Norfolk,Va.-based Colonna's Shipyard has big expansion plans. Never one to rest on their laurels, the team at this family-owned shipyard founded in 1875 is looking far into the future with a $30 million expansion.

"We have a very long history here, but we also have a long horizon," said CEO Tom Godfrey.

The shipyards latest expansion project includes the acquisition of land adjacent to its West Yard. It will be called the Spotico Creek yard, according to Richard "Soby" Sobocinski, vice president of contracts at Colonna's.

"Dredging permits are in hand and we are getting bids for that and the new bulkhead," Sobocinski said.

All of this infrastructure must be in place for the arrival of the centerpiece of the expansion, a new 11,500-ton capacity drydock dubbed The Charles J.

The drydock, which will be the yard's third, is under construction at Sedef Shipbuilding in Turkey. Colonna's expects it to arrive in Norfolk by next December and plans to have it up and running by the second quarter of 2017.

The dock will have a length overall of 595' with aprons and a pontoon deck length of 525' with 108' between the wing walls. There will also be two traveling 20-ton cranes mounted on pedestals on the dock.

With all this capacity, I assumed the yard was focusing on Navy work, but Sobocinski said that although it will be built to both ABS and MIL standards, it is the commercial market that Colonna's is initially targeting. He says tug and barge operators in the energy market looking to service units together will find the new dock convenient.

The new drydock will also handle ferries, dredges, OSVs and military craft.

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