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Norfolk Shipyard Gets Navy Job after a Few Lonely Months

Sailors stand watch on the bridge of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), which is scheduled for repair work next month at the General Dynamics shipyard in Norfolk. (US Navy/Justin Yarborough)
Sailors stand watch on the bridge of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), which is scheduled for repair work next month at the General Dynamics shipyard in Norfolk. (US Navy/Justin Yarborough)

NORFOLK, Va. -- No more lonely nights. Or days.

General Dynamics NASSCO's Norfolk shipyard, the former Metro Machine yard, has been shipless since early April, when the destroyer Mitscher left.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced that the Navy has awarded the yard a $42 million modification to a previously awarded contract for repair work on the dock landing ship Oak Hill.

The ship should be arriving at the yard, just off the Berkley Bridge, sometime next month and will be there through March or so, said Bill Crow, president of the Virginia Ship Repair Association, a Norfolk-based trade group.

It will undergo work such as engine replacement/repairs, ballast-tank preservation, habitability upgrades and close-in weapons system repairs.

The Oak Hill's arrival will fill a big hole on the Norfolk waterfront.

In recent days, BAE Systems' Norfolk yard has been slammed, with a nearly full house of six ships.

MHI Ship Repair's yard at Lamberts Point has been tending to three vessels, including the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Bainbridge, which was involved in the rescue of the Maersk Alabama in 2009.

Although its yard in Berkley has been empty recently, General Dynamics NASSCO workers have been busy in nearby places such as Norfolk Naval Station and Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, as well as yards in San Diego; Bremerton, Wash.; Mayport, Fla.; and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Crow said.

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