When more than 50 ships from seven nations arrive in Pearl Harbor in June 2002, they'll find new accommodations ready and waiting.

A new facility, employing 700,000 feet of cable and nearly 100,000 feet of medium-voltage cable, provides all necessary electrical power to ships berthed in the Harbor. The pier-side facilities are needed to support the massive RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) exercises hosted by the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor. These exercises are the most extensive war games in the world, bringing together forces from Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Korea and the United Kingdom and involving some 22,000 military personnel and 200 aircraft.

The RIMPAC exercises are a major event for Hawaiian residents as well. Coinciding with the Fourth of July holiday, they provide an opportunity for shore leave, open houses on U.S. and foreign warships, as well as a host of related local events.

Within sight of the USS Arizona Memorial commemorating the attack on Dec. 7, 1941, the new facilities are the largest construction project at Pearl Harbor since World War II. Though much has changed since 1941, the strategic importance of the naval base and the Hawaiian Islands haven't. Its location in the mid-Pacific puts it on the front line of defense for the United States and its allies and makes it a natural location for bringing together ships and forces from around the Pacific Rim.

But until now, the RIMPAC exercises placed a big strain on the base's infrastructure — and on the ships and sailors themselves. The facilities at Pearl Harbor simply couldn't accommodate the huge influx. Many ships had to anchor offshore — in the harbor or even outside of it — because of a lack of berthing space. That made life tougher for thousands of sailors, who tossed and rolled with the ships at anchor and endured the ferry ride to and from shore.

The project includes new shore power systems — giant versions of dockside hookups for pleasure boats — that will supply the visiting ships with power while they're in port. Electrical contractor Garney Morris, Levittown, Pa., installed a substation and 12 shore power outlet assemblies. The 12 400A receptacles in each station provide a total of 4,800A power. The system provides electrical power to the ships berthed at Pearl Harbor, allowing the ships to shut down onboard generators and conserve their fuel for steaming.

In all, American Insulated Wire (AIW), a Leviton company based in Pawtucket, R.I., and its manufacturing and sales team, supplied some 700,000 feet of cable. Nearly 100,000 feet of medium-voltage cable (15kV, EPR, 133% insulation level, PVC-jacketed cable, single conductor) supplies power from the utility substation to the electrical switchboard.

The switchboard, in turn, supplies power to the shore power outlet assemblies, which are powered by about 100,000 feet of 600V tray cable and 500,000 feet of large-size 600V THHN. In addition, the project used 500,000 feet of large-size 600V cable for control circuits. The small diameter XHHW cable permitted the use of smaller (and therefore less expensive) conduits to house the conductors.

A tight construction schedule meant that those involved in the project had to coordinate their efforts like a carefully orchestrated ballet. Denny Luce, of Luce Associates, Ewa Beach, Hawaii, said, “It took a combination of discipline to keep the project on time and in budget, and flexibility to handle unforeseen wrinkles.”

Luce, an independent manufacturers' rep and AIW worked closely with distributor Rasko Supply, Honolulu, and Garney Morris to keep things running smoothly. AIW manufactured the cable and shipped it 6,000 miles through the Panama Canal to deliver it when it was needed.

Tight quarters made timing even more critical on this project. The entire Pearl Harbor naval base, for example, sits on only 300 acres. Crowded conditions on the island of Oahu mean make warehouse space limited and expensive.

In this environment, “it's nearly as bad for the product to arrive early as to arrive late,” Luce said. “The contractor relied on AIW's ability to deliver the cable exactly when they needed it.”

Contractor Garney Morris faced significant logistical challenges on the project. For example, the company had to dig trenches for new duct banks blind because prior construction — much of it done during World War II — wasn't well documented.

The contractors left the delivery date open because nobody could be exactly sure how the project would progress. As the project advanced, Luce and the distributor kept tabs on its progress and communicated this information back to the plant. At one point, for example, the general contractor hit a solid bed of coral while attempting to set the piers. A demolition crew had to blast out the coral before work could proceed.

This back-and-forth communication between the site and the factory allowed the wire manufacturer to schedule fabrication of the cable so that it could be shipped out immediately upon completion. In effect, the ship became the warehouse. Within days of its arrival at Pearl Harbor, the wire was on the job site and ready for installation.

The result was a win-win for all involved: The contractor had the materials to finish the job on time and on budget. The distributor avoided a warehousing headache and gained better control over cash flow. And AIW was able to keep its plant running efficiently. The bottom line: Despite unforeseen surprises, the project is now nearing completion — on time and within budget. When the world's fleets arrive in summer 2002 for the next RIMPAC exercises, the new piers will be waiting.

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