Employees and executives from BAE Systems gathered at the foot of the 98 ton keel block as long-time shipyard employee Nick Elmes, an engineer, drove the ceremonial wedge and welded his initials in the keel of the vessel, called Hull 108.
The keel block measures 38 feet long and almost 31 feet wide and stands more than 23 feet to the main deck. Completion of a keel laying is determined by the commitment of the first module to its place on the launchway, where it will serve as the nucleus around which the entire vessel will be built.
“This is a very important project for us as we continue to develop and strengthen our ability to provide commercial new construction service in the Mobile yard,” said Gene Caldwell, BAE Systems’ director of New Construction at Mobile. “The company’s investment in new construction capabilities has positioned us as a viable, highly competitive and financially stable builder, and this is confirmed by our customers.”
The design for the BAE Systems-built vessels was provided by Bay Engineering and is based on similar dump scows in the United States and abroad. The new vessels will also be U.S. flagged.
Both 7,500 cubic yard split bottom vessels will weigh about 1,600 tons and measure 295 feet long and 62 feet wide, with a draft of 17 feet. Last November, BAE Systems held a keel laying ceremony for the first vessel, Hull 107.
In addition to the two dump scows currently under construction in Mobile, the company is building a 356 foot long dredge, which is scheduled for delivery mid-2014. BAE Systems announced in August 2012 that it was awarded a contract to build two platform supply vessels, with an option for two additional vessels in the future. Construction on the first 288 foot platform supply vessel is expected to start this month. In December 2012, BAE Systems’ facility in Jacksonville, Fla., announced a contract to build two platform supply vessels. Construction on the first platform supply vessel in Jacksonville will also start this month.
BAE Systems in Mobile currently has approximately 850 employees and expects to reach 1,500 workers by the end of 2013. Career opportunities are available at www.baesystems.jobs.