By Bill Couch, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Midwest Public Affairs
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Midwest held its final change of command ceremony here June 23, entering a final phase of transition before the command's decommissioning this fall.
Capt. Jay Murphy, NAVFAC Midwest's final commanding officer, will ensure that the handling of its civil engineering, public works, and environmental support efforts for Navy, Marine Corps and other Department of Defense activities throughout the Midwest is transferred smoothly to other regional NAVFAC commands, and that more than 160 NAVFAC Midwest employees are taken care of.
"My priorities will be to continue with our decommissioning and transition plan, ensure our public works departments are properly staffed and resourced and prioritize and transfer our work [to their gaining commands]," said Murphy. "I know this is a very difficult time as we approach decommissioning, but I promise that I will continue where [my predecessor] Capt. [Rod] Worden left off, and I will do everything within my power to make the command's decommissioning as smooth as possible."
The decommissioning, currently expected to take effect Oct. 1, will end 10 years of having a regional NAVFAC headquarters at Naval Station Great Lakes, but the Navy's civil engineering and public works presence on base will continue in the form of Public Works Department (PWD) Great Lakes and a U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve (MARFORRES) facilities support team. Both will be overseen by NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic, headquartered at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
During its decade of existence, NAVFAC Midwest changed the face of Naval Station Great Lakes and met Navy and Department of Defense (DoD) needs throughout the Midwest and beyond.
In 2010, the command completed a 12-year, $770-million recapitalization of Recruit Training Command (RTC), replacing 1950s-era buildings with state-of-the-art facilities for training, feeding, and housing new recruits during their eight-week indoctrination into Navy life. The construction program, which was carefully coordinated to avoid interrupting recruit training, built 13 new barracks with their own dining and computer classroom areas, three new drill halls, and other new training facilities.
Among RTC's new facilities is Battle Stations 21, the Navy's unique, high-tech simulator of shipboard emergencies to test recruits before graduation. USS Trayer, a life-like mockup of an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer housed within a 157,000-square-foot building, was recognized by the Design-Build Institute of America as the best overall design-build project in the U.S. for 2008.
NAVFAC Midwest built new facilities for the Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (FHHC) in North Chicago, Ill., the first completely integrated Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs medical treatment facility. The FHCC serves approximately 100,000 recruits, veterans, active-duty service members and family members annually.
A team of 12 NAVFAC Midwest environmental and public works employees deployed to support the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup in 2010, bringing NSGL's oil skimmer, utility boats, and other spill response equipment to Gulfport, Miss., to clear harbors and inland waterways along the Gulf coast.
Also in 2010, NAVFAC Midwest and its public works department at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Mid-South in Millington, Tenn., led the base's recovery from an historic flood that disrupted tenant commands including Navy Personnel Command and Navy Recruiting Command, which manage Sailors' careers from recruitment through retirement and support critical family readiness programs.
NAVFAC Midwest's public works department at NSA Crane, Ind., constructed several research, development and technology testing facilities in support of Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane and also provided logistical support to Crane Army Ammunition Activity, staging and shipping ordnance around the clock for shipment to U.S. forces around the world.
Also at Crane, the command purchased its first environmentally-friendly locomotives, which run on bio-diesel fuel, consume half the fuel of conventional models, and are certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for low emissions.
PWD Crane began harvesting some of the base's specially-designated white oak trees for the next planned dry-docking restoration of USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat.
NAVFAC Midwest's PWD Central, which supported 35 Navy Operational Support Centers and Marine Corps Reserve Centers across the Midwest, also assumed responsibility for managing all Marine Corps reserve facilities in the continental U.S. and Hawaii, a total of 183 Marine facilities. The PWD also completed construction of several new, energy-efficient NOSCs to replace aging facilities throughout the region.
NAVFAC Midwest rapidly developed, awarded and began construction of a $57-million energy efficiency project to decentralize NSGL's steam heat distribution system. The project will reduce the base's overall energy intensity--the amount of energy used per square foot of occupied space--by 21 percent.
NAVFAC Midwest also led development of a region-wide energy vision and carried out other energy efficiency initiatives, including expanding the Navy's fleet of electric and alternative-fuel vehicles in the Midwest, and installing "smart grid" technology at NSGL, NSA Crane and NSA Mid-South.
At NSA Mid-South, NAVFAC Midwest installed the Navy's first solar-powered electric car charging station in 2013. The carport can recharge the base's fleet of nearly two dozen electric vehicles with renewable electricity while reducing demand on the commercial power grid. The carport also provides excess electricity to the local power grid, further reducing the base's electricity costs.
Throughout its existence, NAVFAC Midwest has awarded many of its projects and service contracts to small businesses. In 2012, for example, it awarded more than 1,100 of its 1,350 contract actions for construction, environmental and facilities support services to small businesses. Of those, $11 million worth were awarded to businesses owned by service disabled veterans, and $32 million went to those owned by women.
NAVFAC Midwest's decommissioning is a result of DoD budget reductions, which prompted Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) to disestablish the Navy Region Midwest commander and headquarters staff. NAVFAC likewise is eliminating its Midwest regional headquarters staff in order to remain aligned with CNIC.
The disestablishment of NAVFAC Midwest is expected to save the Navy $5 million in annual salaries.
NAVFACs Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northwest will assume NAVFAC Midwest's workload and will continue to deliver all NAVFAC products and services to NSGL, NSA Crane, NSA Mid-South, MARFORRES and others with no interruption.