By Craig O’Rourke, President, Ahtna Government Services Corporation, Ahtna Design-Build, Inc., and Ahtna Marine & Construction Company, LLC, and David Frenzel, Vice President, AGSC
In January, 2021, Ahtna Marine & Construction Company, LLC (AMCC) and J.F. Brennan, Inc., based in La Crosse, WI, formed the Ahtna – J.F. Brennan Joint Venture (JV). J.F. Brennan is a 100-year-old family-owned company that performs marine construction throughout the Midwest and Northeast for various Districts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and commercial clients. Based on multiple meetings and discussions throughout 2019 and 2020, it was clear that J.F. Brennan would make an excellent mentor for AMCC, and the two entities applied to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for a mentor-protégé certification, which was obtained in January, 2021. The intent of the JV is to pursue marine construction and dredging opportunities across the U.S.
In July 2021, USACE New England District awarded the JV a $3M contract for dredging and habitat restoration in Westerly, Rhode Island. This project involves dredging 70,900 cubic yards of material in four separate dredging areas out of the Winnapaug Pond to create eel grass habitat and pumping the material via pipeline to Misquamicut State Beach approximately one half-mile away. The Winnapaug Pond is connected to the Atlantic Ocean via a canal that residents can access with boats from their homes around the Pond. The four specific dredging areas consist of two sediment basins and two restoration areas to enhance habitat for fish and wildlife.
All the dredged materials from these areas are being pumped through 10” and 12” pipelines to a floating booster pump station that pumps it through a 16” pipe a half-mile to the beach area for beach nourishment and restoration. Most of the dredged material will be used for fill on the Misquamicut State Beach area.
If additional beach area is required for fill material, it will be placed on two other beach areas, Wuskenau and Westerly Town Beach. The project is due to finish in December of 2021. For the majority of the project duration, AMCC and J.F. Brennan had 21 staff on site working double shifts six days a week.
This is the first contract awarded to the JV and it has gone extremely well, confirming that there is a very close cultural fit in the manner in which the two entities conduct business. Based on this experience, we plan to pursue many other opportunities with various USACE Districts, including Nashville, New England, Rock Island, St. Paul, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Louisville and possibly the Portland and Seattle Districts, too.