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Portsmouth Naval Shipyard seeks Corps permit to place fill to expand an existing dry dock at shipyard in Kittery

Published Feb. 5, 2019

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 expanding an existing dry dock in Kittery, Maine.


The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard proposes to place temporary and permanent fill material and perform work below the high tide line of the Piscataqua River in Kittery, Maine in order to expand an existing dry dock at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to create a Super Flood Basin that is capable of servicing both Los Angeles and Virginia class submarines. 


The first phase of the project will involve constructing a super flood basin by enclosing approximately 151,500 square feet (3.48 acres) of the river, channelward of the existing Dry Dock 1 entrance. Portal crane service rails will be added and utilities will be relocated and extended to service the new basin and its nearby berths. A new triangular shaped 961-square-foot pile supported concrete deck platform will be installed concurrently. The final phase will be to construct a Multi-Mission Dry Dock within the basin which will create two additional Los Angeles and Virginia class-capable dry dock positions. 


These actions will result in the permanent loss of approximately 151,500 square feet of open water and benthic habitat from closing off Dry Dock 1. A total of 85,850 cubic yards of silt, sand, and rock will be dredged from within the super flood basin and outside its closure wall. This material will be disposed of in an upland, non-wetland location. The Navy proposes these modifications to support current and projected submarine maintenance and overhaul missions beyond 2021.


In anticipation of unavoidable impacts to aquatic resources, the applicant is proposing compensatory mitigation, to compensate for the project's unavoidable wetland impacts by providing funding toward Maine's Natural Resources Conservation Fund (In Lieu Fee Program). The applicant is proposing this compensation seeking to lessen the project's impacts. This notice solicits comments on this proposal from the interested or affected public as well as those agencies who speak to the public interest. After receipt of the comments, the Corps will obtain any necessary additional information from the applicant and determine whether the proposed compensation is practicable and serves to adequately mitigate this project's unavoidable impacts.


In water construction at the site will impact Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). This habitat consists of stream bed composed of cobbles and boulders interspersed with smaller stones, silt, sand and gravel. The Department of the Navy has initiated consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service. Although the Navy has taken the lead in this consultation, the Corps has made the preliminary determination that the site-specific adverse effect will not be substantial. Any consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding EFH conservation recommendations will be concluded prior to the final permit decision.


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. The public notice, with more specifics on the work proposed by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, can be viewed on the Corps website at www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx.


Public comments on this work proposed by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (file # NAE-2018-01232) should be forwarded no later than March 7, 2019 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division, Maine Project Office (ATTN: Jay Clement), 442 Civic Center Drive, Suite 350, Augusta, Maine, 04330. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Jay Clement at 207-623-8367, ext. 1 or by email to: jay.l.clement@usace.army.mil.

Tim Dugan

Release no. 19-007