The stability of rotating machinery is a major challenge for the floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) units such as steam turbines or centrifugal compressors. The use of active magnetic bearings (AMBs) in turbomachines enables high operating speeds, active mechatronic system for the diagnostics, and the control and enables downsizing of the whole installation footprint. In case of strong base motions, the rotor can contact its touchdown bearings (TDBs) which are used as emergency and landing bearings. The aim of this study is to assess the stability of a rotating machine supported on AMBs during severe foundation excitation. The combined effect of unbalance forces, base motion excitation, and contact non-linearity on a rotor–AMB system response is analyzed focusing on the capacity of an augmented proportional-integral-derivative controller to maintain the system stable. An academic scale test rig was used for the experimental investigations. The controller was efficient and able to maintain the system stable during and after the application of the excitation, but the dynamic capacity of the AMBs was largely oversized with respect to the studied system. In order to check the capacity of the AMBs, when they are designed as a function of the rotor weight and expected excitation, numerical simulations were carried out (downsized). A finite element (FE) model was developed to model the on-board rotor–AMB system. Predicted and measured responses due to impulse excitation applied on the foundations were compared. The capacity of the controller to maintain the system stability is then discussed.