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AFDM Auxiliary Floating Dry Dock, Medium

A floating dry dock is a piece of marine equipment that can be submerged under a marine vessel and then raised to lift the vessel out of the water for repairs or maintenance. In essence, a floating dry dock is like a garage and lift for marine repairs. Dry docks come in varying lengths and capacity in order to raise and lower differently sized vessels.


In October 1996 the Naval Sea Systems Command announced plans to lease floating dry dock AFDM 2 to a U.S. Port Authority-or U.S. owned, operated and licensed firm engaged in shipbuilding, ship repair-and/or overhaul within the United States, its territories and Puerto Rico. The dry dock will be leased on an ''as is, where is'' basis for use at the lessee's site. The lessee must take delivery and is responsible for all costs associated with preparing the AFDM 2 for tow, towing the AFDM 2 from its current location to an approved site, preparing an operating basin to receive the dry dock while complying with all federal, state and local environmental laws, mooring the dry dock in accordance with an approved plan, and making the dry dock fully operational. The lessee must also maintain the dry dock during the entire term of the lease at their own expense and without alteration or modification of the dry dock. In addition to the normally required levels of insurance, the lessee shall provide suitable levels of insurance for risk of loss of the AFDM 2 during any tow. Available dry dock manuals are located on the AFDM 2. The AFDM 2 was located at the MARAD Beaumont, Texas Reserve Fleet Facility under the custodial care of NISMF Portsmouth, VA. In October 1998 the US Congress authorized the sale to the Government of Venezuela, the medium auxiliary floating dry dock bearing hull number AFDM 2. In 1999 the Secretary of the Navy was authorized to transfer to the Government of the Dominican Republic the medium auxiliary floating dry dock AFDM 2. Such transfer shall be on a grant basis under section 516 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.


The Navy Drydock No. 9 (AFDM 3) was constructed in 1943 and has a designed lifting capacity of 18,000 tons. In January 1995 the Naval Sea Systems Command issued a solicitation for the lease of Floating Dock AFDM-3 to a U.S. Port Authority or U.S. owned, operated and licensed firm engaged in shipbuilding, ship repair, and/or overhaul. The Dry Dock was leased on an ''as is, where is'' basis for use at the Lessee's site. The AFDM-3 was located in the Mobile AL area and the Lessee was responsible for all costs associated with the transportation of the Dock from its current location. In addition to the normally required levels of insurance, the Lessee provided suitable insurance for risk of loss to the AFDM-3 while in transit. In 1999 The Secretary of the Navy was directed by the Congress to sell the drydock to the lessee [the Bender Shipbuilding and Repair Company, Inc.] at its fair market value, as provided by that law, upon receipt of a written notice from the lessee of its intent to exercise its option to purchase the leased property. For purposes of this provision, the term ``fair market value'' meant the value of the drydock in its present condition less the estimated cost of scrapping the vessel.


'Auxiliary Floating Drydock Medium No. 5' (AFDM-5) was originally based at the former US naval base at Subic Bay until it was towed to Guam after the US Navy left Subic in 1992. The Guam Shipyard repaired Military Sealift Command ships and commercial vessels in a medium sized dry-dock (AFDM-5), while the AFDM-8 is being re-certified. On Tuesday, December 16, 1997, Typhoon Paka, with peak gust wind speeds of 240 mph, the highest wind speeds ever recorded over land, swept across the island of Guam. The Navy's floating drydock, AFDM-5, in Apra Harbor, took on water as a result of damage caused by the typhoon.

Malayan Towage, which is the Philippine's largest towage and salvage company, purchased the drydock in 1999 for an undisclosed amount. The drydock arrived at the Port of Manila's North Harbor terminal in late November 1999 where it was fitted with additional equipment including a 100 ton capacity floating crane. Malayan Towage negotiated with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority to station the drydock at its former home at Bravo Pier. AFDM-5 was projected to be operational by the second quarter of 2000.


The USS COMPETENT AFDM6 was decommissioned in August of 1997 after serving the fleet for more than fifty years. Yard Floating Dock (YFD) 62, as she was originally designated, was built by the Everett Pacific Company in June 1944 as part of an effort to build one hundred and fifty-five dry docks to serve the growing United States Navy during World War II. She served in the Pacific theater from 1944 through the end of the war when she was re-designated Auxiliary Floating Dock Medium (AFDM) 6. It wasn't until 1979 that she received a name. The Secretary of the Navy designated her USS COMPETENT after the original COMPETENT, a highly decorated mine sweeper that served during W.W.II and Korea.

