TUMON, Guam (NNS) -- National Engineers Week culminated with a comprehensive overview of the military construction program in Guam delivered by Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas Commanding Officer Capt. Daniel Turner on Feb. 20.
Turner was the invited featured speaker at the Centennial Celebration dinner hosted by the Society of American Military Engineers Guam Post to celebrate National Engineers Week and the organization’s 100th anniversary at the Hyatt Regency Guam.
The skipper began by reiterating the Navy’s commitment to safety on all its projects. He particularly encouraged contractors to be proactive through the Good Catch self-reporting initiative. “Safety is first always,” he said. “Our goal is zero preventable mishaps, and all mishaps are preventable.”
Turner then recounted NAVFAC Marianas accomplishments of the past year. He noted that the recent labor shortage has been somewhat alleviated by provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act resulting in about 1,200 foreign workers on H-2B visas currently working on Guam projects. The Department of Defense advocated for those provisions and will continue to do so, he said.
Turner also noted that the command has recently received a new policy memorandum on munitions and explosives of concern (MEC) response, an ongoing challenge in Guam. “We’re working on the way forward for implementation of this new policy,” he said. “We expect it will provide us with a risk-framework that is more agile and enables us to maintain safety and improve our efficiency going forward with MEC clearance activities.”
Turner told attendees he continues to be proud of the Navy’s environmental teams and their work in fulfilling the Department of Defense commitment to responsible stewardship of Guam’s resources. “They’re really hitting it out of the park,” he said. “And we’ll team with our contract partners and continue to have high expectations for performance so we do right by Guam’s natural and cultural resources.”
Turner said that as former commanding officer of Office in Charge of Construction (OICC) Marine Corps Marianas and now NAVFAC Marianas, he was thrilled to be able to tell the attendees that construction is underway at all six of the main focus areas for construction in support of the Marine relocation. These include, most recently, the first phase of the three-phase family housing revitalization program at Andersen Air Force Base, the urban combat training facility at Andersen South and the live fire training range at Northwest Field, in addition to ongoing work at Naval Base Guam, the North Ramp at Andersen and the main cantonment of Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz at Finegayan.
“Of the $8.7 billion [Marine relocation] program, about $1.5 billion has already been awarded or completed,” he said. “We’re really making a lot of progress across the board, and now in all these focus areas.”
The increased workload means increased hiring by the Navy. Turner said that more than 100 positions or 16% of the NAVFAC Marianas billets are currently vacant. “We are always hiring,” he said. “We’re looking for engineers and architects as well as other support professionals who want to come and work for NAVFAC. We show tremendous growth for the next eight years.”
Turner told those at the event that the outlook for their industry in Guam is positive. “The future is very bright here on Guam for the future DOD demand for construction and engineering services going forward,” he said. “We see that not only with the efforts to locate the Marine Corps here but also growing mission sets for the Navy, Air Force and various new platforms that are being looked at.”