Enhancing the ability to perform critical maintenance and life-extension work on the Virginia Class fast attack submarine fleet
Stantec has partnered with the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for decades, supporting facility needs for modernized and expanded waterfront and landside infrastructure. At present, Virginia-class submarines can only safely access the shipyard’s Dry Dock No.1 with the use of buoyancy assist tanks—an outmoded and risky operation.
To bring access up to modern standards, we’d create an outer navigation lock basin that lifts the submarines naturally, also known as a super flood basin. Strong currents in the tidal Piscataqua River estuary presented a key design challenge as tidal conditions can be problematic for vessels entering and departing. To assess how flow patterns might affect a submarine’s ability to safely navigate, our team built a numerical hydraulic model of the basin entrance. We then deployed current meters and ran 2D and 3D models to predict hydrodynamic drag at critical times and locations to establish the range of safe operating conditions. Additional components of the project included protecting the dock’s utility galleries with watertight closure walls, maintaining heavy-lift crane access to the submarines, and major utility and site restoration work.
The creation of the super flood basin means Portsmouth Naval Shipyard can now lift submarines without the use of buoyancy assist tanks allowing for safe, direct entry to the dry dock.
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