This Thursday, September 18th marks the arrival of the first cruise ship to San Francisco’s new James R. Herman Cruise Terminal on Pier 27. This will also be the first true test of the gangway. The gangway bridges the span between the cruise ship door and the building concourse so that passengers can embark and disembark, and until that first ship arrives testing can only go so far.

The design team of Pfau Long Architecture and KMD Architects chose to work with the Swedish company FMT to manufacture the gangway, one of only three companies in the world that specializes in building this type of passenger boarding bridge.
This essential piece of equipment was custom designed to meet all the variables of an ever-changing cruise industry as well as the specific complexities offered by the Bay Area. The design team studied thirty-nine different types of ships, each with passenger entrances and exits at a unique height and lateral position on the ship. Adding to this, the tides in the San Francisco Bay will rise and fall up to 7-feet on any given day. This means that the gangway must be flexible and technical enough to move and telescope in all directions, while still adhering to the strict seismic requirements of San Francisco.
With an overall height of 60-feet, the gangway can rise from 8- to 40-feet in elevation to accommodate the tides and height of ship doors. It moves laterally to provide a service range of over 270-feet along the pier, and it can telescope from 38- to 56-feet wide to bridge between the ship door and the building. The terminal building’s concourse is designed to accommodate the different type of ships as well. The panels on this 2nd story outdoor walkway are all removable to allow the gangway to attach at any point along the east side of the building’s 300-foot long concourse.
Upon completing the fabrication and construction of the gangway in Sweden, FMT dismantled the massive piece of equipment into manageable pieces and welded it to a cargo ship that brought it right to Pier 27. It arrived five days ago and is currently being reassembled and tested at the site—the true test, of course, will be the arrival of the first voyagers to disembark on Pier 27.
If you’d like to see San Francisco’s new cruise terminal complete with gangway, but aren’t planning a cruise any time soon, join us for the James R. Herman Cruise Terminal ribbon cutting on the 25th of September at noon.