Skyʻs the Limit
Military construction in Hawaiʻi soars to new heights in 2024

Nordic PCL is converting single-bedroom units into two-bedroom units in Buildings 2075 and 2076 at Schofield Barracks.

Ed Case

Sherry Menor-McNamara

Jon Tseu

Ryan Nakaima

Contractors building military projects in Hawai‘i are never short of work — and this year, they might see more business than ever before.

The 2024 National Defense Authorization Act will likely release substantial funds for local military projects, says U.S. Rep. Ed Case. If the act’s final version includes both U.S. House and Senate spending packages, Case says, it will likely authorize funding for the following projects:

  • New dry dock at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard ($1.4 billion)
  • Military housing privatization at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam ($75 million)
  • Wastewater reclamation facility upgrades at Marine Corps Base Hawaii ($50 million)
  • Āliamanu Military Reservation water storage tank upgrades ($20 million)
  • Wheeler Army Airfield air traffic control tower design work ($5.4 million)
  • Various Army water infrastructure projects ($93 million combined)

There’s also the Navy’s Dry Dock 3 Replacement project, contracted to Dragados/Hawaiian Dredging/Orion Joint Venture for $2.8 billion in March 2023 and currently underway.

The project “will provide hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars for local companies through at least 2027,” Case says. According to Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara, the project “will result in over 500 full-time … jobs and approximately $350 million in sub-contracts will be awarded to local small businesses.”

Local general contractors, including those not involved with the Dry Dock project, are optimistic.

“The outlook is strong for 2024 and beyond,” says Jon Tseu, Hensel Phelps’ Pacific Region vice president.

“Military construction has always been an extensive and reliable source of work for every type of trade and craft,” adds Ryan Nakaima, Nan Inc. vice president. “2024 also looks to be a positive year with many exciting projects on the horizon.”

Hensel Phelps is building a new warehouse at Marine Corps Base Guam. 


Kahu Kordell Kekoa performs a blessing at a job site for the Navy’s Dry Dock 3 replacement. 


The Ho‘ōla Maui team conducts hazardous material analysis and removal at Maui wildfire sites. 



Dawson, a Native Hawaiian Organization 8(a) contractor, delivers many types of trade and craft in military work ranging from highly complex projects to utility repairs.

In Lāhainā, Kula and Olinda, Dawson is overseeing the first phase of hazardous site assessments for Maui wildfire response, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) project worth $52.2 million and awarded last October. Prior to the award, Dawson helped form Ho‘ōla Maui, a hui of Native Hawaiian Organizations as defined by federal regulations.

Ho‘ōla Maui currently conducts hazardous site assessments and removes household hazardous waste and bulk asbestos materials from more than 1,500 fire-ravaged properties in Lāhainā and Kula. The complex work includes data management and logistics, hazardous site and tree assessments, hazardous materials testing, removal of hazardous waste including bulk asbestos materials and comprehensive site reports.

Also in October, a broken 36-inch waterline at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) presented Dawson with another serious challenge.

Hawaiian Dredging is part of CHK JV and delivers many construction projects for Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Guam, such as this fire station at Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz.

Michael Fonseca

“Dawson and its team developed a detailed work plan to safely cut out and replace a 20-foot section of broken pipe, despite contending with upstream valve leak-by estimated at more than 1,200 gallons per minute,” says Michael Fonseca, Dawson general manager. “Despite the difficult demolition and limited availability of parts, the line was ultimately returned to service four days after the initial notification.”

At Wheeler Army Airfield, Hensel Phelps is the general contractor on a PN76897 aircraft maintenance hangar project for the USACE Honolulu District, valued at $79.6 million.

“This project consists of constructing a modified standard-design rotary-wing aircraft maintenance hangar,” says Hensel Phelps’ Tseu. “Work includes an aircraft hangar, associated maintenance shops, administrative space, parts and tool storage, a hazardous materials storage facility” and many other large structures, including two aprons and a 250,000-gallon water storage tank.

Water gushes from a broken 36-inch waterline at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.     PHOTO COURTESY DAWSON

“The 80,812-square-foot hangar features cutting-edge 21st century technology and will provide capacity for six rotary-wing aircrafts,” Tseu says. “The facility is sustainably designed and will achieve LEED accreditation when complete.”

Hensel Phelps also brings local expertise and past hangar experience to projects at Marine Corps Base Hawaii and in Guam.

