image of magazine
on the cover buttonmasthead buttonsubmit feedback buttonsubmit an article button

Puget Sound shipyard aerial

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (IMF) is focused on providing customers with high-quality, timely, and cost-efficient maintenance, modernization, and technical and logistical support. PSNS has sites in Washington at Bremerton, Bangor, and Everett and in San Diego and Japan. The shipyard is the largest command on Naval Base Kitsap, employing approximately 11,000 civilians and military personnel.

The Bremerton site is the Pacific Northwest’s largest naval shore facility and one of Washington State’s largest industrial installations. The shipyard has pioneered an environmentally safe method of deactivating and recycling nuclear-powered ships.

The Bangor site provides industrial support for the incremental overhaul and repair of Trident submarines using the Trident Planned Equipment Replacement Program (TRIPER) and applying rapid work induction to repair and retest components in order to meet tight operational commitments of the fleet. The facility’s refit industrial operation trains Sailors in the journeyman mechanical rates using the Navy Afloat Maintenance Training Strategy (NAMTS) program, which ensures that essential at-sea repairs and refurbishments of major systems can be completed without the need to return to port for corrective maintenance.

The Delta Pier at Bangor, so named because of its triangular configuration, can support five SSBNs at one time. It has one of the largest dry docks built by the Navy and is the only dry dock in the world constructed parallel to the shoreline.

A Look Back
In 1891, as a result of growing national interest in the Pacific Ocean and a new American naval policy of a mobile battleship fleet, the U.S. Navy invested less than $10,000 in 190 acres of Pacific Northwest wilderness and established Naval Station Puget Sound. Surveyed by Lt. Charles Wilkes in 1841, Puget Sound offered protected, deep-water port sites. In 1888, a Navy commission led by the noted naval strategist Alfred Mahan was appointed to select a site for a West Coast naval station north of the 42nd parallel. Lt. Ambrose Wyckoff finalized the purchase of the original 190 acres for $50 an acre. He formally dedicated the opening of Navy Yard Puget Sound as its founding commandant the same day, September 18, 1891.

The first dry dock construction began in 1892 and was finished in 1896. With the beginning of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the battleship USS Oregon (BB 3) sailed 17,000 miles from Navy Yard Puget Sound around South America to take part in the naval engagement at Santiago, Cuba. The fact that Oregon arrived ready to fight established Navy Yard Puget Sound’s reputation throughout the fleet. Until WWII, Navy Yard Puget Sound would remain the only West Coast battleship repair facility.

During WWI, many new ships were constructed at the shipyard, including 25 subchasers, two minesweepers, seven ocean-going tugs, two ammunition ships, and thousands of small boats. Between 1920 and 1940, Navy Yard Puget Sound improved its capabilities, enabling it to serve a key role repairing battle-damaged U.S and Allied ships during WWII. Following the United States’ entry into WWII, the facility repaired and modernized five surviving battleships from the attack on Pearl Harbor, USS Tennessee (BB 43), USS Maryland (BB 46), USS Nevada (BB 36), USS California (BB 44) and USS West Virginia (BB 48).

Throughout the war, the command repaired, overhauled, and refitted hundreds of U.S. and Allied ships, including 26 battleships, 18 aircraft carriers, 13 cruisers, and 79 destroyers. Navy Yard Puget Sound serviced nearly one-third of the 1,006 ships in the U.S. fleet. The workforce numbered more than 32,000 by 1945. By the end of WWII, Navy Yard Puget Sound was designated as a naval shipyard and its name was changed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

During the 1950s, the shipyard’s major effort was the extensive program of converting aircraft carriers’ conventional flight decks to angled decks as the Navy entered the era of jet-powered aircraft. With the start of the Korean War, PSNS was busy reactivating ships and constructing two ships of the new Farragut class of guided missile frigates—USS Coontz (DLG 9) and USS King (DLG 10).

Between 1917 and 1970, a total of 85 major ships were constructed at PSNS, including the largest naval vessels built on the West Coast—Sacramento-class combat support ships. In the early 1960s, the shipyard was designated a repair yard for nuclear submarines, including the overhaul of ballistic missile submarines.

PSNS has the distinction of having several National Historic Landmarks within its gates, including 11 industrial buildings, five dry docks, five piers, and a hammerhead crane.

Established July 31, 1981, the IMF at Bangor became the primary maintenance facility for the West Coast Trident submarine fleet, a year before the arrival of USS Ohio (SSBN 726)—the first of the Tridents to be based in the Pacific.

By 1998, the area had grown into two military bases: PSNS—now a $2 billion ship maintenance, modernization, and repair facility—and Naval Station Bremerton.

On May 15, 2003, PSNS and the Naval IMF Pacific Northwest consolidated into one command, creating PSNS & IMF. In addition to the shipyard consolidation, another opportunity to further improve fleet readiness and service arose in 2003. Surface ship maintenance organizations joined the command in standing up the Northwest Regional Maintenance Center, which provides maintenance for every class of Navy vessel.

The IMF, with its fully integrated workforce of civilian and military personnel, operates refit piers, repair shops, and a dry dock in the homeport for all ships, aircraft carriers, and submarines in the Pacific Northwest. The workforce has expertise in hull, mechanical, electrical, electronics, and weapon systems repair and responds to meeting the fleet’s maintenance and repair needs with on-time and cost-effective quality service.

Image of periscope repair
Electro optical technicians Amber Siva, left, and Leigha Campbell troubleshoot a
periscope at the Northwest Optical Regional Repair Center (NORRC).

Current Operations
Currently, four submarines are in varying stages of modernization and maintenance at the shipyard.

USS Kentucky (SSBN 737) began its engineered refueling overhaul in January 2012 and is expected to complete late next year. Kentucky’s reactor has been refueled and the ship systems are being overhauled, which includes the replacement of distilling plants with a reverse osmosis unit and a battery replacement.

USS Connecticut (SSN 22) entered a depot modernization period in July 2012 and is scheduled to complete in summer 2015. Connecticut’s ship systems are being similarly overhauled.

USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) began her docking phased maintenance availability last summer and is scheduled to complete in Fiscal Year 2014. Jimmy Carter’s ship systems are being overhauled and modernized.

Finally, USS Michigan (SSBN 727) will be completing a major maintenance period this year, which includes preventive maintenance and repair.

The shipyard is proud of its history as a naval presence on the West Coast since 1891 and of its status as a world-class maintenance facility for the U.S. Navy. The combined organization is better equipped to continue to provide superb leadership and continuous process improvement in the areas of productivity, environmental stewardship, and technical innovation.

 

<Portsmouth Naval Shipyard                                                     Pearl Harbor Shipyard>