New Drydock Doubles Capacity At Newport News Shipbuilding

A $28-million drydock facility that virtually doubles Newport News Shipbuilding's capacity for submarine overhaul and repair was opened recently with the arrival of the USS Lafayette (SSBN-616). The nuclearpowered ballistic missile submarine entered Dry Dock No. 4 to begin an 18-month, $75- million renovation.

Newport News currently has contracts totaling about $338 million to overhaul five submarines, and contracts to plan for similar work on four other submarines. It is the only private shipyard performing this type of work on Navy submarines.

The drydock construction began in January 1979, and was performed by Tidewater- Kiewit, a joint venture between Tidewater Construction Corporation (Norfolk) and Peter Kiewit Sons' Company (Omaha, Nebraska), and Conrad Brothers, Inc. (Chesapeake) .

The new drydock is 525 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 44 feet deep. An inactive shipway (No. 7) was demolished to make way for the dock and adjoining support facilities.

One and a half acres of land was reclaimed from the James River to serve as an additional bulkhead.

The drydock features a new type of steel staging that slides out from the drydock wall to reach the submarine's hull. Two pumps enable the dock to be pumped out in less than 4y2 hours. The floating removable gate to the drydock was fabricated by the shipyard.

Newport News currently has 10 Navy ships in various phases of construction: two aircraft carriers and eight Los Angeles class submarines. The shipyard is also jumboizing two ships for commercial customers.

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 16,  Apr 15, 1981 David Walton

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Maritime Reporter

First published in 1881 Maritime Reporter is the world's largest audited circulation publication serving the global maritime industry.