Posted on April 17, 2023
On Monday, BAE Systems broke ground on a $200 million upgrade to its ship repair yard in Jacksonville, Florida. The improvements include a Pearlson Shiplift for drydocking, which will be the largest lift of its kind in the Americas.
When it is completed in 2025, the project will increase the yard’s drydocking capacity by 300 percent, according to BAE. The lift will have a capacity of 25,000 tonnes and a length of 492 feet, enough to handle an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer or a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). The Jacksonville yard is just four river miles inland from Naval Station Mayport, a key fleet concentration area and the primary home port for the Freedom-class LCS series, which BAE shares a $1.3 billion repair contract to service. The timing is favorable, as commercial yard capacity is a key factor for the U.S. Navy as the service works to ensure readiness and cut down on maintenance delays.
“BAE Systems Ship Repair is an economic engine of Florida’s seacoast region, and since 1964, has brought great pride to our state by strengthening our role in national defense,” said Rep. Aaron Bean (R-Fl) at the ceremony. “he modern ship lift and land level repair facility will improve production efficiency, overall reliability and expand ship capacity to counter China’s growing naval ambitions.”
The Pearlson shiplift will allow the yard to haul multiple vessels out of the water and move them onto shore using modular transporters. The yard area will have hookups to provide the docked vessels with utilities during maintenance, permitting work to carry on during repairs. Unlike a drydock, which is limited to one ship at a time, this system is restricted only by the size of the yard.
BAE is a major service provider for the U.S. Navy, but it also expects to attract commercial repair work for tugs, barges and other vessels that pass through Jacksonville.