Mar. 2024
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U.S. Expands Shipbuilding Capabilities with $3.5 Billion in Active Projects

Despite facing challenges from foreign competition, particularly from countries with lower labor costs, the U.S. shipbuilding industry maintains its position as a world leader in innovation, quality and capability. Modern U.S. shipyards leverage cutting-edge technology, such as computer-aided design and advanced manufacturing techniques, to produce state-of-the-art vessels that meet the standards of both military and commercial customers.

Many of the $3.5 billion in active projects at U.S. shipyards being tracked by Industrial Info are for the most cutting-edge military vessels. The U.S. Navy continues to rely on domestic shipbuilders to construct and maintain its fleet of warships, ensuring the nation's maritime dominance and security, and one of the biggest maritime projects presently underway in the U.S. is occurring at a naval shipyard.

Work on the reconfiguration and expansion of Dry Dock No. 1 at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, began in 2022. The Department of Defense is working with 381 Constructors (Kittery), a joint venture of three firms that was specially formed for the $1.7 billion project. The reconfiguration includes multiple components, including a new concrete wall separating the north and west sections of the dry dock, a pump station building, two caissons, mooring hardware and much more. The expansion will enhance the shipyard's ability to handle multiple Los Angeles-class and the newest Virginia-class nuclear submarines.

But Dry Dock No. 1 isn't the only part of the Portsmouth Shipyard being renovated. While not as big an undertaking, Dry Dock No. 2 at the shipyard is receiving a new 21,500-square-foot permanent enclosure as well as a new modular enclosure and three bridge cranes. The Dry Dock 2 reconfiguration is expected to be completed in the near future, while the expansion of Dry Dock No. 1 is not expected to be finished until 2028. Subscribers to Industrial Info's Global Market Intelligence (GMI) Industrial Manufacturing Project Database can learn more by viewing the reports on the expansions of Dry Dock 1 and Dry Dock 2.

Another project geared toward U.S. Navy submarines is underway in Connecticut, where General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE:GD) (Reston, Virginia) is expanding its submarine manufacturing plant and shipyard in Groton. The project entails the construction of the 200,000-square-foot South Yard Assembly Building and a new floating dry dock to facilitate construction of the U.S. Navy's new Columbia-Class submarine, a nuclear vessel designed to replace an existing class of ballistic missile submarines. The project got underway in 2019 and is nearing completion. Subscribers can click here for more information.

Among recently announced projects is one from the U.S. division of Austal Limited (Henderson, Australia), which will expand its shipbuilding plant in Mobile, Alabama, beginning later this year. Austal will build a 192,000-square-foot building addition to expand its production of steel ships, including the Heritage-class Offshore Patrol Cutter for the U.S. Coast Guard and the T-AGOS-25 ocean surveillance ship for the Navy. Subscribers can learn more by clicking here.

Another project with submarines in mind is set to kick off in Lordstown, Ohio, later this year, although not a shipyard. Bartlett Maritime Corporation's (Broadview Heights, Ohio) planned facility will assemble kits consisting of all equipment and materials needed for the overhaul of specific Navy submarines and other vessels. This ready-to-install equipment and material will be shipped to each overhaul shipyard and be there before the ship arrives. The facility is expected to be ready to produce its repair kits in late 2025. Subscribers can click here.

Another project will help make the navigation of today's large ships easier through the manufacture of dredging machines to remove sediment from boating or maritime shipping channels, making waterways deeper. LJ Incorporated (Swartz Creek, Michigan) plans to establish the new factory and corporate headquarters down the road from its existing Swartz Creek location to nearby Lennon, Michigan. But the 150,000-square-foot facility will not manufacture run-of-the-mill machines, but rather autonomous dredgers, which LJ claims will be the world's first such vessels. The plant is expected to take less than a year to construct, putting it on track for completion in early 2025. Subscribers can learn more by viewing the project report.

As one can see, the U.S. is spending billions of dollars to keep its shipbuilding capabilities top-notch. Continued investment in infrastructure, workforce development and technology will be essential for maintaining this growth, and continued investment at the nation's shipyards is expected to extend well into the future.

Subscribers to Industrial Info's GMI Industrial Manufacturing can click here to view reports for all of the projects discussed in this article and click here to view the related plant profiles.