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$1.7B dry dock contract awarded for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard renovation

$1.7B dry dock contract awarded for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard renovation
The Department of Defense has awarded a contract for work at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which currently is only capable of accommodating Los Angeles-class submarines, such as the USS Columbia, pictured. File Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael H. Lee/U.S. Navy

Aug. 17 (UPI) -- A $1.7 billion contract has been awarded for dry dock renovation at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, the U.S. Navy said on Monday.

Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., awarded 381 Constructors of Omaha, Neb., the contract for construction of a multi-mission dry dock to be completed in 2028, according to the Department of Defense.

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The multi-mission dry dock construction will expand and reconfigure the existing dry dock complex to increase ability to maintain, modernize and repair the Navy's attack submarines, the branch said.

The seven-year project will expand Dry Dock #1 and construct new concrete floors, walls, pump systems, and other utilities to improve the 221-year-old shipyard's capacity to handle multiple Los Angeles-class and Virginia-class submarines.

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"Our naval shipyards need these major modernization efforts to sustain our ability to maintain our nuclear submarine fleet," Vice Adm. William Galinis, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, said Monday in a press release.

"The Navy needs combat-ready ships and submarines to go where they're needed, when they're needed, and these major upgrades and reconfigurations at our naval shipyards will enable the fleet to meet its future missions," Galinis said.

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U.S. Senator Susan Collins, D-Maine, said in a statement that Dry Dock #1 can currently only accommodate Los-Angles class submarines, which means it would be rendered obsolete without the renovation when such submarines are removed from service in the 2030s.

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"This contract is vital to our national security because it will allow PSNY to maintain our submarine fleet," Collins said. "I championed the funding for this necessary upgrade to Dry Dock #1, and I will continue to push for infrastructure projects at our nation's shipyards to keep our Navy strong."

Funds will be disbursed in increments over a seven-year period with an initial $70 million allocated at the time of award and slated completion date of June 2028, DoD said.

The seven-year project is part of the Navy's comprehensive Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program to modernize the infrastructure at the Navy's four public shipyards, which are all capable of maintaining the Navy's nuclear-powered fleet.

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The other three public shipyards include Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash., and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii.

The Congressional Budget Office said in a report earlier this year on shipyard capacity that the Navy plans to refuel the nuclear reactors on at least five Los Angeles class submarines at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to increase their service life instead of retiring them.

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The CBO also examined policy options to mitigate or reduce delays at shipyards, including canceling its planned refueling of five Los Angeles class submarines and retiring the ships instead.

The retired submarines would have to be inactivated, which would increase the Navy's workload for several years before leading to a smaller workload in 2030, CBO said.

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