Marine Fenders International, a manufacturer of marine fendering systems, was selected to supply its Ocean Guard™ netless foam-filled marine fender system to protect the sensitive assets of the Sea Launch space program at its homeport in Long Beach, California.

Sea Launch is a spacecraft launch service that uses a mobile sea platform for equatorial launches of commercial payloads on specialized Zenit 3SL rockets.

The Sea Launch system marine infrastructure consists of two very unique ships. The first unique ship, Sea Launch Commander, is the command ship for Sea Launch, known as the Assembly and Command Ship (ACS). It was built by Kværner Govan, at Govan shipyard, in Glasgow, Scotland.

The ship is 660ft long and approximately 106ft wide, with a displacement of more than 34,000t. The crew is about 240 people. It has a cruising range of 18,000 nautical miles.

The launcher and its payload are assembled on a purpose-built ship Sea Launch Commander at its home port is Long Beach, California. It is then positioned on top of the self-propelled platform Ocean Odyssey (the second unique ship in the Sea Launch infrastructure), and moved to the equatorial Pacific Ocean for launch, with the Sea Launch Commander serving as command center.

The Ocean Odyssey, known as the Launch Platform (LP), is a self-propelled, semi-submersible drilling rig which was rebuilt as a mobile spacecraft launch platform and is currently used by Sea Launch for equatorial Pacific Ocean launches. It works in connection with the Sea Launch Commander assembly and control ship.

The Ocean Odyssey, a former North Sea oil drilling platform, was refurbished at the Rosenberg Shipyard in Stavanger, Norway.

In its current form, the Odyssey is 436ft long and approximately 220ft wide, with an empty draft displacement of 30,000t, and a submerged draft displacement of 50,600t. It has accommodations for 68 crew and launch system personnel – including living, dining, medical and recreation facilities. A large, environmentally controlled hangar stores the rocket during transit, and then rolls it out and erects it prior to fueling and launch. Both vessels are equipped with spacecraft handling and launch support systems.


Upgrades to the homeport were completed in 2006. These upgrades included the installation of 5ft diameter x 12ft long Ocean Guard netless foam-filled fenders. These tough and resilient marine fenders are constructed with a heat-laminated energy-absorbing resilient foam core; a thick, tough filament nylon tire cord-reinforced non-marking urethane skin; and heavy-duty integral swivel-end fittings internally connected with a stud-link chain.

Ocean Guard™ netless foam-filled marine fenders efficiently absorb significant amounts of energy with a low corresponding reaction force, lower than pneumatic or rubber buckling fenders. These Ocean Guard™ netless foam-filled fenders are designed to absorb 225ft-kips (31t-m) of energy when 60% compressed with a corresponding load of 167 kips (75t).

The installation of these fenders took full advantage of their floating capabilities, thus providing optimal fendering at all tides.

The resilient nature of a foam-filled Ocean Guard™ netless fender gives it the unique ability to conform to the contours and extremities of a vessel’s hull, such as rub rails. The hull conforming feature eliminates point loading on hull contours (which can occur with panel type fenders), therefore evenly distributing energies over a greater surface area. This results in much lower hull pressures.