October 6, 2020 – Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) successfully undocked the former USS San Francisco (SSN 711) Oct 5.
The boat has been at the shipyard since 2017, undergoing conversion to a moored training ship for use by both officers and Sailors undergoing training at the Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU) in Charleston, South Carolina. La Jolla (MTS 701) completed its conversion at NNSY in November 2019.
Converting San Francisco into a moored training ship required NNSY to separate the boat into three pieces, the removal of and recycling the center section, and then adding three new sections. The new hull sections arrived from Electric Boat via barge, which NNSY then craned into the dock and attached to the San Francisco. “We’ve been in dock for 34 months, so it’s been a lot of effort to get to this day, but it’s exciting to be undocking with more than 90 percent production work complete,” said Project Superintendent Charles Brock. “We applied a lot of lessons learned from the La Jolla in areas such as Engineering Safeguard Features piping installation, component outfitting and tank restoration.”
“Over the next year, San Francisco will undergo preparations for the final test program, grooming of the forward electrical systems and spaces for turnover to the ship,” said Brock. San Francisco is expected to be complete its conversion to a full-fledged moored training ship in late summer of 2021.
San Francisco and La Jolla replace former submarines originally commissioned in 1964 and that have been in use as training platforms for the past three decades.
NNSY has been bustling on its waterfront, with USS Pasadena (SSN 752) arriving for a Selected Restricted Drydocking Availability (DSRA) Sept. 28 and USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) finishing its Engineered Refueling Overhaul. Additionally, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) moved pierside at the end of August after eighteen months in dock. With a surge of ship movements and waterfront space at a premium, coordination and ingenuity between shipyard project teams has been crucial.
“We have had good communications with Pasadena and our Temporary Services (Code 990), clearing the dock to allow the team to start their dry dock build, and reducing what is typically a four to six-week build period down to two weeks post undock,” said Brock.
Military construction (MILCON) projects near San Francisco’s dry dock required even more coordination. As part of the Navy’s Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program, a 20-year, $21 billion program dedicated to refurbishing the nation’s four public shipyards by modernizing equipment, improving workflow and upgrading dry docks and facilities, the piers adjacent to the drydock are being replaced and utility upgrades for a neighboring dry dock are also underway. “Our interface with the restoration projects has allowed those MILCONs to execute in parallel with execution of the project. This helps pave the way for the shipyard to more effectively integrate with future MILCONs in parallel with executing our work,” said Brock.
“Congratulations and thank you to everyone who supported getting Norfolk Naval Shipyard and the San Francisco team to this important day!” said Shipyard Commander Rear Admiral Howard Markle. “As a vital platform for the Navy’s training program, this conversion will provide a steady pipeline of fully trained and well-prepared fleet operators. This long-term investment will pay great dividends for the Navy over the next several decades in ensuring proficiency and excellence across the fleet, whenever and wherever our Sailors are called upon.”