“Today, I’m going to challenge you.”
With this call to action, Rear Adm. Dean VanderLey, Commander, U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Atlantic set the tone for a day-long industry day that laid the foundation for an aggressive $1.7 billion military construction (MILCON) program to restore Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, N.C. in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
“We are facing a tremendous challenge with the volume of work we are trying to put into North Carolina,” said VanderLey as he addressed more than 400 industry professionals representing 230 businesses attending NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic’s forum. “I don’t know if anyone has tried to award over $2 billion worth of work in two years, but it’s a tremendous challenge. We, the government, we, the Navy, and we, NAVFAC, cannot do it by ourselves. The only way we can do that is in close partnership with you.”
Businesses of all size and description attended the August 20 event hosted by the North Carolina Military Business Center at the Harris Conference Center in Charlotte, N.C., to learn NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic’s strategy for the restoration and rebuilding of facilities at MCB Camp Lejeune and MCAS Cherry Point following catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Florence in September 2018.
Hurricane Florence, formerly a category four hurricane, had degraded to a category one storm by the time it slammed into the southeastern coast of North Carolina dumping up to 36” of rain on the region. Between MCB Camp Lejeune and MCAS Cherry Point, the storm damaged more than 800 facilities, washed out railroad trestles and road culverts, eroded training beaches and damaged approximately 800 miles of power lines.
NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic’s work in support of Marine Corps Installations - East got underway immediately following the passage of Hurricane Florence.
“I was going to refer to this event as the ‘kick-off’ to the restoration phase, said VanderLey in welcoming participants to the industry day. “But I was reminded that Mid-Atlantic had already awarded over $700 million in projects this year. This isn’t really a kick-off, because Mid-Atlantic is already going full steam.”
The steps of recovery following an event like Hurricane Florence cover three phases: Respond, Repair and Replace. Clean up operations immediately following the storm was a primary objective of Respond, followed by assessment of the extent of storm damage and the restoration of essential life, health and safety services.
The Recovery phase transitioned into the Repair phase as NAVFAC contractors focused their efforts on returning operations to a degree of normalcy. This included repairs to facilities and infrastructure that were damaged by the storm, but did not require complete replacement.
The industry day represents the transition to Replace, the final phase of recovery. This phase involves Military Construction (MILCON) projects to replace facilities and infrastructure damaged beyond economic repair, which may include aircraft hangers, training and maintenance facilities, barracks and headquarters facilities, and extensive work on infrastructure supporting information technology and transportation.
The work required on the bases is complex and expensive, and creates special challenges for the Marine Corps and Navy team tasked with the restoration, according to Col. Nicholas Davis, Chief of Staff for Facilities and Environment, Marine Corps Installations – East.
“You don’t want an infantryman’s answer (to this problem), because I’ll tell you we can do it with blue tarps and a shovel,” said Davis in his remarks. “That’s how we live forward. But we shouldn’t make our families live that way and we shouldn’t make our forces who are training to go back into the fight live that way. This is really important and we have to get it right. We don’t get a second chance.”
The magnitude of the restoration work extends far beyond the levels typically managed by NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic, explained Capt. Richard Hayes, Commanding Officer, NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic.
“For rough scale, NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic, in 2017, the year before Hurricane Florence, did $2.2 billion worth of construction across the entire Mid-Atlantic Area of Operations,” said Hayes. “When one of your customers tells you he’s going to go get $2.1 billion (to support the MILCON projects), you tend to say ‘yeah, sure. I’m not going to worry about that just yet.’ Then here comes the email that says ‘we got it!’”
“Now I get with my team and say ‘let’s really sharpen the pencil,’” said Hayes.
Hayes stated that NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic’s goal for the industry day was to explain their strategy to carry out the Replace phase, which includes the design and construction of 31 different construction projects valued at $1.7 billion.
Hayes pointed out that more than $700 million has already been committed to projects, primarily for buildings requiring maintenance, major repairs, and small or minor construction, with another $200 million more by the end of September 2019. NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic Capital Improvements and Contracting experts outlined the scope of work anticipated and took on board questions, setting the stage for industry's expertise to further refine and shape the work ahead.
Many of the companies attending the industry day have been involved in work at MCB Camp Lejeune and MCAS Cherry Point since the early days of storm recovery.
Hayes made a direct appeal to industry attendees to work closely with their military partners to provide recommendations for process improvements in support of the ambitious construction program.
“We want your feedback on how we can execute the MILCON program in FY20. This is a departure from our typical way of doing business, but we are committed to making it a success for our warfighter, the Marine Corps.”