Haze Gray Photo Feature
Chafee (DDG 90) Keel Laying
A new era in shipbuilding
On May 5th, 2001, the keel for Chafee (DDG 90) was ceremonially
"laid" at Bath Iron Works. This keel laying marked the start of
shipbuilding on BIW's new, land-level ship construction facility. This new
facility will replace BIW's traditional inclined building ways, as well as
the yard's drydock facility at Portland, Maine. The new facility features
three level shipways, one 1,000 feet long and two 750 feet long, with a
rail system to move ships into the 750 foot floating drydock for launch.
New cranes on the facility nearly double the yard's lift capacity to 600
tons. With these facilities, BIW can build and repair virtually any
surface combatant or amphibious ship in the current or future USN fleet,
and much more efficiently than was possible previously.
Chafee started construction in 1999 and is scheduled for launch
mid-2002. She will be delivered to the Navy in the spring of 2003. The
ship is named in honor of the late Senator Chafee of Rhode Island.
The official signboard for the keel laying ceremony.
A general view of the new shipbuilding facility.
The #15 crane at right is a 300 ton capacity crane moved to the new
facility from BIW's old inclined ways. The #17 crane at left (100 ton
capcity), the #16 crane at center (300 ton), and the #18 crane in the
distance (on the drydock wingwall) are all new. The ship units at
center, to the left of the #15 crane, are the units involved in the keel
The four units involved in the keel ceremony.
In the foreground is an upper-level unit (1st platform and main deck
levels), housing crew's mess and reefer stores. It will sit atop the
unit immediately behind it, which houses Auxiliary Machinery Room#2. The
AMR#2 unit is joined to the Main Engine Room #1 unit; these two units
are the true "keel" units, and were placed on the shipbuilding ways some
weeks before the ceremony. The fourth unit houses AMR#1, and will be
rolled into place to join MER#1 during the ceremony.
Several other ship units were on display - this is Main Engine Room #2
for DDG 90.
The units are completely outfitted with piping, equipment, and both main
and auxiliary machinery before being placed on the ways. This unit
houses the complete port main machinery (two LM2500 gas turbines and
their reduction gear) and generator #2. At approximately 480 tons, it is
the heaviest unit ever handled at BIW. The heaviest units for previous
ships weighed in around 330 tons.
The stern tube unit for DDG 90.
This unit houses the stern tubes, through which the propeller shafts
exit the ship.
Prior to the ceremony, the upper level unit is hoisted by the #15 crane.
Because this is a relatively lightweight unit, it can be hoisted by a
single crane. The heaviest units will require dual-crane lifts.
The #15 crane towers over the ship as the unit is hoisted into place.
Standing around 300 feet tall, the #15 crane is a landmark visible for
A view of the four units in place prior to the ceremony.
These four units are the first of 25 that will make up the complete ship;
the others are in various stages of fabrication and outfitting throughout
the BIW plant.
Another view of the #15 crane towering over the onlookers.
An end-on view of the AMR#2 and crew's mess units, showing the deck
The upper unit was held in this position during the ceremony, and was
lowered into place as part of the "keel laying".
A closer view of the two lower units, AMR#2 and MER#1.
The units are resting on the TTS ship transport system. The TTS is a
modular system, and can be used to transport complete ships or individual
units. Each crossbeam is supported by two powered, four-wheel bogies;
these roll on a strongly built track system.
A closer view of the TTS beams and bogies under the hull.
Virginia Chafee, widow of the ship's namesake, welds her initials on
a plaque that will be affixed to the ship.
She is "assisted" by a BIW welder with over 40 years seniority.
Mrs. Chafee and Allan Cameron hold the plaque bearing her initials.
The commemerative plaque is welded to the aft bulkead of AMR#1.
The plaque in place on the bulkead as the welders move aside to
make way for the "keel laying".
Allan Cameron, Virginia Chafee, Senator Snowe, and Senator Collins look
on from the platform as the plaque is welded in place.
After the plaque was installed, the AMR#1 unit was slowly rolled into
place to join the other units of the ship.
The unit is nearly in place, with the gap reduced to only a few feet.
At left, the crane is also lowering the upper level unit in place.
Completed - the AMR#1 unit is in place adjacent to MER#1.
A general view of all four units in place at the conclusion of the
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