Norfolk Naval Shipyard Breaks Ground on $200M Drydock Renovation

Image courtesy USN

Published Jan 24, 2020 3:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Thursday, Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) held a groundbreaking for the renovation of its First World War-era Dry Dock 4. The $200 million, three-year renovation is NNSY’s biggest initiative yet as part of Naval Sea Systems Command’s Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP). 

“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 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.”

SIOP is a 20-year, $21 billion program dedicated to refurbishing the nation’s four public shipyards by modernizing equipment, improving workflow and upgrading dry docks and facilities. The aging yards were not designed to handle modern submarines, and the Navy says that their infrastructure issues account for a significant part of the service's long-running sub maintenance delays. The Dry Dock 4 renovation is intended to meet the Navy’s needs for submarine overhaul for the Ohio, Virginia and future Columbia-class boats. 

NNSY, part of Naval Sea Systems Command, is one of the Navy's oldest facilities - its earliest operations predate the United States, and it came into government possession during the Revolutionary War. Dry Dock 4 was built in 1919, the first of three dry docks built at NNSY during its World War I-era expansion. Roughly 1,000 feet long, 144 feet wide and 40 feet deep - big enough for a Panamax - it ranked among the largest concrete structures in the world when it opened. Notable ships that have passed through the dock include USS Langley, the nation's very first aircraft carrier; USS Texas, a battleship that fought in both World Wars; and the battleship USS Arizona, which received modernization at NNSY a decade before she was destroyed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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 with an upgrade for all mechanical and electrical equipment. To complete the massive overhaul, about 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.