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NEWS | July 1, 2019

Norfolk Naval Shipyard breaks ground for its new production training facility

By Michael Brayshaw, NNSY Lead Public Affairs Specialist

Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) held a groundbreaking for its new production training facility July 1. 

This multi-story, multifaceted facility marks NNSY’s biggest step yet in the realization of Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan (SIOP).  This will consolidate training currently spread across 26 different NNSY locations and eight departments into a single 157,000 square-foot, $64.7 million dollar facility. 

Featuring 82 academic classrooms and 26 mock-up areas, this will become the training hub for NNSY personnel including those in Radiological Controls, Quality Assurance, Nuclear and Non-Nuclear Engineering and Planning, Production and Operations, and Lifting and Handling. This facility will also support future training requirements associated with Gerald R. Ford Class Carriers and Virginia Class Submarines, strategically positioning the shipyard to support The Navy Our Nation Needs. 

“In establishing this large, modern and consolidated training facility, we will provide a hub for the shipyard’s academic classrooms and on-the-job training areas, allowing theory and application to meet,” said Shipyard Commander Captain Kai Torkelson at the groundbreaking.  “Supporting those efforts, this facility will also house administrative offices, conference rooms, training aid storage areas, and other support spaces.  Innovation, collaboration and knowledge sharing will now transpire all under one roof, and streamlined to benefit our people.”

Facility training areas offering opportunities in applied instruction include drydock, carrier shipboard, and fall protection mock-ups, and training areas in pipefitting, welding, crane and rigging, and motor and generator repair.

As a centralized training hub for enhancing the knowledge and abilities of future generations of shipyard employees, this facility will offer comfort as well as convenience, with amenities such as outdoor seating areas, break rooms, study rooms, and a mini-mart. 

RQ Construction, LLC, based in Carlsbad, Calif., designed the facility and will begin the two-year construction project this month.

In the plans to be co-located with the facility once it’s completed is the sail salvaged from USS La Jolla (SSN 701), currently finishing up its conversion at NNSY from an operational fast-attack submarine into a Moored Training Ship (MTS).  NNSY aims to become the NAVSEA corporation’s sole Sail Learning Center using this 76,000-lb. centerpiece.  While submarine sails are sometimes repurposed as monuments, La Jolla’s will become a mockup to train shipyarders in areas such as hull cuts, piping, staging, painting, and more.  “We’re trying to be unique and forward thinking here,” said Sail Learning Center Manager Steve Smith, adding that while it’s a Los Angeles class sail, it can be adapted to train on Virginia class submarines in the future. 

With sail work being among the greatest challenges in overhauling fast-attack nuclear submarines, having an actual one for shipyarders to train is a priority.  Sheetmetal, Outside Machine, Electrical, Pipefitter, Painting/Blasting, Lifting and Handling and Temporary Services shops all stand to benefit in expanding the skills and abilities of their employees.  Smith said that even before the sail is moved to the production training facility, shipyarders will get hands-on experience painting and blasting it. 

Congressman Bobby Scott, representing the 3rd Congressional District of Virginia, and Dave Wickersham, attending on behalf of Congresswoman Elaine Luria, representing the 2nd Congressional District of Virginia, attended the groundbreaking.