What is a “Superdock?”

By Russell Fountain, President, Executive Building Consultant

What is a “Superdock”? Prior to a recent Hurricane event, I had no idea either. Having been in this industry for almost 30 years, one thing I do know is we are constantly presented with new and challenging losses. Upon receipt of this new consultative assignment, it became clear this claim was garnering a lot of attention from across the globe. And many were asking the same question I was, “what is a Superdock”?

As building consultants, we typically stay focused on the scope, value, and pricing aspects of an insurance claim while the adjusters and examiners determine the applicable coverages related to the terms and conditions of the insurance policy. In the case of a Superdock, we learned quickly that a specialized and tailored insurance policy was in effect to cover the wide range of possible exposures for the policyholder’s property. So, back to the original question, “what is a Superdock?” It is a structure constructed along the shoreline of a body of water and designed to support the offshore marine industry.

In this case, the Superdock we worked on was spread out over 35 acres of land and had over 1600 LF of a steel and wooden bulkhead system that allowed huge tugboats and massive barges to tie up and dock. Large cranes aided with loading and unloading of equipment, shipping waste, and many other items. The cranes operated on large crane mats constructed of railroad ties and steel rebar. The entire 35-acre facility was covered in layers upon layers of gravel rock to support the heavy equipment, lifts, trucks, and other service equipment to operate on. The Department of Homeland Security required security fencing around the entire property, so approximately a mile of 6′ tall chain link fencing with barbed wire surrounded the site. The facility has a massive electrical infrastructure system, various large holding tanks for potable and non-potable water, concrete loading docks, wash-down areas, crew quarters, office buildings, and other support structures. Forklifts, all-terrain vehicles, front-end loaders, and many other pieces of equipment serviced the operations at this location.

In this hurricane event, wind and rising surface water (storm surge) affected this facility. The high winds damaged all the structures, toppled heavy equipment, water tanks, and electrical substations. What was not damaged by wind, was damaged by the force of the storm surge and rising water. The tugboats and barges tied up and moored along the bulkhead were lifted on top of the bulkhead causing extensive damage to the steel and wooden components. The gravel that covered the 35-acre facility was washed out to sea and the gravel alongside the 1600 LF bulkhead was not only washed away but the soil underneath it was undermined and lost as well. This resulted in huge holes that, in some cases, were 5-6 feet deep. All of the underground electrical conduits buried alongside the bulkhead were left exposed, some displaced and possibly damaged in some cases. The property’s fencing was gone, and all the lifts, ATVs, trucks, and other site-specific service equipment were flooded.

The hurricane damage to the Superdock left it in shambles with zero production capacity. The insured began cleanup efforts immediately, and we all began assessing the damage to determine the proper scope of damage and repair methodology. Coverage questions arose immediately with the adjusters and examiners as they learned of the devastation. Forensic accountants were tasked with determining the loss of revenue at this location, and our team assisted them with the period of restoration report for proper financial forecasting.

As we helped sort out the damages, the broker, carrier, and adjuster worked tirelessly together and were able to find coverage in the insurance policy for most of the wind and flood-damaged items at this location. In the end, the spirit of teamwork and collaboration made this large complex loss a huge success. And if you ever come across a new claim and the loss notice has the word “Superdock” written on it, hopefully, an air of familiarity will overcome you and put you a little at ease. 

If you would like more information, please contact George Sanford at (803) 732-6600 or via email at george@warrenforensics.com.


This is a publication of Southern Loss Association, Inc., P.O. Box 421564, Atlanta, GA 30342. The articles published on this website are in a general format and are not intended to be legal advice applicable to any specific circumstances. Legal opinions may vary when based on subtle factual differences. All rights reserved.