The Afobaka Dam was completed in 1964 as part of the Brokopondo hydroelectric plant. The dam generates 180 megawatts, providing power to about 70% of the small country of Suriname. The Afobaka Dam creates an approximately 602-square-mile (1,559.2-square-kilometer) reservoir that stores water during the rainy season and releases it throughout the year for power production. Since commissioning the dam, the structure’s 35-foot-wide-by-45-foot-tall (10.7-meter-wide-by-13.7-foot-tall) tainter gates have never been opened more than 6 inches.
To transfer ownership of the dam, a fully open gate test of each gate was required, and this would cause flooding to an adjacent urban area. The dam owners have a non-floating bulkhead built in the 1980s. After fabricating the bulkhead, the dam’s gantry crane was replaced, and the new crane did not have capacity for the existing bulkhead system. Ayres designed a floating bulkhead with weights less than the capacity of the gantry crane that the dam owner can use to complete full gate tests for the dam.