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Posted 7/19/2016

Release no. 2016-064

Tim Dugan

CONCORD, Mass. – The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District to conduct work in waters of the U.S. in conjunction with structural repairs to berths in the Piscataqua River at the shipyard in Kittery, Maine.


The proposed work involves structural repairs to berths 11, 12 and 13 of the shipyard’s dry docks including placing fill in 117,200 square feet (2.69 acres) of waterway in conjunction with the construction of a king pile and concrete shutter panel bulkhead system at berths 11, 12 and 13 and backfilling behind the bulkhead to increase the structural capacity of the piles.


The work also includes maintenance and new dredging of approximately 10,660 cubic yards of material over a 52,600 square foot (1.20 acres) area adjacent to the Dry Docks and berths 11, 12 and 13. Dredged material that is suitable for reuse will be incorporated into the granular fill behind the bulkheads. Dredged material that is determined not suitable for reuse will be disposed of at an approved upland landfill. The purpose of the project is to restore the crane rail support structure to allow portal cranes to operate at full capacity, extend the useful life of the existing 70-year-old steel piles, and repair deteriorated structural components.                                                                             


The project will impact 2.69 acres of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for various species and life stages. The habitat in the proposed dredge area consists of fine sediments, consisting of soft mud, sand, pebbles, and old mussel shells in areas of low energy current and hard sand, pebbles/cobbles and small boulders in areas of higher current flow. The substrate in the area of the proposed 2.37 acres of bulkhead backfill area consists of a rock riprap slope under the existing docks. Loss of this habitat may adversely affect shellfish and smaller fish species.


Compensatory mitigation for the loss of coastal habitat functions and values as a result of the proposed fill will occur in the form of an in-lieu fee paid to the Maine DEP prior to the start of construction in accordance with the Maine Natural Resources Protection Act. However, the Corps has made a preliminary determination that the site-specific adverse effects will not be substantial. Further consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding EFH conservation recommendations is being conducted and will be concluded prior to the final permit decision.


The public notice, with more specifics on the proposed work, can be viewed on the Corps website at  The application for the federal permit was filed with the Corps in compliance with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which provides for federal regulation of any work in, or affecting navigable waters of the U.S.; and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge or fill of material in U.S. waters, including wetlands.


Public comments on this work proposed by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (file # NAE-2014-01178) should be forwarded no later than Aug. 3, 2016 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Rod Howe), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Rod Howe at 978-318-8496 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to: