$503 million for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

The U.S. government funding package for the fiscal year 2023 that was recently signed into law includes $503 million to continue the modernization of Dry Dock #1 at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) in Kittery.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is America’s leader in attack submarine maintenance, repair, and modernization. 

The legislation also includes a provision requiring the U.S. Navy to induct a class of at least 100 apprentices at PNSY, and it provides a $2.5 million help to plan and design a new daycare center for the shipyard, according to a release issued by the office of the U.S. Senator Susan Collins.

“I have long advocated for the Navy to address the modernization needs at PNSY, and this legislation will help build on funding I have previously secured for critical upgrades,” said Collins.  

“Additionally, I am pleased that the bill includes two provisions I championed to address workforce shortages at the shipyard. The continuation of PNSY’s successful apprenticeship program will prepare a new generation of shipbuilders, while planning for a new child care center would alleviate stress on working parents. Together, these investments will help PNSY remain the gold standard among the nation’s public shipyards.”

The shipbuilder received $475 million financial boost for its dry dock project in 2022. The funding included $250 million for military construction for the dry dock requested in the U.S. navy’s budget, as well as an additional $225 million in funding for the dry dock that was identified as the navy’s top military construction unfunded priority. 

Currently, Dry Dock #1 at the yard can only accommodate Los Angeles-class submarines, which means it will be rendered obsolete when LA-class submarines are removed from service in the 2030s. 

As informed, failure to modernize the dry dock would result in 20 deferred submarine maintenance availabilities through 2040, which would risk navy submarines’ ability to perform their missions worldwide. 

The project received $1.7-billion in 2021 to expand and reconfigure a dry dock complex at the shipyard. The seven-year project is part of the U.S. Navy’s comprehensive Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP). The first stage saw the construction of an addition to Dry Dock 1 within the existing flood basin area, as well as new concrete floors, walls, pump systems, caissons, and other mechanical and electrical utilities, enhancing the 221-year-old shipyard’s ability to handle multiple Los Angeles-class and Virginia-class submarines.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly constructed Dry Dock #1 Super Flood Basin in May 2022. The ceremony followed on the back of a successful docking of USS Cheyenne (SSN 773).

Dry Dock #1 is the shallowest of the three dry docks at the shipyard and previously required a buoyancy assist system comprised of large floodable air-filled tanks as well as a peak high tide in order to dock and undock submarines. The Super Flood Basin, similar to a navigational lock, constructed at the entrance of the dry dock enables submarines to dock without buoyancy assist and independent of the Piscataqua River tides.

With regard to Dry Dock #1, a new SIOP phase will soon bisect the Super Flood Basin and, in doing so create two additional dry docks which will complete the planned $1.7B effort to upgrade, expand, and modernize what will become Multi-Mission Dry Dock #1.