The U.S. Navy temporarily closed four dry docks for submarines at two facilities after a report on seismic issues found potential problems in the event of major earthquake.
As a result, the dry dock at the Trident Refit Facility at Bangor, Washington as well as dry docks 4, 5 and 6 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility 15 miles away in Bremerton, Washington suspended service pending a further investigation. The temporary closure was announced on Friday, Jan. 27.
“The recently conducted seismic assessment, executed as part of the Navy’s long-range Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP), identified potential issues associated with the remote possibility of a large-scale earthquake occurring simultaneously with a submarine maintenance availability,” the Navy wrote in its release on the news. “With this new information, the Navy is taking additional measures to further ensure the safety of the shipyard workforce, Sailors, the local public, the environment, and the submarines.”
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Currently all four dry docks are empty and do not have vessels set for maintenance in them. The Navy said that these closures will not impact fleet capabiltities or readiness. Along with the dry docks, the facilities handle maintenance and repairs for other vessels, including aircraft carriers. Those efforts are not impacted by the Navy’s actions here.
The Puget Sound sits along multiple fault lines. The local news outlet the Kitsap Sun reported that although the study found potential risks with the facilities’ location, there is no immediate danger to the community or installation staff.
The Navy has been dealing with delays in submarine repairs prior to this. Those have been partly due to a delay in sourcing materials for submarines in for maintenance. The Navy is currently working to try to and get ahead of that by ordering parts for planned maintenance in advance; approximately 70 percent of work done on its submarines is expected, and most pieces can be sourced ahead of time. The Navy’s goal is to have roughly 95 percent of pieces sourced in advance at facilities by 2026.
As for the four dry docks, the Navy is currently working to implement new safety measures that take into consideration the results of the study. It’s not immediately clear when the dry docks will reopen, or how long it will take to complete the safety overhauls.
“Our public shipyards are essential to our national defense,” Vice Adm. Bill Galinis, head of Naval Sea Systems Command, said in the Navy’s announcement. “We will begin implementing these mitigations immediately and safely return our dry docks to full capacity as soon as possible.”
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