Exterior of the new NASSCO panel line. Image from company video

General Dynamics NASSCO has opened a state-of-the-art facility for assembling the giant steel plates used to build ocean-going commercial and government ships.

The new panel line at the shipyard in Barrio Logan enables distortion-free welding of plates as thin as five millimeters to produce lighter, more energy-efficient vessels. The facility incorporates hybrid-laser arc welding and numerically-controlled robots to mill, seam and weld steel panels on a highly automated production line.

“Our team scouted thin-plate welding technology and processing facilities from around the world to identify the components that would allow NASSCO to stay at the forefront of shipbuilding manufacturing technology,” said President Kevin Graney at a dedication ceremony earlier this month.

“This facility, the only one in the world with this unique combination of technologies, is already beginning to transform our business while reducing energy consumption and emissions,” he said. “This facility is a win for NASSCO, our customers and our region.”

Three ships currently under construction at the shipyard, including two containerships for Matson Inc. and the first TAO-205 Class oiler for the Navy, will incorporate steel from the new panel line.

NASSCO is the largest shipyard on the West Coast, delivering more than 30 ocean-going ships over the last decade.

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