Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS), harbored on an island between Kittery, Maine
and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has weathered many a storm since its creation
in 1800 under President John Adams. As the nation’s first naval shipyard,
PNS has risen and fallen with the fortunes of sail, steam, and atomic-powered
seacraft. In recent decades, it has reinvented itself as a top-notch provider
in the life cycle maintenance of modern Navy submarines. Yet like other shipyards
nationwide, PNS has been under pressure to streamline operations and maximize
productivity. To this end, the shipyard has been upgrading its facilities. As
buildings for storage, workspace, and equipment protection are torn down or
refurbished, there’s been a critical need for weathertight, insulated temporary
structures to fill the gap.
Previously, PNS staff built their own temporary structures by welding together
I-beams, angle bar, tube steel, and plate. The structures were heavy, as well
as difficult to move and insulate but sufficed until staff cuts and the decision
to focus on core competencies made this method impractical.
Traditionally made structures are cumbersome and time-consuming as well, since
they require builders to erect a frame, drape insulation, stitch-screw sheeting,
then frame doors, windows, and ventilation. Erecting a 30 x 39′ building
using conventional construction methods, for example, could take twelve weeks
Moreover, the number of pieces involved ? including girts, purlins, girders,
trusses, insulation, as well as inside and outside sheeting with countless fasteners
? combined with the inability to align sheeting holes on reuse, made relocation
Beyond this, a conventionally made structure could take months to get approval
from the design and review process if even simple changes were made. However,
due to emergent needs and fiscal realities, PNS often found itself needing a
quick and economic solution for having a facility ready for use in 30 to 60
says. This short timeframe ruled out a conventionally erected facility.
The Nuclear Engineering and Planning Department, cognizant of PNS’s production
facilities, explored alternate methods of construction using pre-engineered
metal buildings and the GSA federal supply service catalog. A competitive bid
process resulted in the selection of Kelly Industries of Fremont, Nebraska as
the supplier. The Kelly Klosure buildings are designed to code, so the approval
process was streamlined from weeks to days. Since structure, sheeting, and optional
insulation are pre-installed in modular panels along with doors, windows, and
ventilation at the manufacturer’s facility, the buildings can be assembled
“out of the box” eight to ten times faster than conventional facility
Whereas conventional buildings need pre-set anchor bolts that align precisely
with matching columns, Kelly Klosure buildings can be erected on existing concrete
slabs, sonotube piers, or many other surfaces. For slab installation, erect
the building piece by piece in the desired location, and then drill into the
foundation below through existing holes in the panels. No pre-alignment is necessary.
Since sheeting and insulation are already attached to the panels, contractors
usually need just wrenches and hand tools to bolt the panels together, drills
to install foundation anchor bolts where needed, along with ladders for small
buildings and a crane for large buildings. The panels are easily carried and
assembled by individuals, like an erector set.
One PNS contractor was able to erect an entire 24 x 29.5 ft. building and a
custom-made prefabricated metal floor in less than four days, with the manufacturer’s
onsite assistance. A 30 x 39′ building took just a single week to erect
using the modular panel system, a very significant savings in time, contractor
cost, and disruption of other activities, when compared to conventional construction
Because the panels are interchangeable, the pre-framed doors and windows built
into them can be moved, if necessary. For example, a door or window can be moved
to a different part of the building, if located in an inconvenient position.
Similarly, the structures can be quickly reconfigured by adding panels, or taken
down completely, moved to another location, and reconstructed. The wall and
roof panels may be unbolted, removed, or reconfigured to change length, width,
and height dimensions at any time ? for facility flexibility to accommodate
a range of overhaul or storage needs. Since the system is panelized, if a building
is relocated the sheeting and insulation are not removed; therefore, no additional
holes are required for reassembly.
The Freemont, Nebraska manufacturer also proved responsive to PNS’s special
needs. On a recent project, the building had to straddle a railroad track to
allow flat car access inside. A standard slab foundation was problematic as
excavation was impossible, yet the building needed an adequate base to handle
wind loads. The manufacturer quickly resolved the problem by supplying a metal
base plate with “duck bill anchors” driven into the ground that eliminated
the need for excavation. On another occasion, the company made modifications
to its detachable roof that allowed two-12′ hatch-type doors to be installed.
This enabled equipment to be lowered directly through the hatch doors, minimizing
the need for crane lifts and boosting productivity.
Furthermore, because the pre-engineered buildings distribute load uniformly
along the walls, no load concentration occurs, so no column support is needed.
Without column interference, 100 percent of interior space is available for
storage or oversized equipment. The pre-engineered buildings are designed to
last for at least 30 years, and the panel frames themselves offer sturdy, interior
attachment holes for lights, piping, or mechanical-electrical installations.
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard intends to continue using the pre-engineered, panelized
buildings, reconfiguring and relocating them as needed, and transporting them
in their accompanying storage racks.
For more info contact Kelly Klosure Systems at PO Box 1058, Fremont, Nebraska
68026; phone 800-228-7230; fax 402-727-1363; email [email protected]