Bath Iron Works cleared its first hurdle as it seeks to construct a new building at its Hardings Facility in Brunswick.

The Brunswick Planning Board approved a sketch plan submitted by the shipyard to construct a new 19,870-square-foot building at the facility on Bridle Road.

“This is a new building to replace an old building. It’s at the back of our Hardings Facility off of Bath Road,” said Facilities Engineer Christopher Main. “We have a preservation line currently that is about 45 years old and we’ve had to put some money into it to keep that equipment going.”

The new steel preservation line will be used to blast and prepare steel for use in the yard. The company claims that the current 45- year-old line “remains one of the least reliable processes for Bath Iron Works.”

The building itself is actually less than 8,000 square feet, while the rest of the square footage is technically canopy over conveyors leading in and out of the building. As submitted, the new building will be 35 feet tall.

Once the new building is complete and operational with new equipment, the old one will be demolished. Main said that the old line would continue until the new line was operational to prevent unnecessary downtime.

“Operationally, for us, we can’t have an extended period of downtime for this equipment,” he said.

Main said the plan was for the new equipment to be installed and ready sometime in 2019.

The sketch plan was approved unanimously.

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