BAE Systems held a groundbreaking ceremony earlier this week for its land-level repair complex at the company’s Jacksonville, Fla., ship repair facility. The company announced plans to build the $200 million complex in December 2022. Part of the plan includes installing a new shiplift from Pearlson Shiplift Co.

The BAE shipyard modernization project involves Pearlson, Foth Engineering, and Kiewit Infrastructure South Co. Foth, along with Pearlson, are responsible for the overall facility design, construction management and engineering, and key equipment supply. Kiewit will serve as general contractor for the project.

When complete in 2025, the new complex will expand the BAE Systems Jacksonville Ship Repair (JSR) facility's docking capacity by 300%. The construction and operation of the repair facility is estimated to generate approximately 1,000 new jobs. 

The new Pearlson shiplift’s 492'x110' articulated platform can accommodate a Flight III Navy guided missile destroyer or a commercial vessel displacing about 25,000 tons. 

“This critical investment will facilitate improved capacity to service U.S military vessels and bring high wage jobs to Florida’s First Coast," Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez said at the ceremony. "I look forward to seeing the impact the Jacksonville ship repair expansion project will have on our maritime capabilities.”

Attending the groundbreaking ceremony were U.S. Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fla., Pearlson’s President and Chief Operating Officer Kelly Pearlson Fraind, and BAE Systems platforms & services President Jeremy Tondreault.

“BAE Systems Ship Repair is an economic engine of Florida’s seacoast region, and since 1964, has brought great pride to our state by strengthening our role in national defense," said U.S. Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fla. “The modern ship lift and land level repair facility will improve production efficiency, overall reliability and expand ship capacity to counter China’s growing naval ambitions. In Congress, I will support Jacksonville’s maritime industrial base to solidify our legacy as the most formidable naval force in the world for future generations.”

“Pearlson’s team worked with BAE Systems personnel on the ground in Jacksonville to deliver a comprehensive, detailed design that meets the shipyard’s needs and delivers unparalleled capability,” said Pearlson’s President and CEO Kelly Pearlson Fraind. “The new Pearlson shiplift system and land level facility for BAE Systems Jacksonville Ship Repair, when commissioned, will be the largest in both North and South America and the most modern shiplift facility in the world.”

Once out of the water, drydocked ships will be moved from the shiplift platform to one of several repair berths inside the shipyard by a series of self-propelled modular transporters and a Pearlson designed cradle system. The land-level repair area in the shipyard will provide electrical, sewage, and water services to docked ships, as well as stormwater containment. These services will permit repair work to occur onboard several ships simultaneously without encumbering the shiplift  platform or other work in the shipyard.

In addition to supporting the Navy’s surface fleet at Naval Station Mayport, BAE Systems expects to expand its offerings within the commercial ship repair market. The port of Jacksonville is the 14th largest container port in the U.S. Numerous workboats and other commercial vessels operate in or around the port.

“The shiplift project is a significant investment by BAE Systems in the Jacksonville port, and we look forward to building this new complex to expand our shipyard’s capacity to meet commercial and government ship repair needs,” said BAE Systems platforms and services President Jeremy Tondreault.

BAE operates three full-service shipyards in California, Florida, and Virginia. Located two miles from the Atlantic Ocean on the St. Johns River, the Jacksonville facility specializes in repair and refit work of cruise ships, offshore vessels, research and government vessels, tugs and barges, and Coast Guard and Navy vessels.