Hawaii Begins $25.5M Construction at Pearl Harbor Shipyard

Tue March 17, 2009 - West Edition

HONOLULU (AP) A $25.5 million construction project has broken ground at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, the first of 30 projects in a major modernization plan.

The Pentagon could spend up to $800 million on modernizing the shipyard over the next three decades to meet the needs of the Pacific Fleet.

Most of the shipyard’s structures were built between 1913 and 1945.

Capt. Greg R. Thomas, the shipyard commander, said the structures are in “desperate need of modernization” and that the facilities’ layout is “outdated and inefficient.”

More than 90 percent of the shipyard’s work is on submarines. The first Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, the USS Hawaii, will be home-ported at Pearl Harbor this summer.

Eventually, 60 percent of the Navy’s nuclear attack submarines will be based at Pearl Harbor.

On Feb. 20, Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, presided over the groundbreaking of the first project — permanent facilities for the distribution of water, compressed air, welding gases and other utilities to shipyard dry docks and piers.

Currently, shipyard workers install these services on a temporary basis whenever they begin work on a ship or submarine.

Inouye said the modernization is important, “if we are to stay in the front lines” of the Asia-Pacific Region.

“The Asia-Pacific area is a place of special concern, a place of potential problems and potential trouble…so we should be ready and prepared,” he said.

With 4,300 civilian employees, the shipyard is the state’s largest industrial employer.