Buffalo District team named best in the Corps of Engineers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District was awarded the Project Delivery Team of the Year Award during the 2016 National Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. in August for work completed on the Oswego Detached Breakwater Project.

The team was honored for its efforts to repair the detached breakwater protecting the oldest operating freshwater port in the United States, a year ahead of schedule and $7 million under budget, exceeding customer expectations and exemplifying Corps of Engineers imperatives. 

U.S. Army Capt. Kelly Polashenski, Project Manager accepted the award on behalf of the team.

“We have an amazing team that works hard every day to overcome tough challenges and complete our mission,” said Polashenski. “The recognition of the Oswego Detached Breakwater Team is just another example of how the Buffalo District makes commitments to its customers and delivers on its promises.” 

Polashenski’s team, responsible for repairing the breakwater, faced many unique challenges along the way, such as the uncharacteristically large wave action of Lake Ontario, which forced the team to brainstorm alternative repair methods. This led to outside-the-box thinking and resulted in the use of dolosse structures to repair the damage.

Dolosse are complex geometric concrete structures that interlock. When emplaced in great numbers, they can protect harbors from erosive forces. Their weight and interlocking geometry quell shoreline scour and breakwater deterioration from wave and undercurrent action.

The project delivery team’s detailed analysis concluded that 11-foot, 16-ton dolosse units would withstand storm force events at Oswego Harbor. 

The project delivery team planned for success and maintained focus on the end goal. Integrating team efforts resulted in an aligned and focused approach that optimized use of innovative tools and technology in the field of construction and placement of 997 monumental dolosse structures.

Dolosse strength comes from their interlocking design and emplacement density, so emplacement accuracy was paramount. The team relied on a topographical three-dimensional Global Positioning System. One part of the system, called Posibloc, was attached to the dolosse unit and companion software, called Visibloc, displayed the image on a screen in real time and recorded each unit’s location using the three axes of rotation (yaw, pitch and roll).

The unconventional use of state-of-the-art technology allowed the team to shave $7 million from the original cost and complete the project well ahead of schedule and under budget while upholding the highest quality standards. 

“The Oswego Detached Breakwater PDT exemplified mission-focused execution and project-focused teamwork and is a credit to the Buffalo District and the entire Corps of Engineers,” said Lieutenant General Todd T. Semonite (RET), the 54th Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the Corps.

Maritime Editorial