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$800M face lift starts at Pearl Harbor yard


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POSTED: Saturday, February 21, 2009

Over the next 26 years, the Pentagon could spend up to $800 million to modernize the 150-acre Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard to meet the increasing needs of the Pacific Fleet.

               

     

 

Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard

        Established: By the Navy as a coaling station in 1842
       

Size: 150 acres

       

Facilities: 176 buildings and 38 structures

       

Dry docks: Four

       

Future: Servicing 60 percent (19) of the Navy's submarine fleet by end of the year

       

Budget: $600 million, of which more than $390 million is payroll for civilian workers

       

Force: 4,300 civilians, 500 uniformed personnel

       

 

       

Source: U.S. Navy

       

 

       

Yesterday, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, presided over the groundbreaking in the first step in the modernization program—a $25.5 million military construction project to provide permanent facilities for the distribution of water, compressed air, welding gases and other utilities to shipyard dry docks and piers.

Shipyard workers must now install these services on a temporary basis whenever they begin work on a ship or submarine.

The shipyard, which employs 4,300 civilians, is the state's largest industrial employer and is the largest ship repair facility between the West Coast and the Far East.

Inouye, according to a Navy news release, said the shipyard's modernization is “;important if we are to stay in the front lines”; of the Asia-Pacific Region.

“;The Asia-Pacific area is a place of special concern, a place of potential problems and potential trouble ... so we should be ready and prepared,”; Inouye said.

As part of the emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region, the first Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, the USS Hawaii, will be home-ported at Pearl Harbor this summer, Capt. Greg R. Thomas, shipyard commander, said.

By the end of this summer, there will be 17 nuclear attack submarines at Pearl Harbor, two more than currently assigned. Eventually, 60 percent of the Navy's nuclear attack submarines will call Pearl Harbor home.

More than 90 percent of the shipyard's work today is on submarines.

Thomas said shipyard structures are in “;desperate need of modernization”; and that the shipyard facilities' layout is “;outdated and inefficient.”;

Most of the shipyard's structures were built between 1913 and 1945. Many of the 176 buildings and 38 other structures—such as dry docks, piers and wharves—are scattered throughout the shipyard and are housed within outmoded buildings or temporary structures.

This is because early Pearl Harbor Shipyard work centered on large aircraft carriers, battleships and cruisers, according to Kerry Gershaneck, shipyard spokesman. Maintenance work was done at these shops and not on the waterfront. Thomas said that this causes problems, resulting in delays in completion of work on submarine overhauls and surface ship maintenance, and wastes critically short resources.

To keep these buildings safe and operational, the Navy spent more than $50 million last year in modifications, renovations and environmental and safety requirements.

Two months ago, Rear Adm. Dixon R. Smith, commander of Navy Region Hawaii, approved the 30 projects that make up the shipyard's facilities modernization plan.

Gershaneck said that when a Pearl Harbor-based warship is sent to another shipyard for repairs, “;there are serious costs and consequences for both our nation and for our sailors and their families.”;

“;Of greatest significance is the negative impact on our national security,”; he said.