BAE Systems officially began construction of a modern Pearlson Shiplift and land-level repair complex at the company’s Jacksonville, Florida shipyard with a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday. The company first revealed its plans to build the $200 million complex in December 2022.

“Pearlson’s team worked with BAE Systems personnel on the ground in Jacksonville to deliver a comprehensive, detailed design that meets the shipyard’s needs and delivers unparalleled capability.”

“As the chair of Space Florida’s board of directors, I congratulate BAE Systems upon its groundbreaking ceremony,” said Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “This critical investment will facilitate improved capacity to service U.S military vessels and bring high wage jobs to Florida’s First Coast. I look forward to seeing the impact the Jacksonville Ship Repair expansion project will have on our maritime capabilities.”

Attending the groundbreaking ceremony were U.S. Representative Aaron Bean (R-Fla.), Pearlson’s President and Chief Operating Officer Kelly Pearlson Fraind, and BAE Systems Platforms & Services President Jeremy Tondreault.

“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. Bean. “The 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. In Congress, I will support Jacksonville’s maritime industrial base to solidify our legacy as the most formidable naval force in the world for future generations.”

The BAE Systems shipyard modernization project involves Pearlson Shiplift Corporation, Foth Engineering, and Kiewit Infrastructure South Co., in major construction roles. Foth along with Pearlson Shiplift are responsible for the overall facility design, construction management and engineering, and key equipment supply. Kiewit will serve as general contractor for the project. When complete in 2025, the new complex will expand the BAE Systems shipyard’s docking capacity by 300 percent. The construction and operation of the repair facility is expected to generate approximately 1,000 new jobs.

The complex will feature a new state-of-the-art shiplift system built by Pearlson Shiplift Corporation. The lift’s 492-foot by 110-foot articulated platform can easily accommodate a Flight III U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer or a commercial vessel displacing about 25,000 tons.

“Pearlson’s team worked with BAE Systems personnel on the ground in Jacksonville to deliver a comprehensive, detailed design that meets the shipyard’s needs and delivers unparalleled capability,” said Fraind. “The new Pearlson Shiplift System and land level facility for BAE Systems Jacksonville Ship Repair, when commissioned, will be the largest in both North and South America and the most modern shiplift facility in the world.”

Once out of the water, dry-docked ships will be moved from the shiplift platform to one of several repair berths inside the shipyard by a series of self-propelled modular transporters and a Pearlson designed cradle system. The land-level repair area in the shipyard will provide electrical, sewage, and water services to docked ships, as well as storm water containment. These services will permit repair work to occur onboard several ships simultaneously without encumbering the shiplift platform or other work in the shipyard.

In addition to supporting the Navy’s surface fleet at Naval Station Mayport, BAE Systems expects to expand its offerings within the commercial ship repair market. The port of Jacksonville is the 14th largest container port in the United States. Numerous workboats (e.g., tugs, barges, etc.) and commercial vessels operate in or pass through the port.

“The shiplift project is a significant investment by BAE Systems in the Jacksonville port, and we look forward to building this new complex to expand our shipyard’s capacity to meet commercial and government ship repair needs,” said Tondreault. “We also appreciate the support and contributions of the state and local leaders, and all of our partners, who helped to make this a reality.”