and SIS Northwest went to work
designing and value engineering the project for Whittier
Enterprises. Parfomchuk recommended Rainier for the
construction of the gangplank cover. Parfomchuk had worked
with Rainier's industrial Account Manager Pat Tool for over ten
years and already knew the quality of our work.
"SIS first contacted us in the early spring. In phone
conversations, we identified the scope and costs of the job
and we signed a contract in April," explains Tool. The job was
to be delivered in three phases: the canopy for the pontoon
section of the gangplank next to the ship, the section between
the ship and terminal and finally, the section between the
parking lot and terminal. "The canopy would have to be
designed and delivered in less than two months—and during
Rainier's busy season. We had to get to work!" says Tool.
SIS and their engineering and design partners sent drawings
which Rainier's industrial designer Denise Trexler had to
interpret to produce workable patterns for making the covers.
"The engineering drawings for the steel described the metal
structure, but the canopy required a separate design to
accommodate curves, corners and varying wall lengths,"
explains Trexler. "Thanks to strong, trusting partnerships, we
were able to get the maximum amount of information from the
metal designers, which gave me the information I needed to
plan fabrication of the canopy effectively."
Our next challenge was to find a fabric that would meet
stringent requirements and price constrictions. Rainier's
Materials Manager Dave Gilliom recommended Ferrari 502, a
coated PVC structural fabric of outstanding quality. The last
challenge was to meet the short deadlines for this job—the
cover had to be up by early June, in time for the first cruise
"I had only a few days to design each phase of the canopy
and create patterns for cutting the fabric," says Trexler. "And
each section was completely different!" As soon as they got
the patterns, Rainier's Fabric Shop jumped into action. "They
had only three or four days to cut, sew or heat seal, bag and
ship each phase of this job," says Trexler.
"We managed to deliver everything on time!" says Pat Tool.
Parfomchuk said he was very pleased with Rainier's work.
Our products arrived in Whittier and were installed without any
glitches, ahead of schedule. "The canopy looks and functions
beautifully," says Parfomchuk. "Even in strong Alaska winds,
the canopy functioned beautifully."
Rainier Specialty Products: When conventional just doesn't
cut it

With Rainier Industries as your problem-solving partner, the
possibilities for fabric can seem unlimited. Rainier provides
custom industrial fabric solutions for the most difficult jobs
and working conditions. Our engineers thrive on problems
that test their creativity and technical skill for industries such
as Aerospace, Military, Manufacturing, Marine,
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