After spending twenty-three years in Pearl Harbor, COMPETENT moved to Subic Bay, Philippine Islands to continue to serve the Pacific Fleet providing docking services. Upon successful completion of her duty in the Philippines, she underwent a complete overhaul at the shipyard in Guam, M. I. When the USS LOS ANGELES SSN-688 visited Guam during WESTPAC 79, the dry dock's familiar shape could be seen across Apra Harbor. COMPETENT made her last at sea deployment in 1980 when she left the shipyard at Guam, her overhaul complete, to return to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. USS LOS ANGELES SSN-688 was just one of a hundred submarines that docked within COMPETENT from 1980 through 1987. COMPETENT was one of the many ships throughout the Navy that participated in the Navy-wide gender integration efforts of the 1970's and 1980's. By the time she was decommissioned she had serviced thousands of ships and submarines while serving through World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

In June 1999 the Secretary of the Navy was authorized to transfer to the Government of Greece the medium auxiliary floating dry dock COMPETENT (AFDM 6). Such transfer shall be on a sales basis under section 21 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2761). Subsequently, this transfer did not take place.

Ahtna, Incorporated is one of 12 Alaska Native Regional Corporations established by Congress under terms of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971. Alaska Native Regional Corporation Ahtna, Inc.'s attempts to acquire the the dry-dock were suspended in 2000. The State of Alaska has one operational floating dry-dock. Most large ship repair, for ships plying Alaskan waters, is conducted outside the state. In a region currently devastated by economic hardship, marine support infrastructure offers much needed diversification for realizing sustainable marine commerce. But Alaska Ship and Dry-dock had serious concerns that bringing another dry-dock to Alaska would compete with the financially challenged AIDEA-owned and financed Ketchikan Shipyard, which has the only large dry-dock in the state. Decisions were made by Ahtna to abandon Clearwater's Whittier Boat Harbor and Cruise Ship Dock as well as the pursuit of the dry dock the Ex-Competent. Neither Clearwater nor Ahtna had sufficient working capital or financing ficient working capital or financing to deal with either project, each by itself had the potential to bankrupt Ahtna.

Created under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, Tanadgusix Corp., also known as TDX, is the trustee for all the Native land on St. Paul, home to the largest Aleut population in world. TDX also serves as the island's main economic development agency and is the island's third largest employer.

The Ex-Competent was acquired from the Federal General Services Administration ("GSA"), which acted through its agent in Anchorage, the Alaska State Agency for Surplus Property ("SASP"). The surplus drydock, donated by the Navy to Tanadgusix Corporation ("TDX"), was intended to be used for the economic benefit of natives at St. Paul Island, Alaska. TDX is an Alaskan Native Village Corporation, considered an eligible donee in Alaska so long as it complies with all GSA donation rules. At the center of the drydock use controversy is TDX's Letter of Intent, dated January 19, 2001, which, together with its attachments, proposes use of the drydock with TDX's partner in Hawaii, Marisco Ltd., and their plans to "utilize it for services to our various clients." However, three weeks later, the SASP transferred ownership of the drydock to TDX's subsidiary, Bering Sea Eccotech ("BSE") on February 14, 2001. Tanadgusix Corp. (TDX) states it never intended to bring the drydock to Alaska. It always planned to use the drydock in Hawaii as a training platform for individuals from St. Paul Island who would learn maritime skills while the drydock was used in a commercial shipyard there.

Marisco is using for ship repair work at Kalaeloa, formerly the Barbers Point Harbor. Upon completion of the most urgent repairs of the Ex-Competent, TDX and Marisco entered into the Interim Agreement, dated January 2, 2002, before the Ex-Competent began operations. Later in January, the Ex-Competent lifted the Coast Guard cutter JARVIS, allowing emergency repairs and saving the cutter a trip to the West Coast.

Pacific Shipyards International, a competitor of TDX's partner in Hawaii fired the first shots in what has become a multi-front litigation battle against TDX's drydock in Hawaii. On September 26, 2003, when the United States filed a complaint against TDX and Marisco charging them with making false statements to obtain federal property, an action under the Federal False Claims Act that seeks damages of more than $15 million dollars, for a drydock the Navy classes as scrap.


