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Norfolk Naval Shipyard breaks ground on production training facility

By Allen Cone
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Norfolk Naval Shipyard breaks ground on production training facility
The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush sits in a dry dock on February 26, at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va. Photo by Mass Communication Spec. Seaman Steven Edgar/U.S. Navy

July 2 (UPI) -- Norfolk Naval Shipyard conducted a groundbreaking ceremony for a 157,000-square-foot, $64.7 million production training facility.

Training currently spread across 26 different locations and eight departments will be consolidated in one complex in Portsmouth, Va. The complex is one of the largest shipyards in the world specializing in repairing, overhauling and modernizing ships and submarines

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"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," Shipyard Commander Capt. Kai Torkelson said at the groundbreaking Monday. "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."

RQ Construction designed the facility and will begin the two-year construction project this month.

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Included will be 82 academic classrooms and 26 mock-up areas. Personnel are in radiological controls, quality assurance, nuclear and non-nuclear engineering, planning, production and operations, and lifting and handling.

In addition, the complex will support future training requirements associated with Gerald R. Ford-class carriers and Virginia-class submarines.

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The facility will offer instruction in pipefitting, welding, crane and rigging, and motor and generator repair.

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The complex will include the sail salvaged from USS La Jolla, which is finishing up its conversion at the shipyard from an operational fast-attack submarine into a moored training ship.

The shipyard plans to become the NAVSEA corporation's sole Sail Learning Center using this 76,000-pound centerpiece. Rather than serving as a monument, La Jolla's sail will become a mockup to train such skills as hull cuts, piping, staging and painting.

"We're trying to be unique and forward thinking here," Sail Learning Center Manager Steve Smith said. Although it's a Los Angeles class sail, it can be adapted to train on Virginia-class submarines, he said.

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Norfolk Naval shipyard is the Navy's oldest and largest industrial facility.

"While NNSY can dry-dock, overhaul and repair any ship in the U.S. fleet, it can also perform any technical, fabrication, manufacturing and engineering work your organization might need accomplished," according to the Navy. "In fact, NNSY is known for tackling jobs never before performed, and applying unique planning methods and work procedures through modern process improvements."

Huntington Ingalls Industries, which is the largest military shipbuilding company in the country, is based 20 miles north in Newport News as part of Hampton Roads region.

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Naval Station Norfolk has the world's largest concentration of U.S. Navy forces through 75 ships alongside 14 piers and with 134 aircraft and 11 aircraft hangars, according to Military.com.

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