I have used balsa wood with a plasticard overlay to build piers in the past, and used small plasticard strips to cover the sides. Looked pretty good, I thought. Then I could spray paint them something appropriate. Have also used very, very fine sandpaper for the pier surface directly over the balsa. Gave it a bit of texture, and it took the paint fairly well.
Problem is that the epicenter of mini-ship modeling is in Europe. As such the manufacturers take little notice of US bases and yards. Can't blame them in a way, but what they have to offer, is not what we have in reality.
One further comment on US NOB's. When you were at Norfolk the carrier piers were well away from the destroyer/submarine piers. Down there is where you find the floating drydocks, crane barges and the like. I mention this because I did not want to leave anyone under the impression that there is no "industrial work" at the NOB's. There is, but it is limited in nature.
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