Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) held a groundbreaking for the renovation of its historic Dry Dock 4 January 23.
This $200 million renovation, spanning nearly three years, marks NNSY’s biggest initiative yet in the realization of Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP). SIOP is a 20-year, $21 billion program dedicated to completely refurbishing the nation’s four public shipyards by modernizing equipment, improving workflow and upgrading dry docks and facilities.
The Dry Dock 4 renovation will meet the Navy’s needs for submarine overhaul during the 2020s and decades into the future, supporting Ohio, Virginia and Columbia-class boats.
“Today’s groundbreaking will ensure this historic dry dock will continue to serve the Navy and nation for the future Navy, just as it has done for the last 100 years,” said Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) James Geurts. “The Navy continues to invest heavily in our naval shipyard workforce and supporting infrastructure to ensure we can continue to support the world’s finest naval force now and into the future.”
First opened in April 1919, Dry Dock 4 was the first of three dry docks built at NNSY during its World War I-era expansion. Approximately 1,012 feet long, 144-feet wide and 40-feet deep, it ranked among the largest concrete structures in the world when it opened. Notable ships that have graced the dock include USS Langley (CV-1), the nation’s very first aircraft carrier; USS Texas (BB-35), a battleship that fought in both World Wars; the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39) that received its modernization at NNSY a decade prior to being destroyed in the attack on Pearl Harbor; and the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, one of many Allied fleet repairs conducted at NNSY during World War II.
“If these walls could talk, they would tell a compelling story of vital service performed right here for the United States Navy in the past century,” said Shipyard Commander Captain Kai Torkelson. “Now, more than 100 years later after it opened, we are upgrading the dock, not only so it can support the needs of the current Navy, but the Navy in the 2050s and 2060s, on all classes of submarines, both present and future.”
During its renovation, two-and-a-half feet of concrete will be replaced from the dry dock’s floor, as well as two feet from the sidewalls. In addition to replacing the dry dock caisson, there will be a complete restoration of the pumpwell while upgrading all mechanical and electrical equipment. To complete the massive overhaul, approximately 2,300 linear feet of mechanical and electrical services in the dock area will be replaced.
In addition to the dry dock renovation, NNSY will also be renovating the adjacent Buildings 261 and 1539, which house a storage area and repair shop, and their surrounding area. A separate $26 million, two-and-a-half year project, the building renovations will provide new roofing, interior enhancements and other upgrades. In addition, the dock’s Stiff Leg Derrick Crane, that is no longer in service, will be removed.
These projects continue determined efforts in America’s Shipyard to modernize and streamline its work on Navy submarines. In June 2019, NNSY dedicated its Submarine Maintenance Facility, which consolidates submarine maintenance, production and support shops into a single facility adjacent to the shipyard’s submarine dry docks and piers.
Discussing the importance of renovating NNSY to support both workforce capabilities and Navy needs, NAVSEA Commander, Vice Admiral Tom Moore said, “Your shipyard has been in existence longer than our great nation. It was designed and laid out to build ships powered by the wind and coal. SIOP is our opportunity to rethink the infrastructure of our shipyards to improve workflow, modernize our capital equipment, and execute the dry dock modernization needed to maintain our current and future Navy. As the only public shipyard on the east coast able to dry dock an aircraft carrier, and given your co-location with the largest Fleet concentration in the Navy, we are dedicated to deliver a 21st Century Shipyard to support our amazing women and men who keep our ships in the fight.”
NNSY, a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command, is one of the oldest, largest and most multifaceted industrial facilities belonging to the U.S. Navy, specializing in repairing, overhauling and modernizing ships and submarine.
By Michael Brayshaw, Lead Public Affairs Specialist, Norfolk Naval Shipyard Public Affairs