Navy to continue demolition of shipyard’s iconic crane

BREMERTON — The Navy plans to dismantle the historic Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Crane as part of a a billion-dollar effort to transform antiquated facilities into a state-of-the-art drydock for nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.

The crane’s green steel has dominated the dockyard and surrounding town for nearly 90 years, becoming an iconic symbol of Bremerton. But the navy says the crane, which is no longer in use, needs expensive maintenance and is vulnerable to earthquakes.

“The crane has also degraded after a quarter century of non-use and it would be very costly for the Navy to maintain it in safe condition,” the Navy said in documents released Wednesday.

After:Navy plans second carrier dry dock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard

The 25-story crane, built and installed in 1933 by many of the same workers who built the Empire State Building in New York, sits on a pier next to the shipyard’s drydock 3, the nearest wharf from the Bremerton ferry terminal shipyard. Following a public process, the Navy will remove the crane from the National Historic Register so that it can be demolished.

The crane, one of the few still standing in the country, has been embroidered on police patches, used in organization logos and emblems, and has become an identifier for the surrounding city and an industrial workforce who helped win a world war.

Bremerton Mayor Greg Wheeler, himself a retired Puget Sound shipyard, said the hammerhead shark was “a symbol of industrial might and ingenuity”.

“Thousands of workers over generations have brought the crane to life, and it has served as an important link to our history and military heritage for area residents and visitors,” he said.

The Washington State Ferry Walla Walla pulls out of the Bremerton ferry dock on Monday

The crane was officially retired in 1994 and is now just a relic, although it does require some maintenance and is still rotated around twice a year to ensure that large ships can get by.

The Navy invested over $4 million in 1996 to repaint the crane. Millions more would be needed now to ensure its stability, the Navy said.

The crane was originally built for around $500,000 under a New Deal program called the National Industrial Recovery Act. Pennsylvania’s Dravo Company, fresh out of the Empire State Building project, built the massive structure before floating it through the Panama Canal and bringing it to Bremerton. Its steel includes weld identification marks indicating it came from Andrew Carnegie’s steelworks, according to Archives Kitsap Sun.

Although historic, Wheeler recognized the needs of the Navy in modernizing its infrastructure for a 21st century world.

“The new drydock will ensure the U.S. fleet remains ready to protect our national security and preserve our quality of life for decades to come,” he said.

After:Price to pay to keep carrier’s drydock safe during an earthquake? $667 million

The Puget Sound Shipyard's iconic hammerhead crane looms in the background as the Washington State Ferry Walla Walla heads into Bremerton Ferry Terminal on Monday.

Shipyard plans billions in new infrastructure

The Navy is investing billions of dollars in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the largest of its four public shipyards with a workforce of 15,000. The removal of the crane is part of this effort.

The Navy plans to build a new dock at the shipyard for the first time since 1961 to accommodate the Navy’s newest nuclear-powered ships. The Navy said on Wednesday it would either be designed for Graving Dock 3, the dockyard closest to the Bremerton Ferry Terminal, or at Mooring Alpha, a location that would place it at the western end of the dockyard. and next to drydock 6, the existing aircraft carrier drydock.

Graving Dock 3 built in 1919, located next to Bremerton Ferry Terminal, has limited use which is tending towards obsolescence. The latest generation fleet of fast attack submarines, known as the Los Angeles class, will be completely dismantled within the next decade.

But this is not the end of its limits. It can’t handle nuclear fuel, in a shipyard where nearly every ship that enters its six dry docks is nuclear-powered.

The dock itself is too shallow; the shipyard must remove the weight of the submarines, wait for the highest tides and flood the quay so that the boats can enter, according to a recent GAO report.

Meanwhile, Mooring Alpha presents its own challenges. A mooring would need to be demolished, a new wharf constructed and, along with the dredging, a new turning basin would be required, the Navy said.

After:Here are the funds: Navy signs contracts to bring billions to Puget Sound shipyard

The USS Narwhal, decommissioned in 1999, awaits recycling in Dry Dock 3 at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.  The navy floated the idea of ​​expanding the dry dock built in 1919, one of six at the shipyard, to accommodate aircraft carriers.

Why the Navy Says It Needs a New Drydock

The Navy says the new multi-mission drydock will be able to maintain three new classes of nuclear-powered ships in one location:

  • The Ford class, a new generation of aircraft carrier that currently has no west coast drydock capable of accommodating one. The first, the USS Gerald Ford, is based on the east coast, but subsequent ships like the USS John F. Kennedy will likely be based on the west coast.
  • The drydock could also accommodate the Navy’s Virginia class, a new generation of fighter and fast attack submarines.
  • And, over the next decade, nuclear weapons Columbia-class submarineswhose sole mission is to ensure the the most powerful weapon in the world to the leaders of the country, could also be serviced in the new dry dock. More than half of the current Ohio class of these ships are based at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
The Navy released this map on Wednesday showing what a new multi-mission dry dock at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard would look like.

Construction of the new drydock would give the Navy the second-largest such shipyard for aircraft carriers, and only the third it has among its public shipyards. This would reduce the pressure on drydock 6, the carrier’s other drydock, which needs hundreds of millions of repairs, including work to address its seismic vulnerabilities.

A public meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. on June 23 for public comment on the Navy’s plans.

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