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Library: Aluminum Makes a Splash
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Aluminum Makes a Splash ... From Pontoons to  Palaces

April 2017

If you’ve just won the lottery (not your local “Pick 3 but the Mega Millions variety), you might be interested in this new all-aluminum "super yacht". Launched in February 2017 by the Rossinavi shipyard in Viareggio, Italy, the 165-foot Endeavor II is designed for luxurious round-the-world cruising with a range of 5,000 nautical miles (nm) at a 12-knot cruising speed. If your tastes run a bit more on the sporty side, the company launched a second all-aluminum super yacht this month. The sleek 162-foot Aurora “delivers a respectable 17- knots at half load”, topping out at 21 knots, and she will reach 3,800 nm on one tank at an economical 12-knot speed.

If you haven’t been that lucky, maybe you’ll celebrate spring with a new fishing or pontoon boat – also often constructed in all-aluminum. Extrusion is a major component in both – from decking planks to keel sections, rub rails, railings and a variety of other applications.

Whether it’s for super luxe or super fun vessels, boat designers and naval architects are choosing aluminum and aluminum extrusions for similar reasons. With light weight (which translates into improved performance and fuel efficiency), corrosion resistance, durability and the ability to form complex shapes in a cost effective manner thereby simplifying assembly, aluminum and aluminum extrusions fit the bill for boat designs. In addition to 6xxx alloys, typically used for structural applications, 5xxx alloys are often utilized as well due to their excellent marine corrosion resistance.

Aluminum Finding Increased Use in Working Vessels Too

But it’s not just pleasure craft. Aluminum (and extrusion) is a major component of the Navy’s newest vessels – the Littoral Combat Ships, and in hard-working craft like this barge designed as a pump and equipment support vessel on oil sands mining tailing ponds.

“Heavy displacement floating units are not typically fabricated out of aluminum as it is assumed there is no advantage over steel,” wrote Jennifer Kirby, P. Eng. of AMEC in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. In her technical paper presented at an aluminum conference in 2013, she outlines the advantages of using aluminum on this application.

  1. Maintainability-there is no need to remove the structure for an extended outage for material refurbishment due to corrosion
  2. Ease of Construction Assembly – extrusions enable the use of fasteners, which significantly reduces site assembly.

The barge design allows the deck to carry heavy loads, aluminum’s light weight enables ease of installation, and aluminum’s cryogenic strength (it gets stronger as the temperature drops) allows the barge to be left frozen in place in winter, withstanding the pressure of Northern Alberta ice at -40 degrees F. The aluminum oil sands barge has an operating life of 10 years with minimal maintenance and a possible life extension to 50 years. Kirby points out that aluminum boats (shown at left) have been used effectively in tailings ponds for many years with zero maintenance requirements.


Read more:
Close-up video of Rossinavi’s Endeavor II:


Photos:, MAADI group, AMEC