Bridge Erection Propulsion Boats

Birdon was contracted by the Defence Material Organisation (DMO) to design and build 24 Bridge Erection Propulsion Boats (BEPBs) for the Australian Army. The vessels were to replace the existing fleet of Bridge Erection Boats (BEB). The $16 million contract included integrated logistic support, technical documentation and initial in-service training.

The project was undertaken in three key stages:

  • Stage 1
    Initial design phase and the development of a proto-type vessel
  • Stage 2
    Engineering and fabrication of twenty-four (24) vessels
  • Stage 3
    Three-year warranty and maintenance support for the vessels located in Darwin, Townsville, Sydney and Brisbane.

Birdon was also successful in its bid to provide Life of Type Extensions services for the BEPBs and is currently repowering and refitting each with Birdon-owned NAMJet water jets for improved slow speed control and overall performance.

US Army Bridge Erection Boats (BEB)

Birdon is currently under contract to deliver 374 Bridge Erection Boats for the US Army at a cost of about US$252M over 4 years.The win was the culmination of four years of design, tender submission and prototype trials, based on Birdon’s Bridge Erection Propulsion Boat design for the Australian Army.

The vessels are road, air and sea transportable and are used to construct and manage floating ribbon (pontoon) bridges for mobile armoured units. When coupled to a bridge section they can also be used to ferry military vehicles across open water.

A key component of the design is the NAMJet propulsion unit (water jet) which provides significantly more thrust at lower speeds than other water jets on the market today whilst maintaining a top speed of more than25 knots.

Technical details

BEBs are a vital mobility asset for any army requiring water crossing capability. They are used to manoeuvre floating modules to create bridges or act as ferries across strategic waterways while also providing thrust anchorage against strong currents during bridge construction and operation.

The importance of this type of bridge system was reinforced during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 when the US Army took only five hours to build a 600-metre ribbon bridge across the Tigris River. This was the longest floating bridge constructed in a combat zone since WWII.

The US Army BEBs have Namjet Traktor water jets which produce 30% more thrust and a significantly higher top speed of 24 knots. Namjet (North American Water Jet) is now owned by Birdon.

Production details

Birdon is currently delivering an initial run of 25 vessels –known as the Low Rate Initial Production phase (LRIP) –for a fixed sum of just over US$9 million. This LRIP phase is being used to finalise key design factors and bed down production processes before final delivery targets are set and full production begins.The first 25 BEBs –the LRIP vessels –are being built by Birdon America at its Denver facility. LRIP is due to complete at the end of 2017 and will be followed by the construction of up to 374 production BEBs over the next four years with a potential contract value of $US252 million.

Newcastle Port Pilot Boat

Birdon designed, constructed and delivered the 16-metre pilot vessel Henry Newton. The Henry Newtonwas built and surveyed to full Lloyds Classification.

The new 16m Pilot Cutter ‘Henry Newton’ was delivered to Newcastle Port Corporation on the 30th of October 2011.

Birdon partnered with internationally acclaimed designers Camarc for this project to design and build a new pilot vessel for Newcastle Port Corporation.

The vessel is in 2C class New South Wales Maritime Survey and is also built to Lloyds Register of Shipping 100+.

Henry Newtown can operate in the most challenging conditions and will serve to transport pilots safely to and from ships in the Newcastle area over the next 30 years.