The first Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine won’t arrive to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay until 2028, but the preparations for the arrival are already in the planning stages.
The work will require the hiring of an estimated 1,000 civilian workers performing unskilled labor and skilled trades for the three-year construction and renovation project.
One challenge will be finding the qualified workforce for the $840 million project. All workers will be required to pass a background check and drug test in order to work at the high-security waterfront.
“It’s a major, major project. Everyone will be vetted,” said Scott Bassett, a public affairs officer at Kings Bay.
The renovations at the waterfront are timely because the docks and dry dock are due for renovations, said Keith Boydston, a public affairs officer for Trident Refit Facility, the command responsible for the maintenance of the Ohio-class submarines home ported at Kings Bay.
“The dry dock facility had not been worked on for years,” Boydston said.
Another part of the preparations is the expansion of Trident Training Facility, where sailors will train when they are not deployed.
New Columbia-class facilities will have to be built from scratch and operate in conjunction with the existing training facilities for the eight Ohio-class submarines home ported at Kings Bay.
There will be very few, if any, shared training facilities because the Ohio-class submarines were designed in the 1970s and constructed in the 1980s and 1990s and the technology will be state-of-the-art for the Columbia-class boats, Bassett said.
Trident Training Facility will remain responsible for the Ohio-class boats until the last one is decommissioned in about 20 years, Bassett said.
“We’ve still got a long way to go with the Ohio-class submarines,” he said. “It’s an exciting time.”
Kings Bay will be the base where all 12 of the Columbia-class submarines will undergo sea trials before they are sent to their permanent duty station at Kings Bay or in Bangor, Wash.