“In addition to our experience with airfield paving, we’ve completed the Mauka Concourse Extension at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport,” Tseu says.

The USACE Honolulu District is also keeping Nordic PCL Construction Inc. (NPCL) busy. In February, NPCL will break ground on a $25.2 million repair of Building 118 at Wheeler Army Airfield and a $25.7 million repair of Building 2077 at Schofield Barracks. NPCL is also upgrading Schofield Buildings 2075 and 2076, valued at $49 million.

The main lobby at the Daniel K. Akaka Department of Veterans Affairs Community-Based 
Outpatient Clinic in Kalaeloa will welcome Hawai‘i veterans when complete.     PHOTO COURTESY NAN INC.

Danyelle Kahanaoi

Kekoa Osorio

“[The project] is a complete interior renovation of single bedroom units converted into two-bedroom units,” explains Danyelle Kahanaoi, NPCL project manager. “The renovation includes but is not limited to new mechanical, plumbing, electrical, fire sprinkler, fire alarm and telecommunications systems” as well as substantial structural modifications.

NPCL uses 3D modeling to coordinate all overhead utilities in the existing building and to scan existing slabs, walls and ceilings for all new plumbing, mechanical, electrical and other penetrations.

“The use of the 360 camera for progress photos within the buildings helps our team track installation progress, quality control, identify deficiencies early and follow up with use of BIM 360 software through the course of the project,” Kahanaoi says.

Nan Inc.’s build-out of the Daniel K. Akaka Department of Veterans Affairs Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in Kalaeloa, slated to wrap in December 2023, is currently finishing up interior work, reports Kekoa Osorio, Nan Inc. project manager.

The approximately 90,000- square-foot facility features audiometric booth exam rooms, bone densitometry and CT scanners, X-ray, radiology, bariatric, and dental exams, optometry, patient lifts and prosthetics and sensory aids.


The Indo-Pacific Region, “stretching from our Pacific coastline to the Indian Ocean, is home to more than half of the world’s people,” says Menor-McNamara. “More members of the military are based in the region than in any other outside the U.S.”

That includes the U.S. Navy. In addition to Dry Dock 3, the Navy is also fortifying other facilities in Hawai‘i, as well as on Guam and throughout the Pacific Rim region.

Hensel Phelps’ new aircraft maintenance hangar at Wheeler Army Airfield is the first to replace the airfield’s existing 1930’s-era fixed-wing hangars.

Rick A. Heltzel

Healy Tibbitts Builders Inc. is managing partner of a joint venture repairing a 24-inch underwater waterline crossing from Ford Island to Landing C at JBPHH. Hawaii Harbors Constructors JV started the $17 million project in July with partner Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. Inc., says Rick Heltzel, Healy Tibbitts president.

“This is a design-bid-build project to replace approximately 3,500 linear feet of existing 24-inch fusible PVC (FPVC) that was damaged by soil boring equipment with new 24-inch FPVC pipe from Ford Island to Landing C, and incidental related work, by the horizontal directional drilling method,” he says. “Approximately 1,450 linear feet of this existing waterline is underwater. The work also includes replacement by open-trench construction of approximately 150 linear feet of 24-inch ductile iron pipe.”

Healy Tibbitts and Hawaiian Dredging are also JV partners with Obayashi Corp. on a $98 million repair to Lima Wharf at Naval Base Guam. H2O Guam JV’s work consists of stone columns for site improvement, driving various steel members for the new anchor wall and bulkhead, underground utilities, a new electrical substation and concrete installation for the new anchor wall and bulkhead.

Lima Wharf, along with dozens of other offshore and Hawai‘i projects currently underway, underscores the rapid increase in military projects throughout the Pacific.

The Dry Dock 3 replacement project “cements Pearl Harbor’s continued central role in the Indo-Pacific and will help ensure long-term investments as part of a larger Navy effort, the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program,” says Rep. Case. “This $21 billion program to modernize the Navy’s four major public shipyards … will run for at least twenty years.

“Through this program, Pearl Harbor will upgrade the aging electrical grid, water distribution systems and other utilities. The Navy will also demolish older and unsafe structures, renovate historic buildings and construct new buildings and parking garages.

“With these investments, the construction industry in Hawai‘i will have the opportunity for sustained work at the shipyard for many years to come,” he says.

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