Taking Action: Crane horns at BAE Systems driving people in Portsmouth crazy

Posted at 7:24 PM, Sep 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-10 20:25:37-04

Portsmouth, Va. - No matter day or night, the noise catches them by surprise, driving people who live in Portsmouth crazy.

They say it’s all because of horn blasts coming from cranes on a shipyard owned by BAE Systems in Norfolk.

“We work inside and outside all day and hear it constantly,” said Marcelle Aucamp.

Aucamp works on a large sailboat moored at Ocean Marine Yacht Center on the Elizabeth River.

She and the rest of the crew have been around the world to different ports, and have yet to come across a shipyard louder than BAE Systems.

“When you’re finished with work, you just want to have peace and calm, and these things just keep blowing until 9, 10, 11 at night,” said Aucamp.

The majority of complaints to NewsChannel 3 come from people living on boats or in buildings right near the Olde Towne Portsmouth waterfront.

Bob Schiesser, though, lives more than a mile away and says he can hear the horns.

“When the wind blows right, they sound like they are in my front yard,” says Scheisser. “Have you ever been in traffic and the guy in the big rig next to you blows his horn? That’s what it’s like.”

A group of residents even filed a noise complaint with Portsmouth Police, but since BAE Systems is located in Norfolk, the city doesn't have jurisdiction.

When residents say they called the City of Norfolk and BAE Systems, they did not get a response.

They came to NewsChannel 3 asking us to take action. We went straight to the Vice President of Operations for BAE Systems, Russell "TJ" Tjepkema, and asked him about it during a recent shipyard tour.

Tjepkema says this is the first he’s heard of any complaints, and stressed that all of their crane noise meets OSHA requirements.

“Around March was the time we got the USS Iwo Jima, and in the last few weeks, work has picked up as we undocked it. It’s a very important ship,” said Tjepkema.

When NewsChannel 3 asked if the shipyard team would be willing to meet with concerned residents to find a solution, Tjepkema said it wouldn’t be a problem.

“If I’ve kept anyone awake in Portsmouth, I apologize, but we will work on it.”