PORT ANGELES — Completion of a submarine escort-vessel pier project opposite the city’s downtown shoreline has been delayed from mid-July to September, a Navy spokesman said.
That’s also when residents and travelers aboard the Black Ball ferry traversing the Strait of Juan de Fuca to and from Victoria should begin seeing the security ships docking at the 425-foot pier at the tip of Ediz Hook, spokesman Jake Chappelle said last week.
The ships will accompany Bangor Naval base submarines for exercises.
The $25.6 million project inside Port Angeles Harbor includes a weapons armory, a diesel fuel storage system with a 10,000-gallon storage tank, and an 8,200-square-foot alert-forces facility with sleeping quarters for 20-30 personnel and room for a total of 56 personnel.
“The upland facilities are finished,” Chappelle said Monday in an email.
“The only remaining work involves installing the pier utilities, including lights/power, water and fuel distribution.”
The pier will include seven moorage berths for vessels 33 to 250 feet long.
Coast Guard and civilian mariners will escort the vessels to ensure Coast Guard crew rest requirements are met for submarine-crew training missions in diving and surfacing to and from the Hood Canal.
A bid award for the project was issued Aug. 30, 2016, to Watts-Orion Joint Venture of Gig Harbor, and had a duration of 18 months, to February 2018.
Pile-driving was delayed to July 2018 due to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permitting requirements for removing more than 7,000 yards of erosion-controlling rock in a 215-foot jetty, Navy officials said.
Chappelle said last week that the project located just inside the gate at Coast Guard Air Station-Sector Field Office Port Angeles won’t be operational until the first week in September.
“Weather delays were the primary reason in this instance,” he said, adding that the contract amount remains at $25.6 million.
Congress originally approved $20.6 million for 2016 for the project as part of the naval base’s Transportation Protection System (TPS) for ballistic-missile submarines.
“Like most construction projects — especially ones of this magnitude – unforeseen circumstances, such as weather delays, policy changes, safety surety and material quality reassurance, just to name a few, aren’t uncommon factors that can contribute to delays,” Chappelle said.
“Residents should start to see vessels utilizing the pier around the beginning of September as well.”
The Navy currently is leasing dock space from the Port of Port Angeles for three 64-foot vessels at the port Boat Haven in the Harbor.
The pier will extend 40 feet into an area used by Cooke Aquaculture for their fish pens under a lease that has been terminated by the state Department of Natural Resources.
“The former Icicle Seafoods laydown area will be removed as a mitigation measure in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources,” the Navy said in an update on the project in September.
“The laydown area removal is part of a June 2016 memorandum of agreement between the Navy and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe to mitigate project impacts on tribal treaty rights.”
Cooke Aquaculture spokesman Joel Richardson said Friday the fish farm “is still operational for now.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].