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CHIPS Articles: 3-D Modelling to Increase Efficiency of Shipyard Layout

3-D Modelling to Increase Efficiency of Shipyard Layout
By Joseph Battista, NAVSSES Public Affairs - August 14, 2015
PHILADELPHIA (NNS) -- Engineers at Naval Ship Systems Engineering Station (NAVSSES) are creating a 3-D model of Norfolk Naval Shipyard's (NNSY) dry dock from laser scans taken in June to create an advance-planning 3-D layout of the site and determine optimum placement of support services during future dry dockings.

NAVSSES engineers Scott Storms, Patrick Violante, and Kyle Verrinder used two scanners to capture the dry dock, docked submarine, and pierside structures with 340 scans. The 3-D layout they create from the scans will help NNSY determine the best ship docking block positions, pier side temporary support services locations, temporary dry dock trailer placements, transport dry dock crane assemblies, toolbox locations, and external ship scaffolding locations.

"The scans taken by NAVSSES for this proof-of-concept project will benefit NNSY by capturing the various conditions of La Jolla (SSN 701) and the associated dry dock arrangements as the ship is converted into a moored training ship," said B. Maria Williams, a nuclear engineer and lead for NNSY 3-D Printing and Scanning Subcommittee. "This data will be used for planning of the next MTS conversion of SSN 711 beginning soon."

According to Storms, a mechanical engineer with the Advanced Machinery Systems Integration Branch, this project developed during a meeting to discuss how Naval Sea Systems Command's (NAVSEA) warfare centers can use their innovation resources to support Navy shipyards.

Violante, electrical engineer with Advanced Machinery Systems Integration Branch, said NNSY is in the process of purchasing the equipment.

"During this project, we are showing them what they can do with the equipment they already have," said Verrinder, a mechanical engineer with Power Transmissions branch. "Eventually they can start doing this on their own with the other dry docks at Norfolk."

Storms said every ship dry-docking is different - requiring different tools, erecting scaffolding in a different spot, and placement of trailers varies. Having a 3-D model allows planners to create the layout before the ship is dry-docked and the support elements delivered.

According to Williams, NNSY reduces the time spent developing planning drawings for the next dry dock availability after scanning a facility or piece of equipment because the existing data remains the same. "Modifying 3-D model drawings is less time intensive than doing the same modification to a 2-D drawing where lines and objects aren't dimensionally associated to each other and must be manually modified," she said.

NAVSSES' 3-D layout gives NNSY precise measurements to work with. According to Storms, having the 3-D model helps them plan the various stages of a dry-docking. There is no lag time in putting up scaffolding and different services no longer fight for space.

"Because the depth line on one side of the dry dock says six feet, doesn't mean the other side is also exactly six feet," said Storms. "There can be a difference of an eighth-of-an-inch or so that can affect the placement of block positions. They can use our scans as a validation tool for all their measurements."

Violante said their biggest obstacles during the six days of scanning were heat and scheduling. Unusually hot temperatures forced the team to stop work intermittently to cool the equipment to keep it operational.

The scanning took place at an active work site. A people-free environment is ideal for scanning, said Storms. To remedy both problems, the team decided to do most scanning between the hours of 3-8 p.m. when the temperatures were lower and fewer people were working.

"Ideally we would've liked to do the scanning at night when the temperatures were much cooler and there were no workers on the submarine, but our scanning equipment works much better in sunlight," said Storms.

Storms said they plan to continue doing scans at NNSY throughout the phases of USS La Jolla's dry-docking to get a full representation of the entire process. They also hope to do at least one quality scan of a dry dock at every Navy shipyard as a starting point for determining optimum placement of support services during future dry dockings.

The Naval Ship Systems Engineering Station in Philadelphia is the Navy's principal test and evaluation station and in-service engineering agent for all hull, mechanical and electrical ship systems and equipment and has the capability to test and engineer the full range of shipboard systems and equipment from full-scale propulsion systems to digital controls and electric power systems.

For more news from Naval Sea Systems Command, visit

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