In January 1995 the Naval Sea Systems Command issued a solicitation for the lease of Floating Dock AFDM-7 to a U.S.Port Authority or U.S. owned, operated and licensed firms engaged in shipbuilding, ship repair, and/or overhaul. The Dry Dock will be leased on an ''as is, where is'' basis for use at the Lessee's site in the Jacksonville, FL area. Lessee must take delivery of the AFDM-7 and move and install the dock at their approved Jacksonville homeport site. Lessee must also obtain and maintain Navy certification of the AFDM 7 for the duration of the Lease at their own expense and without alteration or modification of the dry dock. The Navy reserves the right to reject all offers and resolicit at a later date for operation of the AFDM-7 at a Government owned site. Dry dock drawings and technical manuals for all systems and dock equipment are available for prospective offerors review aboard the AFDM-7 (USS SUSTAIN) at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.

On March 4, 1998, the Navy issued the RFP at issue for drydocking facilities and repair services for four classes of Navy ships over a 5-year period. The solicitation provided that offerors could propose to use, as government-furnished property, a Navy floating drydock with the designation "AFDM-7" and the name Sustain which is currently in the Navy's inactive fleet, or alternatively, a contractor-furnished drydock.

On 14 January 2000, the EX-USS SUSTAIN (AFDM 7), parted its tow line in a storm off Cape Hatteras while being towed from Little Creek, VA to Jacksonville FL. No one suspected this was going to be the start of one of the largest rescue/ salvage/towing operations undertaken by the Navy. The task required close coordination among the Fleet, contractors, and SUPSALV, and spanned over 2000 nautical miles (NM) and took 6 weeks to accomplish.

SUPSALV mobilized its East Coast salvage and towing contractor DONJON Marine to relieve the USS GRAPPLE which was keeping station on the EX-SUSTAIN. DONJON Marine in turn sub-contracted Crowley Marine to provide tug support to recover the EX-SUSTAIN. During the initial ten days, Mother Nature threw an unprecedented series of winter storms at the drifting dock. Amazingly the EX-SUSTAIN managed to get east of the Gulf Stream and drift south until it was approximately 300 NM due east of Jacksonville. The tug ENSIGN was dispatched to render additional assistance. SUPSALV determined fleet assistance would be required to recover the tow as personnel were going to have to be placed onboard the dock to re-rig the tow bridle at sea. Divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit TWO and SIMA, Mayport were tasked by Second Fleet to assist in recovering the EX-SUSTAIN. Second Fleet also provided USS SUPPLY (AOE 6) due to her speed and helo support capabilities from Jacksonville and USNS SATURN (T-AFS 10) from Norfolk with HC-6 embarked to transport the salvage team and equipment to effect the rescue of the EX-SUSTAIN. On 29 January, the first 8 members of the MDSU TWO, SIMA, and contractor salvage team led by MDSU TWO MDV Ken Brown boarded the EX SUSTAIN to commence rigging the dock for tow into Bermuda, which was now only 60 miles away. On 16 February 2000 EX-SUSTAIN cleared Bermudan waters under tow by CRUSADER enroute to Jacksonville. Finally, after an uneventful eight day tow, the dock arrived safely at Atlantic Marine and Dry Dock, Inc. in Jacksonville, FL.

After 58 years of service to the U.S. Navy, the Medium Auxiliary Floating Drydock Resolute (AFDM-10) was inactivated at a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk 07 November 2003. Resolute was one of a kind, the last of her class serving submarines on the East Coast. Resolute was built by Chicago Bridge and Iron Works in Newburg, N.Y., in 1944, and entered active service designated YFD-67 in 1945. Designed to deploy near enemy lines and keep ships battle ready, Resolute was an invaluable asset to the war effort. Following World War II and subsequent service in the Mediterranean, the dock was placed in the Reserve Fleet. In 1958, the dock was leased to Jacksonville Shipyard, Jacksonville, Fla. In 1982, the lease expired and YFD-67 returned to naval service, redesignated Resolute (AFDM-10), the fifth auxiliary vessel to bear the name. After overhaul and modernization at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Resolute was attached to Submarine Squadrons 8 and 6, respectively, in Norfolk, Va., to drydock fast-attack nuclear submarines. Since arriving in Norfolk, Resolute has safely docked 139 submarines and completed 55 Selected Restricted Availabilities (SRA) without incident. Resolute has been awarded seven Battle "E" Efficiency ribbons, two Meritorious Unit Commendations, two National Defense Service medals and was awarded the Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award in 2001 for outstanding contributions to fleet readiness.

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Page last modified: 22-07-2011 17:33:58 ZULU