In 1951, Kiewit was selected to construct an air base in the High Arctic at Thule, Greenland. Code named Operation Blue Jay, this then top-secret project required Kiewit to hire and train 5,000 workers, and to procure and transport countless shiploads of equipment and material through iceberg-laden seas.
Kiewit and its joint venture partners remained at Thule for 15 years. Along with the base, the team constructed Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) radar screens as big as football fields and the eastern end of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line, building radar domes right on the Greenland Ice Cap.
In 1952, the Atomic Energy Commission awarded Kiewit the $1.2 billion Gaseous Diffusion Plant Project at Portsmouth, Ohio. The plant — one of the largest construction contracts ever awarded by the government — was needed to refine Uranium-235 for military and civilian nuclear operations.
Kiewit helped strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities with the construction of many missile base projects in the 1950s and 1960s, including two Minuteman Missile Base projects in the Dakotas.