Two Navy warships will be in Seattle soon, undergoing an overhaul in drydock at Vigor Industries.
The work is being done there instead of at the massive Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. The Kitsap Sun’s Josh Farley says the Navy is growing its fleet, and that means it needs more capacity for maintenance of its vessels. Farley told KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco that things are busy in Bremerton.
On why the Navy is growing its fleet: “We are in a time of what the Navy likes to call ‘great power competition.’ The nation of China is continuing to grow and with it, its military is growing quite a bit. The former cold war adversary Soviet Union is gone, but in its place Russia continues on the world stage. A very bellicose North Korea factors in there too. … This is what is coming, and it’s really based in the Pacific arena here, and that puts Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Pacific Northwest centerstage.”
On the workload in Kitsap County: “It is so busy right now. Submarine Base Bangor has eight of the 14 ballistic missile submarines in the country … we have a ton of submarine overhaul work that continues to go on, many of our aircraft carriers will continue to do overhauls … plus every time our Navy wants to recycle one of its submarines or aircraft carriers (nuclear powered) there is no other place in the entire world they will come but the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. So there’s no shortage of work for past, present and future ships at the shipyard.”
On the Navy’s impact in Bremerton: “Of the four public Naval shipyards, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is the largest by employment – about 14,300 people the last time I checked. For Kitsap County, it’s certainly its largest workforce …. One thing that we hear a lot is an aircraft carrier makes a huge difference in a community. (It’s) 4,000 or so people, plus all of their families. When they come and go from a community you feel those impacts.” (The four public Naval shipyards are in Bremerton; Norfolk, Virginia; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.)