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A Camel by Any Other Name

Posted by Corey Sechler on February 24, 2021

camel collage (5)-1

What does the word “camel” bring to mind for you? If you are an older film buff, you might think of many scenes from the classic movie “Lawrence of Arabia.” A younger generation may remember Indiana Jones riding a camel in three different films. More recently, some of you will be reminded of a wise-cracking camel walking through an office announcing, “It’s Hump Day!”

But for anyone involved in shipping, the word brings forth meaning that has little or nothing to do with those hump-backed desert inhabitants other than their nickname “ships of the desert.” Since the naval application of the name was first used in 1610, camels have been floats, fenders and protective equipment for ships of the sea. These camels come in many forms and many types of materials. The shapes and sizes reflect the vessel that the camel is berthing and the pier that is being protected. The materials have transitioned from wood to steel, rubber and finally FRP composites, reflecting the desire for longer lasting, low maintenance structures.

One of the successful chapters in the camel world involved an objective by the U.S. Navy to develop a one-size-fits-all camel for berthing all classes of submarines which could reduce inventory, maintenance, and costs, while improving operational efficiency.

In 2010, our Composite Advantage team developed a universal Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) composite camel which met the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) requirements for energy absorption, stability, and long service life.

The first set of FRP camels were installed at the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut. They are 36 ft. long, 18 ft. high with a stand-off depth of 17 ft. and have a structural weight of 70,000 lb. Furthermore, they demonstrated the ability to protect the hull underneath the waterline from potential damage.

We have grown and expanded our capabilities since then

Since our earliest endeavors, Composite Advantage and Kenway Composites have fabricated and installed over 20 sets of Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) submarine camels around the world. This has led to the development of FRP camels for the Navy’s aircraft carriers. First installed in 2017, the camels weigh 235,000 lbs. and transfer loads from the ship to the pier or wharf.

The ship side of the camel is 56 ft. wide and features a fender system comprised of UHMW-PE facings on FRP panels with high crushing strength to protect the ship’s hull. Along the 65 ft. length of the camel, internal shear panels transfer load to the back of the camel for reaction to the pier. The top surface offers a non-slip overlay and mooring cleats. Each camel has an open bottom box design to accommodate wave motion.

Today, Composite Advantage and Kenway Composites, plus others, are now under one name. We are called Creative Composites Group (CCG). Our wide range of FRP camels offer a safe berth for docking vessels. The floating structures fit between the ship and pier and protect them both from accidental impact. The expanded line of camels includes the following:

  • Log camels which float between the ship and the pier, ensuring that the vessel maintains a safe distance. These cylinders also help to distribute berthing loads across pier piles.
  • Submarine camels maintain proper spacing between submersibles and a pier or wharf. FRP composites provide corrosion resistance, little or no maintenance, and a long-life cycle.
  • Aircraft carrier camels resist corrosion in harsh saltwater conditions and provide separation between gigantic naval vessels and the dock. With a 25-year life span, these low-maintenance FRP products eliminate the high maintenance and replacement costs of steel structures.
  • Ship separators are used for ship-to-ship mooring in crowded ports and ship-to-wharf mooring. Used in both military and commercial ports, these separators resist corrosion and have a non-slip overlay for extra safety.


Our field services help set us apart

Fieldwork is always a challenge, but the technicians at CCG can complete complicated tasks in settings with limited space, time, tooling, and protection from the environment.

Field Services support our FRP manufacturing and provides for both equipment and facilities work in industries using corrosive chemicals or operating in challenging environments. Given the size of the camels, the product is manufactured in transportable modules in the factory. Our field staff assembles the modules into the camel at shipyards near the base and delivers the camel to the pier by tugboat.

The Creative Composites Group is comprised of several leading companies

CCG combines the expertise of many prominent companies to deliver innovative, engineered solutions to allow our customers to take advantage of the benefits of Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) composites. This expertise gives our customers products that are lightweight, high strength, corrosion-resistant, and long-lasting. All because we offer the best in composite design and advanced manufacturing processes!

Contact us today to discover what we can do for you.

Topics: waterfront infrastructure, FRP, field service, camels

Corey Sechler

AboutCorey Sechler

Corey Sechler is the Technical Sales Manager of Waterfront Solutions for the Creative Composites Group. He works with customers to develop the best solution using the wide range of FRP composite waterfront products.

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