The Navy has entered a new era of ship construction in Bath, Maine. The introduction of an innovative construction and launching platform brings some of the most modern warship building methods in the world to Bath Iron Works
and the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). May 5 marked the first official use of what is known as the Land Level Transfer Facility
(LLTF). That day saw the keel laying of the future USS Chafee (DDG 90), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, co-sponsored by Mrs. John Chafee, widow of the Honorable John Chafee, a former Secretary of the Navy and Senator from Rhode Island, along with Mrs. Diane Blair, wife of Admiral Dennis Blair, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command.
The Land Level Transfer Facility is a construction platform with three side-by-side shipways that allow for amphibious ships and destroyers to be built simultaneously. Outfit support towers alongside the ships are designed to provide the work force all the material and services they need. These towers have tool cribs, slump material stock rooms, office space, restrooms and lunchrooms built in to help improve productivity.
Additionally, a 75,000-sq.-ft. Manufacturing Support Center will house shipyard manufacturing supervision; design; planning; quality assurance office; material control professionals; and personnel from NAVSEA's Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion, and Repair (SUPSHIP) Bath in a true integrated process team environment.
The advantages of the new Land Level Transfer Facility are many. Weighing more than 400 tons each, the first erection units of Chafee are the largest ever produced by Bath Iron Works. These erection units can be much heavier than those placed on traditional sliding ways but will be able to be placed on the LLTF.
Another advantage of the facility is the capability to install sonar domes before a ship is launched.
Commenting on the benefits of the new facility, Captain Richard Hepburn, Supervisor of Shipbuilding, SUPSHIP Bath said, "It was an enormous investment by General Dynamics (GD)
(owner of Bath Iron Works); but one which looks to pay off with the potential of considerable production savings on each hull. Bath Iron Works, the U.S. Navy, the employees of Bath Iron Works, the American taxpayers, and the nation's defense, are all winners with this magnificent facility in operation." - (By Richard Osial, NAVSEA Logistics, Maintenance and Industrial Operations)