R / V Deepsea Miner Equipped W i t h 70-Foot-High Enclosure

Dome East Corporation, 325 Duffy Avenue, Hicksville, N.Y. 11801, just completed design, engineering, fabrication and installation of the world's largest derrick enclosure.

It is now in use aboard the R / V Deepsea Miner II sailing out of California.

The structure is a 52-foot-diameter, 70- foot-high combination Triaspan vertical space frame cylinder and geodesic dome, which provides weather protection for a unique 55-foot-high gimbal-mounted derrick aboard the ship. The computer-controlled derrick holds a pipe which extends to the ocean floor, a depth of up to three miles, where it will pick up metal-rich nodules from the sea floor. This project is part of the research and development of deepsea mining by Deepsea Ventures Inc., in Gloucester, Va.

Erika Franke, age 27, supervised the site construction for Dome East, using a crew of 12 union shipyard workers at Northwest Marine Iron Works, Portland, Ore. Under her direction, the space-frame was assembled for installation on the ship in four days — record time for such a large spaceframe structure. The complete structure weighs under 20,000 pounds and is constructed with aluminum struts, aluminum hubs, aircraft hardware and a vinyl-onpolyester membrane suspended in light tension from the frame. It was constructed from the top down, using a 12-ton crane to lift it row-by-row as it was assembled. When completed on the dock, the entire building with membrane was lifted 70 feet in the air over the derrick onto the ship and welded to preset anchor pads on the deck. The build- ing is engineered to withstand 100-knot winds with a 2x safety factor.

Supervisor Franke feels that her work for Dome East Corp. has the positive effect of breaking down occupational sex segregation.

She finds that Dome East is an imaginative corporation in the new and fast-growing field of space-frame structures technology.

"It's important to know that the building is well-engineered and expertly fabricated before you go out in the field 3,000 miles away to put it together The first day on the site," she commented is always the hardest. You get started at 8 o'clock in the morning with 12 workers who may have no experience with a woman supervisor. You have to show them quickly that you know what you are doing and can organize the assembly operation. By the end of the first day, they get over any apprehension they may have, and we become a very effective team which can set new erection time records for large structures, as we did on the Deepsea derrick enclosure." Ms. Franke's field experience in the past three years includes work on over 10 other Dome East projects in New York, Chicago, Tampa, Indianapolis, and other cities throughout the United States. Ms. Franke studied history at Vassar and architectural design at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has done work in research and development of molded building components.

She gets personal satisfaction from working in the field, "where engineering is translated into action." She commented, "Gender-identified work is becoming a thing of the past— especially in innovative companies. The essential issue, of course, is whether or not one can get the job done."

Other stories from May 1977 issue


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