NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. –
When the first, dry dock in the United States was built at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) and opened in 1883, then Norfolk Navy Yard, it created a new area of responsibility to ensure that the dry dock was maintained and ready to support NNSY’s mission.
188 years later, NNSY has five operational dry docks. To keep them functioning and to continue to meet the needs of the Navy, Waterfront Support (Code 982) is responsible for maintaining the dry dock facilities and utility services on the waterfront. These services include: steam, power, freshwater, salt water, compressed air and collection and holding tanks (CHT).
“Dry docks are important facilities at NNSY. They are a national asset,” said Waterfront Support Branch Manager (Code 982) Brock Baskette. “Without dry docks, we don’t have a shipyard - and we can’t perform work in dry docks without essential utilities.”
Preventive maintenance is conducted every day to keep the dry docks certified. Production Resources Facilities Shop 06 Dry Docks (Code 900F.1) works with Code 982 to ensure that the dry docks are ready for the next availability.
“Shop 06 and Code 982 work together as a team,” said Shop 06 Dry Docks Supervisor John James. “Shop 06 personnel are the subject matter experts of the equipment. Code 982 personnel are responsible for the technical aspect of the dry docks. We tell them what needs to be repaired or replaced and they see that it happens.”
Ninety days before the arrival of a ship or submarine that will be dry docked, all parties involved including Naval Engineering Facilities Command (NAVFAC), Code 982, Shop 06, NNSY’s Docking Officer (Code 340) and leadership and managers for that specific project, perform an assessment, identifying any deficiencies that need to be resolved before the arrival of vessel. They perform a second assessment at the 30-day mark to see what discrepancies have been addressed and which ones still need attention. The final one is conducted at the 14-day mark. All parties involved sign off that all utilities are satisfactory.
It takes a team effort to tackle unique docking challenges as they arise.“There was a time when we had to put a submarine in Dry Dock 8, which was built specifically for aircraft carriers,” said Electrical Engineering Technician and Utilities Manager LaNell Lawrence. “Carriers and submarines work off of different voltages. We had to order, install and test new ungrounded, portable sub stations to make this availability happen. With a lot of team support, we successfully accomplished the challenge at hand.”
Over time, equipment must be refurbished and it becomes more challenging to find repair parts as they become obsolete. To address this issue, Naval Sea Systems Command’s Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP) was created to invest $21 billion over a 20-year time span to modernize infrastructure at the four public naval shipyards, including its dry docks.
“Dry Dock 4 is currently undergoing modernization through SIOP,” said James. “Shop 06, Code 982 and Code 984 perform a 35 percent, 65 percent and 100 percent review to ensure that the work being performed is up to standard. If something is spotted that is not within standards, then Code 982 shows proof as to why it is not.”
A Saltwater Upgrade Project in Dry Dock 8 is scheduled to start in 2023. Once completed, it will increase the salt water supply capacity at Dry Dock 8 to support the new Ford-class carrier. Also scheduled under SIOP is a caisson renovation project for Dry Dock 8 which will be retrofitted with flood through tubes, changing the flooding system, making it more modernized.
“Facilities are always changing to meet the needs of the vessels,” said Dry Dock Engineer Prat Ramesh.
Code 982 will continue to play its part to ensure that NNSY is keeping up with the times and getting submarines and carriers back to the fleet.