HONOLULU — The U.S. Navy has started planning the construction of the first new dry dock at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard since World War II, officials said.

The Navy is also considering the creation of a floating dry dock to help maintain its Pacific-based submarine fleet, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Dry Docks 1-4 in use at Pearl Harbor were completed in 1919, 1941, 1942, and 1943, respectively, the Department of Defense said.

A surge in demand for attack submarines and the lengthening of Virginia-class submarines to carry more missiles prompted the new construction planning.

The project is still in the design phase and it would be “premature to say exactly what it will look like,” Naval Sea Systems Command spokeswoman Colleen O’Rourke said in an email.

More than 6,000 civilian and military personnel primarily work on submarines at the shipyard, the state’s largest industrial employer.

Vice Adm. Thomas Moore, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, told a congressional committee Dec. 4 that the project as envisioned "will enclose multiple dry docks and move much of the production work to the waterfront."

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii put the preliminary cost estimate of the new facility between $1.5 billion and $2 billion.

“You’re going to get either a new graving (dry) dock or a floater, and you are going to get a dry dock production facility that’s going to be state-of-the-art,” Moore said.

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