Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard (PHNSY) and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (IMF) serves as a one-stop regional maintenance center for the Navy’s surface ships and submarines homeported in Hawaii. PHNSY’s primary mission is to provide regional maintenance at the depot and intermediate levels on the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s surface ships and submarines.
Strategically located in the mid-Pacific, the Navy’s largest ship repair facility between the West Coast and the Far East is closer to potential regional contingencies in East Asia than sites on the West Coast.
With America’s rebalancing in the Asia-Pacific region, PHNSY is not only the westernmost naval shipyard but also collocated with the Navy’s largest submarine fleet concentration area. It is the full-service regional maintenance center for all Hawaii-based Navy maintenance activities, the parent shipyard for Guam-based submarines, and the go-to team for rapid emergent repairs from Hawaii through Southwest Asia.
PHNSY provides fly-away support for operations throughout the region, ship technical assessments, calibration, a dive locker, hazardous material management and hazardous waste disposal, cryptological equipment repair, oil and chemical analysis, and natural disaster and emergency response. PHNSY also trains U.S. and foreign officers and sailors in shipyard management and maintenance.
As the largest industrial employer in the state of Hawaii, the shipyard has a combined civilian and military workforce of about 5,000.
A Long History
PHNSY is a symbol of America’s rise as a Pacific power following the Spanish-American War at the end of the 19th century. In 1876, after years of discussions and negotiations, the Kingdom of Hawaii signed a Treaty of Reciprocity with the United States. Under the treaty, Hawaii would be able to sell its main crops, sugar and rice, in U.S. markets duty-free while the U.S. Navy would have exclusive access to Pearl Harbor as a coaling station, repair base, and anchorage. That base eventually became PHNSY.
However, Congress did not authorize funding to build the required facilities until the end of the century, when dredging allowed Pearl Harbor to be used by modern naval ships. Congress passed an act officially creating Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, Territory of Hawaii, in May 1908 and authorized nearly $3 million to help build it. The shipyard quietly grew through the early part of the century, becoming an important Pacific base for the United States.
On Dec 7, 1941, Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor in two massive waves, damaging or sinking 18 of the major warships present. That morning, many PHNSY workers evaded bombs and machine gun fire to help Sailors and Marines and to put out hundreds of fires. Many were cited for their actions during and after the attack. PHNSY workers quickly recovered and returned 15 of those 18 ships to the war.
During WWII, perhaps the shipyard’s most significant act was the repair job on the battle-damaged carrier, USS Yorktown (CV 5). Engineers estimated that the repair work would take four months to complete, but the PHNSY workforce, working 24-hour shifts, had her ready in 72 hours. The heroic effort of the shipyard workers enabled Yorktown to fight in the pivotal naval battle of the Pacific War—the Battle of Midway—joining two other U.S. carriers to even the odds against four Japanese carriers.
In December 1945, the name of Navy Yard Pearl Harbor officially changed to Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. PHNSY workers repaired 10,000 vessels, from small ships to mighty aircraft carriers, during WWII and the Korean war.
USS Texas (SSN 775)
Shipyard workers have performed a number of urgent repairs on Navy vessels such as USS Denver (LPD 9) in 2000, USS Greeneville (SSN 772) in 2001, USS San Francisco in 2005, USS Newport News in 2007 and USS Hartford (SSN 768) in 2009.
Most recently, PHNSY began support on the Navy’s next generation submarine, the Virginia class, in 2012. The shipyard set the gold standard for maintenance planning and operations for this new class and became a Virginia-class center of excellence as it prepared for USS Texas’ (SSN 775) extended drydocking selected restricted availability. An availability of this complexity and magnitude is challenging under normal circumstances, but the fact that Texas is a Virginia–class boat meant that workers would be executing many jobs in the work package for the first time.
The innovations on the Virginia-class submarine include a fly-by-wire control system for improved shallow-water boat handling, unique special warfare support systems, and photonics masts that supplanted traditional periscopes required a new approach to maintenance. The modular construction, open architecture, and extensive use of commercial off-the-shelf components, as well as the relocation of the ship control room one deck away from the hull curvature, also presented new maintenance challenges that PHNSY managers and workers rose quickly to meet.
The shipyard began planning for Virginia-class submarines in 2005. These preparations included ensuring that facilities, tooling, equipment, instructions, material, and trained personnel were ready and available to support the Navy’s newest class of attack submarines.
A partnership with Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was established to gain practical work experience and lessons learned from the USS Virginia availability. To ensure workforce proficiency on the Virginia-class systems, a knowledge-sharing plan was developed with PNSY for the workforce to gain hands-on practical work experience; PHNSY engineers and mechanics trained at industry shipyards and warfare centers, and mock-ups were developed for subject matter experts in high-risk, high-value, critical-path jobs. Additionally, the floor of Dry Dock 1 was hardened and leveled to accommodate equipment necessary for the removal/reinstallation of a Virginia-class propulsor.
Currently, PHNSY is the only fully qualified Navy facility capable of Virginia-class and Ohio-class photonics mast repair intermediate-level maintenance work. The PHNSY Photonics Lab can test, isolate, and repair photonics mast problems down to the lowest repairable unit. When a bad component is identified, the piece is swapped out and sent to a mainland repair facility and a replacement is sent back to the lab.
PHNSY’s ability to troubleshoot Virginia-class and Ohio-class masts is a time- and money-saver for the Navy. Shipping the entire mast to the mainland is not only costly, but the manufacturer of these masts has a decreasing supply of spares due to the growing number of ships using photonics.
PHNSY & IMF has begun work on an overall facilities modernization plan scheduled to finish in 2035. The shipyard’s modernization goals are to provide the right facilities to increase efficiency and improve safety and the quality of work life for shipyard workers while performing ship repairs. These goals will be achieved with execution of a $600 to $800 million plan, which includes building 10 new construction projects totaling 415,000 sq. ft., reducing 50 temporary or re-locatable structures, consolidating and collocating numerous functions across the shipyard, increasing capacity for two wet berths, and installing an intermediate caisson to extend capacity in Dry Dock 1.