Customer:  Port of Melbourne  

Location: Melbourne  

Contract type:  Fixed Price Lump Sum, Construct only,  

Construction Period: 2 years 

Project Capabilities

Civil Marine


McConnell Dowell was engaged to remediate and strengthen the Swanson Dock East Berth One wharf within the Port of Melbourne. 

The wharf consists of a concrete slab on ground that is founded on timber piles with earth back fill being retained by a sheet pile wall at the rear half of the structure and steel piles at the front half. 

The structure was built in the 1970s and over time the tops of the timber piles have degraded and some of the earth back fill has sunk. This has resulted in the subsidence of the concrete wharf slab and crane rails which impacted upon the ability of the ship to shore cranes and straddle carriers to traverse the wharf within operating tolerances. 

To arrest further subsidence, the wharf required strengthening. Releveling works were also undertaken to match the deck and crane rail levels to the adjacent terminal infrastructure at the rear of the wharf. 

To achieve this, the scope included installation of through deck piles, deck and crane rail re-levelling. The Port of Melbourne also included, general remediation works such as removal of defective concrete, crack repair, and fender beam rehabilitation and replacement of fenders within the Contract scope. 

The project was conducted within Australia’s busiest container terminal facility directly adjacent to fully functioning stevedoring activities. 

This resulted in the works being confined to a small footprint in order to minimise any impacts to the terminal operator. 


The project had two distinct phases: the Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) Phase which included early procurement engagement, and the Site Construction Phase. 

The Project was a collaborative, construct only contract, working closely with the client, Port of Melbourne, and their engineering consultant AECOM. 

The ECI phase had a two and a half-month duration during which McConnell Dowell (MCD) worked closely with the Project team to identify design and construction innovations. These innovations were market leading resulting in significant project benefits realised by stakeholders. 

A key deliverable recognised during the ECI planning was to ensure that the construction works were undertaken and sequenced such that they did not impact upon the terminal operator outside the construction footprint. 

The detailed sequencing undertaken within the ECI ensured this deliverable was achieved, and provided an accelerated start on-site following on from the main Contract award. 


The construction phase was principally focussed on executing the works within the site footprint safely, without interrupting terminal operations. 

To achieve this goal, the project team regularly engaged with the various stakeholders to develop the construction program. This agreed program was then strictly adhered to by the project team. 

Consistently honouring the commitments made during the ECI phase helped to maintain and foster the positive relationship between MCD and the project stakeholders. 


During the detailed design phase of the ECI process, it was discovered that the deck could not be loaded with heavy construction equipment for a significant period of the project. This posed a challenge to understand how the through deck piles could be installed with this restriction. MCD’s temporary works designers, in conjunction with the nominated piling subcontractor, developed a grillage beam arrangement that transferred the loading from the piling temporary works onto strong points within the deck footprint. This ensured the works could remain confined within the site footprint whilst achieving program. 

The significant amount of remediation works required to the existing fender beams presented a key safety and environmental challenge. Defective concrete had to be removed and reinstated along the vertical face of the quay-line (front and back) and along the soffit. The project team identified the key to ensuring the works could be executed safely and efficiently was by ensuring safe stable access was provided to the workforce. To achieve this, bespoke fender access frames were designed and fabricated. These frames provided safe access and environmental capture of demolition materials.