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NEWS | Sept. 25, 2023

Navy, Hawaii honor dry dock construction start with traditional blessing


The Navy started construction on Dry Dock 5 at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PHNSY & IMF), Aug. 19, 2023, with a small Hawaiian blessing.

The event was intended to be a full groundbreaking ceremony. Out of respect for the ongoing recovery in Maui due to the tragic fires, it was changed to keep only the Hawaiian elements, the blessing and maile lei untying, which are of great significance to every construction project in Hawaii.

Dry Dock 5 will operationally replace Dry Dock 3, the smallest of the four dry docks at Pearl Harbor. Built in 1942 under wartime conditions, Dry Dock 3 lacks the size and floor strength needed to service Virginia-class submarines and larger surface ships. It will become functionally obsolete at the end of 2023, once the Navy’s Los Angeles-class submarines are decommissioned from service.

The $3.42 billion historic project is a part of the Navy’s Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP). SIOP is a holistic investment plan that integrates all infrastructure and industrial plant equipment investments at the nation’s four public shipyards to meet nuclear fleet maintenance requirements and improve Navy maintenance capabilities by expanding shipyard capacity and optimizing shipyard configuration.

Pearl Harbor’s unique position in the heart of the Pacific, and its largely local workforce, provide an environment where Hawaiian culture is a part of the fabric of the shipyard and its history.

For example, Hawaiian culture dictates a blessing of respect for any project site before construction begins. PHNSY’s ceremony featured a Kahu, or Hawaiian priest, who blessed the land and everyone involved to keep them safe.

As part of the blessing, a maile lei, a garland made from the maile vine, was untied to commemorate the construction. The maile lei has been used in the Hawaiian culture for centuries to communicate respect, blessing and friendship.

Main contract construction is being carried out by a Honolulu-based joint venture contract between Dragados USA, Hawaiian Dredging Company and Orion Government Services, and will create an estimated 2,500 new jobs locally during the construction period. Other contracts will bring additional electrical power to the shipyard and improve environmental and cultural resources in Pearl Harbor.

Dry Dock 5 construction is scheduled to complete in 2027 to support fleet projected maintenance requirements. This is the first of many investments planned to recapitalize the shipyard, increase throughput, and improve the quality of service for shipyard workers.

PHNSY & IMF is a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command and a one-stop regional maintenance center for the Navy's surface ships and submarines. It is the largest industrial employer in the state of Hawaii with a combined civilian and military workforce of over 6,000. Strategically located in the heart of the Pacific, the Navy’s largest ship repair facility is about a week of steam time closer to potential regional contingencies.